WoW's Pandaria Remix feels like it's emerged from an extended Pandaren brew session in the dev room

The WoW expansion Mists of Pandaria, initially released in 2011, built out a faction and region of Azeroth that had been a part of Warcraft since 2003: essentially, boozed-up kung fu pandas. It's definitely one of my favourite expansions purely for the change in tone it brought to the game, and now Blizzard has announced a time-limited event called WoW Remix: Mists of Pandaria is under development, and it looks… well, it looks like someone's been on the panda brew.

The remix idea is all part of Blizzard's commitment to "evolving" how it updates WoW, the most recent example of this being the battle royale mode Plunderstorm (which has generally gone down very well with players). Mists of Pandaria remains playable in current WoW and this Remix is a re-jigged version of it which essentially lets players create new characters and zoom through the entire thing at an accelerated rate. But that's just the start.

The levelling is going to be faster, accompanied by new items and a new progression system layered atop it to freshen things up for the veterans. It's going to be easier to acquire precious transmog items and mounts, some of which have fancy new looks, and everything you acquire (including the character) carries over into Dragonflight and future expansion The War Within.

But the whole vibe here can be summed-up as "we know you've all played this before, so we're going to make it actually worth the replay." Remix will add a bunch of intentionally overpowered gear and gems that will juice-up your character to absurd degrees, the best of which is the Cloak of Infinite Potential (a nod to the legendary cloak you could obtain in the expansion originally), an artifact that upgrades as you play and works across characters: so subsequent runthroughs will be even quicker. Finally, Blizzard's adding a new currency, bronze, which is acquired by sacrificing unwanted items and can be used to buy various Pandaria items that are tough to get. 

It's certainly going to be an attractive option for players looking to level up a stable of new characters, but putting all the practical considerations aside the Pandaria Remix is a deeply odd thing. In some ways it's like a condensed version of WoW Classic (which is not yet at the Mists of Pandaria expansion and won't be for some time), and some will no doubt grumble at the ease with which it will allow players to take transmogs into the War Within. Most bizarrely it will replace Plunderstorm, despite the two offerings really being nothing alike. 

Blizzard lists the key points of Pandaria Remix as:

  • Accelerated Leveling and Content allowing you to take on nearly every quest, scenario, dungeon and raid.
  • Create a new WoW Remix character starting at level 10 to adventure through the event up to level 70.
  • A mountain of loot: Get powerful items from everywhere— quests, chests, creatures, bosses.
  • Customizable items allowing you to power up as far as you can go to take on tougher content.
  • Convert unwanted items into Bronze which can be used to upgrade items or purchase cosmetics.
  • Keep what you collect: Take your collection of transmogs with you into The War Within.

What's most striking about Pandaria Remix is how unusual it is, a mini-WoW within WoW, designed to offer players a concentrated burst of all the expansion's best bits before spiralling out into the next expansion proper. Warcraft's GM John Hight told PC Gamer recently that Plunderstorm "was our first experiment. That's why we're doing it as a limited-time thing. We do have ideas for other things that we'd like to do, similar to this, but with different gameplay. So I'm super excited about it."

The Pandaria Remix will also be time-limited, though Blizzard hasn't said when it will be ending, and shows a developer that is getting a little bolder about breaking away from WoW's established cadence of expansions and updates. These days I'm much more of an occasional dabbler in MMOs rather than the all-in maniac of my youth, and the idea of returning to Pandaria and blasting through it with an overpowered Panda death knight over a couple evenings is an attractive twist on the nostalgia that Classic already offers.

Who knows where these experiments will lead WoW in the future but, with Plunderstorm and now this, the industry's pre-eminent MMO already feels so much more vital and varied than it did even a few short years ago. It could all go wrong, of course, but this sounds like the best kind of pandamonium.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."