22 October 2011

Mists of Pandaria

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?


  1. Hmm... I am thinking that a new title "Pokemon Master" has a nice ring to it. And I can't even level an alt, so I am not sure that I can play a Pandaren.

    I am following Restokin's druid related coverage, and there are some nice things there - healing shrooms, new talents, makes me want to level a different druid.. though my thoughts on levelling are... well you know!

  2. Everyone is coming off of the BlizzCon high of information and walking away with their grab-bag of mixed emotions about the changes coming our way.

    I am grateful for the bloggers, twitters, and official postings about everything, but personally sharing on how we are all dealing with it will truly be a good reactionary gauge for the player base.

    Ababeko I must agree and commend you on your comment: "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."

    Change is a fact of life both in the waking world and in our currently candy filled land too. The adaptation is going to be a period of transition for sure, but hopefully one that we all can embrace.

    As for the no new villain concept I think a lot of people are missing the fact that the Horde & Alliance are getting ready to take of the gloves and seriously go at it. No more banding together to fight Ice-man or Doom-dragon, we are going to be at war. It has always been a back story event like cooking a meal and leaving the gravy on the back burner, it just sits there and simmers. But take the gravy off the Thanksgiving table and someone is going to end up getting stabbed with a butter knife, you need it.

    There is still more time to flesh out the details and let the developers really knock this out of the ballpark. Consider it a chance now for all the Raids that never were put out there an opportunity for them to get some attention.

    Here is to the hope that this next expansion gives us the quality we want along with all the new quantity being offered.

  3. I really hope for sexual dimorphism here that gives women the advantage. I want the female pandaren to be both larger and more muscular than the men. That way I can finally feel like playing the weaker gender when I play my male pandaren.

  4. I too worry about the Lady Pandas. The first thing I noticed in the first scenes of Pandaria was the lack of the females. I think it's necessary to keep them on the plumper side.

    I caught this in my twitter feed and I think it has great potential: http://tarajenkins.deviantart.com/#/d4dk6ck

    Now that I've read Anonymous' comment - it would be a fascinating step to see the female pandas larger than the males. I think that would be a great twist to see happen!

  5. Not flaming but... as a Tauren player, the native american "noble savage" sterotype doesn't bother you? It did me, and is a large reason I can't play the race.

    I'm holding out hope that MoP will appeal more to the roleplayer/explorer type (me) than the hardcore raider type.

  6. Just posted my contribution of this week's shared topic! I didn't really think about the gender of the Pandaren race. But I am sure Blizzard will make the Female Pandaren beautiful. =)But yes I am hoping to see it soon.

  7. Your line ""Mists of Pandaria" just seems like a light-hearted romp through a panda playground" pretty much sums up how I've felt. I'm just not sure that playable pandas are what the game needed. :-| The news hasn't generally been accepted well by my guild and this has stirred the thoughts of quitting WoW, perhaps going to play another game together. It is disappointing that something that is supposed to invoke lots of excitement like BlizzCon has instead left the player base generally wondering "Hmm......."

  8. @Navi: Let's just say I want to be a Pokemon Master >_>;;;

    @Draccus: I think you're right that the lack of a central villain will allow for more interesting story opportunities. I'm curious to see the many directions it can take us!

    @Anon: It would be pretty interesting to have a race where the female model physically dwarfs the male. We don't have anything like that yet!

    @Chawa: Thanks for the pic! That's a really cute lady panda :)

    @dancinghare: Excellent point; I've read several good discussions on the many fails to be had not only in the tauren "noble savage" stereotype, but also the troll "voodoo magic" stereotype. As you've noted, I still pay for the game and play the race, so I can't take the high road on this one :X I will still criticize the stereotypes when I see them, but I am also mostly apprehensive of the player response. Just the other night in trade I had to leave the channel to get away from some really offensive racist shit, which is not how I like my playerbase to behave! :B

    @Amerence: Thanks for your contribution! I'm eager to see the female models:

    @Lument: I was pretty surprised at first, but the more screenshots I see of the new zones, the more I think Blizz will take the wise elder panda route, rather than the LOL FOOD & BEER route. And let's be realistic: the gnomes and goblins are already pretty lolzy races. Hopefully the story is 80% serious business and only 20% goofiness.

  9. I'm unsure about the whole "no main bad guy" as well, but I've come to the conclusion that things won't be as light-hearted and sweet as we may have thought. Or at least that's my hope. The beautiful, unscarred images of Pandaria look great - but then think of the fact that the Horde and Alliance are going to come crashing down, bringing their war with them. I have a feeling there will be some clashing there.

    We also have the mention of the Sha that seems to be bad news. The Sha seems to be something bad, and one may also question who created it.. so there's some potential there as well. Personally I'm hoping for a developing story where we find out more and more as we go along and there's some bad stuff there for us to fight.

    Regarding female Pandaren, I really don't want another Worgen fiasco. If they look something like this artist depicted though, I'd play one: http://tarajenkins.deviantart.com/#/d4dk6ck

  10. "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."

    Let me quote Blizzard (http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/3424683617): "The Annual Pass itself isn't a purchasable item, Royceweiss - it's a commitment to one year of World of Warcraft subscription.

    That means the cost can technically vary, depending on what method of payment you prefer to use. If you choose to pay by month, that means the cost will be USD$14.99 x 12. If you instead choose to purchase two six month subscriptions, overall, the cost will be a bit lower."

    I think your friend fails at basic math. Unless he (or she) really wants to play WoW for 12 months, just waiting until Diablo comes out and buying it (probably for $60) will be less expensive.

  11. I'm really looking forward to MoP and everything coming with it. If I had to choose something in particular though, I'd say the changes to the Talent system excite me the most. Finally having some good choices and not being stuck with cookie cutter builds is long overdue.

    BlizzCon is awesome. Hopefully next year...

  12. @Saga: I think you have the right idea. That drawing is amazing, too!

    @sdh: We are both aware of how the one year sub works. Since he wants to play both games, this was a great deal.

    @Corath: I'm curious as to how the talent system will evolve until release. Poking around druid theorycrafting blogs now, it seems like there are still some clear winning talents in some of the tiers, so I wonder how individual specs will differ.

  13. "When are they going to announce more character slots?"

    This. So much.

  14. For female pandaren I kind of foresee something similar to tauren female. Sad but true that even with animalistic races the developers still tend to lean towards giving that lady-like form in some manner. Probably the race's hairstyles as a whole will be similar to worgen and taurens as well, I predict.

    But I am not artist or developer, and could be totally wrong!

  15. @wordsmith: I would love 20 slots per realm, but I'll settle for enough to have one of each class (or race!)

    @Gladiola: I love most of the lady worgen hairstyles, so I hope they go more that route than the rather lackluster tauren styles.