World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria's Pandarens are playable. Also, they're pandas.

Rich McCormick at

Pandaren Concept 3

Don't know about you, but spending my time sat on a hillside in central China, eating bamboo and getting hugged by volunteers sounds like a nice life. Unfortunately, we can't all be pandas. But wait! Thanks to World of Warcraft's next expansion Mists of Pandaria, we can all be Pandarans.

Pandarans are Azeroth's first neutral race. But they're not perpetual fence-sitters: players who choose to play Pandarans will start at level one, and be forced to side with either Alliance or Horde at level 10. They spend their early days on a giant floating turtle, learning how to be any class other than death knight, druid, paladin, or warlock.

Pandarans are a bit more martial than their real-life counterparts, but they do share some similarities in their provisional racial powers. They love eating, and get a 100% stat benefit from food items. Their appetite necessitates culinary ability, and to reflect that, Pandarans have their cooking skill increased by 15. 'Quaking Palm' works as an active racial ability, putting enemies to sleep for 3 seconds. They're also 'Bouncy', reducing fall damage by 50%, so you can spend your evenings hurling a fluffy object off a cliff without feeling too bad.

Pandaria's Chinese theme extends into enemy design: you'll be fighting brand new Jinyu (koi-carp men), Hozu (mischievous monkey men), Mantid (sentient insect men), Mogu (ogre-ish men), Verming (tiny cute rabbit men), and Sha (hulking manifestations of negative energy... men).

The most important element of the new race? They love beer. One of the new continent's first dungeons is Stormstout Brewery. First guild to organise a piss-up in it wins.