An April Fool’s joke comes to life in World of Warcraft’s fourth expansion pack, which developer Blizzard announced Friday at its annual BlizzCon convention in Anaheim, California.
World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria will let players play as the mysterious Pandaren, a race of humanoid pandas that Blizzard originally introduced several years ago as an April Fool’s joke for Warcraft III. Today, the ursine anthropomorphs are a series staple, making frequent appearances in World of Warcraft as well as brief cameos in other Blizzard games, like StarCraft II.
Diehard fans love these adorable pandas. You might say that by releasing this expansion, Blizzard is really Pandaren to its base.
The Warcraft maker also announced that it will begin to offer an annual subscription plan for the MMO, which can be paid for in monthly installments. For a limited time, anyone who signs up will receive a free copy of the hotly anticipated upcoming RPG Diablo III.
World of Warcraft’s last expansion, Cataclysm, was immensely successful, selling 4.7 million copies in its first month on sale. The MMORPG currently boasts over 11 million subscribers.
Mists of Pandaria will also introduce a playable Monk class to the popular massively multiplayer online game, as well as the land of Pandaria, a China-inspired country that Blizzard vice president Chris Metzen describes as a rather peaceful place — until the players come in and ruin everything.
Speaking on stage at BlizzCon, Metzen gave a brief introduction to the expansion pack, emphasizing that it will focus on the war between the game’s two main factions, rather than an external enemy.
“Red and blue are about to get it on,” Metzen said, “with a heavy ferocity that has not been seen since the days of Warcraft II.”
As has become custom for Blizzard, the developer did not give any indication as to when it will release World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria or Diablo III.