Sep. 24, 2012 at 4:53 PM ET
Giant pandas -- yes, giant pandas -- are coming to the massively popular online game "World of Warcraft."
The Pandaren -- a race of large humanoid pandas -- are part of a new expansion to the hugely popular online role-playing game. "Mists of Pandaria" is the fourth expansion to "World of Warcraft" -- a game that has been pulling in millions of players from around the globe for eight years now.
But the expansion, which goes live at midnight Pacific Time Tuesday (3 a.m. Eastern Time), includes much more than just, well, kung fu bears. Among the new offerings: a new pet battle system, a raised level cap from 85 to 90, a new Monk character class, as well as new dungeons, raids and battlegrounds.
In fact, there's so much happening in the expansion that Blizzard has released a lengthy trailer outlining the new content and features that await players. Check it out here:
Blizzard is hoping that this expansion will renew interest in the aging game. At its peak back in 2010 "WoW" boasted some 12 million players. But with time -- and increased competition from online games such as "Star Wars: The Old Republic" and now "Guild Wars 2" -- "WoW" has slowly bled players. In June of this year it reported 9 million players.
But advance reaction to "Mists of Pandaria" has been ... mixed. While some are excited for the refresh, it seems not everyone wants to cuddle up to the kung fu pandas and their Pokemon-esque fighting pets.
"'WoW will never be the same after this one," writes a YouTube commenter going by the name Golarath59. "Instead of Sargeras, the Titans, or N'zoth we get........cute and cuddly kung-fu pandas? Seriously!?"
"Meh I can't go back to WoW anymore. The character movements seem too dull to me now. Anyways considering the amount of time I put it in it last time, it just isn't worth it anymore," wrote a commenter going by the name ProtestHeroicX9000.
Still, the siren call of "World of Warcraft" is hard to resist. And the Blizzard community forums are filling up with excited fans waiting for their chance to play the new "WoW" content. Some have even taken to, yes, writing poetry to pass the time.
A player going by the name Faylay, composed an ode titled "Twas the Night Before Mists of Pandaria":
Twas the night before MoP when all through Azeroth,
not a creature was stirring, not even a moth.
All the embersilk bags had been emptied with care,
the thrill of new content hung in the air...
Perhaps more helpfully, a player going by the name Serelina offered this handy guide to help survive the inevitable launch day madness. Tips include powercycling your modems and other network gear, updating your drivers and doing a virus scan. But be sure to heed suggestion #7 regarding "general health":
Remember people it is a game, And while some of us are going after hardcore achievements such as realm first, The only advice i can give you is, That a healthy meal that day will keep you going longer than junk food, To reduce chances of headaches or eyestrain, Turn your monitors brightness down a notch, And try to have some ambient light in the room.
Meanwhile, the folks who helped create the game have just released a new video discussing some of the game features they're most excited for fans to see.
"I'm excited for the world to see all the artistry and passion and brains and blood, sweat and tears that went into building this thing," says Blizzard Entertainment Chief Storyteller Chris Metzen. "There are all sorts of different 'WoW' players out there, but we're all kind of united by this space that we spend a lot of time in. And that's a very special thing."
So what do you think "World of Warcraft" vets, are you lining up for "Mists of Pandaria?"
Winda Benedetti writes about video games for NBC News. You can follow her tweets about games and other things on Twitter here @WindaBenedetti, and you can follow her on Google+. Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IN-GAME FACEBOOK PAGE to discuss the day's gaming news and reviews.