Mists of Pandaria Zone Preview: Kun-Lai Summit

by Nethaera Sep 18, 2012

In the words of Wrathion, Pandaria is a land of “mystery, history . . .  and opportunity.” Kun-Lai Summitfeatures all three! We’ve been exploring the various locations in Pandaria by talking to the designers behind them. Today we’ve pulled aside Dave ‘Fargo’ Kosak, World of Warcraft’s lead quest designer, to talk about the majesty of Kun-Lai Summit.

Q. Could you name three places you feel players shouldn’t miss on their first trip through the zone?

A. It’s hard to name just three! Kun-Lai Summit is one of the largest zones in the expansion, and it encompasses a huge swath of terrain. Starting from the highland steppes you’ll make your way into the piedmont of an enormous mountain range, home to terrible tribes of mountain hozen and the site of a yaungol invasion. Keep on trucking up the slopes and you’ll find yourself among the blistering cold of the peaks. There’s even a small forest along the northern shores – so there’s definitely a lot of variety.

But if I were to play tour guide, there are definitely some highlights to call out.

First, just getting to the zone is an adventure. You’ll traverse the Veiled Stair, carved directly into the mountainside north of the Valley of Four Winds. Be sure to read about the history of the stair at a resting spot a third of the way up, then stop for a drink in the Tavern in the Mists. You’re almost there! Try not to look directly at the albino saurok as you navigate an underground river on your way to Binan Village, the most major pandaren settlement in the zone.

If you fancy some mountain climbing, there are a couple peaks of note. Kota Peak is famous for its berries, as well as for the angry yeti that eat them. There are rumors of a pandaren pet master who lives near the summit. Hint: the rumors are true. But even majestic Kota Peak pales in comparison to its neighbor, Mount Neverest, the highest peak in all of Azeroth (we measured). I would say that the view is tremendous as you’re pretty much above the clouds up there. It’s breathtaking. Legend has it that the last pandaren emperor ascended the summit to seek the wisdom of the Jade Serpent . . . you’ll have a few reasons of your own to ascend the slopes as well.

And if I had to stick to just three locations, I suppose I couldn’t leave out the Shado-Pan Monastery. It’s the headquarters of Pandaria’s first and only line of defense: the Shado-Pan. They were given a sacred charge by the last emperor to protect the land from the dark energy of the sha. They also man the Serpent’s Spine wall and protect the common-folk from the terror of the mantid. It’s a lot for these guys to handle, so as you can imagine their Monastery is both a fortress and a place of deep contemplation. Nestled into the mountain peaks, it’s absolutely beautiful. The Shado-Pan will need your help when their Monastery is overrun with the sha – you can probably score some points with the faction if you go into the dungeon and help ‘em out.


Q. From a story perspective, what are the major things happening here?
A. Quite a bit! One of our goals with Mists of Pandaria was to feature more non-linear zones, and Kun-Lai, more than any other, embodies this. So there’s a lot going on, and a lot to explore and discover.

The Sha of Anger has broken loose from his prison in the Shado-Pan monastery, and he’s wreaking havoc all over the zone. Put together a raid group and you can pummel it back down into the ground, but otherwise, you’d best avoid that thing. It’s whipping up all the locals into a frenzy.

For example, the aggressive mountain Hozen who live up in the highlands are raging out of control. The local grummles who push their goods back and forth on the “Burlap Trail” are getting massacred, so if you have the time they could really use your help.

Meanwhile, events in the Dread Wastes have pushed the yaungol out of their native homelands beyond the wall. Once they break into pandaren lands, they just start annihilating the place. Their roving warbands have left a trail of destruction in their wake. The Alliance and Horde can both pitch in to help reverse the tide of battle, and in the process they’ll be able to lay claim to a couple of key towns in the center of the zone.

The Zandalari trolls are up to no good. They’re ancient allies with the boogeymen of Pandaria, the mogu. Tracking down the Zandalari will require delving into the Valley of Emperors, a sprawling ancient burial ground up in the mountains, and ultimately concludes with a desperate last-ditch effort to save a stranded pandaren village on the coast.

Finally, this zone features an event that I consider to be the emotional heart of the whole expansion. TheWhite Tiger – one of the four August Celestials that guard Pandaria – is waiting for you in his temple here in Kun-Lai. A debate is raging over the sacred heart of the pandaren empire, and whether or not the other mortal races from beyond the mists should be allowed within. Maybe you can help sway his decision?

Q. You mention all sorts of new factions and races – Yaungol! Mogu! Grummles! Who are they?
A. Our goal all along was to make Pandaria feel like a new place, with an ecology all its own. There are definitely some clashing cultures here in Kun-Lai.

The yaungol are an offshoot of the tauren race. They were trapped on pandaria when the continent broke free during the Sundering ten thousand years ago. They’re a proud people, and they wanted to retain their nomadic lifestyle – they didn’t want to submit to any emperor’s authority. They’ve been forced to survive in the harsh lands beyond the Serpent’s Spine wall, where they’re in continual conflict with the mantid. This has made them extremely tough.

On the opposite extreme you have the humble grummles. These little guys have been merchants, messengers, and traders since the time of the ancient mogu empire. They’re able to carry many times their own weight. Their main trading route – “The burlap trail” – is a lifeline to the Shado-Pan Monastery. When you first arrive in the zone, the trail is under assault from the rampaging mountain hozen, and those little grummle guys sure could use your help. Oh! While you’re here, be sure to visit the Grummle Bazaar, a tremendous marketplace and the home to one of the most luxurious mounts in pandaria: The Grand Expedition Yak.

We’ve talked about the brutish mogu elsewhere, but you can really delve into their history here in Kun-Lai, home of the Valley of Emperors. Thousands and thousands of years ago, the mogu were broken up into tribes and warring kingdoms. Then, along came Lei-Shen, “The Thunder King.” He cracked some skulls until all the mogu bent their knee to him. Then he proceeded to conquer and enslave all of the other pandaren races, unite the language, and create the first empire. It was Lei-Shen who started construction of the Serpent’s Spine wall, and it was likely Lei-Shen who first forged an alliance with the ancient Zandalari. The mogu empire was overthrown in the pandaren revolution long ago, but if someone were to come along and unite the mogu once again . . . well, it wouldn’t be pretty.

There’s also an important faction that you’ll meet here in Kun-Lai. The Shado-Pan need your help; first, your help pushing back the yaungol invasion and re-securing the wall. Then, you can help them cleanse their Monastery from the evils of the sha. Once you earn their trust, you can roll up your sleeves and help them out in their campaign across the Townlong Steppes . . . ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s another zone and another day!



*Note* All 4 zone previews were taken from http://www.worldofwacraft.com                             Original author’s name is above with link.



Mists of Pandaria Zone Preview: Krasarang Wilds

by Nethaera Sep 17, 2012

Along the southern coast of Pandaria stretches an inhospitable jungle known as the Krasarang Wilds. Separated from the idyllic Valley of Four Winds by an enormous natural cliff known as Wind’s Edge, the Wilds play host to a number of adventures. Today we’ll be talking with Zach Owens, Associate Quest Designer, about the Krasarang Wilds and the dark secrets held within.

Q. Could you name three places you feel players shouldn’t miss on their first journey through the zone?
A. Only three?! That’s not easy. The jungles of Krasarang Wilds are as gorgeous as they are deadly. I often catch myself just staring off into the trees, watching for movement, soaking in the sounds of the rivers and the local wildlife. It isn’t long before your eyes find a hint of ruins and other things long buried beneath the trees.

First, the Ruins of Dojan in the eastern portion of the zone are a stunning collection of architecture left behind by the murderous mogu during the height of their power. Tribes of the mogu have returned to these ancient dwellings to search for relics and weapons left behind by their long-passed empire. It is from these ruins that the mogu are able to harass and threaten the newly arrived tauren Sunwalkers of Thunder Cleft and the battalion of night elf sentinels at the Incursion. It will take a proper hero to aid the Horde and Alliance forces from being annihilated before they even get their bearings.

Second up on my list is one of my favorite buildings in all of Pandaria. Hidden away in the deepest part of the jungle is the mighty Temple of the Red Crane. Once a symbol of hope for Pandaria, the temple is under siege by the Sha of Despair. Players will have the opportunity to fight alongside the powerful Red Crane monks and a young human prince to free the August Celestial from the very embodiment of Despair.

Lastly, for those fond of extreme fishing, the Angler’s Wharf is the place to be! Some of the greatest fishers from all of Azeroth have found their way to this remote location off the southern end of Krasarang. Here, players will encounter some familiar faces and new fishing legends. Whether a fan of fishing or adventure, there is plenty of both to be found here.


Q. From a story perspective, what are the major things happening here?
A. Krasarang Wilds has a leap frog approach to its story telling. Players travelling from east to west will trade off engaging the Sha of Despair while aiding the Alliance and/or Horde against the dangers of the land. Combined with a number of smaller questing hubs, players will find that their story experience in the jungle will call them to action as the protagonist who must be the beacon of hope for the zone.

The Krasarang Wilds have a deep history and more than just animals are hidden beneath the canopy of this ancient jungle. It has been the prison of the Sha of Despair for ages. Before that, it was a prison crafted and ruled by the ancient mogu emperors who were at war with monsters of their own creation: the saurok.

It is here that the Temple of the Red Crane has stood for thousands of years as a testament to the hope of the pandaren people.

And as the players arrive, they will see the dramatic impact of what happens when that beacon of hope falters. The mogu have returned to their ancient dwellings, searching for lost magics and buried weapons left behind by their ancestors. The saurok raid anyone that has their back turned. The fisherfolk of Marista are harassed by the hozen of Unga Ingoo. Even the terrifying mantid have been seen east of the Serpent’s Spine. And the monks of the Red Crane are assailed by the Sha of Despair and its minions.

It is in all of this that a small group of Horde and Alliance forces have landed, drawn by visions of healing and power. Unlike Nazgrim and Taylor’s advance forces in the Jade Forest, these travelers are divided in their goals and purpose, and will need all the help they can get from the players to find their moral compass.

This zone also picks up the story of our monk friends from the Tian Monastery as they continue their search for the Hidden Master. Ken-Ken has searched the eastern wind only to find Zhu’s Bastion, a pandaren village responsible for holding back the dangers of the Krasarang Wilds. But these brave watchers have succumbed to the Sha of Despair, and Ken-Ken is running out of ideas on how to cheer these sad pandaren up.

Following the southern winds, the mighty and impulsive Kang Bramblestaff has come across the new strangers of the Horde and Alliance. Putting his search for the Hidden Master on hold, Kang finds his mighty staff is needed to aid these strangers as they are forced to confront a villainous mogu.

The Krasarang Wilds are an expansive jungle that holds many secrets. The more players explore, the more story and adventure they will uncover.


Q. What sort of races and factions can we look forward to?
A. Krasarang is home to a number of races the players will probably already have encountered in the Jade Forest: the murderous and rampaging saurok, the brutal and dominating mogu, and the life-sucking Sha of Despair. Travelers will also find Jinyu near the great river of the zone and pirate hozen along the southern isles of Unga Ingoo.

But this is the zone where most players will get their first real taste of the mantid. Scouts and vanguard of the swarm have made it over the great wall of the Serpent’s Spine and are amassing in the western portion of the jungle.

As for factions, the August Celestials and the Anglers are looking for assistance from any high level adventurers willing to brave the jungle. On the southern islands, monks of the red crane spar with one another seeking the admiration and approval of their celestial. So you can test your mettle against these devotees and maybe earn the respect of the red crane while you’re at it.

At the aforementioned Angler’s Wharf you can look forward to some exciting extreme fishing! The Anglers will be looking for any players willing to aid them in getting the greatest catch or fending off some of the more rascally dangers of the lagoons. Not a fan of swimming? Not to worry! These talented fishermen can provide a raft guaranteed to keep you afloat . . . until it doesn’t.

That about covers the basics of Krasarang Wilds. Next time, we will be venturing into the high peaks of theKun-Lai Summit. Pack your mountain climbing gear and the smelliest good luck charm you can find as you are about to face down the gullet of mountain hozen, hordes of yaungol, dirty yaks, and the very embodiment of Anger!




Mists of Pandaria Zone Preview: Valley of the Four Winds

by Nethaera Sep 13, 2012

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.

Mists of Pandaria Zone Preview: Jade Forest

Mists of Pandaria Zone Preview: Jade Forest

by Nethaera Sep 11, 2012

Pandaria is a majestic land of mystery and intrigue. Long has it been shrouded in the mists and relatively untouched . . . until now. To get you better acquainted with this new continent, we’ve pulled out our cameras and snapped a few shots of some of the great points of interest and stunning vistas. We’ve also taken the time to speak to the zone’s designers to ask them questions about the best sites to see, the key storylines you may want to know about, and the creatures you’ll want to meet (or avoid).

Quest Designer: Helen Cheng

Q. Could you name three places you feel players shouldn’t miss on their first trip through the zone?
A. There’s a lot to see in Pandaria but one of the most significant locations is the Serpent’s Heart. This is an enormous statue in the middle of the zone in which pandaren stonemasons have toiled at building for nearly a hundred years. However, they are running out of jade, and the mines to the north are overwhelmed by monsters. Trouble is definitely afoot.

On the coast to the east lies the Temple of the Jade Serpent. This is the home to Yu’lon, the Jade Serpent, who is one of the celestial guardians of Pandaria. She’s the spirit of wisdom, but also represents spring, youth, growth, and nurturing. Players will get a chance to meet her in person.

Jade Forest is also the zone where the Alliance and Horde first make landfall on Pandaria. The Alliance will land in the southwest and will begin a search for Prince Anduin Wrynn, who has gone missing in a recent naval battle. Meanwhile, the Horde arrives on the northern shores. In both cases, the conflict in the rest of the world spills into Pandaria, and they’ll be fighting from the moment boots touch the ground. The tension between trying to explore a new land while simultaneously fighting a war drives a lot of the action in Jade Forest.

Q. So, from a story perspective, Jade Forest is a pretty important zone?
A. Absolutely! All this deep-seated tension and animosity is unleashed on the shores of what has been a relatively peaceful land for a long time. The consequences of the battle in Jade Forest reverberate across the entire continent.

Pandaria’s first dungeon is here: the Temple of the Jade Serpent that I mentioned earlier. If you play through the whole zone, you’ll get to visit the dungeon and interact with the inhabitants when things are peaceful. Once everything goes bad, you’ll have to go back in and try to undo a lot of the damage the fighting between the Alliance and Horde has caused. You’ll learn a lot about the Pandaren people and hopefully gain wisdom from the Jade Serpent herself.

Q. What factions or races will we be able to interact with?
A. Pandaria is host to several races that the Horde and Alliance have never encountered before. There are the forest hozen: semi-intelligent monkeys with a penchant for violence. They aren’t a very mature group and are in fact quite rowdy and crude. They eventually ally with the Horde. (Other tribes of hozen exist in other zones, but they aren’t the friendly sort and won’t ally with anyone.)

On the opposite end of the spectrum are the jinyu who are a wise and proud race of amphibious creatures. They have refinement and culture. Their “waterspeakers” can listen to the waters to foretell events of the future, although this is a rare occurrence. A subset of this race will end up allying with the Alliance.

Players will also encounter the mogu for the first time. This fearsome, brutish race is pillaging and destroying a few areas of the forest, giving us a hint as to their nature. But they’re really just a foreshadowing of what’s to come – the mogu play a huge part in pandaren history, and they’ll play a big role in this expansion as well.

Of course, the pandaren will be there as well for people to get to know. Imagine their surprise when the Horde and Alliance show up and turn things upside down.

As far as factions go, the Order of the Cloud Serpent is a faction and a daily hub that players can access at level 90. Members of The Order are sent out into the wild to find a cloud serpent egg, and then raise their serpent hatchling to adulthood. Serpent riders train and nurture their cloud serpents, then ride them into war. Players will also be able to choose their own egg and raise their own serpent, watch it grow to adulthood, and eventually keep their cloud serpent as their own flying mount. Exalted status with this faction also awards Cloud Serpent Riding, which is a tier of flying skill required to ride any cloud serpent mount from Pandaria.

There’s a lot more to be seen in this zone, but hopefully this will give you a taste of what’s to come in your adventures ahead.





The Pandarens are coming!

When it comes to MMORPG’s (Massively Multiplayer Online Games) or just online games for short, I’ve played quite a few, but my all time favorite and also for 12 million other gamers worldwide is World Of Warcraft. I started playing around 2005 and instantly fell in love with the Lore and the beautiful art style of the world. I followed through all 3 expansions and shed a tear for the last one” Cataclysm” which saw the Azeroth as we knew it ripped to sunder as beautiful cities and landscapes shifted and collapsed and formed new ones. Its a good thing I took plenty of screen shots of everything before Deathwing enforced her destruction on the world.

This month will see the 4th expansion for World Of Warcraft called Mists Of Pandaria. On September 25,2012 Blizzard introduces the Pandarens which in all honesty look like kung fu panda, but remember, Blizzards take  on these characters came way before that movie.The major setting is the land of Pandaria, one of the continents of the world of Azeroth. The discovery of Pandaria is made after a naval battle between the Horde and the Alliance. It had been hidden by magic since The Sundering.

Mists of Pandaria will raise the existing level cap from level 85 to 90. It will introduce a new character class, the Monk, along with a new playable race, the Pandaren. The vanity pet system will be overhauled and will include a pet battle system. New PVEscenarios will be introduced, and Challenge Modes will be added for dungeons. The existing 41-point talent trees will be replaced by a new system of tiered talents that are awarded every 15 levels. Blizzard has stated that there are plans for nine new dungeons, three new raids, and four new battlegrounds.

Watch the awesome Cinematic Trailer!

If your interested in the launch, here’s a link to the official global launch event: http://tinyurl.com/9a7re6g

Do you love World Of Warcraft or any other online game? Tell us which one is your favorite and why. See you in Azeroth!