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.

Roccat Nyth MMO mouse supports 3D printed buttons in a fully modular grid

Andy Chalk at

The world of specialty gaming mice is about to get a little more exotic thanks to Roccat's new Nyth MMO mouse. It's a "fully modular" design, meaning that gamers can customize its mouse grid with any kind of layout they like—and if you don't like what Roccat has to offer, you can use a 3D printer to whip up your own.


Lovely Planet gets global leaderboards, publisher defends low price

Tyler Wilde at

In my review of Lovely Planet, I criticized it for not including global leaderboards outside of one nameless world record per level. It just makes sense that a game built for speedrunning would show off the best speedrunners—and with today's update, it now does. And now that I can etch my name on a bragging wall, I have to replay every level 100 times to make sure my name is in the top 15.


Hellraid gameplay trailer shows off 20 minutes of monster mashing

Andy Chalk at

I will maintain until the day they pry the mouse from my cold, dead hand that Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a criminally underrated game. So I was naturally intrigued by Hellraid, which by all appearances shares many similarities with Dark Messiah: Specifically, the bloody, fast-paced combat through expansive, RPG-style dungeons. But it's most definitely not, as this gameplay trailer makes clear, an RPG: Visual trappings notwithstanding, it's all about thefaux-medieval fantasy face-busting.


The best free antivirus software for PC

PC Gamer at

The last thing you want on your PC is a virus. The second-to-last thing you want on your PC is antivirus software that slows down your computer when you're gaming. Spending money on your antivirus software doesn't guarantee that you're getting the best, either. These days, there are a ton of free antivirus options, and many of them will keep your computer perfectly safe from the trojans and spyware and adware that lurk on the Internet.


The Settlers: Kingdoms of Anteria is half city builder, half...co-op action RPG?

Tom Sykes at

Ah, so this is what Ubisoft meant when they said they were reinventing The Settlers series with Kingdoms of Anteria. They meant "it's kind of an action RPG now", but also "it's still a city building strategy game", and "not to get picky, but we prefer the term 'Action RTS'". While I try to unpack what 'Action RTS' means, here are some unSettling facts: Anteria will feature "persistent city building", four-player co-op, loot and bosses, and those are certainly words you don't see together very often.


Activision: pre-orders declining across industry, Call of Duty "not immune"

Tom Sykes at

Pre-orders are a great way for publishers and developers to get your money before you know whether a game is any good or not. In some cases, it's proved a successful method of funding (particularly indie) development, but when we look at the world of big-budget games in particular, it's a practice that has made increasingly little sense as a consumer, despite the adoption of pre-order exclusives to try and make us reconsider. Well, it appears these efforts have been in vain: according to Activision's CEO and president Eric Hirshberg, there's been an industry-wide decline in pre-orders, and Call of Duty is "not immune".


Firefall review

Phil Savage at

Firefall is a free-to-play MMO shooter with an emphasis on dynamic events, skill-based combat and desperate defences against sometimes overwhelming enemy forces. All of which sounds promising, but Firefall also features a lack of variety, constant busywork and a set of interconnected systems that sit awkwardly against the moment-to-moment drudgery of the game. It has potential. The problem is that, in almost every instance, it fails to meet the ideal it's trying to sell.


Mind: Path to Thalamus is a stormy first-person puzzler featuring lovely landscapes

Tom Sykes at

Following the decree that says that all first-person puzzlers must feature a tricksy metaphorical narrative and be scored by sad piano music, Mind: Path to Thalamus is first-person puzzle game promising both of those things. Heavy Rain-style dad-shouting aside, Mind also contains a bunch of stunning environments, impressive stormy weather effects, and lots of other visual/physics elements that should make your computer sing. It's out on Steam now, and I have two sad-piano trailers waiting after the break.


Mortal Kombat X trailer is a primer on the dangers of electricity

Tom Sykes at

Mortal Kombat X—not ten, X—features a guy literally (not literally) made of electricity, so it makes sense that he can channel it in a variety of interesting, albeit killy ways. In contrast to the relatively mechanically stripped-back Mortal Kombat Knine, X will offer several different variations of each of its famously gore-hungry characters. God of thunder and all-round Debbie Downer Raiden is being showcased today. Prepare for shocking violence.


Colin McRae Rally Steam release might not be what you were expecting; Codies offering refunds

Tom Sykes at

When something called Colin McRae Rally popped up on Steam last week, it was natural to assume that it might be an HD remaster or remake of the PC version of Colin McRae Rally 1 or 2. It's not. It's an updated port of a Colin McRae mobile game, lacking car customisation, a lot of stages and cars, and sporting an interface that hasn't been adjusted for PC. Before yesterday, the game's Steam page contained a misleading description that didn't mention the word 'mobile' once, but that's now been updated, at least a little bit. It still has a few misleading sentences like "The classic rally experience races onto PC and Mac". More generously, Codcemasters are offering refunds to anyone who feels like they were duped into buying something they didn't want.


The Stomping Land breaks radio silence; is switching to Unreal Engine 4

Shaun Prescott at

Crowdfunding is a good way to get risky games made, but it's also an increasingly risky proposition for backers. The most recent example is prehistoric survival sim The Stomping Land, which made headlines last week after backers complained of radio silence from studio SuperCrit. The silence follows more than $115,000 pledged for development of the title, as well as the promise of regular community correspondence and weekly updates. The last anyone had heard from SuperCrit was May 30.


World of Warcraft subscriptions have nearly halved since 2010

Shaun Prescott at

World of Warcraft has experienced a pretty hefty population drop since 2010, with Activision Blizzard announcing during an investors call today that the MMO currently hosts 6.8 million subscribers. That's nearly half what the MMO boasted in 2010, with 12 million active subscribers recorded during that year. Nearly a million of those have departed since July last year, if you compare the figures.


Here's when Hearthstone: Curse of Naxxramas' Military Quarter opens tonight

Andy Chalk at

Right on schedule, the Curse of Naxxramas Military Quarter is on the cusp of opening up to all. Blizzard has announced the launch times for the next chunk of Hearthstone content, so we know when each region will get the update.


SimCity free trial offer launches on Origin

Andy Chalk at

Remember SimCity? Specifically, the disastrous launch of SimCity, followed by a year-long slog to implement a proper offline mode that we'd previously been told wasn't possible? It's the sort of business that might have put you off of buying the game, even at the current, vastly-reduced price of 20 bucks. But if you're curious, you may now indulge yourself without cost, and without risk.


Evolve delayed until early 2015

Andy Chalk at

Take-Two Interactive has announced that Evolve, the team-based shooter being developed by Left 4 Dead studio Turtle Rock, has been delayed from its planned October release until next year.


The best PC joysticks

Dave James at

Space trucking and exploring in Elite: Dangerous. Dogfighting in Star Citizen. For the first time since the glory days of 1990s space sims, the flightstick is a must-have peripheral. An Xbox controller just can't compare to the feel of a flight stick and throttle, and you'll want every one of those buttons and switches for controlling a space ship or dogfighting above a Battlefield ground skirmish. We've tested out seven sticks to help you decide which to buy. If you're on a budget, never fear—one of our favorite sticks is a mere $50/£40.


Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger goes free on Origin

Andy Chalk at

It's hard to be too critical of anything that's free, assuming that the free thing in question isn't actually doing you harm. So even though I'm not a big fan of Wing Commander 3: Heart of the Tiger, I can recommend it right now because it's free—"On the house," you might say—and it's probably not going to set your PC on fire.


XCOM: The Board Game combines tabletop play with digital enhancements

Andy Chalk at

Back in June, a man on the internet asked, "Why isn't there an XCOM tabletop game?" There is, as it turns out. But now there's a new kid on the XCOM board game block, and while I haven't played its predecessor and thus can't make any hard-and-fast judgments about which one is better, Fantasy Flight's upcoming XCOM: The Board Game sounds awfully promising.


Star Citizen hits $49 million in funding, Chris Roberts explains why that's not enough

Andy Chalk at

The Star Citizen crowdfunding campaign broke the $49 million mark yesterday, a sum that's especially astonishing because it's being thrown at the niche—some would say dead—space combat sim genre. Yet even with all that scratch at his disposal, Cloud Imperium mastermind Chris Roberts wants even more! Why? Well, because he's building a really big game.