Considering a world-altering expansion set to the ever-popular World of WarCraft just came out last year (with Cataclysm), it was about time fans got another expansion, right? This time around, players will be transported to the continent of Pandaria to enjoy leveling up the new Pandaren race, the addition of the Monk class, a newly-raised cap to level 90 and the inclusion of what many are calling "Pokémon WoW."
Remember those "non-combat pets" some of you have been hoarding for a while now? You can laugh in the face of your detractors once the Mists of Pandaria expansion drops and adds a new pet battling system into the mix.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to go hands-on with such a feature in the build we demoed at BlizzCon 11, but there's plenty to get excited about. Just like with Pokémon, WoW players will get a "Pet Journal" to serve as a sort-of Pet Wiki describing the upwards of 200 pets and how you can get them to join your ranks.
Pets, as a team of three, can be taken into PvE or PvP turn-based battles and will level up to eventually take on the "pet masters" of the world, reminiscent of the gym leaders in the Pokémon franchise. As fun as it may turn out to be, though, Blizzard has outright said that you shouldn't expect to get to level 90 by battling pets exclusively - expect it to be more of a distraction from main quests and battlegrounds.
Aside from the Kung Fu Panda aesthetics, the other major addition is that of the Monk class, which I tried out with the new Pandaren race. It's an offensive-based class and contains no auto-attack function that will leave players constantly tapping those hot keys to roll and attack away.
The monk class presents an interesting chi battle mechanic that has you building up light and dark force with simple jab moves and subsequently being able to throw an advanced tiger palm move in there once in a while. The only other change, as far as I could tell, is the addition of a dive roll that, just like in The Legend of Zelda, had me rolling constantly through the environment. Word is that there's even an achievement for rolling hundreds of times.
Just like with previous World of WarCraft expansions, Blizzard looks to deliver on Mists of Pandaria. The above mentioned additions are some of the more immediately apparent changes to the base game. But fans can also look forward to a raised level cap (to 90 this time around), redesigned talent trees (i.e. one talent tree per class), 9 new dungeons, 3 new raids, and a whole new continent to explore.
No date was mentioned as to when Mists of Pandaria is due for release, but expect to hear more about the expansion as it reaches completion.