As you'd expect with so many players, copies of Mists of Pandaria flew off the shelves - just under 3 million copies on Day 1, with both Stormwind and Orgrimmar filled to bursting point with excited players on dragons. And some people complaining about pandas. Mostly though, excited people on dragons. Does this mark a reversal of WoW's somewhat flagging fortunes over the last year?
Well, probably not, no. As discussed in our review , Mists of Pandaria stands as a great example of why World of Warcraft has been successful for the last eight years, but also that it has been eight years. The last expansion, Cataclysm, saw a similar bump, with the numbers soon slipping again as players squeezed their fun out of the endgame and said "Okay. So now what?" Pandaria offers more answers to that question, from the pet battle system to a metric ton of max-level quests, to the promise of Pandaria itself shifting and changing as the war between Alliance and Horde rips the land apart with its negative vibes. Not everyone is going to stick around though, even if the game is amazing, and the cool new Pandarian content not kicking off until Level 85 isn't much of an incentive for new players to jump in.
Of course, some people just think the pandas are silly. Here's a rebuttal from a dungeon boss.
WoW remains in excellent health though, as one of the few MMOs that would be crazy to flip the magic F2P switch while so many people are paying to play. The next few updates also promise some excellent sounding content, from the continuation of the unfortunately named Wrathion's story in the tale of the Black Prince, to Pandaria's already revealed final raid, The Siege of Orgrimmar. In this one, players of both factions will head to the Horde capital to take down the insane Garrosh Hellscream for as yet unexplained reasons. Really though, most would do it for free. What was Thrall thinking?
Check out the latest patch notes here. 5.1 is on the test server now, kicking off the Pandaren campaign proper, adding a new Brawler's Guild, polishing up the classes, and upgrading Pandaria to surround sound with a really powerful subwoofer. For players who missed out on conquering them while levelling, it will also be possible to enter pre-Pandarian raids like Black Temple without having to bother with a group, giving you the power to flex your now impossibly powerful muscles against Azeroth's former heavyweights and collect their stuff for both achievement and transmutation purposes.