Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!
This week I will be taking a look at the Wandering Isles, the new starting zone for the Pandaren and the Pandaren in general. The zone offers us a new introductory cut scene, which I will not describe so that you may enjoy it on launch night. Suffice to say that this zone known as the Wandering Isle has begun to move erratically and it is up to you as an adventurous and gifted Pandaren to discover the reason for this.
The Pandaren are World of Warcraft’s first neutral race and as such the starting area is quite serene with some amazing new scenery. The entire zone has a strong Chinese feel to it as one would expect given the lore behind the race. Due to its neutrality, the starting zone does not have mailboxes, meaning that until the area is complete players cannot use their BoA items or send bags and supplies to their new Pandarens. This has been the focus of a lot of discussion in the beta but overall it has proven to be a sensible decision on behalf of Blizzard. The zone is rich in lore and the visuals are absolutely stunning and there is no surprise that Blizzard want players to be immersed in every aspect of the Wandering Isles.
Last week I described the Pandaren as bobbly and I stand by this description. To me it feels similar to the bobbing motion that a character has when they are riding a Raptor mount. In a way it suits the physics of the race but personally I find it distracting.
There are a number of interesting racials for the Pandarens to enjoy and these include:
Epicurean: Your love of food allows you to receive double the stats from Well Fed effects.
Inner Peace: Your rested experience bonus lasts twice as long.
Bouncy: You take 50% less falling damage.
Quaking Palm: Strikes the target with lightning speed, incapacitating them for 4 seconds.
Onto a tour of The Wandering Isles:
While this is somewhat annoying as a seasoned player, it is brief enough to be tolerable knowing that it will help new players to the game learn their characters.
Next up is a handful of quests where the player is trailed by Master Shang Xi as they attempt to complete their training. This series of quests also introduces us to a new protagonist the Hozen who we will also meet in the higher level zones to be previewed later.
The Hozen have some nifty little attacks such as the ability to jump on the players head (similar to the Kobolds) in ToGC.
We continue along these lines until we reawaken the spirit of fire, upon completion of this quest we learn that Shen-zin Su is in pain. While there is little hint as to what or who Shen-zin Su is, we are whisked off to awaken the remaining elemental spirits, whose absences are being felt to varying degrees across the Wandering Isle, in order to communicate with it.
The quest line follows this approach, with various side quests that have us dealing with the Hozen, until we have gathered the four ancient spirits together. After this we learn that Shen-zin Su is an enormous turtle and the Wandering Isle is affixed firmly to his shell and the might creature is in pain due to a thorn in his side.
We are now sent to investigate this injury to learn that an alliance airship has crashed into his side. This is the first time the Pandaren are exposed to the battling factions of the Alliance and the Horde.
After completing a series of quests for both factions and finally healing Shen-zin Su with their assistance, we return to the spirit of Master Shang Xi where you are required to select a faction. After selecting the Horde I was teleported to Orgrimmar where Garrosh Hellscream gave me a fairly cold welcome and put me through a quest that sets the tone of the expansion.
The Wandering Isles was an interesting zone, I was just shy of level 12 upon completion of the quest for Garrosh Hellscream and I feel that the levelling was well timed. I never felt too strong for my opponents or too weak and I am glad that BoA’s are not allowed in the area. The zone itself was visually stunning and the quests combined with the environment reinforced the sense of discipline and lore of the Pandaren race and Monk class. There is a fair amount of walking involved in this new area which in future may become annoying for now it allowed me to enjoy the aesthetics of the zone.