Long-time readers will know I have a soft spot for the Warcraft franchise, especially World of Warcraft. As a day-one player who has experienced everything the game has offered, including the Mists of Pandaria expansion, I’ve seen it go through a fair few changes. New races being added, enhanced weather and lighting systems being introduced, a new class thrown into the mix, talent points being redesigned, and a constant stream of rebalancing for everything involved, That said, some things have stayed the same in the face of change. New abilities would continue to crowd up toolbars, the rise of damage and health numbers for players and NPCs alike spiralling up exponentially, and the models for the playable races becoming more and more dated as the years went by. With the upcoming expansion Warlords of Draenor approaching, Blizzard saw it as an opportunity to fix these things, and so with patch 6.0.2 being unleashed last week I returned to the MMO behemoth for the first time in nine months. It was time to see if the game that sent the genre mainstream still had the ability to pull in new punters and veterans alike.
I’ll tell you one thing though – WildStar’s combat and traversal systems have spoiled me rotten compared to WoW's seemingly archaic mechanics, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The inclusion of the Worgen, Goblin and Pandaren made it quite clear that the original race models needed an update. The blocky, expressionless and (in the case of humans) hairlipped choices on offer just didn’t blend with the rest of the updated visuals of the game. Thankfully, after years of waiting the update has arrived – except for Blood Elves, who will have to wait a little while longer to be made more beautiful. If I’m honest, I really shouldn’t be impressed by the new visuals and animations considering what the competition has produced elsewhere in the genre, but I really am.
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It's a difficult thing when you realise that you've been played, but that's a feeling that critics and consumers alike have been dealing with this past week. We were led to believe certain things about Aliens: Colonial Marines, shown screenshots, watched video, played demos, and run previews of material that simply wasn't up to scratch in the final game, or worse still, didn't exist.
Jonathan issued an apology at the end of his review the other day that went as follows:
I can only apologise for how long it took to get this review on-site and how useless it will be to many of you who bought the game at launch. SEGA only sent us review materials several days after Colonial Marines released, which is rather suggestive in and of itself.
I also feel responsible for anyone who pre-ordered Colonial Marines on the strength of my hands-off preview, which as it turns out, was based on a made-to-order demo build that doesn't resemble the final product in any meaningful way. Many of my peers have already weighed in on this reprehensible bait & switch, but frankly, any of my feelings of betrayal will pale in comparison to paying customers and loyal fans.
I'd like to add my voice to that, along with a few words on how the 'system' operates currently, along with a few points on how we'll be dealing with previews going forward.
Everything these days is geared towards encouraging consumers to make a commitment before a game shows its face. Pre-orders have become everything - encouraging gamers to make a financial commitment ahead of release, and driving that decision with trinkets and treasures that would normally perhaps have been unlockable prizes just a few years previously, but now tend to exist as day one DLC for those who had the strength of mind to be rather more conscientious with their money. That'll teach 'em.
Only this week, pre-order listings emerged for the Bioshock Infinite Season Pass - essentially a pre-order for a pre-order for multiple blocks of downloadable content that are completely unseen and have yet to even be announced. We're pre-ordering pre-orders now. How did it come to this?Click here to read more...
It took only twenty minutes to make my way through everything The Darkness II's demo had to offer, and in that twenty minutes I saw more evisceration and 'things that make me squeal “ouch”' than I have in any other game this generation. Hyperbolic as that may sound, Digital Extremes make very clear from the get-go that their take on Top Cow's supernatural noir isn't about to pull any punches, and it certainly ISN'T for kids.Daily Mail readers look away now...