World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is the fourth expansion coming to the smash MMO hit World of Warcraft by Blizzard Entertainment. As you may have guessed, the expansion focuses primarily around the long lost Pandaren race and their continent of Pandaria. At BlizzCon 2011, we got to learn everything you need to know about the new WoW expansion.
First off, the beautiful, serene continent of Pandaria contains five colossal new zones across a single unified continent. Pandaria is influenced by Asian landscapes with jade forests and luscious locales. These areas will be very large but not allow flying until you hit the new max level of 90 in order to improve the core questing experience.
The expansion will also feature a new race: the Pandaren. Pandarens are a cute, cuddly panda-like race that inhabit the new world of Pandaria. They are also the first neutral race for World of Warcraft. By neutral, I mean that once they reach level 10 they can choose whether they want to permanently become a member of the Horde or the Alliance. Their racial traits are rather hilarious, granting them increased stats from consuming food, enhanced cooking skills, a rested experience bonus that is twice as long as other races, 50% less fall damage, and a cool Quaking Palm attack where you put enemies to sleep for 3 seconds.
Mists is also bringing a new class to World of Warcraft: the Monk! The Monk is intended as a melee martial-arts based class, and will start at level one as it is not a hero class like the Death Knight. The three different styles of Monks will be Brewmaster (tank), Mistweaver (healer), and Windwalker (melee DPS). Every race but goblins and worgens can be monks, and there are many monk-only animations.
While Monks hit a lot with hands and feet, there will be equipment suited to them like staves, one-handed axes and maces, and fist weapons. Monks will be able to channel their chi (energy) which is used for abilities that will generate light and dark force. This light and dark force will then be used for your other abilities; there is no auto attack for the Monk.
Aside from introducing a new race and class with Mists of Pandaria, you can expect a total overhaul on the talent system as well. Blizzard wants to put the quality of the choice on the players, instead of the same builds WoW has seen to date. Now, classes have class abilities, spec abilities and talents. Talents are picked every 15 levels and you’re given a choice between 3 varied options; once you pick one, the other two are closed off to you. You choose a Spec at level 10, and gain additional abilities from that spec at later levels. The junk is gone, and everything is being thought of with the mindset of making the game more fun and characters more unique.
Mists of Pandaria will also bring PVE (player versus environment) scenarios to World of Warcraft. Scenarios introduce a new type of pve gameplay that are described as short instances for a few players. The scenarios can keep you busy while you're in a queue for a dungeon or battleground, and they of course offer rewards.
Scenarios generally take place in three stages. One example of a PVE Scenario was the Defense of Goldshire. In stage one of the scenario you will be asked to kill a certain amount of monsters. During stage two you'll have to do some sort of escort quest. Finally, at stage three you'll have to kill some sort of boss. The scenarios could potentially replace group quests and they'll become one of many options to earn your character valor points.
Aside from the Pandas, one of the major implementations coming to Mists of Pandaria is the pet battle system, also known as World of Pokemoncraft. The new pet battle system works almost exactly like a pokemon minigame within WoW.
How it works is you'll find, collect, and use your non-combat pets in battles against other player's non-combat pets. The pet battle system will be available to all players, and will work with almost every non-combat pet. You'll also be able to customize your pet with items and find trainers around the world that will teach them stronger moves. Pets can also learn new moves by defeating other pets which will earn them experience and eventually levels.
The actual pet battles will be turn based rather than active. Each player will fight with a team of three pets and it's meant to be more fun than super competitive. That said, you can obviously train your pets with the best abilities, level it up to the max of 25, and take your team to the limit.
Blizzard also mentioned that the pets will be made account wide and tradable on the auction house. That's right folks, if you;re interested in training up a pet, putting your blood, sweat, and tears in to nurturing their little tiny claws, you can then throw it up on the auction house to turn a pretty profit. I'm sure there's something morally wrong about that, but we have to make sacrifices to have the best Warcraft-mon team, right?
Next up, Mists of Pandaria will introduce nine new dungeons, with six of them on Pandaria itself. Blizzard also plans to add a few more classic heroic dungeon updates, as Deadmines and Shadowfang Keep were so successful. The next two up are the beloved dungeons of Scholomance and the first two wings of Scarlet Monastery. These dungeons will get new layouts, will be easier to navigate, and will come with fresh, cool new bosses.
There will also be three new raids coming with the World of Warcraft expansion. They'll feature two new enemy races called the Mogu and the Mantid (an insect-esque race). Mists will also add the raid finder for both normal and heroic difficulties. Aside from instanced raids, world raid bosses will finally be making a return.
With Mists of Pandaria we'll potentially be getting some new battlegrounds. Nothing is finalized or confirmed yet when it comes to these, but the two described at BlizzCon were the Stranglethorn Diamond Mines and the Valley of Power.
The STV Diamond Mines is a payload type map. Your team must escort a mine cart to a depot across multiple tracks to gain resources. The team who reaches "X" number of resources first will win. Blizzard stated that the battleground could have a variety of different options with mine carts taking different routes each time.
The Valley of Power on the other hand would be played with a murderball style of gameplay. Located in the Valley of Eternal Blossoms, one member of your team would have to hold an object that deals increased damage over time to the carrier. The longer the carrier holds the item, the more points they'll receive. However, the farther away the carrier takes the ball from the center of the map, the less points they'll get. I personally love this type of PvP and think it would be a welcome addition to World of Warcraft.
Lastly, Mists of Pandaria will introduce a new battle arena called the Tol'Vir proving ground. The proving grounds will be located in the desert of Uldum and will be layed out like the beloved Nagrand Arena. It will be a simple square arena with four line of site blockers that are positioned on an angle rather than the circular model line of site blockers from Nagrand. Simple enough, but it looks neat and simple is sometimes better.
And that just about covers it. With Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard is adding not only a new race and class, but a ton of new content, features, and more to keep World of Warcraft updated and fresh. After playing around on the beta for a few hours the game looks and feels better than ever, so be sure to stay tuned for a full preview on what we've gotten to play at Blizzcon 2011.
With that, let me know what your initial impressions of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria are in the comments section.