Immortal Gamer recently got a chance to demo Blizzard Entertainment's newly announced expansion to their World of Warcraft franchise. This expansion introduces a new continent as well as a new race called the Pandaren.
The Pandaren were first introduced in Warcraft 3 as an NPC named the Pandaren Brewmaster. This race, as the name suggests, has a striking resemblance to a panda bear. I am including a picture so those of you who think this is ridiculous won't run for the door.
I admit that when I first heard that this was a possibility for WoW's latest expansion i was not privy to the idea. After seeing them, my opinion changed however. These are not your cuddly run-of-the-mill pandas. These creatures remind me of a ninja turtle and panda hybrid. Blizzard commented that this class would be the best designed race the game has offered thus far. It was mentioned by Blizzard that the Pandaren have around 110 different bones in their faces alone. That certainly paints a picture of vast customization for the new race. In addition to this, the Pandaren will be the first race that can be played by both Alliance and Horde. Blizzard was rather tight-lipped about things that would distinguish an Alliance Pandaren from a Horde Pandaren. The only thing that has been revealed is that the Pandaren will remain neutral until level 10. Upon reaching level 10 the Pandaren will have to choose Horde or Alliance.
Pandaria, the homeland of the Pandaren, has an ancient Chinese feel to it. The buildings resemble structures that one might see in a samurai movie but with a little WoW twist. The landscape is beautiful and the Pandaren fit into the environment perfectly. This environment had almost everyone at the convention drooling on their keyboards.
This expansion will also introduce a new class: the monk. With the limited access we had to the game (I was only able to get to level 4) it was hard to get a feel for how the monk would play out. It certainly felt like a rogue-like experience. One of the monk's abilities is a roll ability. This ability increases the movement speed for a couple of seconds and was on a relatively small cool down (30 seconds - 1 minute?).
Playing this demo really changed my mind about the future of WoW. In fact, with Blizzard's new Annual Pass, I have started playing once again!