Liz Maas
BlizzCon 2011: World Of Warcraft: Mists Of Pandaria Expansion Announced
Forests, giant turtles, playable pandas, monks... what else does WoW need?
10.22.11 - 1:56 AM

As expected, Blizzard today announced the fourth expansion pack for the ever-popular MMORPG World of Warcraft. Revealed at BlizzCon, Mists of Pandaria will come with a large new area, previously unseen in Azeroth as it's been hidden by fog for thousands of years. Pandaria, covered with trees and mountains, is home to a complex ecosystem, exotic creatures and the Pandaren, a race neutral to the never-ending war between the Alliance and the Horde.

As you may or may not have guessed by their name, the Pandaren are... well, panda-like, and are skilled in martial arts. (They had also appeared in Warcraft III.) This race was once forced to work for the ancient Mogu warlords, before they banded together and overthrew the monster race; afterwards, the pandaren would then live peacefully for thousands of years. When the sundering of Azeroth took place, the pandaren emperor shrouded their home in fog and mist in order to protect it - but for a price.

In Mists of Pandaria, you'll get to create a pandaren character, in which case your journey will start out on the back of a giant turtle named Shen-zin Su who can transport you across oceans. When Shen-zin Su finds itself in danger however, you'll be forced to side with either the Alliance or the Horde. A new class, the Monk, also will be available in the expansion. Being martial arts specialists, monks are best at hand to hand combat with little reliance on actual weapons. They also make for great healers, both by remedies and spiritual means.

Mists of Pandaria will also raise the WoW level cap to 90, adds new PVE scenarios, dungeon challenge modes (such as a 5-player timed trial), pet battles (!) and an overhauled talent system. Just like characters, your pets can gain levels and unlock new abilities when you pit them against others.

Finally, you've likely already read about the promotion that nets you Diablo III for free if you commit to 12 months' worth of World of Warcraft. What else is in this deal for WoW fans? Tyrael's Charger, an exclusive mount, will be made available to you when patch 4.3 is released. As well, you'll also be guaranteed beta access to Mists of Pandaria.

Currently, Mists of Pandaria has not been dated, but knowing Blizzard, you'll want to keep yourself busy with Cataclysm for a while. We do, however, have a first look at the expansion in the preview trailer here, and be sure to check out our brand new gallery below for plenty of art and screens!