If Kung Fu Panda and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon had a child Mists of Pandaria would be the result. In the newly announced expansion from Blizzard, players will experience Pandaria, a long lost continent of Azeroth. As the title suggests, this is the home of the Pandaren: the new playable race in the expansion. By now most readers know that the Pandaren is the race of panda-like humanoids found thoughout the Warcraft mythos. In addition to the introduction to this new race Blizzard has added the new playable class... the Monk.
I was fortunate to play the first few levels of the Pandaren monk at this year's Blizzcon. The environment of Pandaria is steeped in mysticism and martial arts. There are mist covered mountains, waterfalls, tranquil ponds, caverns, and immense pagodas, which is all the more impressive when you take into account that Pandaria's starting zone resides on the back of a giant turtle. Yup, I said it, a giant turtle.
The monk's are primarily powered by Chi energy. Chi powers jabs and rolls. Executing jabs generates Light and Dark force. These Light and Dark forces are used to power all other abilities. It should be noted that force is also known as "sha" throughout the game.
To this end Monks have an additional force display. Showing five indicators for both light and sha energy. For example the monk ability "Black Out Kick" uses two sha energy. The monk would be able to execute two kicks before having to return to their chi powered jabs to replenish their expended sha energy.
This same methodology applies to light powered abilities. There is no auto attack for the monk, giving this class a little more of a console fighter game. Players have to pay careful attention to both their chi and light/sha energy expenditures. There will be a variety of stances available to the monk. Each of the stances will dictate the type of monk the player may select.
The following builds will be available to monks.
Starting Quests of Pandaria
Honestly there is nothing truly unique here. The quests do have a very martial artist's path to self improvement vibe. But at the end of the day, it was more of the same questing. Kill X amount of this mob or collect Y amount of this resource. That being said, I did enjoy what I saw and played of the starting zone and quests. While the quests may be more of the same, there was a certain flow and progression to them that worked well with the race/class combinations. Fans of both traditional and modern martial arts movies will enjoy the monk's quest lines.
The New Look
Maybe it's the top of the line computers and monitors the demo was played on, but the graphics appear to have undergone an overhaul. The visuals really seemed much sharper and crisper than previous incarnations of WoW. Our later interview confirmed without much detail that they have indeed tweaked the engine some more.
There will be more information to follow on the heels of BlizzCon. What are your thoughts on the new class and race? Share your ideas with your fellow readers below.