Updated Wed, Jul 04, 2012 by Mem
Even with the World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria beta in full swing the war between those who hate the Pandaren and all that comes along with them versus those who have embraced them fully still rages on. The debate on the topic takes over pages and pages of forum topics as well as more than a few in-game chats. It seems that no matter how many points either side scores neither will concede.
I personally have never had a real problem with the super cute panda people and their breathtakingly beautiful homeland of Pandaria. Why am I not outraged like many of the others out there you may wonder? The answer to that question is because that in my opinion, Mists of Pandaria goes with World of Warcraft like peanut butter goes with jelly. Here are my top 5 reasons why:
Even though the storyline in Mists of Pandaria is far lighter than the one seen in Cataclysm, we can beat that eventually, shit is going to get real. The Horde and Alliance are going to go at it in a big way in this expansion pack and the unsuspecting Pandaren are going to get caught in the middle. It stands to reason that much like “pretty” zones before it, Pandaria will see some major destruction before all is said and done. While many would claim Mists of Pandaria is just a fluff expansion, like other expansions before it what you see on the surface often hides the turmoil within. Dark secrets are lurking and in typical World of Warcraft style are just waiting for the right heroes to unlock them.
Even if you have had just a quick peek at the Mists of Pandaria beta it is pretty clear that the Pandaren race has a solid Asian influence. While this oriental feel is vastly different from anything we have seen previously in World of Warcraft, the overall feel of the design is not. Cartoonish and colorful almost to the point of being gaudy, Mists of Pandaria is distinctly a Blizzard creation. Still not convinced? Take a walk around old zones inside the game and then head over to Mists of Pandaria. Pandaria may be a world apart, but it clearly is a part of the World of Warcraft design we love.
One of the biggest issues players have with the Pandaren is the fact that they are essentially talking pandas. Apparently adding talking bears to the game makes it “unrealistic” and “childish”. I could probably get behind this argument, but then I remember that the World of Warcraft I play also has giant blue space aliens, talking cattle, zombies, and a slew of other fantasy creatures. How exactly adding bears who speak to this mix changes the feel of the game in any way is beyond me. In fact, if nothing else, far from being strange and unusual, the Pandaren will fit right in with the current World of Warcraft races. No stretch of imagination necessary.
While many find the Pandaren to be a “just for laughs” race that has no place in a “serious” game like World of Warcraft, I believe the opposite. While World of Warcraft is a game about war and conquest, it has managed to keep a lighthearted side that is far from mature. From NPCs spitting out funny phrases when poked to many times, pop culture references that made us chuckle, to quest lines that border on hilarity (pitching baby bears out of trees anyone?) the World of Warcraft that I know is far from serious. For me, the Pandaren are a race that, much like the Tauren, are a “LOL” race that bring just enough of a straight face to the table that they can fit easily into the overall flow of the game.
Like it or not, Pandaren have been around for a long time. In fact the Pandaren can be found at (least in reference) as far back as Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne where the famous Brewmaster Chen Stormstout aided the mighty Rexxar. From this point onward the Pandaren have made appearances throughout World of Warcraft popping up where players least expect them. From obscure references, to actual sightings, Pandaren are nothing new to the World of Warcraft landscape and were much beloved. That is until they were announced as the next playable race at BlizzCon 2011.
From that point onward the Pandaren became pariahs to a grand majority of the World of Warcraft community. Forgetting their longstanding history in the game, players who oppose the Pandaren claim they are solely based on the popular children’s movie Kung Fu Panda, which is an impossibility since, as mentioned above, Pandaren made their appearance with The Frozen Throne in 2003, while Kung Fu Panda was not released until several years later in 2008. Like it or not, Pandaren are an original World of Warcraft idea and while they haven’t been around as long as some figures in lore, they aren’t newcomers to the game either.
Do you love or hate the Pandaren race? What are your reasons for feeling this way? Do you think your mind could be changed? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!