Ponder Pandas In This Mists Of Pandaria Footage

By Craig Pearson on March 19th, 2012 at 5:15 pm.

Mmmphmmhmpph
The chaps at Wowhead’s coverage of a secret press peek at World Of Warcraft’s Mists of Pandaria is 100% better than RPS’s coverage. The trivial detail of us not actually seeing the game is only a technicality: touche, Wowhead. Our coverage of the Terrible Night Of Sleep expansion to Craig’s Weekend is clearly better than yours, though: I was AFK for two hours, but after that spent 5 hours in a raid on Sleepless Dungeon.


Pandaria is the Warcraft joke made real: an Asian influenced continent that adds pandas as a playable race. What caught my eye: the pet battles, little turn-based mini-games where you set your companions to battle, seem cute and rather in depth: 100 of the critters, some of which can only be found at certain times of the day. The whole system seems super-cute and deadly serious at the same time.

I occasionally pop into WoW after years of not caring. It’s a world I’m happy to explore, but don’t really care for the mechanics. What’s clear when I return is that I enjoy the new content a lot more than the existing stuff. You can clearly see the level designers coming to terms with the notion of ‘fun’ in their world. The glimpses of Pandaria below really only show the world they’re building, but it does look pretty enough for me to dust off my WoW mage for a short holiday.

This is Valley of the Four Winds.

Kite flying in the Wandering Isle.

The Jade Forest is very green, and has balloons!

This one shows shows how the Scarlet Monastry and the Scholomance Dungeon will be rejigerred.

Via Wowhead.

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74 Comments »

  1. Brun says:

    All the irrational panda-hate aside, the zone design in this expansion looks great.

    • CaspianRoach says:

      I’m sorry, but it’s 2012, I can’t call flat walls with cloned textures and sprite grass as “looking great” with a straight face. WoW needs a better engine, there’s only so much you can do with the current one.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        WoW is one of the best examples of style over graphics. It looks fine.

        • CaspianRoach says:

          It looked fine five years ago. It doesn’t come close even to its current competitors now, not to mention the singleplayer games.

          • Toberoth says:

            You’re misreading the original comment: “the ZONE DESIGN in this expansion looks great.” Which it does.

          • Valvarexart says:

            MMO’s have always been behind singleplayer games, and I’d not say that WoW looks much worse than your average MMO. As mentioned, style is more important than graphics and the level design is quite good.
            Keep in mind that this is not coming from a fan; I have a lot of issues with these types of MMO’s and do not feel motivated to purchase them solely because of the graphical style.

          • Meneldil says:

            WoW ages much better than pretty much all other MMO. Sure, the textures are not up to nowadays standards, but seven years after its release (and after a few slight graphical updates), it still looks great, no matter all your mumbling-rambling.

            That’s something no other MMO can brag about. AoC looked great at release. Now it looks like crap. Same for Lineage, Aion, WAR Online, LotRO, and Guildwar. The fancy 3D highly detailled texture quickly get old (litterally), while a cartoony design doesn’t.
            And then, WoW just overall feels less clunky than any other MMO too. The animation are – despite what you say here again – great, and it gives the whole game a feeling that no other WoW clone actually could capture.

      • Toberoth says:

        There’s a difference between smart, slick design and graphics per pixel. WoW has always excelled at the former.

      • Tolkfan says:

        Some see further than the amount of polygons or the resolution of the textures.

        • CaspianRoach says:

          Some see the mitten hands and incoherent player character animations and turn away in disgust.

          • Brun says:

            You’re free to take that kind of extremely shallow viewpoint if you wish.

        • codename_bloodfist says:

          Oh please, this is the same cheap excuse as the one the indie devs use to develop games in 8-bit graphics. Label a bug as a feature and there you go. WoW looks terrible and I will disagree with the other guy here and say that it also looked terrible 5 years ago. It’s not art, it’s not style, it just crap.

          There was a game that had great style over graphics and its name was Guild Wars. You could play it on a completely rubbish computer and it looked absolutely amazing, in particular the Pre-Searing Ascalon. You could really see the attention to detail that the artists paid while crafting the world. Every little house and every little cove had something special about them. WoW on the other hand was always “blablabla mountain range blablabla SUDDEN SWITCH TO DESERT blablabla SUDDEN SWITCH TO FOREST AGAIN and some copypasta houses”.

          I’m not a WoW hater and actually quite liked running dungeons with friends, but claiming that it has good stylistic direction is downright delusional.

          • deke913 says:

            On the other hand, I just a few days ago reinstalled Guild Wars to get back into the lore and much to my surprise I had somewhere along the way lost my rose colored glasses. ( maybe one of you guys have them) It looked horrible, and thats being generous.

            Then I reinstalled WoW to get ready for MOP (my nephews and I play together as they are new to the game and love it …as do I) And guess what …it looked just the way I remember it except better due to dx11 support and tweaks to spells and such, and I had a better card as well and that helped.(but it should have helped in GW as well and didn’t)

            Wow is dated ..no doubt..but it takes away nothing from the gameplay and looks cartoonishly beautiful.

          • codename_bloodfist says:

            @deke

            That’s because WoW has been updated a good number of times and still has a running community, while GW is, practically speaking, a dead, abandoned beast. Needless to say, you’ll also need a significantly more powerful computer to run modern WoW (and old WoW as well) compared to the original GW. I agree with you, it looks pretty bad today, but it’s been over seven years now.

      • Metonymy says:

        150 million dollars a month is not being spent on quality here, in fact, not even a tenth of that is being spent. It looks like garbage.

        • Brun says:

          I’d wager that a large portion of that $150 million per month is being spent on operating expenses.

          Besides, I thought RPS readers were supposed to be enlightened and not care about graphics and polygons. Or are all those much-hailed 2D indie platforming games “garbage” because they don’t use high-res 3-D models and textures?

          • CaspianRoach says:

            2D indie platforming games tend to actually have a better texture and animation quality. WoW is just a zoomed in Warcraft3.

          • Consumatopia says:

            I don’t agree with the anti-WoW art argument–it’s pretty impressive what they can do with low-polys and blurry textures. But I think there is a difference between 2D and 3D here–a 2D game doesn’t have to worry about me running up real close to a wall and filling my whole screen with 4 pixels from a texture that looked really nice from far away. I can focus on how well-designed a 2D sprite is, even a lo-fi “8-bit” sprite, but with primitive 3D, no matter how well-designed it is, it’s obsolescence is right there in my face.

            It’s the difference between Simple English Wikipedia, and hearing a word like “conversate” or “irregardless”–simple 2D art is like the former, accomplishing exactly what it needs to accomplish as simply as it can, while outdated 3D art feels, to me, like the latter–trying to be more than it really is.

            That said, I’d still agree that WoW looks much better than many, many other games with higher resolution textures and more polygons.

          • marach says:

            umm no. Your initial purchase pretty much paid for 2 years of operating costs for a single person (if you bought it when it released) strangely there’s been an xpac about every 2 years (shockingly) which costs the same as the game did on initial release…
            Your monthly fee is pretty much pure profit for that length of time…

      • Drake Sigar says:

        I thought half the point of WoW was that you could play it on a toaster.

      • Goldenspork says:

        in the first video at 0:16 do you see the cave its seamless overall it looks seamless that makes the game look better than others with many fancy shaders.

    • Brun says:

      Zone design is largely independent of graphical fidelity. It’s more of a stylistic thing.

      For comparison, SWTOR’s zone design was atrocious, the zones were bland and utterly forgettable, despite the higher-poly models and better textures and shaders.

      WoW has consistently done more with less than so many of its competitors.

    • Phantoon says:

      Irrational panda-hate?

      Have you seen the females? They look like dwarves in fursuits!

      I seriously laughed nervously while shuddering upon seeing one. I’ve seen terrible things, but this… is the worst. I’m not even exaggerating. These things are horrific.

      • Brun says:

        I honestly don’t have a problem with ugly player characters.

        That said, I was referring more to people considering them to be a “joke” due to their relatively small presence in the game’s lore.

  2. Dances to Podcasts says:

    It’s a shame they spoiled the end boss already, but I guess the ‘pandas are a joke’ angry internet men had to be appeased…

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      To be fair, the one thing uniting many Horde and Alliance players is a desire to slap Garrosh around a bit. I’m not sure whether making Garrosh the main antagonist of the expansion is an example of careful management of the player-base’s mood or cunning Panda-ing to the players. Either works I think. :)

    • Nevard says:

      I don’t know if that’s a huge problem, the idea with this expansion was apparently lots of comparatively smaller stories (rather than knowing from the start we’ll be taking down Deathwing or Arthas) and thus Garrosh will certainly be the last boss before the next expansion, but he won’t be the last boss to tie up storylines.
      Presumably almost every raid’s endboss will be the culmination of a smaller plotline this time, rather than the big payoff of taking down the king of the undead or the dragon who wants to destroy the planet.

      • Brun says:

        Which was largely the format followed by Vanilla. The five main raids in Vanilla (Molten Core, Zul’Gurub, Blackwing Lair, Ahn’Quiraj, and Naxxramas) weren’t strongly related.

        EDIT: I forgot Onyxia’s Lair. I guess you could call that one a tie-in to Blackwing Lair.

  3. Metonymy says:

    Compare the “everyone can do everything” philosophy of GW2, to WoW’s philosophy: “Only Druids and Paladins can do everything.”

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      And, come next expansion, also monks. :P

    • tyren says:

      Even druids and paladins can’t do everything all at once.

      • Metonymy says:

        I can’t drive my sports car, pickup truck, and SUV all at the same time, so there’s no difference between me and the guy who only has a sports car.

  4. Kollega says:

    Feh, it’s obvious that WoW is ripping off the other joke-turned-success – Jarate!

  5. Kiyo101 says:

    They sure do have a knack for making the same old stuff look beautiful and enticing, but sadly I have cut all ties with WoW and I’m going to do the stupid thing and get my hopes up for GW2.

  6. Koozer says:

    Godammit if only this was released before Cataclysm; I might’ve stuck around.

    • Kiyo101 says:

      Completely agreed, quite sad actually.. So much time put into one game to now find it unbearable to play, tragic to say the least.

  7. InternetBatman says:

    That just looks dumb. It looks good for WoW levels, but the concept is just completely uninspired. They ran out of ideas with Cataclysm and they’re desperately digging into the bottom of the barrel now. I’m not saying this because I hate WoW or other MMOs; I played WoW on and off for several years. It should have ended with Lich King though.

    Also, who wants to go back to the Scarlet Monastery? Shouldn’t the Scarlet Crusade be megadead anyways? The Death Knight origin has you convincingly razing their towns, and then you get the last Dreadlord later in Lich King.

    • Xerian says:

      More like scraping off flakes of the bottom of said barrel… I mean, come on. Pandarens were originally made as an Aprils-fool joke! Just really shows that they have no idea what to do now… lol.
      But really, the game with its silly (and graphically un-updated) engine has always looked uninspiring to me. Even when the game was new..

      • Brun says:

        They were a recruitable hero unit in Warcraft 3…

        • InternetBatman says:

          Illidan’s Blades also had Pandas on them in WC3. They were changed for WoW.

          • Brun says:

            You could also recruit a Pandaren Brewmaster in the Orc Campaign in Frozen Throne, which is story canon.

            I don’t understand a lot of the “Pandas are a joke” rage, unless it’s all coming from people who never played Warcraft 3. I don’t think a completely made-up continent or race would have sat any better with the community.

          • Phantoon says:

            It’s bad storytelling.

            Pandas had little to no lead in to being the most important race in a completely new area. Even Warcraft 3 didn’t completely drop the ball like this one foreshadowing new things.

            For instance, Ethereals would’ve been fine, as there were plenty of things in Outland left unresolved that could’ve tied to even more alien worlds. Was the writing poor on other fronts? Absolutely, this is Blizzard, after all. But at least the Ethereals didn’t come straight out of left field to be the most important race with all the quest givers and what not.

            The pandas were this, and an easter egg joke isn’t legitimacy. You can’t have a guy (Samwise) put his fursona in the game as an easter egg hero with little to no follow up and say it was hinted at before- Blizzard retcons everything too much for that amount of faith to make any sense. Like the Ashbringer, for instance.

            I can’t believe I’m quoting burning crusade as a good example.

          • briktal says:

            Pandas were almost the Alliance race in TBC though.

  8. Gasmask Hero says:

    Oh, how much wretched spite can be delivered on one game.

    I have fond memories of my time in WoW. It’s nice to see it’s still going strong. And it’s nice to see that people are prepared to chant the mantra of ‘GW2′, like they chanted the mantra of ‘Aion’. And ‘Rifts’. And ‘SWTOR’ and other touted ‘WoW killers’. It’s touching to see people comparing an 8 year old MMO as the benchmark that all others must surpass.

    • Kiyo101 says:

      Defintely refuse to use the term WoW killer because it simply won’t happen, but as I said I will get my hopes up probably only to be let down by GW2.. We shall see!

    • jjujubird says:

      GW2 really shouldn’t be compared to Aion or the other mostly-failed “wow killers”.

      a) GW2 is no subscription and a different style than WoW so some people will play a little of both.
      b) GW1 was a much, much bigger success than most people realize. Highly profitable. Arenanet has the MMO experience that the companies behind Aion/AoC/Warhammer/SWOR/etc. did not. Arenanet is not desperate enough to want or need to “kill wow”. GW2 will do great whether WoW stays strong or fades into obscurity.

    • Phantoon says:

      GW2 isn’t looking to be a wow-killer, it’s looking to take a bite out of the subscription base for the people that want their style of game.

      I wasn’t looking forward to it for the longest time, but I’ve turned around. If I don’t get to play the beta beforehand, though, I doubt I’ll care.

  9. Pictoru says:

    the thing i’m mostly looking forward to is the soundtrack, you can’t deny that WoW always had great music

    • Xerian says:

      I quite much can. Back in the day, sure, it was good. Possibly great, but nowadays its un-inspiring, and generic at best… Same goes for the expansions, graphics, models and just about everything “new” in this game, which insists on endlessly copy/pasting textures, abilties, lewt, and just… Ugh. And come on, Pandarens? They’re a joke! Quite literally! They were originally just made as an aprils fool joke! – And Blizzard stated they were so horrible that they’d never actually use them for real…
      Its just a sad state of affairs, really.

      • Nevard says:

        I’d like a source on that “Blizzard stated they were so horrible they’d never make them for real” because I’m pretty sure you’re sitting on the place that quote came from right now.

        Pandaren were originally going to be the Alliance race for The Burning Crusade but were pulled and replaced by Draenei (one reason why Blood Elf lore was far more common than Spacegoat in the game content) and the race has always been a fan favourite.
        They weren’t even made up as an April Fool’s day joke, they have been present in Warcraft since Warcraft III (which predates World of Warcraft and is where a great deal of plot and class detail sprang from) and various items and at least one quest that was in the game since vanilla has made it clear that they are a very real thing that still exists in the Warcraft world.

        • Brun says:

          It’s okay. Not everyone was good enough to unlock them in the WC3 campaigns. It’s understandable that some of the more casual players may not understand their origins.

          • Phantoon says:

            I like how you throw out the “casual” modifier to the Panda thing.

            There are no origins, because no time was devoted in the game to explaining them.

            And you can’t say “the books said X” because the books are all completely terrible and retcon massive things like where Deathwing was during the Second War after he raided Stormwind.

          • Nevard says:

            People can agree or disagree on whether the introduction is bad storytelling, but there’s a big difference between presenting an opposing opinion and making up sources to back your opinion.

  10. skyturnedred says:

    I was actually considering I might get back to WoW for a month or two when this hits, but then I realized I’d have to play Cataclysm first. Meh.

  11. Strutter says:

    I only played cataclysm for a month before I got bored again, not making that mistake with this expansion. Bring on GW2 instead.

  12. Carra says:

    I’ll be playing it for a month or two, the same as I did with Cataclysm & Wotlk.

    A lot of fun but I’m no longer interested in spending years with a single game.

  13. Moraven says:

    Look forward to the expansion. Lots of good things to come.

  14. Zepp says:

    Atrocious human models are still there! No come back for me.

  15. Harvey says:

    I kinda wish i still liked WoW, but now I’m the crotchety old guy looking back with rosey glasses at vanilla. I think it’d be cool if they allowed different servers for peeps wishing to play their favorite version of the game. of course that’d be a lot of work for them, but wouldn’t that be cool? I bet I’m not the only one interested, and its the only way i’d ever return WoW with a subscription-based model.

    Since that’s not very likely, Me and the wife might make a panda pair when WoW goes F2P in a couple of years.

  16. TheWhippetLord says:

    One thing that I think Blizzard do very well is admitting and learning from their mistakes.
    Look at this ‘postmortem’ :http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/4519250/Cataclysm_Post_Mortem_–_Greg_%E2%80%9CGhostcrawler%E2%80%9D_Street-3_7_2012

    ‘Ghostcrawler’, their WoW head honcho, goes through what they hoped to achieve with the current expansion, what they think that they got wrong, and what lessons they’re taking to Mist of Pandaria. And he doesn’t go easy on their work!

    The changes to the systems of the game coming with the expansion look like the biggest yet, and WoW has had many revamps over the years. WoW certainly bears little resemblence to the game it was on release day (Admittedly some folk would disagree with me that this is a good thing. :) )

  17. Shroom says:

    All this does is make me want to play Kingdoms of Amalur :/

  18. Wahngrok says:

    Earlier this year I got an invitation from Blizzard for a 7 day “we want you back”-offer. I have been playing the first time since 5 years. And enjoyed it very much since there was so much new to see, so much old to revisit. I also do not think that the graphics are bad. Maybe they are not state of the art but that was never the WoW-Style anyway. And there are some new really nice looking bosses.

    I then got one of my friends to send me a scroll of resurrection and have been playing for another 7 days since today – now at level 80. Enough time for some payback, looking into the new content and heavy exploring. Judging from where I was sitting (on my fling mount most of the time) the design of the zones is really nice. The only bad thing almost was that now you can see much further than at the beginning of WoW and see how small some of the zones are. But maybe it just seems that way because you also travel much faster now then before.

    There certainly was some sadness to send my druid back to sleep a few hours ago. But better to let it rest than to get hooked again. ;)

  19. Squirrelfanatic says:

    Monkey knife fights! (first video)

  20. goettel says:

    Still surprisingly well designed, graphically consistent and enticing, at least to me. Yes, I’m done with WoW. Yes, I’ve put all MMO hope into GW2. But I can’t deny that looking at the trailers makes me at least long to get back into it, even though after trying several times I know I’ll just feel sad over great times gone by.

    WoW was a great game to me, and still is to others. Choice is great like that, I hope it prospers for a long time to come.