Impressions: Mists of Pandaria is more than just pandas
http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-conten...AM-640x354.png Who knew pandas could be so...compelling?
From the moment Blizzard announced World of Warcraft's fourth expansion, Mists of Pandaria, the company has faced allegations from long-time WoW fans that it was selling out to the youth demographic, aping children's flicks like Kung-Fu Panda in an effort to draw in youngsters. But barely three hours after I started playing the expansion, I had already seen my character pass out drunk'twice'and be accused of complicity in a genocide. So it seems obvious pretty quickly that these worries were unwarranted, and that Blizzard may have even gone out of its way to allay such fears.
The latest adventure in the online world of Azeroth is not without cutesy appeal, but it's also rife with the high fantasy melodrama and challenging dungeons that have kept World of Warcraft compelling over the years. If Blizzard aimed to court the youth demographic, then it has done a masterful job of incorporating that audience into its overall vision.
Into the Mists
Blizzard is still second to none when it comes to world building, and Pandaria's use of vibrant colors and enormous scale often results in incredible scenes that are a joy to look at. This is a particularly impressive feat considering the World of Warcraft framework that the expansion is built on is now eight years old. I remain astounded that Blizzard has managed to keep this game visually appealing so long after its shelf life should have expired. It seems ridiculous that World of Warcraft's visual appeal could be compared in the same breath to Guild Wars 2, a game that came out in August.
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