World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria intro

Everybody loves pandas. You don’t see entire countries working together to make sure the endangered white abalone sea snails are mating, do you? But the point is that we could all use more of the black-and-white, bamboo-munching bears in our lives. So it is with great joy that I report that Blizzard has revealed the opening cinematic for Mists of Pandaria, the latest expansion to its incredibly popular massively multiplayer online game, World of Warcraft. It also features plenty of kung fu pandas. Not the Kung Fu Panda, though. Still, I’ll take it.

While the intros for past expansions have centered on menacing and threatening villains, this movie brings the scale back a bit by focusing on the conflict between orcs and humans. Of course, it doesn’t take long for a Pandaren, the upcoming playable race, to make an appearance.

Blizzard has always created impressive CG to accompany its games, and this intro is certainly no exception. I still consider the one they made for The Burning Crusade (the first World of Warcraft expansion released in 2007) as their best. But this new video shows a level of humor that, while always present inside the actual game, we rarely see in an opening cinematic.

As of June 30, World of Warcraft has 9.1 million paying subscribers. That number, once over 10 million, has been decreasing, but WoW is still easily the king of MMOs, especially in a time when so many of its competitors are abandoning the traditional subscription model for free-to-play alternatives.

Blizzard releases Mists of Pandaria for PC on September 25.