During the World of Warcraft: Intro to Mists of Pandaria panel, WoW Lead Content Designer Cory Stockton continued with the Zones discussion. He only focused on the two initial zones: The Jade Forest and The Valley of the Four Winds.
Pandaria Zone: The Jade Forest
Cory Stockton: Next up we’re going to hit the first zone: The Jade Forest. This is where the Alliance and the Horde will be landing. This naval battle we talked about that happened off the coast, The Horde ended up washed up on the north-side. The Alliance washed up on the south-side of the zone.
Historically over the past couple of expansions, we’ve had separate start zones where you are able to come in and choose. Like you’d want to go to Vash’jir, someone else would like to go to Mount Hyjal, someone would want to go to Howling Fjord, or go to Borean Tundra.
Here we’re going to do one unified start zone and Alliance and Horde are going to come and meet up in the middle. So there’ll be a different vibe.
The look is very, very unique. It’s filled with tall stone spires and filled with rain forests in the valleys, but on the top of the stone spires they create awesome vistas and landscapes. You’re going to meet these races and actually try to befriend them.
The Alliance tries to take the Hozu while the Horde will try to become friendly with the Jinyu and end up turning them against each other.
This causes so much negative energy to be released in the zone. That’s part of the storyline that you’re going to play through. This releases more Sha and this is super bad. When you get there Pandaren aren’t really big fans of you. You’ve come into this pristine land and you’ve started to tear it apart. We also have a dungeon this zone, The Temple of the Jade Serpent.
We’ll talk about this dungeon in detail but it is definitely going to be — it is going to be your first dungeon at level 85-86. This dungeon is taken over by Sha, then caught by you.
The whole goal for you is to go in and cleanse it essentially of what you’ve done. All those brown dots are the spires throughout the zones, so it’s filled with valleys all across.
Here’s a look at some concept art. It’s got that super unique vibe. Another look at some of the valleys with those spires.
Valley of the Four Winds
Once you finish the Jade Forest, you’ll be heading on to the Valley of the Four Winds. That’s our second zone. The zone is huge. Kind of broke it up in two sections. It’s got a north side and south side.
The whole northern side of the zone is a Pandaren farmland, while the whole south side of the zone is essentially a coastal jungle and going along with our theme of kind of having less linear quest content, you come in you can choose to go south right at the beginning or go the north side.
Obviously you can come back and do either side later. We want to make sure people feel they have a choice. It’s one thing we wanted to hit right.
This zone also has a dungeon: The Stormstout Brewery. Another thing we are trying to do a little different is to make sure the dungeons fits in each zone. When I say that, I mean that not only that it fits in the story like it should be there, but more that it actually exists in the world.
When you go to the valley of the Four Winds, you’re actually going to see this giant building. It’s something — sometimes we end up with just a portal, and the portal takes you into the dungeon, but you never see that dungeon in the world.
The big thing we’ve tried to do with these zones is to make sure our dungeons really have a presence. Like they’re definitely there. Your first interaction with the Mantid is going to be here in the Valley of the Four Winds.
This is one of the zones that borders the wall. One of the first breaches in the wall happens here. You have to come in and figure this out and deal with that too, the questlines.
Here’s a look at the map. You can see the part in the zone in the north side of the river is the farmland. The southern side is all the coastal jungle.
Here’s a look at some concepts. This is trying to think about what Pandaren Farmland. We didn’t like it like it was in any other zones with human farmlands.
We wanted a different vibe. This is a side cut-away view of the zone. You can see how it starts, then teethers down to the coastal jungle on the edge.