I know, I know, everyone and their sister has been reporting on Blizzcon! And to be fair, I know this blog isn't really a place people come to get their "news." Instead, please allow me to react to a few specific things that jumped out at me in the pile of information we got this weekend.
The day began with my university friend announcing he was playing WoW again. The reason was that he wanted Diablo 3 for free, and a year of WoW was a good deal. I've been thinking about that same deal myself, even though I have very little interest in Diablo, simply based on the WoW-reasons I might like to keep playing.
The xpac announcement itself was a bit of a disappointment for me. "Mists of Pandaria" just doesn't seem as compelling or epic as "Cataclysm" or "Wrath of the Lich King" or even "World of Warcraft" itself. "Mists of Pandaria" just seems like a light-hearted romp through a panda playground. I dwelt on this as I was touring my candy buckets today and, with the help of some other blog commentary and screenshots of the new zones, I have tentatively come to like this. I think I can be ok with a lack of a central villain, playable humanoid pandas, and what appears to be their very lovely home.
I do have a couple concerns, however. First, that the race itself will be incredibly stereotyped, both by the developers and the playerbase. It's obvious that the new zones are modeled very closely on real-world Chinese architecture and include Jade in their titles to emphasis just how Chinese it all is. I hope that the NPCs and questlines offer more than Kung Fu and Wise Asian Master archetypes. More importantly, I hope that this does not lead to even more awful gold farmer jokes or character names!
The second concern is...lady pandas. When I saw "The female model is not finished" my heart sank. I'm not really surprised, considering Blizzard creates male models with ease, and then often forgets to include the other 50% of the population for their nonplayable races. However, I am apprehensive that this will end up like the worgen female fiasco, where designers create a feral, ferocious, hulking male worgen, and then whip up a twiggy, furry blood elf with a great rack. The current male pandaren are wide and fat, and I like that about them! I hope that the female model is fat too, to be perfectly honest, but since I know that's unlikely, I'll settle for a dwarf female-type body. Big hips, big shoulders, big boobs, big everything! I'm curious what they will do with the "hair" on the models; I think they could get away with bangs or little mohawks, but I'd be skeptical of hair much longer than that. Maybe the pandaren can have piercing, or fur pattern options instead.
But it's not all bad news! Although it at first seemed like an elaborate hoax, it appears that vanity pets will no longer be "non-combat," as they are upgraded to pokemon-like collectibles that players can now use to train and battle with. Some of you may already know that I am a huge pokemon nerd, so this is honestly the most intriguing draw for me at the moment. The weird thing is that I don't particularly look forward to actually battling with my vanity pets, but I do love the idea of naming and training them.
The new specialization concept interests me. I know people get upset about relearning their class after major overhauls like this, but I guess it's happened to me enough times that although it bothered me once, I'm now only looking forward to it. The druid community has a great many technical bloggers who will test and critique the changes until they are satisfied, so I'm relaxed about whatever may happen.
The sheer amount of information about activities other than raiding warms my little explorer heart. I'm eager to explore the new zones and try out a monk. Pandaren, being another humanoid animal race, seem like a people Aka might want to get to know. When are they going to announce more character slots per realm? That is perhaps the only thing more important to me than my new battling minipet army.
What have you guys been reading? What are your thoughts on the new expansion and its features?