World of Warcraft, the most popular of the Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games, has been in the news recently. A few days ago, it was for it’s Chuck Norris TV commercial. But before that, in October Blizzard announced their plans for the next expansion for their bestselling game: "The Mists of Pandaria.”
To begin with, a new PC race is introduced, the panda-like Pandaren. No this isn’t some “Kung Fu Panda” joke. Longtime players are probably familiar with the Pandaren Monk companions (most often seen in capital cities). As it turns out, they were originally created years ago as an April Fool’s gag. But the response was so popular, they were included in the Warcraft III game. Rumors of them soon to be introduced in World of Warcraft persisted for years, as well as rumors of complaints from China. But at Blizcon 2011 in October, the word was official.
The racial traits of Pandaren, at least according to current plans, include twice the stat benefits from foods, in addition to starting out with 15 points in the Cooking skill. Their rested experience will be twice as long as other players, and take 50% less damage when falling. The Pandaren’s background describes their homeland, Pandaria, as being secluded from the rest of Azeroth and its fighting. Beginning Pandaren PCs start out as among a group of explorers on the back of a giant turtle. The Pandaren are neither Horde or Alliance, but unaligned. After some time progressing, new Pandaren characters will need to choose which faction to support.
Pandaren were provided by Blizzard with an interesting background. Naturally, much of their in-game cultural background is based on that of China, with elements of Daoism and Tai-Chi used as inspiration. Much like the Tauren, they have a respect of Shamanism. Similar to the dwarves, they have a love of alcoholic beverages, brewmaking considered a revered tradition among them.
A new class of character is introduced as well: the Monk. They are available to all races except for the Worgen and Goblins. Monks have three specilizations: Brewmasters, which can take more damage, Mistweavers, which are healers, and Windwalkers, whom deal more melee damage. They can use staves and fist weapons, in addition to one handed maces, with Mistweavers being able to use off-hand items. They wear leather armor. They use a new resource bar, a Chi-bar, which is described as being similar to the Energy bar for Rogues.
The Talent system is being described as “entirely redone.” Talent trees are being replaced by being granted another specialization ability every few levels. Plus, every fifteen levels a talent point that can be spent on one of three talents. There will also be Challenge-Mode dungeons, requiring players to complete them in a certain time. There are also plans for Scenario battles, where players team up to accomplish a goal such as capturing or defending an area. Then there’s the “Pet Battle System,” which will do doubt get the attention of “Pokemon” fans. All those companion pets which are currently just for show will be able to fight and level, as well as able to be traded on the Auction House. As of now, Mists of Pandaria is planned to have nine new dungeons, and three new Raids. And players will be able to level up to Lvl 90, with adjustments to profession skills.
There is one change that will be a bit upsetting to some players. All classes are losing their secondary weapons, which means hunters lose their melee items (though will be able to shoot point-blank), and other clases lose their raged weapon slots, though warriors and rouges can throw their weapons, and casters can use wands in their main hand.
Blizzard got an enthusiastic response to news of the expansion at Blizcon. Since then, reactions have varied, as one can tell from the WoW forums. Joystik called the expansion an interesting move in new directions. They quoted game lead designer Dave Kosak, "What we're trying to do is find other ways to incorporate other playstyles into the game and give everybody something to do. ... We have this big, giant, incredible world -- what else can you do in it?"
But “Pandaren” and all its changes are about a year away most likely. Until then, WoWers still have some new content coming up, which we’ll be covering in our next article about World of Warcraft.
Images from Blizzard.
Other articles at PC World, Joystik, WoWWiki, ING