BlizzCon 2011: New WoW Expansion, “Mists of Pandaria” Announced
Pandaren have always been a controversial part of the Warcraft universe. Ever since they appeared in Warcraft III, they have been subject to speculation and rumor. The Chinese government, for example, were said to object to their inclusion in WoW — they take pandas pretty seriously in China, and they buy a lot of WoW subscriptions to boot.
Blizzard, it seems, has the power to placate the Democratic Republic, because Pandaren are here. Introduced by Chris Metzen during his BlizzCon opening speech, they are the stars of the show in the forthcoming WoW expansion, “Mists of Pandaria.”
Pandaria is a single continent, with a central questing hub and an auction house. Flying mounts will not be allowed until players have reached the level cap. The Pandaren starting area is called the Wandering Isle — it’s located on the back of a gigantic sea turtle. Their racial abilities are as follows:
- Increased stat benefit from food by 100%
- Cooking +15
- Rest XP lasts twice as long
- Bouncy – 50% less falling damage
- Racial Ability: Quaking Palm – touch an enemy on a pressure point, put it to sleep for 3 sec.
The BlizzCon trailer started by showing off the Pandarian architecture, clearly derived from Far Eastern designs. This real-world influence permeates Pandaren culture, and the expansion’s new Monk class clearly incorporates the themes and tropes of Asian martial arts. Every race except for Worgens and Goblins will be allowed to roll Monks, which appear to be a hybrid between tanking (the Brewmaster talent tree), healing (the Mistweaver tree), and melee DPS (the Windwalker tree). Three guesses as to which build will be the most popular.
Monks use “Chi Energy” to power Jab and Roll attacks, and deploy Jab to generate “Light” and “Dark Force,” which are then spent to power other abilities. Monks cannot auto-attack, strangely enough. Overall, the WoW Monk sounds pretty similar to the Diablo 3 Monk, right down to its use of leather armor, staves, and fist weapons. However, according to the BlizzCon panel, Monks can also employ a suspiciously Street Fighter II-like hurricane kick! Take that, Diablo!
In keeping with their Kung Fu trappings, Pandarens will need Zen-like calm and dogged adherence to duty, because for the first time, a race will be available to both factions — the burly black-and-white bears will fight for both Alliance and Horde, only choosing their faction when they reach level 10. Other new Mist of Pandaria features include a level cap increase (to 90), a revamped talent system, and a new “Pet Battle System,” which is sure to pique interest, especially among Pokemon fans. Pets can be collected, named, leveled, augmented with abilities, traded, sold, and, of course, pitted against each other for fun and glory. Our Pet Battle System round-up has more details.