So I’ve spoken about the new talent system, and I hope that I’ve made myself clear about the whole Pandaren issue. What I’d like to talk about now is Pandaria itself. I’m actually excited about this new world opening up. Truth be told, we’ve done the Norse myth-type world to death. If you look back at previous expansions the worlds introduced haven’t been that exciting:

Burning Crusade – An alien world, awful in its desolation. Apart from Nagrand the whole thing was zone after zone where you did your best to get out of them.

Wrath – Ice and snow, some more ice and snow, snow and ice, and some pretty Norse legend country in Grizzly Hills and the Fjords. They also threw in Sholozar Basin due to the fact that it was all kind of depressing in an icy cold way.

Cataclysm – Remake the world, (while destroying player’s associations with said world.) Throw in a zone based on ancient Egypt and Indiana Jones, (worst zone ever?), and an undersea environment that you never ever wanted to go back to again and it was all pretty lame.

With the new expansion we literally head East to the Orient. This opens up so many possibilities for the world, not just in landscape but in architecture and culture. If you look at the screenshots released at Blizzcon it all looks vibrant, and it makes me want to explore. Finally we’re not having to all be “Hero’s” and go off and fight some big bad enemy that is threatening the world once again, ho hum. Because that sort of shit is easy; easy to write and easy to understand. No, now we’re getting a new world and we get to fight each other for it.

This combined with the fact that there will be no new area specific PVP zone such as Wintergrasp, and no flying mounts until level cap gives me real hope for this expansion. Could we see a return to the heady days of Tarren Mill faction slaughter on a vast scale? Put it this way, it’s more possible than in any expansion thus far. This is the first expansion that feels like we’re being treated as grown-ups, which is ironic considering all the hoo-ha about pandas. And before you go on about pet battles, Blizzard has to give something to the loony-tune social face-rolling brigade. I’m actually happy about pet battles as it will keep all that lot occupied.

I know that I have been quite scathing of Blizzard in the past, and I will be in the future when they stuff up again, (hard to see how they can beat Cataclysm though). But I am not so one-eyed that I cannot give credit where credit is due. They seem to be on the right track here, and I see hope for the future. Which is astounding as I never thought that I would be saying this. Here’s hoping that they manage to pull it off.