After watching the two videos for the Pandaren introduction (linked at the bottom for easy viewing), I am both impressed, amused and disappointed with Blizzard/Activision’s choices when allowing Pandaren’s to choose their faction. While they have some differences, Garrosh Hellscream and Varien Wrynn say and do nearly the same things when talking to their new recruits. Even though our factions are supposed to be clashing about our differences, our leaders are nearly exactly the same. Maybe that’s why Garrosh is so mad at the Alliance, he’s pissed because Varien is copying him!
So both factions start out at the turtle and are taken to their respective capitals via hot air balloon. They talk to their faction representative, Jii Firepaw or Aysa Cloudsinger, who say nearly the same thing: We’re here, we have to help these guys because of our belief system, we need allies, let’s find out who their leader is. The only part that confused me was Aysa knows an awful lot about the Alliance to not have a clue who the King of Stormwind is.
After you accept this quest, you run through your faction capitol and people say stuff as you pass. The Horde version has you recognized and cheered for saving someone, while the Alliance just has many NPCs go, “Whoa, a Pandaren,” with one notable Worgen rogue seeming to mock you for the choice (or at least I took it that way). I liked that the Alliance had so many new NPCs making their city feel alive, but the way the Horde seem so happy to have you among them was a much more rewarding scene.
Each side ends their journey as they enter the throne room and greet their respective leader. For some reason, both sides seem annoyed by the Pandaren calling them “Emperor” and are given stern corrections (though on the Alliance side it isn’t Varien who corrects Aysa). Both leaders then ask you to walk with them and tell the pandas how their faction works. For the Horde it’s a, “We might be looked down on, but we’re strong,” moment while the Alliance get, “We work with and stand by each other no matter what.” Varien’s speech felt forced, as though the writers are trying to force him to be something he’s not. Garrosh took far more pride in his people than I’ve come to expect, while simultaneously putting down any one who wasn’t an orc.
Once the pandas say they understand what it means to be a part of [insert faction here], more identical dialogue follows. The new allies are informed that some of their friends have chosen to join the enemy faction and they must no longer consider these Pandarens friends or family. Ties and friendships across enemy lines will not be tolerated.
Each faction leader asks their new panda allies, in the nearly the exact same words, to show their their skills at fighting. What proceeds is the only real difference in the two introductions (even if it’s mimicked on the other side pretty closely). Depending on the faction you picked, one of two things happens:
The Alliance get to knock Varien on his ass! If you’re like me, you’ve been dying to give the Stormwind King a good punch for several expansions now and Blizzard gives you this chance. For this, and things alone, I love them.
Horde Pandarens are asked by Garrosh to prove themselves in the arena, pitting them against three beasts from Outlands and Northrend. These level 10 elites dwarf the little Pandas, but Hellscream thinks is a great privilege for his new allies and even refers to it as a gift. What a crazy gift…
In the end, I feel like this whole thing could have been so much more than it was. A chance to really inspire both factions fell through the cracks as the writers half-ass the dialogue and make both Pandaren leaders seem a bit silly and ineffectual. After all, neither Garrosh nor Varien address them directly, instead talking and interacting solely with the player.
Jii Firepaw gets the worst of it. While he has caused the most drama in World of Warcraft this expansion, he seems a pathetic choice to lead the wise and noble Pandarens who have joined the Horde. After finishing the battle against Garrosh’s beasts, he tells the player he never could have finished the battle against the level ten elites without you! Aysa just seems like a dippy little do-gooder who is meant to take the place of the now (probably) emo Jaina Proudmore. Possibly there is a reason for this, like character growth throughout the expansion or something, but with the writer’s track record so far I find it doubtful.
What the hell happened to strong faction leaders?! Maybe I’m off base here, but Blizzard screwed the pooch on this one. I can’t be the only one who thinks the Pandarens are turning into the joke race we were promised they wouldn’t be.
Alliance Pandaren Introduction
Horde Pandaren Introduction