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World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria launch-day roundup

Jef Reahard

World of Warcraft's long-awaited fourth expansion is finally here, and whether you're looking to see through the Mists of Pandaria for yourself or poke fun at your panda-playing friends, WoW Insider has everything you need to know.

Our sister site has been busy interviewing Blizzard devs, testing new five-man dungeons, and parsing the class and mechanical changes and adjusting guides accordingly. Join us after the break for the best expansion coverage on the internet.

Everything that awaits you in MoP
Zarhym posted this video up on Twitter last night, and it's worth sharing across the interwebs -- a great look at (nearly; well, sorta) everything coming in Mists of Pandaria. All the big zones, the dungeons, scenarios, raids, etc... Even some farming is in the video.
When you can get in
If you've downloaded the Mists of Pandaria expansion already and are dying to know when you can log on and start playing, wonder no more. Blizzard has the answers for you, my friend.
5 must-do Horde zones
To start quests in Azshara, you need do nothing more than head north out of Orgrimmar. The quest givers that begin the Azshara experience are all standing right outside the gate, occasionally fighting off groups of incensed night elves.
5 must-do Alliance zones
For the Alliance, sheer tenacity in the face of devastation is the name of the game. These five zones highlight that tenacity and offer some unique moments in Alliance lore that should be experienced.
First look at Alchemy
Of course, that was then; this is now. Will alchemy remain as stupidly profitable in the early days of Mists of Pandaria? Only one way to find out -- ladies and gentlemen, it's time to datamine! To the beta!
New raid instances
Blizzard seems to be sticking with the Burning Crusade and Cataclysm model of raiding, offering up multiple raid zones for players to tackle rather than one large fortress of bosses. Also, there seems to be a return to the "large room" design that EverQuest was famous for, as well as the early World of Warcraft expansions.
MoP zones and questing
Dave "Fargo" Kosak, WoW's lead quest designer, told us, "We didn't just split up zones. We added a ton of terrain. We were developing these little subzones and thought that they really deserved to be their own experience, so we added a lot of terrain to support a robust quest experience, new stories, new characters -- the whole deal."
Battlegrounds preview
Mists of Pandaria's Battlegrounds are built upon the same concept, borrowing beloved concepts from other games while stepping up to embrace the competitive innovations of more recent titles.
Raid finder loot system explained
If, like me, you heard about the upcoming changes to the Raid Finder's loot system and were a little confused, then this post by Zarhym clarifying what exactly will be changing is a useful read. Basically, rather than rolling against people in the raid (as is the current system), you roll and the chance that you will or won't get loot will have nothing to do with other players at all.
UI updates
We also saw a few other notable UI updates and additions, such as the full implementation of the new talent pane, a new buff tracker, and a revamped character creation screen.
PvE and PvP gear changes
Players have been confused as to what Blizzard meant when it indicated that PvP gear in Mists of Pandaria will be a lower item level than its PvE counterpart but more effective in PvP because of the addition of a free stat to the item's budget that boosts its effectiveness against other players.
Cross-realm zones coming
You can't always find enough players in your level range to have a fulfilling gameplay experience. It seems as if Mists of Pandaria is going to be fixing that issue in a big way: Blizzard has just announced cross-realm zones.
Ray Cobo Interview
Ray Cobo, one of WoW's senior producers, sat down with us at the Mists of Pandaria press event to discuss the development process, new game features, and more. Check out how an expansion like MoP gets made quickly!
Dave Kosak Interview
Dave "Fargo" Kosak, lead quest designer for World of Warcraft, sat down with us at the Mists of Pandaria press event for an interview. We talked about the Horde/Alliance conflict, voice acting, pop culture references, Mists' accelerated production schedule, and more.
Chris Metzen Interview
Chris Metzen, senior VP of Story and Franchise Development, the man behind the story of World of Warcraft, was gracious enough to sit down with WoW Insider for an interview at the Mists of Pandaria press event.

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