Well, here it is. Not surprising anyone really, since the secret got outed when Blizzard registered the domain name, but Mists of Pandaria is the next World of Warcraft expansion. It raises – among many things – the level cap to 90, introduces the Pandaran as a new playable race (both sides), a new Monk class and a pet combat system.
The full FAQ is after the break, it will have everything you need (except the expansion itself, you addict you).
Q: What is the story of World of Warcraft®: Mists of Pandaria™?
Alliance warships prowl the seas. Horde armies thunder across Kalimdor. Tensions between these factions edge closer to erupting in a savage war that threatens to consume all of Azeroth. Against this backdrop of impending conflict, an uncharted island mysteriously appears….
Shrouded in fog since the world was sundered more than ten thousand years ago, the ancient realm of Pandaria has remained unspoiled by war. Its lush forests and cloud-ringed mountains are home to a complex ecosystem of indigenous races and exotic creatures — including the enigmatic pandaren.
All but the bravest pandaren explorers have been hidden from the world for thousands of years. Now, in the aftermath of the events of World of Warcraft®: Cataclysm™, Pandaria’s heroes are stepping forward to declare their allegiance to either the Alliance or the Horde and share the extraordinary secrets of their ancient martial arts with the world.
Q: Who are the pandaren?
The pandaren are an enigmatic race native to the long-hidden continent of Pandaria. Honorable and filled with a love of good company, good food — and every now and then, a good friendly brawl — the pandaren have been content to live in seclusion, allowing their culture to flourish and thrive away from the influence of the outside world. However, every now and then, a pandaren is born with a thirst for adventure that rivals his or her thirst for a strong drink, and he or she strikes out to explore beyond Pandaria’s shores. One of the most famous such wanderers was the brewmaster Chen Stormstout, who set out to look for exotic ingredients for a special ale and wound up assisting the Horde during the events of Warcraft® III: The Frozen Throne®.
While the pandaren are predominantly a peace-loving race, their history is marked with turmoil and strife. After years of living under the oppressive rule of the cruel mogu, who banned the use of weapons as a means of control, the pandaren developed the martial arts that would become the hallmark of their monk caste and used their skills to free themselves from the mogu rule. Terrifying natural forces and strange indigenous enemies — such as the voracious mantid, who emerge every few years to consume everything in their path — have also had a hand in shaping pandaren culture over the centuries. Now, the pandaren way of life faces its biggest trial yet, as Horde and Alliance forces make landfall on Pandaria’s pristine shores….
Q: What are the features of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria?
Some of the new features of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria include:
New Playable Race — Pandaren: Adventure through Azeroth as World of Warcraft’s first neutral race and decide whether to side with the Alliance or the Horde.
New Playable Class — Monk: Unlock the secrets of pandaren martial arts and do battle as a damage dealer, healer, or tank.
Level Cap Increased to 90: Learn potent new spells and abilities while exploring uncharted zones and taking on challenging new content.
New Zones: Explore the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters, and uncover the mystery of the Wandering Isle.
Scenarios: Join up with some friends to achieve a common goal, such as mounting a defense against invading monsters, in a flexible new type of PvE challenge.
Dungeon “Challenge” Modes: Master the ultimate 5-player time trial and earn prestige rewards in a new dungeon mode that will put your resolve and coordination to the test.
Pet Battles: Challenge other players’ companion pets with your own collection in a new tactical mini-game, and find out who’s king or queen of the pint-sized battlefield.
New Talent System: Customize your character to suit your play style with the newly overhauled and improved talent system.
Q: How are the pandaren a “neutral” race? At what point do you choose which faction to side with?
Pandaren who strike out to explore the world outside their homeland begin their journey on the Wandering Isle (a new starting zone for pandaren characters level 1 to 10), where they face a number of trials — and meet with a number of characters from both the Alliance and the Horde — before arriving in Kalimdor or the Eastern Kingdoms. Pandaren remain neutral through most of their Wandering Isle quests, but before they leave, players will need to make a decision whether to permanently side with the Alliance or the Horde. After that decision is made, the character will be treated just like any other member of their chosen faction in cities, on quests, and in character interactions. Choose wisely, because once your decision is made, it’s irreversible (except through the Faction Change service).
Q: What is the monk class? How does it differ from other classes in the game?
The monk is a martial arts expert who excels in close-quarters hand-to-hand combat, and can fill the role of a tank, damage-dealer, or healer, depending on a player’s chosen specialization. As with most classes in the game (with the exception of death knights), monks begin their journey at level 1.
Monks have a number of unique mechanics and resources that set them apart from other classes. For example, the class is being designed with a more active approach to combat than other classes; every kick and punch is performed with the press of a key, so they will not have a default auto-attack. In addition, monks build up “chi” through a combination of punches, kicks, and other basic martial arts moves, and then expend it to unleash powerful special moves, such as finishers or potent heals.
Q: Which races can be a monk?
Since coming into contact with members of the Horde and the Alliance, several of Pandaria’s masters have begun to teach their new allies the secrets of their ancient martial arts. Currently, every race except goblin and worgen can learn the ways of the monk.
Q: Which classes are available to a pandaren?
Currently, pandaren can choose to be hunters, mages, priests, rogues, shaman, warriors, and — of course — monks. Pandaren are not able to become death knights, druids, paladins, or warlocks.
Q: What end-game content will be available for players at level 90?
With World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, our focus was on rebuilding the old world and improving the level 1 to 60 experience for players — and as a result, we didn’t end up creating a lot of new types of content for players to tackle once they had reached max level. One of our primary design goals for Mists of Pandaria is to give players a wider variety of content and different types of gameplay to enjoy once they reach level 90, in addition to the Heroic dungeons, raids, and daily quests that they’re used to. To that end, we are introducing three major new features in the new expansion: scenarios, challenge modes for 5-player dungeons, and companion pet battles.
Q: What are Scenarios?
Scenarios are a new type of PvE challenge designed for groups of as few as 3 or as many as 25 players, depending on what is appropriate for the content. Scenarios require players to band together to complete a specific goal, such as defending Goldshire against a gnoll attack or storming a beach near a Horde fortification. Each scenario will have its own set of unique objectives, and in general they will offer a different type of gameplay from the trash-and-boss design of 5-player dungeons.
Scenarios will allow for more flexible group compositions than dungeons do, so parties won’t necessarily need a specific number of tanks, healers, or damage-dealers (though exactly what’s required will vary by scenario). And while a scenario may take place in a familiar location within the game world, each scenario will be instanced. In general, expect a scenario to take anywhere between 10 to 30 minutes to complete.
Q: What are Challenge Modes for 5-player dungeons?
Challenge mode is a new, advanced mode for 5-player dungeons designed for players looking for the ultimate test of coordination and skill. In challenge modes, players are tasked with trying to complete an existing 5-player dungeon as quickly and skillfully as possible. Depending on how well the group does, players will receive recognizable prestige rewards such as mounts, pets, titles, achievements, or special armor artwork that can be used with transmogrification to customize a character’s appearance. The inspiration for challenge modes comes from events such as the 45-minute Baron Rivendare runs in the original Stratholme dungeon, or the timed Zul’Aman dungeon run for the Amani War Bear.
We want challenge modes to be a test of player skill and not of player gear, and so the stats on all players’ armor and equipment will be normalized to a set level upon beginning a challenge. As a result, players will have the same chance at victory whether they are wearing quest rewards or Heroic-raid-level epic items. Regardless of equipment, challenge modes will remain just as challenging at the end of the expansion as they were at the beginning.
Q: What are companion pet battles?
In Mists of Pandaria, we are adding a new tactical mini-game that will give the Snowshoe Rabbits, Mechanical Squirrels, and other cute lil’ companion pets players collect something to do other than stand around looking adorable.
Companion pet battles allow players to pit their pint-sized pals against other players’ pets (or against special critters you come across in the wild) in strategic, turn-based combat. Pets will level up as they earn combat experience, and each companion in the game will have its own set of stats – such as attack and defense rating – along with unique abilities with their own tactical merits. During a pet battle, players will be able to swap companions out strategically depending on which pet they’re facing or what abilities might come in handy against a given foe.
Pet battles are meant to be completely independent from your character’s main progression, and the rewards won’t offer additional advantages in regular PvP or PvE situations such as Battlegrounds or raids — though they should help pass the time while you’re waiting for your group to recoup from a particularly nasty wipe.
Q: Are any changes in store for dungeons and raids?
As with the upcoming patch 4.3, Mists of Pandaria will include a third difficulty level for raids. Expect one difficulty to be roughly equivalent to the current normal mode, one to be about on par with the current Heroic mode, and one to be much more pick-up-group-friendly. Our goal is to allow more players to be able to experience the content — especially the climactic boss encounters that are a part of each expansion’s story arc — while still satisfying players looking for the most epic challenges and rewards.
Q: What’s in store for professions?
While we don’t plan to add any brand-new professions in Mists of Pandaria, the profession skill cap will be extended, and new recipes and content will become available for every existing profession.
Q: What are the new zones?
The continent of Pandaria will consist of five enormous zones for players level 85 and above, and new pandaren players will begin their adventures in a unique starting zone separate from the pandaren homeland. Here’s the breakdown of the zones, along with their current working names:
The Jade Forest: High-level adventurers will make landfall in the lush Jade Forest, where they’ll meet some of Pandaria’s indigenous races, such as the fish-like jinyu and monkey-like hozu.
Valley of the Four Winds: Playing home to both farms and rainforests, the Valley of the Four Winds is also where travelers will find the legendary Stormstout Brewery.
Kun-Lai Summit: Amid this treacherous mountain terrain, players will encounter the Shadowpan, a clandestine sect charged with keeping one of Pandaria’s darkest secrets.
Townlong Steppes: Here, a tremendous wall separates Pandaria’s verdant forests and plains from the desolate wasteland left in the wake of the ravenous, all-consuming mantid.
Vale of Eternal Blossoms: Adventurers from either faction are welcome to share a drink in the central city of the pandaren. This zone also hosts many daily quests for max-level characters.
The Wandering Isle: Pandaren adventurers looking to explore the world outside Pandaria begin their journey here, on a mysterious island that never seems to settle in the same place for too long.
Q: What changes are being made to the talent system?
We are making a couple of major changes to how class specializations and talents work in Mists of Pandaria. First, your specialization is now completely independent from your talent choices. When you reach level 10, you will still choose one of three specs (e.g. Discipline, Holy, or Shadow priest) to determine your role, play style, and which signature abilities your character has access to. In addition, you’ll receive more of your spec’s defining abilities as you level up.
Secondly, the talent system has been redesigned completely. At regular level intervals (at level 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, and 90), players will now be able to choose between one of three very powerful talents. All three specializations will have access to the same three talent options, and our goal is to make sure that these talent choices are appealing to all three specializations with no obvious “must-have” options for any of them. For example, level-15 warriors will be able to choose one of three movement-related talents: Juggernaut, which permanently lowers the cooldown of Charge; Double Time, which lets the warrior Charge twice before incurring a cooldown; or Warbringer, which causes the target to be rooted in place following a Charge. Once you choose a talent in a specific tier, the other two talents are locked out from your talent build, even when you reach the next talent tier. We want players to be able to change their talent build independently of their specialization, and without visiting a class trainer. This new system is designed to provide players with hundreds of distinct and meaningful options for tailoring their character’s gameplay to their specific desires and situation.
Q: Why is the talent system going through an overhaul?
As with the talent-system redesign in Cataclysm, our goal is ultimately to give players more meaningful character-customization options and to eliminate “cookie-cutter” talent builds. We were only partially successful in realizing that goal in Cataclysm, as many talents still felt mandatory to a given specialization, and some talent choices in the trees were still not particularly interesting or exciting. By giving the benefits of the previously “mandatory” talents to players automatically as part of their specialization choice, and allowing any specialization to choose any given talent, we hope to be able to give players much more significant and interesting decisions to make about their character.
Q: Will you be making any changes to how stats work?
Yes. As World of Warcraft has matured and more expansions, content updates, and tiers of equipment have been released, players’ stats have begun to inflate exponentially. At this point, the numbers for health, mana, and so on are threatening to get out of control. In order to combat this and bring statistics back to earth — or Azeroth, as it were — in Mists of Pandaria, we will be “flattening” the statistic curve in places where it no longer needs to behave exponentially (primarily at the point of the end game for old expansions). In practice, this means that upon the expansion’s release, the numbers for Strength, Health, Intellect, damage, and so on will be significantly lower than you’re used to seeing across the board, from level 1 to level 85. It’s all relative, of course — enemies’ and bosses’ stats will be reduced as well, and it should take a level-85 warrior roughly the same number of many sword-whacks and ability uses to kill a level-85 monster as it did before. However, this also means the difference between each level between 1 and 85 will be less significant, so you may find that an enemy 5 or 10 levels below your own will be a little tougher to deal with than it was before.
Q: Will players be allowed to fly in Pandaria?
Upon arrival in Pandaria, players will be restricted from flying until they reach a certain point in their quest progression. While the ability to fly is a great convenience for players once they have completed content, we can provide a much more enjoyable, rewarding, and varied questing experience if players are (mostly) grounded while the story of Pandaria unfolds.
Q: Will there be any updates to the graphics and changes to the minimum system requirements?
Yes, there will be incremental tweaks and updates to the graphics engine in this expansion. For example, we’ve made improvements to the way textures are displayed. We’ll announce the exact system requirements closer to the expansion’s release.