Last week, Blizzard released the Mists of Pandaria opening cinematic. It’s awesome. Not just because the Orc vs. Humans vs. Pandaren fight is entertaining (with moments of levity), but because it does a good job of setting the theme for the expansion. Previous expansion cinematics have had the luxury of having a distinct villain to focus on, and while it may appear that Mists lacks one, it is more than able to highlight the conflict that is going to play out.
The cinematic opens with an Alliance and Horde ship clashing off the coast of Pandaria, as the narrator poses the question, “Why do we fight?” He compares it to leaves falling; claiming that it is their nature, as we see the masts of the two ships (with Alliance and Horde sigils prominently displayed) also falling. The distinction and subtext is clear: It is their nature to fight, and this is going to lead to their downfall. We don’t know that the narrator is Pandaren at this point, but the use of the word their shows that he is not affiliated with either faction.
Once the orc and human wash up on Pandaria, the combat continues. We are treated to some interesting architecture (apparently the Shrine of Fellowship, which can be found in the Jade Forest), but neither the camera nor the characters are able to focus on that because the orc and the human immediately resume their fight. In doing so the orc rips off an incense burner for use as a makeshift warhammer, and a dragon statue is toppled. Rather than looking upon this location with a sense of awe, these warriors are so pre-occupied with their feud they are mindlessly destroying these wonders without paying them the appreciation deserved. This destruction as a result of endless conflict will be a theme played heavily in Mists, and its already happening not even half-way into the cinematic.
Finally, Chem Stormstout appears to alleviate the situation. He challenges the orc and human, and after a brief three-way dance, he kicks enough ass that the orc and the human realize they need to work together to try to stop him. Chen is the only Pandaren in Warcraft lore thus far. Human and orc may have heard tales of his exploits during the founding of Orgrimmar, but the odds that either of these warriors has met him before are slim; and there’s no chance they’ve seen another Pandaren before.
Chen is an anomaly, and while the human and the orc are each familiar with what the other is capable of, they don’t know anything about Chen. As he’s fending them off, the orc and human realize that Chen may be more dangerous than their counterpart, and so the human hands the orc his spear. This moment is played for comedy, but it shows that when threatened the Alliance and Horde can work together, and they need to overcome this mutual hatred for their own survival.
As Chen subdues the combatants the narrator talks about restoring balance and harmony. Chen repairs the incense burner in another moment played for comedy that also underscores the restorative nature of the Pandaren. Once the human and the orc are down, the fog is blown back to reveal Pandaria in all of its glory, beauty, and mystery. Although the fog is cleared by Chen’s acrobatic style of combat, it also highlights that as long as the Alliance and Horde are focused on annihilating each other, they will never see what is around them. It is only once they work together and stop fighting that their world becomes visible.
The Pandaren are unique in that they are the first race that can join either the Horde or the Alliance. I thought it odd in the trailer that Chen was fighting both factions, but for as much as each side will have Pandaren allies, they will also have Pandaren enemies. In order to preserve their world, the Pandaren will be in perfect position to infiltrate and influence both factions. Ostensibly they will do so through diplomacy and debate, although as Chen shows, they won’t be above getting their paws dirty when needed.
Mists of Pandaria is going to be a very reflective expansion, as the war between the Alliance and Horde is going to be the driving conflict. As players, we will be forced to face the consequences of our actions. I can’t wait to start exploring Pandaria when Mists is released. In that regard, the cinematic is quite the success.
Blizzard was hacked the other week. Probably wouldn’t hurt to change your security question and update your mobile authenticator right about now.
The Instance interviews Christie Golden and Chris Metzen about Tides of War. Light on spoilers but still an interesting behind-the-scenes look.
Patch 5.0.4 will launch on 8/28. Talent trees, your days are numbered!
Blizzard will let anyone roll a character of any race starting in 5.0.4. This has been needlessly confusing. Burning Crusade is already wrapped into basic WoW, so everyone can already roll a Draenai or Blood Elf. Worgen and Goblins are tied to Cataclysm, so if for some reason, you haven’t upgraded to Cataclysm, then you’ll get to play them on 8/28. When Mists launches, even if you don’t buy the expansion, you’ll still get to roll a Pandaren. I feel like this has been the perfect confluence of Blizzard not wording things properly and people being stupid. Expect lots of “WHEREZ MAH PANDA BLIZZ IS TEH SUX0R!!!” on 8/28.
Dev Watercooler on Scenarios. Because Three is the new Five. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/6968164/Dev_Watercooler_Scenarios-8_14_2012
Spirit of Harmony is the new crafting mat. It’ll do just about everything, including curing the gout. http://us.battle.net/wow/en/blog/6968167
There’s going to be an achievement for fixing the incense burner just like Chen in the cinematic. I’d rather an achievement for just kicking ass.