BlizzCon 2011: Continent of Pandaria Panel

Written by Medievaldragon on . Posted in BlizzCon 2011, World of Warcraft News

Here’s a transcript of the Continent of Pandaria Panel by WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton.

Cory Stockton: You have heard what World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is, but now we want to tell you what you’re going to be; and what is this place.

It is going to be five new zones, level of zones, for continent itself. Another thing that we’re changing here is the fact that we’re going back to a single unified continent. If you remember back to Burning Crusade, we had one single continent with all the zones together. With Cataclysm, we changed that up and our zones were in different places. We kind of felt like that didn’t make it feel like one unified place.

Instead, it didn’t have the same vibe. With Pandaria, we’ll go back all the zones that make one unified place. We’ve clearly got an asian influence on the landscapes and environments and everything you’re seeing here.

It’s been super cool just to see the artists at Blizzard take that and turn it really into a unique World of Warcraft style. You can take that and kind of make it look specifically chinese or asian or one specific look but we really put that World of Warcraft look on it so when people see it they instantly think wow.

We’re going to do something we really haven’t done since Burning Crusade, we are going to add an auction house in the new continent. So actually on Pandaria you will have an auction house that you’ll have access to — now, granted, you are still going to need to go to Stormwind or to Orgrimmar for certain things that you need to do, but we wanted to give players that convenience if you are at the new continent and you like playing there, you should be able to stay there in Pandaria, you shouldn’t necessarily have to always go back and forth actually.

Another thing we’ll be changing is that we aren’t going to allow flying until max level. It’s great to see that response, because that’s really how we feel about it, but for us, every time you kill a mob, you fly down, kill it, mount up and fly up in the air, fly down, dismount, kill a mob again, mount up and again and again.

You know, even if it feels convenient, and fast in the long run we just don’t really feel it gives the best quest experience that you could have. Going back to this we really feel like we’re going to get a better core quest experience.

Here’s a look at the continent of Pandaria, as a whole. Anyone who’s been to Blizzcon before know this is how we start out. Our design process. We lay out everything in 2D.

We have placed dungeons across all the different zones. I’ll talk about the Jade Forest, our intro start zone, then the belly of the Four Winds there on the south side.

One thing that’s cool is we’ve really been working on this for a while. We’ve got a lot of stuff to show you guys. This is probably the first Blizzcon we’ll be able to show video fly-throughs of these zones that are complete and ready to see.

Here’s a little look at the scale. There’s Twilight Highlands from Cataclysm. Yes, we are delivering in five zones, but they’re really dark zones and when you add that to the fact that you’re not going to have access to a flying mount until max level, you can see there’s going to be a ton of content in these zones.

So a little bit about Pandaria. It’s been around for a long time. Thing is it’s been shrouded by mist since The Sundering. The Pandaren have been alone there all this time, undiscovered. Chris Metzen mentioned in the Opening Ceremony, the Alliance and the Horde are locked in an intense battle. That’s something that’s always been the core of World of Warcraft. We want to follow that up here.

They end up having a naval battle offshore. Ships get blown, and they wash up ashore on the Island of Pandaria.

You have finally unshrouded the mist and you are able to see the continent. Once they land here and they find it, they realize that it is a lush land. It is full of resources and all kinds of things that Garrosh can use, and that Varian can use in their war, and so they’re basically just going to destroy this land trying to get as much as they can out of it, and that’s when we come in.

We have a whole panel on Story and Lore tomorrow at 4:15pm. If you want some more info make sure to hit up that panel.

Besides the continent of Pandaria, we’ve also got a new starting zone. Anyone who rolls a new Pandaren has a new start zone to play in. What’s really crazy about this place is that it’s a turtle!

You are going to see it here in a little bit. Essentially you are playing on the back of a giant turtle.

This turtle left Pandaria 10,000 years ago, and started growing. Pandaren have always been happy in there, but a few of them have the wander lust, they want to get out and see the rest of the world.

Those pandaren who want to do that have left on the turtle. Now it is going to be similar to our past experiences. It’s going to be story focused, simple mechanics but it is going to really, really draw you into the pandaren lore, culture and history, and find out what’s really going on with them as a whole.

The Pandaren are a neutral race. You’ll start out neutral and play from level one to ten, then when you get to ten you’ll pick your faction.

It’s a one-way choice. You’ll make that choice and decide and go forward from there. We’re pretty excited about that. It’s our first chance to do it.

It should play out really well. Here’s a look at some of the concept art of the turtle. There’s a valley you start in, and you kind of work your way around. We’ve got a real cool storyline here where you try to restore some spirit to the central temple.

This is the map. This entire starting zone is playable here on the show. You’ll be able to go over, get a Pandaren and lay all the way through. That’s why we have a final map here because this whole thing is playable now at the show.

Here are some screenshots. This is that central temple you saw. This is a look at the edge of the turtle so you can see where the turtle hits the ocean there.

Obviously, Pandaren love beer, so they have lots of breweries. You’ll find these all over the place. This is a great screenshot showing the actual “You’re on the back of a turtle”. We’re not trying to fake it. This is the actual turtle you play on.

When you run up to the edge, you’ll see the head so it will feel really cool and unique. Here’s a video of some of what that looks like.

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