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Blizzard has launched the public beta test for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria, the MMORPG's fourth expansion pack. They've sent out an initial wave of invites to gamers, with more on the way soon.
"Over the course of the test, we’ll be inviting Annual Pass holders, press, fansites, friends and family, and opt-in beta testers to participate," says Blizzard. "This first phase of the beta focuses on the 1-10 starting experience for new Pandaren. High-level content as well as template characters will become available in future beta updates, but you can still copy over your own high level characters now if you’d like to test the new talent system."
Pandaren are the new playable race introduced in the expansion. They can be played by either Horde or Alliance. You actually choose your character's faction at the end of the starting zone.
In addition to adding a new race, Pandaria will add a new Monk class and a new continent. The latter isn't available yet in the beta. When it is, though, it will offer new challenges for characters level 85 and up.
As usual, you should be on the lookout for phishing attempts. They seem to spike around the time that a beta is officially announced. If you receive an email invitation to the beta, it's best to head over to Battle.net, sign in, and check if the MoP beta is attached to your account. It's safer than clicking on any links in the email itself.
If you signed up for the WoW Annual Pass, you're guaranteed a spot in the beta. However, they don't guarantee that you'll get in first. They'll also be inviting press, fansite owners, friends and family of Blizzard employees, and players without Annual Passes.
There's no non-disclosure agreement in place for the beta so information on MoP are already being released by testers. MMO-Champion, for example, has a huge amount of images, video, and details.