We’ve gotten a release date for World of Warcraft’s latest expansion (September 25th) and we’ve gotten a date for the pre-expansion release (August 28th), but for many people today was the day they were looking forward to. Today, Blizzard released the lead-in cinematic for Mists of Pandaria, the upcoming expansion, and it is awesome.
As we expected, the Mists cinematic focuses on introducing the pandaran, the panda-like race that has many players running for the hills, confident that the simultaneous introduction of the pandaren and monks will lead to an army of Kung Fu Panda wannabees. While I suspect they are right, the cinematic offers a firm reminder that there are other ways to play a pandaren monk, and offers a few interesting glimpses of where the game might be headed now that the mysterious continent of Pandaria has been exposed.
First, the cinematic:
What’cha think? Awesome, right? If anything, Blizzard may have accidently shot themselves in the foot by releasing this cinematic, because while fully rendered pandaren are a sight to behold, so are the fully rendered human and orc, reminding an already vocal player base that Mists of Pandaria is not bringing new models for the old races – a hope many a player has had since Rift arrived on the scene with vastly more detailed polygons.
I love the fight between the Horde and Alliance – which will be a major focal point for the expansion, and which is presented without favoritism to either side throughout their brawl. The fight moving from the cannon fire of ships to the brawl between the ships’ survivors is awesome and really emphasizes the point both sides have gotten to: shipwrecked, they are more interested in stalking and killing any potential survivors on the other side than in securing their own safety or (god forbid) exploring an unknown world.
Enter the pandaren: a race whose peaceful existence is about to be rocked to its core by their meeting with the Horde and Alliance. The pandaren represents the first race that can go either way – Horde or Alliance – which is defended by the questions posed by the cinematic: Why do the pandaren fight… and what is worth fighting for? From a role-playing standpoint, I can say these questions have already made me think a little more about my pandaren monk and ensures I will be the farthest thing from Jack Black’s Po as possible (not that that was ever a concern for me).
We still have a few weeks until the pre-expansion patch and the actual release of Mists and this cinematic doesn’t make that time any easier to cope with. I really thought we would be deep in exploring Pandaria by now, but at least now I have an awesome and fully rendered version of the new race to watch over the next few weeks as the game unlocks the new expansion and content.