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

Friday, 21 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.