Pet Battle System: A shameless rip-off of Pokemon. It looks “cute” and the UI mock-ups seem to hint at very involved systems and a lot of polish, but I can’t get beyond the fact that this is simply Pokemon in WoW. Taming pets in the wild, training them, battling them, going against ‘Masters’ to earn experience, etc. This is perhaps the first real “mini game” or “Facebook game” to make its way into World of Warcraft.
That said, if people will enjoy it — and pay for it — then obviously there’s a market for it. There’s no existing Pokemon MMO, so Blizzard will be effectively one-upping Nintendo (pun intended).
Challenge Modes: I’ve been wanting something like this in WoW for a while, if only so that it will give the elitists something to do (and to stop complaining about all the “casual play” in WoW). I enjoyed the thrill of a 45-minute “Baron” run in the past, and the more recent (TBC and now Cata) “Bear” runs in Zul’Aman — they can be a rush, and with a good group they are very doable. The accomplishment is a thrill. It will be nice to have this option there, for those who desire it.
PVE Scenarios: A careful rewording of “World Event” and a grab from Warhammer Online and RIFT (Guild Wars 2 is also implementing world events/group quests). They seem relatively tame at the moment, involving “town attack” scenarios like kobold invasions and a few “PVE Battlegrounds” where you fight Horde/Alliance NPC enemies. Not bad, but I think they could do better.
Pandaren: Too cutesy. Yes, I know — we have gnomes, and cow-men, and profiteering goblins. Warcraft has always had a dose of “silly” yet it remained more of a side dish compared to the main cuisine. The Pandaren are far, far more flat-out silly. Let’s be honest, they were originally implemented as an April Fools joke, and have always been sort of a pet project for Samwise Didier. It’s also important to note that Samwise’s more “hardcore” Pandaren, the Pandyr, are apparently not a part of the game — I think they would have been ideal for the Horde, while the Alliance allies with the wise, patient, scholarly and traditional Pandaren. Oh well.
Monk: Too soon to tell. A class without an auto-attack? And apparently with their own version of a Spinning Bird Kick? Could be awesome.
Talent Changes: Awesome. I look forward to seeing how the class Abilities change as well.