BlizzCon WoW panel: Pokemon-like pet battles, revamped talent system, big class changes

Friday, 21st October 2011 20:45 GMT By Nathan Grayson

Hi! I’m at BlizzCon! There’s a World of Warcraft preview panel happening right this very second. You want Pandas? Well, here’s 90 minutes of the little bastards and their furry fists of fury. Follow this space for all the news.

  • First up, the continent of Pandaria. Five new zones, says Blizzard. It’s all on a single unified continent. Art’s very Asian-influenced, as is evident from the screenshots.
  • No flying until max level again. The Blizz folks feel that mounting, flying, landing, and fighting repeatedly disrupts the flow of your epic hunt for boar gizzards.
  • Starting zone is a turtle. Pandarens start on the back of a giant turtle. Let me repeat that: turtle.
  • Pandarens are a neutral race. Eventually, you pick your faction.
  • Different races inhabit the island. For instance, the Mogu. They’re big and hulk-like. Also, the Sha – the “manifestation of negative energy on the island.” Apparently, they’re released whenever Horde and Alliance go into murder mode.
  • Unified early area. Horde and Alliance try to befriend different races. It’s called the Jade Forest.
  • After that, you head into the Valley of the Four Winds. You can tackle the North or South side first. It’s your call. Area also has a dungeon. Whole place is Pandaren farmland. And you’re ruining it. Proof that the greatest giant panda of all… is man. Or Orc.
  • Pandaren can play as any class. For racial talents, they get increased stat benefits from food and a 15 point increase to cooking skill. Also 50 percent less fall damage and longer lasting rested experience.


  • Three monk specs: Brewmaster (tank), Mistweaver (healer), and Windwalker (melee DPS). Monk’s not a hero class. You are but an average, no-frills giant panda, clawing your way from the bottom by the sweat of your furry brow.
  • Monks playable by all races. Hooray!
  • They can use staves and fist weapons. Leather armor.
  • Monk has no auto-attack. Press buttons to see animations. Wanted it to feel more Street-Fighter-like. Generate light and dark force chi with jab. Main energy sources for special moves.

Talent revamp

  • In Cataclysm, Blizzard “removed junk, but not enough junk.” The tree branched into choices, “but not enough choices.” “Cookie cutter builds still persist.” No true hybridization.
  • Talents 2.0. Get a spec ability right away, and then you get more as they make sense. Any core abilities are just given to you. No risk of skipping over them. Lets you experiment with the rest without having to worry about shooting your build in the foot.
  • One talent tree per class. No talent points or ranks.
  • You get a talent every 15 levels. Choose between three different talents each time. Can’t have the other two.
  • Goal is no mandatory talents.
  • You can now change talents as easily as glyphs.

PVE scenarios

  • Blizzard equated scenarios to “PVE battlegrounds.”
  • They’re staged experiences. You accomplish different goals as you move through.
  • Some involve fighting regular enemies. Another’s a DoTA-type thing, but with NPCs instead of frail, fleshy, racial slur-hurling humans.

Challenge mode dungeons

  • Complete dungeons in a specified amount of time.
  • Depending on how quickly you finish, you earn bronze, silver, or gold medals.
  • All gear scales to the same point when you’re running through. You can’t just put on your shiniest pants and charge through.
  • Earns you special gear sets.
  • Also, bragging rights and leader boards.

Pet battle system

  • Oh man, sold. Wait, they haven’t said anything yet.
  • Can collect, level, and customize pets.
  • Hundreds of already available pets will work with the system. Within all your tiny, huggable creatures beat the bearded hearts of warriors.
  • Most pets will be tradeable.
  • (What’s that smell? Is it… is it microtransactions?)
  • World of Pokecraft?
  • Hoping to let you use the same pets across all of your characters.
  • Pet journal. Lets you manage pets. It’s a Pokedex, basically. Tells you stats, where to find different pet types, etc.
  • Pets can use three abilities at a time.
  • Building a complimentary team is important.
  • Turn-based combat. IT IS POKEMON.
  • PVP or PVE.
  • Showed a mock-up screenshot. The angle pretty deliberately imitates Pokemon. Surely they’re poking (hah!) fun at themselves at this point.
  • Concept of “masters.” I imagine they want to be the very best, like no one ever was.
  • Masters are gym leaders. This is the most shameless thing I’ve ever seen.


  • Bringing back more classic dungeons. Scholomance and Scarlet Monastery. Scarlet will be broken up into two separate dungeons.
  • Mist of Pandaria is launching with three raids.
  • Bringing back world raid bosses. Blizzard’s apparently found solutions to problems of camping, etc.


  • Trying to give players multiple options and incentives to max level players.
  • Example: If you do five daily quests, you get a buff. Gives you the chance to find an exclusive piece of loot in a dungeon.
  • Blizz is also trying to make the quests feel less linear and factions less grindy.


  • Looking at different types of battlegrounds. Still no flying mount jousting, sadly. Dreams: crushed.
  • Stranglethorn Diamond Mine. Escorting mine carts to depots. Scoring points.
  • Valley of Power. Involves capturing an ancient artifact. Holding object earns points. However, the object does damage to you, so you need to have a horde of healers watching your back.
  • Tol’vir Proving Grounds. New arena. Based on Nagrand arena.

Major class changes

  • Treating resilience as a base stat.
  • Want PVE gear to be not-like-wearing-sackcloth-drenched-in-sadness in PVP and vice versa.
  • Hunter minimum range is gone. Hunters don’t need melee weapons anymore.
  • Ranged slot for all other classes and relic slots are gone! All of them! Forever. Remember them as they were. Cherish the good times.
  • Rogues and warriors can throw weapons.
  • Wands are main hand weapons.
  • Shamans getting new totems. Shielding, repulsion, etc.
  • Druids have four specs now. Guardian’s a new spec, more focused on tanking. Cat and bear form still around. Pandarens, meanwhile, will morph into different bears.
  • You can automatically learn spells now. No need to put in face time with a trainer.

Blizzard also showed previews of three of the nine dungeons for the new area, during a Dungeons and Raids panel. Stormstout Brewery is the first one shown below, and is followed by ones for the Temple of the Jade Serpent and the Shado-pan Monastery.



  1. Se_7_eN

    To prove WoW is a joke now, they took a race that they used to make April Fools jokes out of, and made them an actual playable race… Nice.

    TOR can’t come soon enough.

    #1 3 years ago
  2. Ireland Michael

    It may have taken seven whole years for it to happen, but World of Warcraft has finally jumped the shark.

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Phoenixblight


    We’ll see right now all this information is vague and you can’t tell without actually seeing it in gameplay. People have said they would leave with the worgens announced and if they did its a very small number of people that did with the game still going strong.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Ireland Michael

    @3 They’re acting a joke race to canon, and art style ripped off from Kung Fu Panda, and adding Pokemon battles.

    There’s nothing that needs to be seen.

    At least the worgen were part of canon and had lore surrounding them. They’d already existed in the game since the beginning.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Phoenixblight

    Most players can give two shits about the lore with WOW, that was checked at the door when Warcraft was made a MMO. Most of Pandarens art style has always centered on Asian theme so I am not sure how you are saying its ripped from Kung-fu panda when they had showed up in the game with an Asian theme long before that movie was announced or even thought of.

    And so what they added companion pet battles that is also something people have wanted since vanilla. These are small things to be whining about with “jumping the shark”. The forums are mostly saying good things about the Pandarens and the monk class, the only thing people have complained about is the talent system which is silly to whine about because they are completely out of context with no actual gameplay attached to them.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Ireland Michael

    I will travel cross Azeroth,
    Searching far and wide,
    Non Combat Pets to understand,
    The power of the Light.

    Non Combat Pets, its you and me,
    Ignore the fact that I’m a talking tree,
    Non Combat Pet, oh, you’re my best friend,

    I’ll teach your moves from your skills trees,
    Gotta catch ‘em all! Non combat pets!

    #6 3 years ago
  7. viralshag

    The new talent trees sound absolutely fucking awful.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. OlderGamer

    Reading all of this, reminds me of how amazing Rift truely is. Rifts talents and char builds are revolutionary compared to anything WoW has ever done. WoW has never had anything beyond cookie cutter builds, everyone is even going after all of the same end game gear. WoW is like line dancing with 10million people in a crowded room.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. viralshag

    @8, Dancing in crowded room all wearing the same outfit no less. It’s true, Rift specs were great. WoW’s have just gotten worse and worse.

    #9 3 years ago
  10. Phoenixblight


    That will be fixed with the new talent system if you look how the Talent system in Mists, they removed the importance of the talents and made them similar to glyphs you can play on you want to and not need the same build. Also they are adding the whole changing your gear to another older piece assuming you have so that adds variety to.

    I dunno I still have my T2 set probably will change my gear to look like that.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. Ireland Michael

    @10 The new talent system is boring and simplifies the game even more.

    Like it hadn’t already become simplistic and boring enough already.

    #11 3 years ago
  12. Phoenixblight


    Yes because having the same build as everyone else is so much better?

    They give you 3 choices at each tier that ties within an ability that all specializations use. Where if you pick Holy now, you will have the same exact build as every other priest no matter of what your playstyle is.

    This gives a variety because it allows you to pick the talents that work within your play style. Rift has a similar idea only they have a lot of fluff talents that actually don’t do anything until high level. DO I want 3% more health or 3% more damage? Such awesome choices there.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. Ireland Michael

    @12 So their solution is to only give you half a dozen forced choices in the whole game? That shows nothing more than a lack of creativity. They could have simply made more of the existing talent abilities more utility based.

    I don’t care for Rift as a game. It’s just WoW with some changes. But it’s talent trees have the right idea.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. Phoenixblight

    6 tier with each having 3 choices and that changes an ability drastically.

    THats up to 216 possible combinations, that doesn’t give you a complete edge over one person because they picked one over the other. Thats far better than the current system.

    There is no choice in the current system. You pick a spec and you are stuck with it until 60ish. Then within the choice, the talents were pretty obvious on what you had to pick in order to be competent enough with pve or pvp. The new system gives choices of survivability, crowd control and efficiency. Different stroke for different folks, I guess.

    #14 3 years ago
  15. Ireland Michael

    Yeah, and its fucking boring.

    #15 3 years ago
  16. NeoSquall

    tbh, Pandarens were in the series since Warcraft 3, although as an “outsider” race, who basically didn’t give a fuck about the events in the game and just wanted to mess around and drink beer.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. silkvg247

    Rift is.. I dunno. Boring. I think it’s because the game takes itself too seriously. Where’s the humour? Not one NPC in it ever lightens up. Yes I Know WoW takes it’s humour a bit too far sometimes, but when you’re on generic “collect spider spleen” quest #98, then humour is really the only thing you have to break the monotony.

    Right now I’m not playing any MMO. I’ll give TOR a try, and I’ll probably give the WoW expansion a try too even though it’s sounding like it’ll be even more ridiculously easy than it ever has been. I miss vanilla, when my mage was an actual glass cannon and took skill to play well.

    #17 3 years ago

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