Posted on October 26, 2011, Phil Hornshaw Blizzcon 2011: Mists of Pandaria Will See WoW ‘Spiraling Toward World War’
For the first time since World of Warcraft has been releasing expansion content, a supervillain isn’t appearing on the cover of the expansion’s box. The Mists of Pandaria box, on the other hand, features a picture of one of the anthropomorphic pandaren race, and a some players have complained that the new content doesn’t seem dark enough.
But after talking with Lead Quest Designer Dave Kosak about the story plans for Mists of Pandaria, it sounds like the content will be plenty dark — just maybe not right away.
“We’re trying something really different — we’re really mixing up our storytelling here,” Kosak said during an interview with Game Front. “You’ll notice there’s no big boss villain on the cover of the box, right? It doesn’t mean there’s no villains, but it does mean that we’re telling the story very differently. So when you get the expansion, the Mists of Pandaria boxed product, it’s really about exploring this new world, discovering this new culture. Unlike Northrend, for instance, where you rolled up with a giant invasion force, in Pandaria, crash-landing — you’re part of the vanguard. You’re one of the few representatives of the Alliance and Horde that are exploring this realm. So you’re discovering it.
“But meanwhile, in the background, the whole rest of the world is spiraling toward world war. There’s this naval conflict raging in the oceans that we’ll talk about and its’ gonna come to a head in Pandaria. And you’re really going to see that in the patch content — so when patch 5.1 comes out, patch 5.2, that conflict is gonna boil over. That’s when the invasion rolls up in Pandaria; that’s when things get out of hand; that’s when things get absolutely crazy. And that’s a pretty exciting idea to explore.”
It’s not just a story about some big threat that has to be eliminated, Kosak said — WoW has covered that territory. Pandaria is more about the faction conflict between the Horde and the Alliance, and how it affects other people and the world, as well as what those two groups and their experience have to offer others.
“Ultimately, it’s about a cultural exchange,” Kosak explained. “It’s about your coming to Pandaria and interacting with the pandarens and teaching them a little something to help them with their local problems — like the Sha (enemies that are manifestation of negative emotions of Pandaria’s peoples), for instance, or the mantid (an insect-like race on Pandaria that goes to war with the pandarens during the expansion). And then in return then, the pandaren are gonna be a part of the world and help solve this more global crisis that’s gonna be erupt in the subsequent patches.
“That’s a complicated story that’s going on there. It’s really cool and really exciting, and I think players are gonna really love that the faction conflict heats up again. But it’s an interesting storytelling experiment for us. It’s very different than what we’ve done before.”
Follow Hornshaw on Twitter: @philhornshaw.