With Star Wars the Old Republic getting closer and closer in the rear-view mirror, Blizzard chose their annual bash, Blizzcon, as the moment to announce their final World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. Designer Tom Chilton announced an array of major changes (revamping talent trees, Pokemon-like companion pet battles, no melee weapons for hunters, etc.), but most people cannot stop talking about the Kung Fu Panda theme.
More Kung Fu Panda and Comments after the jump…
No matter what lore-based argument one can make about the appropriateness of martial arts pandas in Azeroth, it is hard to deny that Mists of Pandaria is a direct descendant of a Dreamworks movie.
Some argue that targeting a younger audience is a smart move for Blizzard since it could increase their subscriber base. Others wonder if bringing children into the very adult world of MMOs is a good idea.
Pop culture references throughout World of Warcraft have always been a subject of heated debate among fans. Many find it amusing to run into Haris Pilton or Robby Flay, but others call it immersion breaking or just plain silly. BioWare developers have repeatedly told their fans not to expect these kinds of nods to pop culture in SWTOR, unless it comes from the Star Wars EU. With Mists of Pandaria, Blizzard takes a bold stance on the debate by creating an entire expansion based on a pop culture reference.
In the end pandas will probably receive a mixed reaction from dedicated World of Warcraft fans, much in the same way as Ewoks were both reviled and adored by Star Wars fans.
Read Gamespot’s detailed write-up on Mists of Pandaria here.