Why WoW's level 90 character boost is a shortcut you shouldn't take

Cory Banks at

World of Warcraft launched ten years ago this November. That’s a long time in video game years, and even longer for an MMORPG. The world of Azeroth was already big when the game launched in November 2004, but ten years and four expansions have made WoW utterly massive—and intimidating for new or returning players. That’s one of the reasons why Blizzard has introduced a new in-game service to boost characters to the game’s current max level, 90. For $60, you can take a brand new character, or one you played but didn’t max out, and shortcut them straight to the top-end content for Mists of Pandaria, the game’s most current expansion.

It’s a handy service for both current and returning players, but it’s not perfect. Getting a boost from level 1 to 90 is like learning how to swim by jumping off a diving board, straight into the deep end. And even though Blizzard gives you all of the skills and gear you need to be level 90, it may not be enough to keep your group happy. No one wants to be at the bottom of the damage-per-second charts in an endgame raid.

World of Warcraft's new female Night Elf model revealed

Tyler Wilde at

The Warlords of Draenor expansion will replace all of World of Warcraft's old, pointy player models. We've seen orcs, dwarves, and now Blizzard has revealed the new female Night Elves on its blog. "The Night Elves have such a distinct but subtle character," writes Lead Character Artist Tyson Murphy, "and we spent a lot of effort in trying to help that come through."

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor's new character models won't affect performance

Emanuel Maiberg at

World of Warcraft was released a decade ago. Thanks to Moore’s law, in terms of advancements made in PC hardware, that might as well be a century. After all that time, Blizzard is finally ready to update the character models in the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion. They’ll look better, but don’t worry. Even if you’ve been playing World of Warcraft on the same machine for years, you probably don’t need to upgrade it for Warlords of Draenor.

Opinion: Blizzard needs to do more to keep average Hearthstone players interested

Tim Clark at

I've entered into a strange love/hate relationship with Hearthstone over the past month, the upshot of which is I'm not sure whether I want to keep playing it anymore, and yet I find myself entirely incapable of stopping. Trying to improve my scattershot performance has drawn me into Hearthstone's 'meta game', where expert players create decks designed to beat the system. At least until the system changes and the cycle changes again.

WoW level 90 boost isn't at the "profit maximizing price" to avoid devaluing leveling

Emanuel Maiberg at

Last year, Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft players who buy the Warlords of Draenor expansion could boost one character to level 90 for free, and that it would sell further boosts for an undisclosed amount. Last week, as patch 5.4.7 went live in North America, players saw the service in the in-game store for $60. Blizzard hasn't confirmed that this is the final price, but today said it doesn't want to “devalue the accomplishment of leveling.”

World of Warcraft subscription numbers continue steady slide to fewer than 8 million players

Ian Birnbaum at

Activision Blizzard released its preliminary second quarter earnings results yesterday and revealed that World of Warcraft’s slow slide in subscribers is continuing as expected, down to 7.7 million active players. We’ve been marking the decline, it seems, every time new financial reports come out.

World of Warcraft to add yet another way to prove your skills

Katie Williams at

You could argue that pretty much everything about every existing MMO ever is about the ability to prove one's self, but just in case there were people who didn't get the message, World of Warcraft's adding a new feature, "The Proving Grounds," to the upcoming patch 5.4. It's a chance to test the extent of your skills in a "safe, controlled environment." So in other words, like doing endgame PvE or PvE, but with the thrills taken out.

How much is World of Warcraft's Stormwind Keep worth?

Katie Williams at

Do you ever worry about making the rent on your one-bedroom apartment? Don't worry; WoW's King Varian Wrynn is no king either. Well, I mean, he is, but as far as royalty goes, he's more at the pauper's end of the scale—according to some economists, who have calculated what the real-world cost of the Alliance king's Stormwind Keep would be.

World of Warcraft's 5.3 Escalation update introduces new scenarios, gameplay changes

Katie Williams at

It's always fun to say that WoW is "rolling out" a new patch, as if Pandaria's hardships are manufactured and deployed via a conveyor-belt production line. So the Horde and the Alliance are sniping at one another again, yes, but what does this mean for you, the player? There are many upsides to all the conflict, including but not limited to: new scenarios, reduced XP needed in leveling, changes to loot rolls, and while we're at it, probably just more loot in general.

Legendary WoW guild quits hardcore raiding for good

Katie Williams at

There are always some constants we can rely on in WoW, even with the MMO's constant updates—max-level night elf rogues stalking poor low-leveled suckers in Horde starter zones, perpetual bargains at Stormwind's cheese shop, Exodus reigning at the top of the raiding charts... oh, wait. That last one is no more, signalling the end of an era in the hardcore raiding scene.

World of Warcraft lost more than a million subscribers last quarter, is still bigger than everything ever

Ian Birnbaum at

MMORPG behemothWorld of Warcraft lost 1.3 million subscribers over the first quarter of 2013, as revealed by Activision Blizzard in an earnings report and call to investors today.

Though it once boasted over 12 million active subscribers in 2010, WoW has seen its numbers dwindle slowly but steadily—aside from a bump in the fall of 2012 when Mists of Pandaria was released and sold 2.7 million copies in its first week alone.

Gmod aims to get your mods working with a minimum of fiddling and fuss

Katie Williams at

The joys of being a PC gamer! Thanks to the modability of our platform, only we can patch the ugly out of a game, utilize tools to help us keep track of WoW's economy, and randomly slap Iron Man into GTA4, no questions asked. That's pretty badass. We understand that some folks, though, don't always have the time to unzip things, crawl through directories hidden all over their PCs, do forum research, and tussle with conflicting mods. Cue Gmod. This mod-management tool's aim is to greatly ease the mod-enabling process, expediting, say, the restoration of truly fearsome dragons in Skyrim again.

WoW cash shop cat raises $2.3 million for Sandy relief

T.J. Hafer at

World of Warcraft's real money purchasable mounts and mini-pets may have gotten off to an awkward start with Sparkle Ponygate, but the recent initiative to donate all of the proceeds from the sale of the Cinder Kitten to the American Red Cross has produced some results that are pretty hard to argue with. The small, non-combat companion raked in $2.3 million dollars to assist with relief efforts on the east coast of the U.S. in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Minecraft meets WoW with the ambitious Crafting Azeroth mod

Tom Sykes at

Minecraft continues its rapid territorial expansion with the ambitious Crafting Azeroth mod, which aims to cram all of World of Warcraft's Azeroth into Mojang's blocky expanse - minus the players, the pandas, and the occasional mass extinction, naturally.

World of Warcraft: Orgrimmar and Stormwind temporarily wiped out

Tom Sykes at

Yesterday, an event of apocalyptic proportions hit the realms of Azeroth, as entire cities - players, NPCs and all - were summarily slaughtered by hackers. The entire populations of Stormwind and Orgrimmar were killed, as a number of hackers playing as Level 1 characters proceeded to insta-kill everyone in sight. You can see astonishing footage of the mass slaughter beneath this post.

World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria goodies galore giveaway

Marsh Davies at

Mists of Pandaria launches this very night! From 8:00pm (BST), players will descend on London's confusingly-named Café de Paris to cheer in the latest expansion to Blizzard's venerable MMORPG. To get you in the celebratory spirit, they've kindly offered to give away a haul of Pandaria-flavoured kit.

World of Warcraft may secretly include your account name and server IP in screenshots

Marsh Davies at

Repeating patterns embedded in screenshots taken with WoW's game client application can be decrypted to identify you, a report on Slashdot suggests. Posters on the OwnedCore forum claim that the watermark can be decoded to reveal user IDs, the time the screenshot was captured and the IP address of the server.

Our five favorite MMO meet-ups

Josh Augustine at

I spent hundreds of hours with my guildmates last year, chatting online while downing dragons, super-villains, and other big bads. But every now and then, it’s good for a team’s morale to drop the daggers, get out of the house, and just hang out with each other.

More and more MMOs are hosting annual conventions to help their players do just that. But it’s not just the games that make each convention different — the theme, style, and length all vary as well. We've attended and rated the biggest of them inside...

Leeroy Jenkins' infamous blunders in WoW made into a short film about a bank heist

Josh Augustine at

Sure, the original World of Warcraft meme that netted 31 million views and prompted Blizzard to create an in-game achievement for recreating Leeroy Jenkins' horrible behavior is over five years old at this point. But this new short film takes a fresh spin on the events--reimagining them as a real-life bank heist. We all know what's coming, but the video still made me laugh and I hope it does the same for you.

Mists of Pandaria's Pandaren mount, daily quest cap and Tier 14 armor sets revealed

T.J. Hafer at

The World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria news has grown from a trickle to a scenic, Kung Fu movie waterfall lately. More details of the upcoming expansion flow down a picturesque mountainside into a... place where my metaphor starts to fall apart. Among these are the revelation of the long-speculated-upon Pandaren racial mount, the imposing polygons of the next tier of raid armor, and a huge boost to the number of daily quests you can complete in 24 hours.