Mists of Pandaria Monday: Three Hours of Sleep Edition

Welcome to Mists of Pandaria Monday! I’m your intrepid Apple Cider and I got literally three hours of restless sleep today due to the fact that I was up chatting about Lilian Voss on Mumble with people intently researching all of the new MoP information for you, dear readers. Pardon me while my research intensity leads to things like belligerent opinions, dead links, spelling errors or possibly not finishing sentences. A lot of really thorough coverage went up at almost 12 AM PST and I urge you all to go read it; WoW Insider and Wowhead did an amazing job collating and organizing all the relevant bits for your perusal. As it stands, I will be bullet-pointing and discussing the things I found most exciting personally before I fall face first into my keyboard.

Female Pandaren: More Bounce By the Ounce

I discussed my feelings on the potential aesthetic of the female pandaren last week and when the screenshots of the in-game model finally were debuted, I found myself quite happy with the results. As reported, the females will have fur color options, with the red panda fur look including a tail. This doesn’t make sense to me personally, because while I can swallow that this a magical fantasy world where red pandaren and black/white pandaren are the same species, why would only female red pandaren have tails? It seems like one of those weird evolutionary quirks that seems more “pandering” than plausible. As far as my concerns towards the body and figure of the women? Settled for the most part. I would have liked to see an even more rotund, hefty lady (or eventually a slider) but this will do for now. She’s got curves that suggest a physical but comfortable life and also slightly more bottom-heavy and animalistic than more humanoid counterparts. I can see her hefting a barrel of home-brewed stout or cooking up Pandarian Death Peppers just as much as fighting with a bow staff. A lot of criticism has come down heavily on the face that is presented in a lot of the official art but I think they are cute as heck. I have a feeling there will be some leeway on facial features and expressions for those who want to look more fierce. I also have some faith that Blizzard’s continued improvements with in-game models will give them a range of emotion in their face as well. The screenshots we’ve seen so far give them concrete personalities too that range from meditative to dreamy.

Now, interestingly on WoW Insider’s live Mists of Pandaria podcast this morning a fan-done “revision” of the model was linked (warning: Picture is SFW, but DA account has some NSFW if you browse further) that simply added a touch more weight to the face and body. Personally I like how it looks, but someone in the chat inevitably remarked about “furries” and how it’s just a “fetish” picture. Sorry, but liking a woman with weight on her is pretty typical, especially since women’s bodies fall all along the shape spectrum. There are fetishes for certain kinds of body figures or figures caused by various things, but finding appeal or aesthetic value in all sorts of body shapes, including larger ones, is not fetish material or even sexual. So let’s keep the weird rhetoric to a minimum.

A Farm of One’s Own, Lorewalking and Other Casual Pleasantries

As part of the intense shift towards more “casual” non-PVE/PVP centric content for Mists, one of the reputations you can encounter in-game is the Tillers. This is part of a quest to help a farmer and his rundown farm back onto its feet, eventually netting you your own in-game farm that will include dailies that help you grow plants (whether this is herbalism nodes or cooking mats), obtain livestock and decorate your farmhouse. As someone who has always loved the idea of things like Harvest Moon, Farmville but didn’t like the intense timesink elements of the latter, this little farm outlet in Pandaria is intriguing to me. I want to have my gnome grow all her own alchemy mats, till the earth with a yaungol and prosper. A lot of the information coming out about MoP‘s questing content and reputations suggests that a lot of people who enjoy doing story content but dislike some of the rote, impersonal challenges of dailies will enjoy this stuff to no end. Molten Front was the carrot-on-the-stick for those of us who are like this when Firelands came out but was such a logistical nightmare and failure of entertainment. This feels like a breath of fresh air. Another set of dailies will also allow us to obtain a beautiful cloud serpent, much like the Ravasaur or Wintersaber mount, putting meaningful and personally exciting rewards for those who chose to do the quests.

In this vein of adding additional things for those of us who like poking and prodding is the Lorewalkers reputation. I’m unsure whether this is what archeology is getting rolled into or if this is seperate, but players will be able to find Pandaren artifacts around the world and turn them into these culture keepers in return for an elaborate show depicting parts of Pandarian history and lore. It is a highly interactive way of learning about the world’s story that will grab our attention, in case we pass through questing too fast to absorb the story.

The most hotly talked-about feature though is pet battles. I missed the Pokemon train, unfortunately, so the sheer intensity of support for this mini-game that is being implemented is a little bit beyond my ken, but as an avid pet collector, the fringe benefits of being able to add value to my pet collection and cross the globe searching for new rare pets in the wild to add tickles me. It also introduces a style of combat game that has none of the drawbacks of PVP: no loss tallies, no contact or interaction with the other party, and the flexibility of pet dueling or pet battle queueing from anywhere. This might be a style of player-versus-player that I spend at least a little time dabbling in, even if it just putting together teams consisting of Alliance Balloon, Rustberg Seagull and Perky Pugs.

Overall, I feel that they are really putting in a ton of content for those of us who like to do a variety of things on a variety of characters.

PVE Explosion: Heroic Scholomance, Challenge Dungeons, and Minor Glyphs

For those players who like taking a big bite out of some PVE content though, I will say that WoW has gone far beyond a lot of the criticisms that plagued Cataclysm and bursting at the seams with raid, dungeon and extra perks for those who want to face some bosses and get some nice purples for their trouble.

Most exciting out of this news is the revamps of Heroic Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery. Not only is there quite a few hints that the story has been updated significantly to shape the old bosses, but there are new (???) villains lurking around every corner. Even the corners have been updated, promising a more linear and overall detailed dungeon. This is most present in Scholomance, which got a completely new facelift and floor layout in order to remove some of the weird boss backtracking and ridiculousness with trash that players encountered in vanilla.  Also included is the intense and mysterious Lilian Voss, powerful former Scarlet protege, now-turned-undead, fighting against skeletons in one of the rooms in the school of dark arts. What is she doing there? This question is playing on any lore junkie’s mind (including my own) as well as who is left in the Scarlet Monastery. Why hasn’t Whitemane gotten the same overhaul as the other models? Hopefully these will be answered in time.

A thrill that I am looking forward to as an ex-raider who still likes the adrenaline rush of executing content is challenge mode dungeons. These dungeons will require specific teams of people completing objectives within the instance for achievements, rankings and extra rewards such as vanity loot. It is reminiscent of bear runs or timed Culling of Stratholme, where perfect play nets you an extra special shiny but now with an additional challenge of being on a leaderboard. It is assumed to not only foster togetherness within guilds but inspire some level of server-based competition that is a little less time intensive than raiding. I want to put together a crack squad of people to tackle heroics and get some wicked looking gear, not going to lie. Given how much I have in dungeons right now with my guild, I am definitely sinking my teeth into this wholeheartedly.

Finally, the fact that Warcraft is going to debut with 14 bosses for the first raid tier is exceptionally intriguing, but mostly I’m just excited about minor glyphs letting me ride around on my guildies who are druid-stags. Vanity, flavor and usefulness seem to be the things most present here with the glyph revamp and I couldn’t be happier. Flat stat changes are not an exciting area of development and I’d rather see customization, personalization and choices be part of my glyphing process.

Story and Art Development

I’m going to swoon here for a moment – it looks like so far, Blizzard has put a fuckton (pardon my French) of work into creating this brand new world inside of their very old world of Azeroth. The rising conflict with between all of the native (or not-so-native) races of Pandaria, combined with obvious and deep Asian influences in the art design makes for an incredibly detailed, exciting world that I want to explore. I want to see all 10,000 waterfalls. I want to see all the new species of animals. Cynicism about rampant Orientalism aside, I really feel incredibly bowled over by how this world is going to look, feel and act, especially when my gnome steps foot on the shores.

I haven’t felt this excited for World of Warcraft since Burning Crusade came out, and I for one, am optimistic that Blizzard really is doing something very right.

Let me know what your thoughts are on the Mists of Pandaria announcements so far in the comments or on Twitter!





13 Responses

  1. My only issue with the female Pandarens is the face appears very “disney” when I set it aside the male; I am concerned that they are going to look just as out of place as when the female and male worgen are set next to each other, and that Blizzard is getting into the habit of making female races “Nice” and “Cute” while male races must look “Scary” and “Vicious”. The concept art looks more fitting…but I will reserve final judgment until I see animations and customization options.

  2. Re: the female Pandaren…

    She’s adoooooooorable. Like, sugar-sweet adorable. She looks like she wants a big hug and then to go on an adventure picking flowers in Lollipop Meadow.

    …I don’t want adorable in my characters. (As a male) I play a female blood elf paladin because I love the idea that she’s 4’11” and 90 pounds soaking wet, and yet she’ll strap on a sword and board and go toe-to-toe with Ozruk. My main is a female blood elf priestess, the daughter of a Silvermoon City shopkeeper who gleefully identifies with the term “sassy bitch.”

    I don’t want to pick flowers in Lollipop Meadow. I want to kill Sha. That’s what WoW is all about. That female Pandaren couldn’t kill a beetle, much less a Sha.


    • I find the assertion that something is adorable means they can’t kill something. Maybe that’s what she WANTS you to think. Maybe I find the dichotomy between “cute” and “deadly” to be fallacious and awfully similar to the whole idea that femininity is devoid of power, agency or ruthlessness.

      Females in WoW have always had “cute” identifiers because femininity is constrained as such in a lot of ways, particularly in faces. Women, despite being fights have sexy or cute faces, and yet then men turn around and criticize that! It’s very weird to me.

      • I’m fine with adorable, my main is a female gnome who is both cute and deadly but I feel the Pandarens are a bit too sweet. Obviously until we see the whole range of faces, I’m merely nitpicking but I hope there is at least one who looks a little less placid.

        The concept art does give me hope, I think that little flash of fangs does help to show a bit of personality which I feel is lacking in the in-game models. I also accept that seeing them moving is totally different to seeing stills but my gut reaction was one of negativity.

        I will however grant that they look better than the female Worgens.

    • the whole reason my very first character (and my main to this day) was created was because I loved the idea of a pink-haired tiny gnome named something fluffy that could fuck shit up. And she does (though she’s not quite a face melter on the level of ACM!) The idea that there’s one way to look in order to be powerful doesn’t make much sense; I’ve known tiny, fine-boned women kick ass in karate, or tall women with button noses grapple someone to the floor or lean athletic women shoot michael fassbender in the face. everyone can be powerful and in fact, from what I’ve seen from the Pandaren starting area, that’s very much something the Pandaren espouse themselves.

  3. I have to say, of all the things I’ve read so far about MoP, I’m actually more excited about the little farm you mentioned than I am about most of the other stuff. I mean, I’m looking forward to more quests and more lore and so forth, but at the same time, knowing I’ll have to do another Ring of Blood or wind up in yet another zone-o’-dailies-grindery, having a little quiet piece of earth to call my own is rather intriguing.
    I think the overall look of things, graphically speaking, is going in the right direction. It’s funny how people are complaining about how Oriental everything looks in MoP. Nobody complained too much about how Nordic much of Northrend was, or how Egyptian Uldum wound up, and so forth… Any thoughts on why the Oriental look is getting people so worked up?
    Great article!

    • There aren’t so many issues of race wrt Northrend and Asgardian influences but I certainly do remember a lot of outcry about the rampant racism in Uluum, specifically the pygmy models. It’s pretty obvious how Blizzard dropped the ball there. So take that and the possibility of a whole expansion being like that, and I can see why people are leery of Orientalism and racism.

  4. Lovely to see another positive post by someone excited for the changes! For three hours sleep it’s remarkably well-written ;) I don’t think you needed to worry. I’m excited about everything except the new PvP stuff, and even then it sounds awesome but I just don’t PvP. Druid minor glyphs have me so stoked!

  5. I admit, the pandaren female design convinced me that I am, in fact, going to have to roll a female pandaren monk. Admittedly: I would have liked a model that’s a trifle more pear-shaped but I’m happy with what was ultimately produced.

    That farm you can earn — oh, Blizzard, you have read the innermost heart of my death knight, who wants to spend the rest of his life on a plot of land in some obscure corner of the world, growing things, developing treatments/immunizations for the most common lingering Scourge-created diseases, and recreating Elena Mograine’s Perfect Peach Tart Recipe. I may never get him out of his farmhouse if you let him DECORATE, too.

    I cannot express in words alone how much I’m looking forward to this.

  6. I’ll try not to crush the optimism here since I think you’re alright, Apple.

    I have every expectation the the features they’re announcing will sound better than they are. I feel confident they’ll get the dungeon challenges right; it’s currently still their strong suit as far as WoW goes. The farming thing? This sounds like a complete sham. There has never been a time – ever – blizzard game development history where they allowed players to alter the world (mods in starcraft don’t count, especially since they historically can be played by a limited audience). There will be no player owned farms in the way we are thinking it. I feel absolutely positive it won’t even be close and I’ll *only* be surprised if “My farm” isn’t merely clicking the same field everyone else is …cogwheel and all.

    These casual “additions” will merely be more factions and more achievements. The same inconsequential stuff we have today. I will die of sheer shock of any of these “new” features turns out to be otherwise in any capacity. Genuinely.

    But uh ….yeah, bright side ….gnome monks. Has been the only part of Mists thats sounded all that interesting to me at all :)

  7. Pingback: Hypercriticism – [MMO] *World* of Warcraft – How Pandaria might improve WoW

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