There will be spoilers for Mists of Pandaria in this post.
So there's no other way to say this: I am enjoying the heck out of the stories I am being presented with in the Mists of Pandaria beta. I'm actually reading quest text. (To be fair, I do that a lot anyway -- lore nerd and all.) Frankly, as Anne pointed out this weekend, one of the things that's best about this expansion is that everything we experience is new to us. Mists of Pandaria isn't just the story of the pandaren. In fact, while the pandaren are very cool, I find myself absolutely drawn to explore everything else up on the buffet table. The Mogu and their astonishing ruins, the mantid threat in the Dread Wastes, the entirely foreign threat of the Sha -- these are all compelling and fascinating to me. Better still, I'm being presented all new ways to explore these story options.
More so than any expansion in the history of World of Warcraft, the Mists of Pandaria are parting to show us an entirely new world, one we know very little about. If you're an old codger like me, that in and of itself is an interesting departure. But it's being backed up by all the innovations and discoveries of the past seven years of quest and zone design. Frankly, this first post-Cataclysm expansion owes a lot to the teachable moments of the massive zone redesign effort made in the previous expansion. The fruits planted then are being harvested now, and the results are in places stunning.