World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria Collector's Edition PC Games
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Released on 25-Sep-2012
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Meet a new – and neutral – race in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria
This new expansion pack for the ever-popular MMO comes at a time when Alliance warships roam the seas and Horde armies thunder across Kalimdor. The tensions between these factions edge ever closer to erupting in a savage war that could consume all of Azeroth. And then… an uncharted island mysteriously appears. The ancient realm of Pandaria.
This land has been shrouded in fog for more than ten thousand years, and is uninvolved with – and unspoiled by – the war that has raged. Its rich forests and cloud-ringed mountains are home to a complex ecosystem of indigenous races and exotic creatures - including the enigmatic Pandaren.
For thousands of years, all but the bravest Pandaren explorers have chosen to remain hidden from the world, but as the aftermath of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm is felt even in Pandaria, it is time for the Pandarens to rejoin the world, share the secrets of their extraordinary martial arts, and choose to allign themselves with the Alliance or the Horde.
New features in World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria:
- New Playable Race - the Pandaren: World of Warcraft's first neutral race, will you decide to side with the Alliance or the Horde?
- New Playable Class - Monk: Unlock the secrets of Pandaren martial arts and do battle as a damage dealer, healer, or tank.
- Level Cap Increased to 90: Learn potent new spells and abilities while exploring uncharted zones and taking on challenging new content.
- New Zones: Explore the lush Jade Forest, treacherous Kun-Lai Summit, and other exotic areas of Pandaria designed for high-level characters, and uncover the mystery of the Wandering Isle.
- Scenarios: Join up with some friends to achieve a common goal, such as mounting a defense against invading monsters, in a flexible new type of PvE challenge.
- Dungeon "Challenge" Modes: Master the ultimate 5-player time trial and earn prestige rewards in a new dungeon mode that will put your resolve and coordination to the test.
- Pet Battles: Challenge other players’ companion pets with your own collection in a new tactical mini-game, and find out who's king or queen of the pint-sized battlefield.
- New Talent System: Customise your character to suit your play style with the newly overhauled and improved talent system.
World of Warcraft Mists Pandaria Collector's Edition includes:
In-game bonus items:
- World of Warcraft In-Game Mount: Take to the skies of Azeroth astride the mystical Imperial Quilen flying mount.
- World of Warcraft In-Game Pet: Journey across Pandaria with the Lucky Quilen Cub at your side.
- StarCraft IIBattle.net Portraits: Bring the Horde and Alliance rivalry to the far reaches of the Koprulu sector with exclusive Infested Orc and Night Elf Templar Battle.net portraits.
- Diablo III Banner Sigil and Accent:Display your status as a hero of Pandaria with the iconic markings of World of Warcraft's newest playable race, the pandaren.
- Behind-the-Scenes DVD and Blu-Ray: Learn about the creation of Pandaria with this two-disc set featuring over an hour of commentary, insider interviews, and developer roundtables.
- Collector's Edition Soundtrack CD:Experience 20 orchestral pieces from Mists of Pandaria.
- The Art of Mists of Pandaria Book:Explore this 208-page hardcover tome featuring never-before-seen pieces from the expansion, from early concepts to final 3D renderings.
- Chen Stormstout Mouse Pad:Equip your desk with this special-edition mouse pad featuring the legendary pandaren brewmaster.
If 2012 deserves to be remembered for anything - apart from the imminent Mayan apocalypse of course - it's as the year when people finally stopped bleating about the PC being a dying games platform. The past twelve months saw an astonishing run of top quality games for PC, as indie studios turned out fresh ideas by the dozen while mainstream developers fell back in love with the idea of pushing the flexible hardware a PC offers to the absolute limit. Here's our round up of the top PC titles that helped define the year.
What's perhaps most noticeable is that some of 2012's biggest releases were PC exclusive, not just PC versions of hit console games. Blizzard's Diablo 3, for example, was arguably one of the most important games of the year, yet talk of a console version is still shrouded in rumour. Arriving a mere 12 years after the release of Diablo 2, it's fair to say that fans were absolutely desperate to get their hands on Blizzard's fast-paced tactical action RPG. Always a series driven by frantic combat and furious loot-grabbing, Diablo 3 streamlined many of the processes involved without making the gameplay itself shallow. Whether playing online with friends, or hacking your way through the horde alone, it's still one of the year's most frighteningly addictive games. If you get it for Christmas, be careful - you may emerge from your first session to discover you've missed New Year's Eve.
But then this was a year for great RPG revivals on the PC. Fans of NCSoft's massive online role-player Guild Wars didn't have to wait quite as long as the Diablo faithful - a mere seven years separates Guild Wars 2 from its 2005 original - but the wait was still more than worth it. A rare MMO that requires no monthly subscription, Guild Wars 2 innovated in other areas as well, not least the fresh approach to quest design which allowed more fluid storylines to emerge based on player actions rather than strictly define dungeon encounters. With 400,000 players filling out its rich fantasy world, it's an excellent choice for anyone looking to try out an online RPG.
Or, of course, you could turn to the top dog of the genre. World of Warcraft continued to dominate in 2012, with the release of the latest expansion, Mists of Pandaria. This not only introduces a whole new land to explore, it adds a deeper pet battling system, a new character class and a new playable race - the Pandaren, a monastic order of martial arts mammals that look suspiciously like a certain popular animated movie character. Don't mention that though. The fans get very upset.
The best games of 2012 weren't only exclusive to PC, of course, but many of them were clearly designed with the platform in mind. Dishonored, the astonishing and compelling stealth adventure from the co-creator of Deus Ex, was a hit on consoles but a more perfect fit for PC. A game of painstaking plotting and careful progression, its dark and deliberate pace feels right at home on a keyboard and mouse, as you take control of supernatural assassin Corvus and set about unravelling a conspiracy in a steampunk world filled with detail and story.
Similarly indebted to the PC was the superb strategy game XCOM: Enemy Unknown, in which you manage a global agency tasked with investigating and repelling alien invasions. A remake of the 1991 classic, it retained the methodical turn-based structure but brought it bang up to date with nailbiting extra-terrestrial encounters and a satisfying web of upgrades and abilities with which to arm your brave, loyal and very often horribly doomed soldiers.
In certain cases, this shift back towards more PC-flavoured gameplay was especially useful. Far Cry 3 was great on consoles, but it pushed their fixed hardware to the limit. On PC, the tropical island setting is in full bloom, stretching into the distance in extraordinary beautiful detail even as you're prowling its open world, stealth-killing murderous bandits and trying not to be mauled by leopards.
An excellent year for PC players then, and a trend that will only continue in 2013. It might be a good idea to put some of those Christmas spends towards that new graphics card you've been promising yourself...
Console shooters had their derby match at the start of November, when Battlefield 3 challenged reigning champ Modern Warfare 3 for the hearts and minds of virtual soldiers across the world. On December 20th, a similar clash will take place, with stakes that are arguably even higher.
That's when the Lucas-approved, Bioware-developed online role-player Star Wars: The Old Republic launches, offering the first serious challenge to World of Warcraft's dominance. And given that World of Warcraft has a population more than twice the size of Norway, and turns around enough money each year to dwarf most real world nations, it's territory worth fighting over.
But where did massively multiplayer online role-playing games (or MMORPGs) come from?
To answer that question you need to jump back to Essex University in 1978. It was here that two students, Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle, first took the early Dungeons & Dragons-inspired adventure games and adapted them to allow multiple players at the same time. They called their creation MUD, or Multi-User Dungeon.
The game remained very much part of the academic and computer science subculture, until the mid 1980s, when commercial publishers made their first efforts at packaging the idea of playing online in a way normal game consumers at home could understand. One of the first pioneers, appropriately enough, was a Commodore 64 virtual world called Habitat, developed by LucasArts.
The internet was still a basic and clunky thing, however, so these were little more than tentative toes dipped into online waters. It wasn't until 1991 that games we'd now recognise as offering true graphical online multiplayer experiences really took off.
First off the blocks was Neverwinter Nights, an official Dungeons & Dragons game hosted by the rapidly expanding AOL internet service provider. It was crude by today's standards, with a basic 3D view in a small window and text inputs, but it was a genuine virtual world populated by other players. Other adventure game specialists, such as Sierra, quickly followed suit and released their own spins on the formula.
In 1995, internet speeds were given a boost and data traffic restrictions lifted in the US, allowing this embryonic genre to really evolve. Meridian 59 was technically the first MMO game to take advantage of the technological freedoms, but it was the 1997 game, Ultima Online, that popularised the genre. Not only did it offer rich, varied gameplay, it boasted a colourful top-down game world to explore. It was Ultima's creator, Richard Garriott, who claims the honour of coining the term MMORPG.
As player numbers rose, and with them the chance to make serious money from subscriptions, more recognisable names joined the fray. SONY's Everquest debuted in 1999, with full 3D graphics. Sega, meanwhile, brought MMO games to consoles, with the Dreamcast title Phantasy Star Online. Square's legendary Final Fantasy went online-only for its eleventh entry in 2003. Online role-playing was fast becoming one of the most popular game genres around, and just needed one final kick to boot it into the mainstream consciousness.
Cue World of Warcraft. Released in 2004, this spin-off from Blizzard's fantasy themed real-time strategy series brought a speed and immediacy that previous titles, still clinging to the paper-and-dice role-playing roots and point-and-click adventure elements, had lacked. World of Warcraft was fast and satisfying, character classes were well defined, and progression brought more and more impressive powers and weapons into play. It had the depth and immersion of a true RPG, but the instant gratification of an action game. Needless to say, the realm of Azeroth was quickly filled with addicted fans.
Since then, many have tried to topple Blizzard's billion-dollar behemoth from its MMORPG throne. Some manage to tempt a few subscribers away, but most eventually return, lured back by the vibrant community and regular world-changing updates.
World of Warcraft has never faced a rival like Star Wars though. There are millions of fans around the world, who have long dreamed of fighting, working or just living in that galaxy far, far away and The Old Republic allows them to do just that. Will that be enough to cause a mass emigration from the realms of Warcraft? Who knows - either way, it's going to be fun finding out.
Mists of Pandaria release date announced
The latest chapter in the ever-popular MMO introduces a new land - Pandaria - and its inhabitants, the panda-like Pandarens who are the first neutral race to join World of Warcraft, and will be hitting shelves the world over on Tuedsay 25th September.
But the announcements did not stop there. Blizzard also revealed a Collector's Edition will also hit shelves the same day, chock full of goodies like a behind-the-scenes DVD and Blu-Ray disc, soundtrack CD and mouse mat, as well as in-game items including flying mount the Imperial Quilen and StarCraft II Battle.net Portraits.
World of Warcraft currently has over 10 million players worldwide, but this is the first expansion to be fully localised for a number of international locations including French, German, European Spanish, Latin American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Korean, Traditional Chinese and Italian.
It's hard to image there was ever a time when we couldn't assume our grimmest war-face, fire up our consoles and do battle with a global army of enemy combatants from the comfort of our armchairs. We're certainly come a long way from sitting hunched over our Commodores, battling as much for keyboard space with our siblings as we were on-screen! But where did it all start?
Things really started to evolve in the 90s though when LAN parties were the in-thing for the hardcore gaming hobbyist. If the prospect of the violently seductive Doom wasn't enough to keep you up into the early hours by itself, there was no better way to bring the competitive minds of a whole generation of gamers together than by syncing up a few PCs and spending hours, even days, doing battle in the flesh.
The blossoming Korean e-sports scene took the concept even further, and now commands a staggering national audience for televised championships. Blizzard's outstanding StarCraft series rules the roost in this domain, and not even the awesome sequel released in 2010 has put a dent in players' enthusiasm for the best-selling original. The competitive scene for StarCraft II is still buzzing in the West, and it's never too late to get stuck into a game that'll be around for years to come and still has two explosive expansions in the works.
Then there's World of Warcraft, the game that really did change everything. Released in 2004, it arrived just at the right time as the mass uptake of increasingly fast broadband connections became the norm, unleashing a greedy clamour for the world of Azeroth - one so extreme that it saw Blizzard pull the game from store shelves at one point, their servers unable to keep up with the snowballing demand. It now enjoys a seven-figure subscriber count, and with three award-winning expansions under it's belt, there's more content for you to get stuck into than you'll know what to do with!
While consoles such as the sadly-undersold Dreamcast teased gently around the potential for global gameplay, it was arguably Microsoft who broke new ground for console gaming with the launch of the Xbox LIVE service, putting a whole new world of gaming at player's feet - and long before PCs became a breeze to hook up for the living-room lounger!
So while PC gaming might have dominated the early days of competitive multiplayer, it was titles like Halo 2 that brought the idea of mass gaming to the forefront of game design. While the single-player components of the Halo games continue to blow us away, the passion for Halo 2 was so extreme that players left their Xbox 360s running for days at a time to prevent the eventual switch-off of multiplayer support for all original Xbox games in April 2010.
These days it's show-stopping blockbuster titles like Call of Duty that continue to change the way gaming is viewed and played online by the console crowd. For many, it's the only game they need to buy each year, and services like Call of Duty Elite are doing even more to add greater depth to the experience, allowing gamers to track, log and show off their finest moments on the battlefield.
No-one can guess what the next evolution in multiplayer might be, but we're already seeing some extraordinary innovation in the likes of Nintendo's StreetPass, allowing gamers-on-the-go to make new friends without ever saying hello, and the awesome potential of the augmented reality features in the upcoming PlayStation Vita. One thing's clear, multiplayer is here to stay and the future can only bring us even closer together.
Unveiled to a sold-out audience at the company's BlizzCon gaming festival, World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria is set to uncover the mystery surrounding the long-lost continent rediscovered in the Cataclysm expansion.
Players are set to experience a range of new content and game features, such as new quests and dungeons, group scenarios and challenge modes.
Mike Morhaime, chief executive and cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, said: "Mists of Pandaria contains a huge amount of new content and we're looking forward to sharing more information about all of it at BlizzCon and beyond."
The new installment will aim to follow in the footsteps of previous expansion Cataclysm, which sold more than 3.3 million copies within its first day of availability.
Upon its release in December 2010, the game saw Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms given a makeover, as well as the introduction of new towns, and had been refreshed with almost 3,500 new quests.
The Best of 2012: PC (20/12/2012)
The past twelve months saw an astonishing run of top quality games for PC, pushing the flexible hardware a PC offers to the absolute limit…
The history of MMORPGs - Where it all… (07/12/2012)
On December 20th, the Lucas-approved, Bioware-developed online role-player Star Wars: The Old Republic launches, offering the first serious challenge to World of Warcraft's dominance. But where did ma…
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria … (25/07/2012)
Blizzard have announced the worldwide release date of Mists of Pandaria, the long-awaited fourth expansion pack for World of Warcraft.…
The Rise of Multiplayer Gaming (25/01/2012)
It's hard to image there was ever a time when we couldn't assume our grimmest war-face, fire up our consoles and do battle with a global army of enemy combatants from the comfort of our armchairs. We'…
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria … (01/11/2011)
Blizzard Entertainment has announced plans for the fourth expansion to the hugely popular online role-playing World of Warcraft franchise for PC and Mac users.…
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