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Mists of Pandaria, transmogrification and personal aesthetic

Matthew Rossi

The above image is Starshatter, one of my favorite new models in Mists of Pandaria. I like it for a lot of reasons -- the hollowed-out constellation pattern to the blade, the unique color and look of the sword (even the raid finder version looks very cool and distinctive), and frankly, that it really doesn't look like anything I've seen in the game before. It vaguely reminds me of a dadao, but far more fanciful, as befits a fantasy game. I'm also a big fan of the Amber Flammard of Klaxxi'vess, which also has a sweeping curved blade but is very distict from Starshatter.

As a transmog enthusiast (to the point where my bank is already full), I'm looking forward to Mists of Pandaria in no small part because I want to collect more gear to transmog into. But I'm also finding myself wondering if transmogrification is also giving the game more artistic license to make weapon and armor models that are not necessarily for everyone. How many players are going to stick to their tier 2, or 6, or 10, or 13 instead of embracing Pandaria's aesthetic? And furthermore, is that a bad thing, or does it free up everyone to go hog wild with gear?

To give another example, if I got Mogu'Dar, Blade of the Thousand Slaves, I am going to transmog it. I don't care for the model at all -- but I still applaud them for making such a distinctive weapon. I like the raw freedom of being able to take the gear upgrade and then deciding whether or not I want that look without having to hurt my stats. With Mists taking gear farther into an Asian-inspired aesthetic, it's the perfect time for me to have that freedom.

Mists of Pandaria, transmogrification and personal aesthetic
One of the consequences of having to design gear for 11 races is that it doesn't all look good on all of them. The tier 13 helm, for instance, looks terrible on worgen and tauren because the jaw drops down and their faces stick out, while on races that it covers, it looks pretty good. (Having recently changed one of my characters to a pandaren, I can report that the tier 13 hat looks good on them, in my opinion.) With transmog, if a helmet looks bad on your chosen race, you can take care of that problem yourself.

Above is the Meteoric Greathelm, which looks completely different than just about any plate helm I've ever seen in the game with that basket-like faceplate. I really like it, but it's an unusual piece for World of Warcraft. Like it or hate it, it has to work for 11 races since every race can play a plate class, and so (in my opinion) transmogrification serves a purpose not only as a personal customization tool but to extend the life of these designs. If you really love that helmet or the entire Mists of Pandaria aesthetic, you can keep it alive well past this expansion. And if you hate it, you can just wear whatever you have in the bank. Behold Viking warlord pandaren.
Mists of Pandaria, transmogrification and personal aesthetic
Perhaps I'm simply overly enthused with transmog, but to me not only does it serve to allow the players to choose their look and gives the art team freedom to get as wild as they like with designs, but it will serve to keep all the previous expansions evergreen to a degree. Tier sets, off pieces, weapons and armor -- these now have a life well past their stats. Weapons like Starshatter or Shin'ka will outlast Mists itself due to their appearance alone. Mists of Pandaria is the first expansion designed with transmogrification as a factor, and the fascinating art on even some of the leveling greens says to me that gear design has moved into a new phase.

It's open warfare between Alliance and Horde in Mists of Pandaria, World of Warcraft's next expansion. Jump into five new levels with new talents and class mechanics, try the new monk class, and create a pandaren character to ally with either Horde or Alliance. Look for expansion basics in our Mists FAQ, or dig into our spring press event coverage for more details!

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