Updated Thu, Sep 27, 2012 by Messiah
Unless you have been hiding under a rock, or just got back from a time travel vacation to the prehistoric era, you will no doubt be aware that the next World of Warcraft expansion launches September 25th! This new expansion, the fourth for the game, is called Mists of Pandaria and introduces a lot of new exciting features to the game, as well as changing a large number of existing parts of the game.
Some of the most important and most commonly discusses features are of course the new Pandaren race and the new Monk class. This ultimate overview covers those two items and a whole lot more, so read on.
Given that the expansion is called Mists of Pandaria, it is appropriate that there is a race called the Pandaren. Even better is that you will be able to play that race no matter which faction you generally play. That’s right, the Pandaren are the first race that you can play as either the Horde or the Alliance.
In addition to being able to play as Horde or Alliance, the Pandaren can play as many different classes. They can play as a Hunter, Mage, Priest, Rogue, Shaman, Warrior, or the brand new Monk class (which is covered in the next section). They have some pretty sweet racial abilities like double rested experience, reduced fall damage, a short term crowd-control ability, a bonus to cooking, and best of all a 100% bonus to the stats provided from food.
For even more information check out our Pandaren Race Guide.
With the Pandaren race comes a whole new class, the Monk. The Monk is a class heavily based on the Asian influence of the Pandaren race and is all about eastern style martial arts and mysticism. This is reflected in the secondary resource system that the class uses called Chi.
The Monk class is a hybrid class that can fill almost any role required. They can play as a Brewmaster tank, a Windwalker melee DPS, or a Mistweaver healer. All three specializations fill roles requirements that have been around since there have been group roles, however each of the Monks specializations tries to fill that role in a slightly new way. For example a Brewmaster Monk does not rely on heavy armour or shields, instead they focus on staggering damage over time. This is a completely new mechanic and one that allows a Monk to tank in a different way than other tanking classes.
Another example of just how different the Monk class can be is shown by their healing spec the Mistweaver. It has not 1, not 2, but 3 resource systems. They use energy for some abilities, Chi for others, and mana for most of their healing abilities. This makes them unique among the classes.
Obviously with a new expansion comes new zones and levels to explore. This time the zones are on the island nation of Pandaria, where you will level from 85 to the new level cap of 90. The continent is full of eastern influence as you will find Asian looking temples, Asian influence terrain and architecture, and even Asian influenced races and wildlife. The zones are some of the best looking that Blizzard have ever created (in my opinion at least).
There are seven new zones to level through from level 85 through 90, and a new zone for starting Pandaren characters. Even though that means there are more zones than new levels, it’s even better than that, the zones are huge. There is a plethora of content to play through since the zones are so big, in fact many players in the beta only needed 4-5 of the zones to reach 90 and then had the last zones to work through for profit and reputation at their leisure.
We have several guides up covering the zones including a guide to the zones you should work though as you are levelling in Mists of Pandaria. There are also several zone walkthroughs that can be found on our Mists of Pandaria Portal Page.
As with any new expansion, it brings a lot of new instanced content with it as well as the zone content. Mists of Pandaria is set to launch with six brand new dungeons for players to explore. There is the Temple of the Jade Serpent, Stormstout Brewery, Mogu’shan Palace, Shado-pan Monastery, Gates of the Setting Sun, and the Siege of Niuzao Temple.
As well as new dungeons there are upgrades of the Scarlet Monastery and Scholomance to heroic dungeons.
In addition to the new dungeon content there will be three raids at launch. They are the Heart of Fear, Mogu’shan Vaults, and the Terrace of Endless Spring. All of them will be available to players through the raid finder tool.
As if all that PVE content wasn’t already enough, there are also…
A feature that is being introduced to the game in Mists of Pandaria that many players are really looking forward to is Scenarios.
Scenarios are a new form of PVE content that allows players to form up in small, non-role specific groups, and adventure through story and stage driven instanced content. Many players that simply do not have time for raids or sometimes even for a dungeon, are really looking forward to this new addition.
You can find all the details in our Guide to Scenarios.
Also new in Mists of Pandaria is a completely revamped talent system. It is so different that even Blizzard calls it a complete redo and calls it talent system 2.0 rather than an update. The new talent system completely does away with talent trees and replaces them with a brand new 6 tiered system. At each tier you can only pick 1 of the talents, and you only gain 1 new talent roughly every 15 levels. The talent system is also not specialization related, meaning all specs for a class share the same talents.
The system is a whole lot simpler than the old system, and does offer more choice despite appearing to limit choices at first glance. It is a very big change from the old system though and will take some getting used to.
You can find out a whole lot more about it by reading our guide to the new talent system.
Since a lot of the features coming in Mists of Pandaria interact with the user in new ways, there will be a whole lot of new features to make sence of and add-ons will definitely help there.
While not a Blizzard implemented feature, add-ons will make an impact on how you play the game. To make sure you make the most of these new add-ons check out the brand new add-on manager that TenTonHammer has come up with called Spark.
This is a feature that many players are really excited about since it allows them to do something with all the vanity pets they have collected over time. This is pretty much Pokemon coming into the World of Warcraft. Some players really love the idea, some don't. No matter which camp you are in though, there is no denying that this new feature has a lot of depth to it.
With it you can collect and battle with your vanity pets, earn awards, achievements, or just bragging rights. There are many different pets, abilities, and things to do. For those that are into it, it may end up eating up most of your WoW play time. From my exposure to it in beta, I know that the system is very polished and already has a lot of fans.
You can find out more about it in our Introductory Guide to Pet Battles.
As you can see there are a lot of new features being added, and the features listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. Beyond what is listed here there are many more features and changes.
Keep checking back for more information on our Mists of Pandaria portal page, as guides for all the new features are released.