I really like the concept of the Pandaren as a neutral race. Neat concept of having them pick a side through the starting quest line. But here is a thought I have to keep the race neutral.
Even though you pick a faction at the start you should remain neutral in game to the opposing faction. This would help to keep the Pandaren connected even while they are divided. While out of combat you could have that beer with the opposing faction Panda. But on the battlefield it’s all business.
I’m envisioning that some of the opposing faction areas, maybe even cities or certain areas in cities, remain neutral to Pandaren of either faction. Yes, I’m saying a Horde Panda may walk right into Stormwind without being attacked, and Likewise an Alliance Panda could walk into Orgrimmar.
Here’s how it works. Right now the UI tells us who is hostile(red) , friendly(green), or neutral(yellow). There should be another color to identify the opposing faction Pandaren, say purple. Purple would be the UI color for opposing faction “neutral” players.
Here is an example of what this would look like: When any of the existing horde races enter Stormwind they appear red and can be attacked but when “Horde” Pandaren enter Stormwind they appear purple in the UI and only can be attacked if provoked.
While in Stormwind the Horde Panda might interact with Alliance Panda. They may also visit a few neutral vendors. No Auction House, No Bank, No Flight Paths. They can remain as long as they remain peaceful. If they enter into a duel with any non-Pandaren Alliance character they will become flagged red and can be attacked by any Alliance character.
Also, since Pandaren are the only neutral race they can only enter the opposing faction’s area while solo or only in group with other Pandaren. So if a Horde Panda was grouped with any other Horde race they would be seen as a threat and would be flagged red upon entering any Alliance area.
They can only be attacked and they can only attack if certain conditions are met. They remain neutral until they enter a duel with a member of an opposing faction non-Pandaren race or they enter a group with non-Pandaren races.
Pandaren would only remain neutral as I described above while they are within certain areas like the cities or towns. When they are out in the open world they would just appear to be the opposing faction.
I think if designed right this could make for some very compelling gameplay.