For those of you former WoW players, such as myself, or any gamer not hiding under a rock: Today marked the beginning of Blizzcon 2011. A huge event hosted by Blizzard Entertainment. THE platform for which new announcements are made to the VAST playerbase that is WoW.
Today was the first day and Blizzard wasted no time in announcing their latest expansion to hit World of Warcraft: The Mists of Pandaria.
Now kidding aside, there are many saying that Blizzcon 2011 is Blizzard’s moment to shine in face of Star Wars: The Old Republic looming in the near horizon.
Here’s what they’ve announced:
The major details:
- New talent system
- Pandaren race
- The region of Pandaria
- New monk class
- Level cap raised to 90
- Dungeon challenge mode
- PVE Scenarios
- Pet Battle System
We’ve been graced with a couple of awesome videos too:
First the announcement video:
*thanks to WoW Insider for the vid
Next we have this rather nice looking zone fly-through video:
*thanks to MMO-Champion for the vid
I gotta say, personally, I think the asian, kung-fu look of everything is great. It does still have a “WoW” look and feel to it, but it’s distinctly different. The texture and concept artists at Blizzard must get major kudos. They must have spent hours and hours watching Kung-Fu Panda for inspiration. The Pandaren race looks awesome: texturing, the animation, and the whole kung-fu fighting styles are incredible. All-in-all Mists of Pandaria looks epic.
But will it be enough to keep those planning to leave WoW for SW:TOR?
– Me personally? No.
People have been screaming for a Monk class in WoW for years, myself included. The closest thing we got to a monk-type class was the Shaman. Now that we finally get it, I have to ask “Is it too late?”
And the Pandaren: What started out as an April Fool’s Joke – is now the basis of an entire expansion? For years Blizzard balked at the concept of Pandarens being added to the game. Initially there were rumours back before The Burning Crusade that anthropomorphic pandas were culturally inappropriate in China. Then when Blizzard released the Pandaren Brewmaster in-game pet, people thought that was all they’d ever see of their favourite furry monks in WoW. And as of today, we now know they’ll be added to BOTH factions soon.
But now I have to ask how many will name their Pandaren Monks “Po” and run around cities yelling “Ska-doosh!”
Also today, Blizzard announced a huge slew of changes: talent points are getting entirely overhauled, In-game Pets will have a battle-system (think Pokemon), and the most shocking to this former Hunter: the ranged slot is going bye-bye! To be honest, Blizzard is really taking some serious risks by changing so much of their game?
Why? Are they worried?
Blizzard Pulls Out the Big Guns
Consider the subscription offer Blizzard announced today as well: if you lock yourself into an entire year of WoW – you’ll not only get a copy of the upcoming Diablo 3 and early beta access to Diablo 3, but an in-game mount Tyrael’s Charger! WoW players love their special exclusive mounts. Ones that they can sit around on in cities for those bragging rights. Will Tyrael’s Charger go ways of the Sparkle Pony in that everyone will be seen zig-zagging across Stormwind or Orgrimmar atop one of these mounts or will locking yourself into WoW for a year be too much of a distractor? It’s hard to say as it requires an entire year of commitment to WoW. The mount looks amazing and ironically it appeals to both WoW and Diablo fans (although for Diablo-only fans – it’s cheaper to just pre-order the game). Blizzard knows what they’re doing with this offer.
Now we can speculate all we want, but it seems to me that Blizzard is worried. At least worried enough that they’re willing to offer up more than they’re usual swag to ensure they’ve got players that will stay with them once Bioware’s storm hits this December.
Not to mention – you can be sure Blizzard will be hitting the media once SW:TOR has lost the initial luster and the less-than excited players start thinking of leaving Bioware’s massive investment. Will Blizzard’s risks pay off? Or is Mists of Pandaria the kung-fu temple bell ringing in the final days of WoW?
What is your impressions of Blizzard’s announcement? Are you now tied? Will you find yourself returning to WoW next year when (presumably) Mists of Pandaria hits?
Or do you think Mists of Pandaria was not epic enough to keep those looking to drop WoW for SW:TOR?