Mists of Pandaria Zone Preview: Valley of the Four Winds
You’ve explored the sprawling Jade Forest, witnessed the majesty of the Serpent’s Heart, and soaked in the grandeur of the Temple of the Jade Serpent. You’ve met the noble jinyu and the foul-mouthed hozen, and you’ve had your first run-in with the cruel, ogre-like mogu. Now, you stand at the forest’s edge, and you find yourself on the cusp of a grassy, sun-soaked plain: the Valley of the Four Winds.
Today we’ll be talking with Paul Kubit, Quest Designer, about the Valley of the Four Winds.
Q. Could you name three places you feel players shouldn’t miss on their first trip through the zone?
A. First, I’d like to say that the Valley of the Four Winds boasts some of the most beautiful vistas in our game. Words really don’t do it justice – just find an elevated point, pick a direction, and look off into the horizon. Or, find a little tucked-away corner of the world and look for something hidden. You’ll be awestruck at some of the things you can see. That being said, I do have a few favorite locations I’d like to highlight.
One of the places you’ll have to visit is the Stormstout Brewery. This is the zone’s only dungeon, but it’s not just a blank façade – this brewery is a major part of the zone’s storyline, and you’ll visit find yourself inside the brewery’s walls on more than one occasion as you quest through the Valley of the Four Winds. The brewery has fallen on hard times, as most of the Stormstouts who maintain it have gone beyond the wall to assist in the effort against the mantid. The end result is a fun, frantic, light-hearted dungeon, and a few of our most immersive quests to date.
Next, I’d stop by the Heartland, Pandaria’s breadbasket. The Heartland is patterned after the stepped, varicolored farmlands that you might see in some of the more remote parts of Asia, but it’s covered with enormous fruits and vegetables that have been supercharged by the pure, mystical waters of the Vale of Eternal Blossoms, to the north. I like the Heartland because there isn’t really any other area in World of Warcraft that feels quite like it, and it’s home to some of our more interesting daily quests.
Finally, I really like Paoquan Hollow. This area is a dense, foggy thicket – a striking contrast from the open plains of the rest of the zone, but also a peek into what the Valley of the Four Winds might have looked like before the pandaren cultivated it so many years ago. Paoquan Hollow is home to one of the Valley’s more interesting characters, and a few memorable scenes as well. I won’t say any more about him, though… you’ll have to find him for yourself.
Q: What can you tell us about the storylines in the Valley of the Four Winds?
A: Most of the storylines in the Valley of the Four Winds have a smaller, local scope. You’re traveling from farm to farm, town to town, solving people’s problems as you go. There’s no global threat to save the planet from, no shadowy underground cults to dismantle, no ancient evils buried beneath the earth (at least, not that we know of, anyhow). It’s got a lighter theme, which should be a welcome contrast to some of the darker stories you might face elsewhere on the continent.
As soon as you step foot into the Valley, you’ll run into a familiar name, if not a familiar face: Chen Stormstout. This is Chen’s first time visiting Pandaria, too – he was raised on the Wandering Isle, so he will be exploring the land alongside you. What’s more, he’s brought his niece Li Li with him, who he is training in what he calls the “Wanderer’s Way.” A large part of the storyline of the Valley of the Four Winds revolves around Chen and Li Li and their adventures as they learn about their familial heritage, and what it truly means to be a Stormstout.
The Valley of the Four Winds is also the kicking-off point for a broader storyline that encompasses both the Valley and the Krasarang Wilds. At Pang’s Stead, in the zone’s easternmost edge, you’ll find a quintet of adventurers: three pandaren, a hozen, and a jinyu, all recent graduates of the Tian Monastery. They are on a search for the legendary “Hidden Master,” who they believe can help them continue in their training. They choose to split up, with four of them following one of the Four Winds, and each of them embarking on a unique adventure along the way. Players who follow all four adventurers on their respective journeys will be treated to a special, epic event that really puts an exclamation point on both zones.
Q: What factions will we run into in the Valley of the Four Winds? What about dailies?
A: In the center of the valley, you’ll find the pandaren town of Halfhill, which is home to the Tillers: Pandaria’s farming faction. The Tillers are a union of farmers that maintain and cultivate the land, and at level 90, you’ll be given an opportunity to join their ranks and try out your hoeing arm.
Working with the Tillers will give you access to a large suite of daily quests, where you’ll be fighting against the Kunzen hozen that ravage the farmers’ crops, or with the rabbit-like virmen that tunnel beneath their farms. You’ll have to stomp on a few marmots, dunk some lovestruck roosters in cold water, and pluck some weeds that attempt to pluck you back . . . pretty standard farm stuff, really. As the days roll by, you’ll also build friendship with the Halfhill’s inhabitants as you attempt to curry their favor and earn a proper invitation into the Tillers’ Union.
Perhaps most excitingly, the Tillers faction gives you access to one of our new game systems for Mists of Pandaria: the player farm. Farmer Yoon, another newcomer to the area, enlists your help in developing his farm, Sunsong Ranch. Every day, you can plant crops in the farm’s fields, and then return the next day to harvest fully-grown fruits and vegetables, all of which can be used in cooking recipes or sold in the nearby Halfhill Market. As you progress within the Tillers’ Union, you will gain access to new seeds to plant – allowing you to grow your own crafting materials! – and other cool upgrades and expansions to your farm. There’s even a plantable pet.
That just about wraps up our preview of the Valley of the Four Winds. Next, we’ll be following the south wind into the dense, overgrown Krasarang Wilds.