For those who have been living under a rock, the venerable (8 year old) World of Warcraft MMORPG is releasing their 4th expansion next month.

This week they released the new cinematic trailer.

With regard to the cinematic trailer, I think it was brilliant.  Not only was it fun and entertaining and very well made, but it really says something about the flavor of this expansion. From the beginning WoW has been about the epic battle between Horde and Alliance.  In each of the other expansions they were invading a new area to stop some ultimately evil force that was threatening them equally.

Mist of Pandaria offers something different.  From the cinematic trailer I get the sense that the petty struggle of Horde vs. Alliance takes a back seat to a people who are at peace with their surroundings and don’t appreciate the war that has been brought to their doorstep.  Certainly the best part about the video is when the Human actually offers one of his weapons to the Orc, after getting beatdown by a Panda with a stick.

I’m not expecting the structure of the game to change, nor would I want it to.  But I think that the Pandarians will play a very interesting role in the storyline and politics of this game, and I am looking forward to playing one.

Now I realize that these panda look very similar to the KungFu Panda movie franchise, which was a kid’s movie, and one could say that because of that, this expansion is geared to a younger audience and therefore “WoW is dead”.  I have to ask that person, “Hasn’t WoW always been geared to a younger audience?”. This is a cartoonish video game intended for pre-teen kids and up.  Yes, there are plenty of older players, and the more mature players will try to stretch the game to its limits, but I think Blizzard has done an excellent job of making the game fun for a wide variety of age groups, and I don’t see how having Pandas as the new race would change any of that.

These older players that are complaining need to grow up, and just enjoy the game.  There is a complexity in WoW below the surface of the cute characters and point and click interface, if you’re willing to participate in the lore and beauty of the game.  If all you want to do is max everything out and PvP, you still can, but if that’s the case then there is no reason to make any judgement on the lore Blizzard has chosen to develop.

Incidentally, Blizzard announced today that with the next patch, all races will be open to all accounts, including the Panda’s when they are released.  This is pretty exciting though I’m not sure how it will work.  But they are already offering the first expansion with new accounts, so if anyone wants to join WoW for the first time, let me know and I’ll send you an invite. 😉