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Mists of Pandaria and character aesthetic

Matthew Rossi

Why do players choose to play what they do? I'm not referring to class here, or even role, but purely why they choose the race they choose. An undead warrior named Tearsnomore on the EU forums asked why anyone would play a male pandaren. To me, this is interesting because choosing to play a forsaken male is equally as baffling. Forsaken female? Sure, they have some awesome animations at least. Forsaken male? Why not just wear a bag on your head the entire time you're playing?

This led to some feedback from CM Takralus that got me thinking. I haven't race changed to pandaren, although I expect I'll roll one before long. Gotta catch 'em all and all that (I even have a forsaken warrior, and yes, it's female) but what really interested me about his post was the idea of visiting a major city to see the player diversity at work. I feel like, so far in Jade Forest at least, I don't even have to go back to see it. Heck, I see more of it because I see the Horde and the Alliance running around. Goblins, forsaken, draenei, trolls - I've seen a lot more trolls than I expected.

This got me to wonder -- is it all just about racials? Racials don't care what gender you play - do you just pick whatever gender you're more comfortable with? Do you even look at racials when you pick your race? I tend to play night elf and draenei tanks because they have solid racials for tanking (the draenei racial has gotten better for tanks under the active mitigation system) but I also play worgen and tauren purely for looks. I honestly don't think I could have stood to play Horde as long as I did as any other race than tauren.

For myself, the choice of race is tied up in lore to some extent. The tauren, alone among Horde races, aren't big jerks. Pretty much every single other Horde race is a race of big jerks, or former big jerks in the case of the Darkspear. (Vol'jin has me warming towards trolls.) But I don't always make choices for that reason - I have a forsaken woman purely because forsaken women look like demented buzzsaws going to town dual wielding big axes. Sure, some races flip or backflip or whatever, but forsaken ladies do so while fighting.

Similarly, both pandaren male and female characters have some excellent weapon animations. Frankly, they're kind of wasted as monks, because monks don't use their weapons as much - a lady pandaren with a 2h weapon looks absolutely badass. She will mess you up. For me a big part of enjoying a character is liking how it looks in motion. Another part is enjoying how it wears its gear, especially because I tend to play plate classes. As much as I can't really stand playing an orc (any more than I'd enjoy playing, say, Harald Hardrada at Stamford Bridge) I have to admit they look good in plate. They look really silly in cloth. It's kind of like my infamous problem with human men as mages. Apparently the men of Azeroth are all highly susceptible to bulking up.

What Mists of Pandaria has really gotten me thinking about, however, is the character model updating we're told is currently underway. Right now, dwarves, orcs and humans are being worked on. To be honest, in the case of dwarves and orcs it's mainly their faces that I think need work. Granted, if you've watched the Mists of Pandaria cinematic (and if not, why not) you may feel like there's loads of room for improvement in both orcs and humans. (Frankly, I just want a body type slider for my human characters, because I simply cannot play Big McLargeHuge the mage.) Seeing the pandaren models and their animations (including their incredibly expressive faces) has me hopeful, but at the same time I'm fairly attached to my characters, and don't want to see them radically altered. We'll see what occurs, I suppose.

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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