World of Warcraft has always been synonymous with slaying dragons, banishing demons and being a legendary hero in a dangerous universe. Consider the game’s current main storyline, that of defeating the dragon aspect of death, aptly named ‘Deathwing’. You can imagine my surprise when I tuned in to Blizzcon this year and found out the next major expansion for WoW was going to take place in a land of giant, talking panda people…
Mists of Pandaria was announced at Blizzcon 2011 and will be the next major content update for the titanic MMORPG. This expansion brings with it a new continent, level cap increase to 90 and a multitude of new dungeons, raids and enemies for players to slay in the name of gaining more purples.
The native population to this continent are the Pandera. A race of walking, talking pandas who are neutral in the faction war of WOW but will be able to join either side. I always saw The Panderans as a comedy race in the Warcraft fiction, being the masters of beer brewing. I was shocked to find these would now be a fully playable race and also bringing with them an entirely new class called The Monk.
I like the idea of a monk class because I love them in Diablo, one of Blizzard’s other amazing titles. However, I am not keen on the fact they will be able to tank and that spec is going to be called a brew master! I have horrible images of a giant panda tanking something epic and cool like Arthas, by drinking beer and punching and kicking him!
The whole premise of the monk and Panderans in general seem to be a lot more light-hearted than Blizzard’s other expansions. Where the other expansions had a main evil villain of great power who needed to be defeated to save the world and restore balance (Illidan, Arthas, Deathwing) This new expansion seems to be about (and I am sorry to go there) “Kung Fu Pandas!”
The new continent and art style even remind me greatly of DreamWorks’ animated films, and it wouldn’t surprise me at this point if Blizzard got the likes of Jack Black to voice the Panderan leader or something equally silly!
I feel like this expansion is to try and capture a larger net in the east appealing to their culture and artistic styling’s in an attempt to recoup some of the lost numbers they have experienced since the launch of Cataclysm. It is not like WoW is without its villains that they have run out of bad guys. There are still large chunks of lore left unexplored such as the Burning Legions remaining leaders and the hints of unseen enemies in the Emerald Dream, so why has Blizzard decided to take a break from the danger and go on holiday to panda land?
The inclusion of a “Pokemon” minigame also raises the eyebrow, watching the lead systems designer of WoW talk about pet “teams” and “pet training masters” scattered across Azeroth and a battle system against other players, and to see him do it with a straight face was quite an experience.
I watched all of Blizzcon 2011 coverage and I came away happy with the Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3 information, but the WoW panels left me feeling like it was all a giant troll session and at the end they were going to say “Ha-ha! Not really can you imagine if we did that!”
I am going to simply assume they know what they are doing and this is all “part of the plan” to quote a very memorable character from recent cinema, but from where I am sitting, it feels to me like someone at Blizzard has lost the plot!
Do you think Blizzard are making a smart move with this future update? Let us know in the comments area below.