Oct 222011
 

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.

  12 Responses to “Mists of Pandaria: Totally Awesome or Shark Jumping Time?”

  1. The Pandas were a throwback to the RTS that had them thrown in as a gag. Now, after YEARS of the players saying they wanted them, they throw them into an Xpac that has no real main boss, re-re-hashed old dungeons and fights for your cosmetic pets to do while you stand around and watch…

    My friend just “resurrected” my game to play with him, but that is a month and then by that time I’ll be chomping at the bit, more than I am now, to play Swtor.

  2. I am honestly interested in at least trying Mists at one point. The talent revamp looks interesting for many classes and it will change the game across the board. And I am still a huge fan of Pokémon, and I have to confess that this would become my time-sink… I already enjoyed Archaeology immensely and now they plan this?

    But, I have also run out of steam with WoW in recent years, and am fully pledging myself to SWeaTOR once it is out =) so, I’m going to dust off my DS and play Pokémon proper, and not get addicted to the mini-game when it is out

  3. They are getting a lot of throwback from this expansion trailer. I don’t think it is jumping the shark or something innovative, but rather the plateau that Blizzard can sit on so that they have time to work on Titan. This probably will be a small expansion that will lead up to the true end game. Let’s see how many people are still playing by that time though.

  4. I honestly thought this was a joke when I first saw it. One thing about it, this expansion will certainly appeal to the preteen and young teen crowd which I believe is Blizzard’s target market right now.

  5. I agree that it looks like Blizzard is shifting it’s sights to a new audience (younger teens). What I disagree with is calling the idea a “direct descendant of a Dreamworks movie”. The Pandaren along with there obvious roots in Chinese culture was established in Warcraft 3. Which was released nearly 5 years prior to the first Kung Fu Panda movie showing in theaters. The expac won’t draw me back into the game but I think it’s a welcome change from the “impending doom via the next scary bad guy” theme that’s been prevalent in the past 3 expansions.

  6. At first i thought cool.

    Second thought was wtf ? , really make a expansion with bits from a dreamwork movie hmm ok.

    Im all for swtor, but hey gonna be intresting to see what blizzard will do after this expansion is it the last one ,which i dont think because there is no way they are gonna kill of a game that still has millions of subscribers.

  7. I know that technically, Blizzard can say that they had Pandarens before Kung Fu Panda happened, but we don’t live in a cultural vacuum. Pandarens, in my opinion, do not happen as a playable race or as the central theme of a WoW expac without the success of the movie. Kung Fu Panda may not have invented martial arts pandas, but it popularized them far beyond what Warcraft 3 was able to accomplish. Blizzard’s smart — they know that 99% (maybe 100%) of the people watching the trailer are going to make a connection between pandarens and Kung Fu Panda in their minds. In the end, Blizzard decided to capitalize on the popularity of the movie to get people excited about their expansion, which is why I still think the movie was a driving force behind Mists of Pandaria.

    Pandarens being in existence before the movies is mostly important because now they can’t be sued for being copycats hehe.

  8. Question: is Mists of Pandaria the last WoW expansion? I thought they had announced previously that it was, but I don’t follow the game that closely, so I may be mis-remembering.

  9. “For all the challenges we have faced, and all the places we have been, Azeroth’s limits have yet to be revealed.”

    That last line of the trailer makes me think that this is not the last expansion if they can help it.

  10. @ Kathy – Activision Blizzard COO Thomas Tippl revealed earlier this year that WoW will have 2 more expansions, though the WoW Dev team refused to confirm

    http://au.gamespot.com/pc/rpg/worldofwarcraft/news/6333260/blizzard-three-year-plan-includes-two-world-of-warcraft-starcraft-ii-add-ons?mode=all

  11. @Flamegear Ahhh, thanks. I’m betting that the future expansions may continue this trend of focusing on the younger gaming crowd.

  12. If I was interested in WoW, I think this expansion was actually pretty neat.

    I don’t think enough games cover eastern mysticism themes and it’s a welcome addition to the game space I believe.

    Jade Empire was pretty cool for just that reason. I think the problem people have with it is because of how cartoony it seems and the people that don’t know the lore immediately see “Kung Fu Panda”. However, that’s the style of the game and I think it fits rather well actually.

    I’d like to say this though, I think this is a move from Blizzard to cement their position in the Asian mmo market as a Western developer. They added a Pokemonesque battle system for pets and they are introducing Asian themes, it’s quite possible that this expansion is intended more for Asia than it is America where is seems inevitable that their numbers will continue to wain going forward. They’ll focus on Asia to keep the money rolling in as they continue to prepare for the launch of their next mmo.

    Ask the question, why bail a sinking ship? Focus on the market that their competitors (including TOR) can’t hope to gain market share over them in (Asia) and bide their time for their next big thing.

    Very smart in my opinion.

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