The Mists Are Parting
This September, Blizzard's World of Warcraft subscribers are going to be paying a visit to the East; specifically, to the ancient, mist-shrouded island of Pandaria. Now that we've all determined that the expansion is not a joke and that Blizzard isn't pulling our legs, the realization has hit: there's actually a lot to look forward to.
First and foremost, the art design for Mists of Pandaria is positively beautiful, and not unexpectedly, it draws a great deal of inspiration from the Feudal Japan and Dynastic China. It's more or less what you'd expect from a primarily Asian-themed continent, but it's nevertheless quite easy on the eyes - Azeroth actually manages to look pretty bland in comparison.
The art design extends to the mobs and NPCs as well, with a number of classic WoW enemies re-imagined in a more Eastern style, including the fish-faced Jinyu, the rabbit-like Virmen, the Ogreish Mogu, and the monkey-like Hozen.
The general tone of the World of Warcraft expansion is going to be considerably light-hearted as well. If the first revealed instance (The Stormstout Brewery) is anything to go by, you fight off a bunch of drunk and angry Hozen, elementals made of booze and a boss that can make beer explode out of player's heads. Not for everyone, true, but some might find it a welcome change from the dramatic Cataclysm.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is also going to bring a number of considerable changes to WoW's gameplay with it. Let's focus first on the Pandaren. Unlike other races introduced in previous expansions, Pandaren actually have no allegiance to either Alliance or Horde until level 10. Once they pass ninth level, they choose one of the two factions to devote themselves to, and at that point, there's no going back. Their racial traits give them double the stats from being well fed, a +15 increase to cooking skill, a 2x bonus to rested experience, and -50% fall damage. Oh, there's also a four second stun, known as Lightning Palm.
Perhaps the most exciting element of Mists of Pandaria is the new class, the Monk. Available to all races save Worgen and Goblin, the Monk can pursue one of three specializations (Brewmaster, Windwalker, and Mistweaver) which correspond to tank, DPS, and healer, respectively. Brewmasters and Windwalkers get a complex Chi management system as well as a rogue's energy bar, while Mistweavers are given a mana bar like other healing classes. Most every iteration of the monk class focuses on mobility above all else, and players who choose a monk should expect to be moving around the battlefield with awesome rapidity.
Players should also expect some fairly unique new quests in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, an evolution of the inventive tasks players were given starting in Wrath of the Lich King.
Mists of Pandaria also includes a Challenge Mode feature, where players will be rewarded for rushing through a dungeon as fast as humanly possible, though all gear will be "normalized" before this occurs. Based on how well they did, a party will be awarded one of three medals, along with a prize.
Get your vanity pets ready, as well, folks – they actually serve a purpose now, as Blizzard will be incorporated a Pokémon-esque battle and collection system, allowing players to seek out other pet owners (and masters) for battle, capture wild pets, and level up their own pets. They'll have a pet journal (basically a Pokédex) that tracks owned pets, pet levels, abilities, and battle stats.
Finally, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria will feature a whole smattering of new instances, an update to Scarlet Monastery, nine level ninety heroics, and three raids.
Not too bad for an expansion based on an April Fool's joke, is it?
A gamer at heart, Nick started writing when he was a child. He holds a BA in English, works as a freelancer, and loves every minute of it. One day, he hopes to net himself a career in game design - but that's something for the future.
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