WOW: Mists of Pandaria announced

Pandaren race and Monk class in add-on.

The next, and fourth, World of Warcraft expansion has been announced at BlizzCon: Mists of Pandaria.

It introduces the "joke" race of kung-fu pandas of Warcraft lore, the Pandarens, as a playable race. Apparently, Pandarens will be playable as either Alliance or Horde.

There'll also be a new character class, the Monk, a martial artist. Monks will be able to specialise as damage dealers, healers or tanks.

The continent of Pandaria, a Warcraft riff on ancient China, will open up for adventurers and the level cap will be raised to 90.

Also coming in the next expansion are challenge mode dungeons, PVE scenarios, a pet battle system and a new talent system.

Announcing the expansion, Blizzard's story and franchise development executive Chris Metzen said that Pandaria was "a land lost to time for close to 10,000 years. A land of calm and beauty and peace and balance. That is until we arrive, with our never-ending factional conflict."

He said, mysteriously, that the true enemy in the next phase of World of Warcraft would be "war itself".

"Red and blue are going to get it on with a level of ferocity that has not been seen since Warcraft 2. War is coming and it's not going to be pretty... unless you're playing as a Blood Elf.

"The war that is coming between Alliance and Horde, picture it as a storm on the horizon. The land you're about to adventure through is much like the calm before that storm.

"The race that we encounter in this land may teach us a thing or two about who we are and why we fight."

Mists of Pandaria was rumoured to be the next expansion when Blizzard filed a trademark back in August.

We're about to go into a World of Warcraft preview presentation, so we'll have more details on Mists of Pandaria to share. Hang tight.

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