As is typical in the period right before an expansion is released, there are many controversial announcements from Blizzard. This time, it is that none of the new raids will be open on the launch date for Mists of Pandaria.
Mogu’shan Vaults, the first raid, will open one week after Mists of Pandaria launches, and heroic mode for that raid will be available in the next lockout period after a group has finished regular mode. One week after regular mode opens, the raid finder version of Mogu’shan Vaults will be open to everyone who meets the average item level requirements. It was also announced that the next two raids, Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring will open approximately one month after Mogu’shan Vaults, and will follow the same pattern regarding heroic and raid finder modes.
This is yet another issue where we find the WoW community split. Many players, mostly hardcore raiders, do not like the delay. They enjoy the rush to the end, and want to keep the adrenaline going, and want to be able to enter a raid within the first couple of days (if that long) of an expansion. Also, some of these top groups will almost certainly be finished with Mogu’shan Vaults very quickly, and don’t like having the forced delay on starting the next raids in Mists of Pandaria.
On the flip side, many other players including some dedicated raiders (probably somewhere between hardcore and casual), like this move by Blizzard. The rush, or lack thereof, is not really an issue for them. What many have said they like about this schedule is not so much the week delay, but the “gate” system that Blizzard will be using in Mists of Pandaria. In Cataclysm, many felt that with multiple raids opening at the same time with no gating that the end content was too daunting, with too much to do all in the same time frame. By staggering the opening of these first raids, groups will be able to focus on one raid at a time and give those bosses their full attention.
Personally, I think this is a good thing. It can allow for Blizzard to work out some of the kinks that we know will happen when Mists of Pandaria launches, and perhaps all of the delays and downtime will be out of the way before the raids become available. As for the rush to start raiding, as long as everyone is waiting the same amount of time, it should not have that much of an effect, and those who do reach 90 quickly can use that time to get more gear, or level alts.
As for gating, I think that is a positive thing overall for Mists of Pandaria, but I can also see the point that groups want to be able to do things at their own pace. Blizzard is sort of giving groups this with Heart of Fear and Terrace of Endless Spring, as in order to enter Terrace, you must have finished Heart. I think that I agree with something that many others have said on the forums, that perhaps the answer is that instead of dated gating, with hard and fast dates of when these open, they should consider simply saying that you have to have finished raid A before you can progress to raid B and so on through all of the raids of the expansion. That way, each group could move as quickly or slowly as they desire. However, I do see a problem with that down the road, for people who might start raiding later in the expansion, or for the future if players are going back to old content. If they implemented some form of “soft” gating, I would also suggest that it only last for a given time, perhaps three to four months per raid.
So, people will have to wait a week to raid in Mists of Pandaria, and then another month for more raids to become available. While I understand the basic complaints, I think some players are making too big a deal out of it. Personally, I’ll be happy if nothing major is broken in Pandaria at launch causing extended downtime, and I can level my toons without too many issues. Oh, and pet battles should be working. Beyond that, everything will come in due time.