Everything is coming full circle again, Blizzard trademarks another name a few months before Blizzcon. Those in the know understand what that means, New Expansion; but what does ‘Mists of Pandaria’ mean in terms of content?
Blizzard has a large number of products they sell with the Warcraft franchise so how do we know this will be an expansion instead of a book or an RPG? The first piece of evidence is a little vague but it fits. “I think the next expansion will be something more like a new continent approach. More like the Burning Crusade or Northrend, where we send players somewhere new that they haven’t seen before.” said Greg Street, Lead Systems Designer for Blizzard, in an interview with CVG the day before Cataclysm launched. Pandaria fits perfectly but it’s not concrete enough on its own.
Further supporting evidence links back to my opening sentence; Blizzard has a habit of leaking the title of their expansions. This happened from the very beginning, with The Burning Crusade, for which they filed a trademark in May 2005, only seven months after the original launch. At the time some of us thought it was a blunder of sorts and were not entirely sure it was even going to be an expansion. In August 2007, they trademarked Wrath of the Lich King three times for Comics, Games and Entertainment Services respectively, but then in July 2009 we saw a new trademark for Cataclysm, suggesting a pattern. In August 2011 they trademarked the name Mists of Pandaria using the international codes 009 and 041. Codes that are only used for when they plan to publish an online game.
So, we have quite a bit of proof that the next expansion will be called Mists of Pandaria but what are the Pandaran? Well, in truth, they are an April Fools’ joke; based on what Samwise Didier, Art Director at Blizzard, drew for a fifth race for Warcraft III. They were so popular that, in the The Frozen Throne, Chris Metzen started writing them into the lore and even had them make an appearance in the game. Year after year, they have been one of the most requested races in World of Warcraft and it seems Blizzard are answering our cries.
A little warning, the next few paragraphs are surrounding Pandaran lore, so if you don’t know much about Warcraft it’s gonna be a little hard to follow. They were originally located on Kalimdor long ago and were friends with the Tauren and Night Elves. Their culture revolved around Shamanism and Tai-Chi/Daosim; which is where we find more Chinese influence. Due to their strong beliefs and the Night Elves’ new found interest in arcane magic, they left Kalimdor behind in search of a new home. In time, they discovered an island surrounded by mist, and founded their cities using bamboo and heavy stone, naming their land Pandaria. For thousands of years they lived a life in seclusion and secrecy but after the third war a few decided to wander off into the world.
One notable entry in the race is Chen Stormstout, a deep friend in the Horde. He left Pandaria to find and discover new ingredients for his brew. You see, Chen is a Pandaran Brewmaster; a class that drinks to augment, or even give them, special abilities. On his journey to Kalimdor he found Rexxar, the Beastmaster and Champion of the Horde. He asked Rexxar to find him some ingredients and he obliged. Afterwards, they started traveling together and eventually found themselves on a mission to Theramore Island to find out why the humans were attacking, and eventually helped kill Admiral Proudmoore. He left without a trace but you can find some of his kegs of brew scattered across the barrens.
He may have helped the Horde but the Pandaran have always been very independent, so I’m not even sure that they are going join a side. They could be Neutral or not even a playable race for all we know. If they are playable then we might have a new hero class in the Brewmaster. In Wrath of the Lich King they had three hero classes on the table: Death Knight, Necromancer and the Runecaster (Monk-like class). In the end, they combined the Necromancer into the Death Knight to make the Unholy tree. I feel they could possibly do the same thing with the Runecaster and the Pandaran Brewmaster.
The Pandaran are very interesting but that cant be the only thing this new expansion will bring. With the last patch, they reintroduced the Zandalari, so they may go to the southern islands as well and reintroduce us to Kul Tiras, or even go to the Goblin capital of Undermine. A likely villain for that expansion would be Queen Azshara since she is a resident of the sea and still at large. They have a lot of room to move around since Cataclysm set a precedent, departing from the lore of Warcraft III and heading in a more original direction.
Of course, this is all just speculation. Without any official word on the matter, we’ll probably have to wait until this year’s Blizzcon for any further details. In the meantime, what do you think to the rumours? Are the Pandarans an addition you’d like to see? Do you think they will just eat, shoot and leave? What do you guys think will come out of this expansion? Feel free to discuss this with me and other members of the community in the Mists of Pandaria Thread. Another note, if any of my lore is incorrect, leave a post in the comments or thread and I will amend it.