Updated Wed, Apr 25, 2012 by Mem
The Pandaren, cute and fuzzy pandas destined to become the next playable race in World of Warcraft, and hated more than Deathwing himself. Or at least that is the impression one would get from reading various forums. The Pandaren have been part of WoW since time untold. Popping up here and there throughout the game, players have mostly expressed fond feelings for this cute and cuddly, yet mysterious race of panda people. That is, until the Pandren were announced as the new playable race. That’s when the panda poo really hit the fan. However, with more and more of these players jumping in and experiencing the beta for themselves, could these negative opinions change?
I, for one, was never totally against the idea of the Pandaren. I had always enjoyed the few that graced us with their presence as we leveled up. The thought of getting out there and being able to explore their world was more than a little intriguing to me and while I did think “Kung Fu Panda” more than once, I was willing to give the Mists of Pandaria expansion pack a fighting chance. However, based on the forum chatter, I was amongst the minority in this ideology.
When Mists of Pandaria was announced players came out in troves, denouncing Mists of Pandaria, the Pandaren race, and Blizzard itself. The vehemence of this disapproval stunned me more than a little. Especially considering the positive reactions the Pandaren had usually garnered from players. However, upon thinking it over, I realized that Mists of Pandaria, unlike even Cataclysm, was really tossing us into the unknown.
While Pandaren’s have popped up in WoW’s vast lore bank from time to time, they have been thus far a miniscule blip on the map compared to say; Kil‘jaden. Hardly mentioned in books, and only making a small appearance in one of the Warcraft games, the Pandaren are not something players have had a chance to get comfortable with. Take for example the introduction of the Death Knight; a new class, that was met with little resistance, because Death Knights were not new to WoW lore, nor to players.
With Mists of Pandaria we find ourselves face with a new race, a new class, and even a whole new world that no one has really heard much about before, except in vague references. This is understandably a rather big bomb to be dropping on unsuspecting players who were perhaps expecting something a little more predictable; like a showdown with Queen Azshara perhaps?
The strange and unusual has always brought ire from all around, and Mists of Pandaria is no exception. It was difficult to imagine the world of Pandaria and the Padaren civilization as a whole because they were something that we had never seen before. In many player’s imaginations, Mists of Pandaria would be nothing more than a child’s cartoon. Sure, the Pandaren sound a tiny bit ridiculous when you talk about them, but no more so than giant talking cows, blue space goats, or zombies.
As I mentioned previously, I was not totally sold on the idea of Pandaria either. That was until, I got my beta invite. From the moment I entered the world with my freshly made Monk I was in gamer love. Pandaria is a vibrant, visually pleasing world of wonder unlike anything we have ever seen before in the game. My love of this newest expansion thanks to the beta is mirrored on blogs and forums across the internets.
In lieu of this I have come to one conclusion; that in order to change the mind of the naysayer’s out there, and turn them into panda loving crazies like myself, they must experience Mists of Pandaria for themselves. Pictures and second hand accounts simply won’t do; only first hand experience can really make the world of Pandaria come to life. As the old saying goes; seeing is believing and it certainly holds true in Mists of Pandaria.
As beta invites pour out, more and more players will have the same chance I did; to explore Pandaria for themselves. Hopefully this chance will help to redirect the hatred for the Pandaren into a love for the game and the brand new world created for us to explore. While the reports thus far look promising, I am still not sure if the changing opinions of the beta are the norm, or if perhaps the positive reviews are just outweighing the negative. We will just have to wait and see.
How did you feel when Mists of Pandaria was initially announced? Has your opinion of Pandaria and ultimately the Pandaren changed since then? Has the beta played a critical role in the changing of your opinion? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!