The beta test for World of WarCraft: Mists of Pandaria is now live, and those who have gained access to the beta can now kung-fu panda to their heart’s content. From Blizzard’s official blog:
The World of Warcraft®: Mists of Pandaria™ beta test has begun! 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. 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.
Also of note is the allotment of slots in the beta, which is goverened by WoW’s annual pass. The annual pass offers players the opportunity to gain guaranteed access into the MoP beta, while also receiving a free copy of Diablo III when it is released, as long as the player is willing to sign a 12-month contract. From the Beta FAQ:
How many players do you plan to invite to the beta test?
Our primary focus will be ensuring that all of the players who signed up for the Annual Pass are invited over the course of the beta test. The number of additional players we invite will be based on our testing needs. If during the course of testing we determine we need more players to participate, we’ll invite more.
Meaning that, basically, if you are not part of the press, or have not agreed to a year of gameplay in WoW, that you may not be very likely to receive beta access. Blizzard has conveniently not released any numbers that state how many testers there will be in the test, nor how many have signed up for the annual pass.
Features and gameplay changes of the latest expansion can be seen here.