Mists of Pandaria: Everything you need to know

Josh Augustine at

New mounts

In the Jade Forest, players will be able to purchase an egg of a Cloud Serpent (either blue, red, or black), that you can nurtur and grow into a flying mount for your character. The system works very similar to the Horde's Venomhide Ravasaur mount quest series in Un'goro Crater. At first, it's a minipet that will give you daily quests that revolve around feeding it and catering to its every whim. After a few days of that, it'll turn into a larger pet with new quests for you. After 20 days of doing dailies for your Cloud Serpent, it'll be fully grown and will be available as a flying mount.

Having the mount will also unlock unique content in the world, such as being able to participate in the Cloud Serpent race, sitting atop a bluff with bleachers stuffed with Pandaren fans cheering you on.

Questing

I jumped onto a level 85 Alliance-Pandaren Monk, who was in the middle of helping out the jinyu--those wise fish-people I mentioned earlier. The character was on the last quest in the camp, which was to take three of their warriors out to "show them how it's done" in combat. So I tried my best, playing this Monk for the first time ever. I ran around clumsily beating down 15 baddies conveniently located just outside the swampy camp's borders while trying to learn the Monks abilities. When I finally made my way back to the camp, I felt horribly guilty: if these fish people based their new combat style on my clumsy moves, they'd all be dead within the week--most likely from accidentally killing each other.

Nevertheless, the leader of the Jinyu praised my skills, boosted my reputation to exalted, and declared to the whole zone that his people were ready to ally with the Alliance now. Yay, me. But that's not why I came to Pandaria--I heard these panda people made some sweet booze. Thankfully, the next quest was exactly what I wanted: an order to sneak into a nearby monastery and steal a rival Pandaren's brew.

Come. I shall train you, young grasshopper.

That booze was some heavy stuff. My lightweight self passed out almost instantly and I was woken by the clobbering of a chunky pandaren who decided I needed to learn the value of moderation and balance. I was sent to meditate under the nearby pagoda--my character automatically moved there as part of a mini-cutscene that never actually broke me out of the game world. New tech lets the devs design quests that move and animate your character in the live game world while you watch, but lead quest designer Dave Kosak assured me that the team is only using this sparingly because they know it can get frustrating if you're losing control of your character constantly.

The meditation itself was a fun minigame that involved trying to get a moving meter to land exactly in the middle by nudging it one way or the other, while it sporadically tended towards the outside edges. It was tricky, but I got it after a minute or so of panicked button mashing. It was fun enough and captured the pandaren zen mentality well.

Overall, the quests felt pretty similar to what we've come to expect from WoW--there's no revolutionary new technology looking to change the way we quest. At the end of the day, Kosak told me that quests need to mostly be about combat, because combat is fun. There did seem to be a few more mini-cinematics and minigames along the way, but the core is still finding crazy new creatures, beating them to a pulp, and using their internal organs for creative activities.

Raids

There will be three new raids at launch, but we really don't know anything about them at this point. The raid on Orgrimmar to take out Hellscream will happen in a later patch.

This guy is not in the mood for a minigame.