The Brews: Blizzard hits WoW community at Blizzcon with new expansion, “Mists of Pandaria,” and Annual Pass package

I haven’t blogged here in a while (college can do that to you) but I’m trying to get back in the swing of things here and figured there was no better way than covering the news for the new WoW expansion.

I’ve played WoW since launch, though off and on, usually getting back on around the launch of the newest expansion.  I know with this newest announcement about the Mists of Pandaria other players like me, who usually come back for the latest expansion may not be doing so this time, but I will still be hopping on Blizzard’s latest ride in the WoW universe.  Here’s why:

First of all, in general, I’m really just a big fanboy of Blizzard and World of Warcraft and I’m generally excited when any new content is available.  Aside from this, there are other reasons why I’ll be sticking with WoW and the latest expansion.  There is still a lot to learn about Blizzard’s plans for their newest installment of WoW (and seeing as how I’m particularly horrible at staying up to date with anything, I may know even less than the average WoW player), but let’s start with what everyone does know: the newest race, the Pandaren.

I know, most of you are probably already hating on this and the troll armies are flooding Blizzard’s message boards, but I think there is a lot to be gleaned from this new race.  For starters, they will be the first WoW race to be multi-factioned.  This means Pandaren will be playable Alliance or Horde-side of the game; given the way Blizzard has worked them into WoW lore as a peaceful “isolated” race, it’ll be pretty cool to see how this dynamic will play out.  Will the Pandaren be split amongst each other as they choose to aid either faction, or does this aid come like Switzerland, completely neutral? This in itself will be particularly interesting and cool.

With all of this also comes the aesthetics of the new Panda race–coming from an Oriental-theme-inspired area, we can assume these creatures will be repping the Kung Fu (made more evident by the newest playable class, the “monk,” but more of that later). So why is it cool that WoW is getting some Kung Fu Pandas?  I guess the better questions is, why isn’t it cool?  Everyone knows that the Kung Fu Panda film was great and as light-hearted as it may seem to have a race in WoW that seems to parallel this film about the care-free Po, perhaps this is what the game needs right now, something refreshing, something light-hearted, something carefree.  So I am personally down with the pandas.

In addition to environmental aesthetic appeal for the Pandaren and Pandaria comes the graphic appeal of the new race.  Watch the teaser for the lastest expansion here and you will find that graphically, everything looks better than WoW does now, including the Pandaren.  As Scott Johnson said in his latest episode of the Instance, the new race seems to have more weight and bounce in their animation; even if you aren’t excited about the Pandaren themselves, the implications that this has for the future of WoW is still pretty neat–we may be finally getting higher-res models of the current races.  This is something that I know I have been wanting for a while, and if we get this, I’ll be pretty pumped.

Among these changes, we will also be getting the new Monk class (mentioned earlier), a pet combat system (okay, it’s like Pokemon, but who cares), and a change in the talent system.  There is still a lot I don’t know about these additions to the game so I will refrain from blogging about them now, but as I learn more I’ll be sure to update.

The last thing I want to address is the WoW annual pass.  Blizzard is providing subscribers an opportunity to commit to WoW for a year, in turn receiving a free copy of Diablo III, a special in-game mount, and beta access to Mists of Pandaria.  I know this news was enough to convince me to commit for the year and I’m curious to see who this offer brings back or keeps subscribing.  For more information on the annual pass you can go here.

I can probably talk about the latest expansion announcement for hours (effectively or not), but for now, I’m just excited to say that Blizzard once again has me excited.  Be sure to keep coming back for more updates and coverage on the latest expansion and other topics, and I’ll be sure to keep the posts coming.

That’s all for now!

-Ethan

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