Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pandaren and Pandaria

So Pandaren are the new playable race. In a surprise twist, they're available to both Horde and Alliance. The Pandaren starting area is neutral apparently, and the individual Pandaren choose Horde or Alliance at about level 10.

I am rather lukewarm about Pandaren characters. I don't think that pandas are any worse than gnomes, goblins, space-goats, or werewolves. But I'm not really excited to play one either. Though that may be more because I have my main, and I really don't feel enthusiastic about alts anymore. I'll probably roll a Pandaren to play through the starting area, but I doubt it will get much farther than that.

What I really hope is that Blizzard chooses to give the pandaren--and pandaren culture--a vein of seriousness, and use understated humor rather than slapstick. I think that would balance the intrinsically humorous nature of panda warriors.

I am wondering what Pandaren will look like in Tier armor. Most tier sets seem to designed for a "less round" body type. And of course, we'll see how sexy Blizzard can make female Pandaren. There are a lot of people who want a, let's say, more lush body type. But the stats show that these types of female figures tend to be the least played, even by women.

I actually kind of pity Blizzard that decision. The more sexual dimorphism they introduce (even to the Draenei level), the more people will actually play the characters, but the more outrage it will generate on the forums and possibly even the media and press.

A final thought about player characters, will Pandaren characters be able to communicate cross-faction? It seems odd that they would start together, but be unable to talk. Maybe the Pandaren language only will be cross-faction, so when the panda-trash-talk starts, no one else--Horde or Alliance--will understand it.

As for Pandaria itself, it does look pretty neat. The art is very nice and very different from the rest of Azeroth. I actually really like the theme of expansion, at least as Blizzard explained it. The Horde versus Alliance war, playing out by both sides courting or fighting the Pandaren. Symbolically, it works extremely well with the Pandaren being available to both sides. The individual's choice echoing the continent's choice.


  1. I'm about 6 months out of having quit WoW so take my comments in the appropriate context.

    I think the Pandaren addition has a strong "novelty" factor in that visually, and to some degree thematically, it's a really interesting addition. My thought though is that it will lose appeal quickly to everyone who isn't in love with leveling yet another alt.

    Blizzard has flatly stated that they have no intention of letting players start new characters at a higher level for any alt outside of DKs. Their desire being not to make 1-80 content irrelevant. But isn't it irrelevant already? LFG/LFD while a revolution for PUGs also destroyed the leveling experience. Theory crafting suggests that it's faster in some cases to level via LFG/LFD than in the game world. I have leveled alts both ways and I didn't find either particularly fun.

    I'm honestly imagining that there will be two bulges in the Pandaren level distribution. One in the level 85-90 range for players who either endure the leveling process or race change. The other in the 15-25 range for those who play to experience the new starting area and play a few more levels until they realize they are about to do the same quests/dungeons for the 20+ time and let the character rot.

    This is why I'm calling the new content novel. It's not necessarily bad, but it's only a brief distraction before things become way to familiar again. What might have been really compelling is if the Pandaren were a true neutral faction that found themselves caught between the larger conflict between Horde/Alliance and that hey had an entirely unique leveling experience from 1 to perhaps 80; only involving themselves in the affairs of Azeroth due to the Cataclysm. I realize this would require massive work on the part of Blizzard, but if they want to keep WoW from bleeding more subscriptions they might just have to be that drastic.

  2. The whole language thing has always been crap from the start. Shattrah and Dalaran vendors have no problem talking to both Alliance and Horde characters, but for some reason nobody in one faction can speak a language of the opposing faction.... yes sure.

    And don't even mention druids and the whole Cenarion thing. NE and Taurens side by side, and they never exchanged a word... yes sure to the power of two.

    They should allow inter-faction communication, maybe not using the "common" language of the other faction, but allowing a character to learn one of the other languages and be able to use it to talk to others. NE/Tauren was a very good candidate because of the druid thing, now with worgens and trolls added in, it would be harder to pull off.

  3. "a vein of seriousness, and use understated humor rather than slapstick"

    This is my hope as well, but I don't know how much faith I have in blizzard anymore. That understated humor has always been key to not only wow, but all of blizzard's games. That moment of unxpected levity that breaks up the grind. Cataclysm took it WAY past the line, too many quests, characters and even entire zones were just too silly. Goblins are more rediculous then gnomes ever were, and I see pandaren as a further progression of that. I guess we'll see once beta hits.

  4. I like the looks of Pandaria but won't be rolling a Panda. I will add a Monk to have 5/5 healers. D3 will be taking up my time. Loved what I played and saw at Blizzcon this year.

  5. Man, I hope we do not get lithe pandarians with giant boobs for the female model, but knowing Blizzard we probably will because they suck at alternate forms of femininity. I admit my taste in characters tends to run towards female gnomes, goblins, and dwarves, though.

    Anyway, I'm pretty ish on pandas and much more interested in the monk class. DPS/heal hybrids are neat in RIFT and I hope WoW does something similar.

  6. In of the Interviews on the Virtual ticket. It was said that horde and alliance Pandarian won't be able to talk. While lore wise they should be able to the mechanics of the game need it to be such that they can't.

  7. A final thought about player characters, will Pandaren characters be able to communicate cross-faction? It seems odd that they would start together, but be unable to talk. Maybe the Pandaren language only will be cross-faction, so when the panda-trash-talk starts, no one else--Horde or Alliance--will understand it.
    As was just mentioned, it was stated at Blizzcon that they will not be able to communicate for exactly that reason; they don't want any cross-faction trash-talking at all in the game.

    The expansion sounds very cool to me, so I'm looking forward to something more light-hearted after the gloom of the last few expansions.

  8. For a game ostensibly built on fighting the "other guys", restricting language/communication across the faction divide seems like a very strange choice to me. Yes, trash talk would happen in-game. Yes, some players wouldn't be able to control themselves.

    ...isn't that sort of like... war?

  9. In my opinion, I'm hoping they don't apply the 'sexy' factor to the female pandas. To me a skinny panda is a dieing panda and unless you want to spend all your time in a graveyard, a little extra cushion wouldn't hurt. The whole 'sexed up' thing is just getting old now, like we don't have enough of it literally everywhere. I know for me I play a dwarf female as my main and plan on rolling a female panda, granted they make her 'fluffy', lol.

    BTW, I see that you're alliance, and I'm hoping to pass my 'site-esque' around to fellow Alliance players. Would you be able to view it and if possible let other people know? I'm just trying to help the attitude of this faction before it goes down the gutter.

    Thanks and have a great day!

  10. I'm willing to bet that the fact that an (increasingly) huge portion of Blizz's income is from the Chinese player base played a huge role in choosing pandas as a playable race.

  11. @RJ, Tesh: Wasn't it "anything but trash talk"? Considering that it would make sense to ensure the opponents are dehumanized - for example, now the communication is restricted to fighting, emotes and a couple of swearwords people can find on the Internet. (It's always swearwords, it seems nobody has ever been motivated enough to find how to say hello or friend or peace...) It would be hard to hate a faction if you were jumped by a ganker and immediately received a couple of supportive whispers from his faction.

  12. @Anonymous: Pandas were a touchy subject when Blizzard was courting China to bring their game into the country, similar to the undead. Blizzard had to "repackage" the undead models to get approval. I think the decision to go Pandaren was more strongly linked to the wishes of many non-Chinese fans, and Blizzard slowly but shortly tying up story loose threads that originated in WCIII and Vanilla WoW.