One of the downsides to playing a game as popular as World of Warcraft is that there are no secrets. Every hidden Easter egg has already been datamined or reported on a fansite long before I ever find it. There are never any surprises.
So imagine my shock when I actually stumbled across a hidden area of Pandaria I’d never seen or heard of before while flying around on my warlock.
Nestled in the mountains of Pandaria, the aptly named Secret Aerie is infested with a number of hostile wood sprites that drop no loot. If you fight your way through them (or fly over them), you’ll find a small village of Pandaren hawk-tamers.
Most of the NPCs are not interactable, but I was able to talk to one, who turned out to be the brother of the Shado-pan NPC Hawkmaster Nurong.
It was a nice little Easter egg, and it helped to make Pandaria feel more like a real place.
So where is the Secret Aerie? Well, if I told you, that would spoil the fun. I’ll give a little hint, though: a scenario that ends with a blood pact.
Of course, you could probably just look it up on WoWhead or WoWpedia. But, again, where’s the fun in that?
Finding the Secret Aerie had me interested in seeing what else was out there, and my queue for Terrace of Endless Spring was taking forever (and no, I still didn’t get the shoulders off Tsulong), so I decided to fly around and see what else I could find.
I didn’t find anything as interesting or well-hidden as the Secret Aerie, but I did stumble across a few other places I hadn’t seen before. There was a reference to the movie Up: a grumpy old Pandaren man who had tied dozens of balloons to the roof of his cottage.
I also found a fishing village on the shore of the Jade Forest I’d never known about. It seemed to be related to the Anglers faction, so it’s probably no secret, but since none of my characters fish, it was news to me.
I thought it was particularly interesting that there was a shipwrecked Alliance vessel on the rocks outside the village, its wounded crew being tended to by a mistweaver. I should maybe come back on an Alliance toon and see if the NPCs have anything to say.
At the risk of devolving into another rant, it’s little touches like this that encourage people to explore the world. Not obligatory daily grinds, not removing conveniences like mass summoning, and not buggy cross realm zoning. Blizzard is entirely too fond of the stick, and pays too little attention to the carrot.