In front of an audience of 26,000 live and 60,000 BlizzCon virtual ticket holders, Blizzard’s Chris Metzen unveiled a new expansion for World of Warcraft that will be released when it’s ready. Undoubtedly one of the most significant updates to the game in years, Mists of Pandaria will include a new playable race, class, continent, increased level caps, a pet battle system, new talent system, and more.
The most significant news surrounds Pandarens. This race of panda-like humanoids lives in a serene and tranquil continent known as Pandaria. This continent, decorated greatly in Asian-influenced building style, rolling plains, and lush greenery is an entirely new area that was lost ages ago, only to be discovered again by the Alliance and Horde forces as they approach an impending explosion of war. Pandaria is a five-zone continent that will include everything a player needs to make a new home away from Ogrimmar and Stormwind.
The Wandering Isle is the Pandaren start zone, and it is essentially a giant turtle. The area looks a lot like a Warcraft-style version of Cantha from Guild Wars.
A new player class is also available. Monk, a class undoubtedly closely tied with the Pandarens, will enable players to take advantage of an entirely new set of tactics and talent system.
In addition to the new race and class, the level cap will be raised to 90, giving long-time players even more incentive to dust off their old characters and catch up to the new ceiling.
Blizzard’s Chris Metzen sets Mists of Pandaria as a quiet before the storm, giving players a new world to get out of Stormwind keep and explore while setting up a larger story that promises to lead to an epic battle between red and blue, Horde and Alliance. During a post-keynote interview, Metzen confirmed that Pandarens are the only playable race to come with this new expansion, breaking previous trends of adding races two-by-two.
As usual with any Blizzard product, no release date has been announced. Speculation based on previous expansions by Blizzard would set this expansion to release sometime between mid 2012 and early 2013.