Andy Kelly: World of Warcraft revisited
As I type this, I’m downloading World of Warcraft—and I have no idea why. I got into WoW when Cataclysm launched, and I had an amazing time. I probably clocked up 100 hours, which is, of course, a few seconds to some veteran players. But then I got bored of the grinding loop and quit. But I look back on my time in Azeroth with a certain nostalgia, and the release of the Warlords of Draenor expansion has compelled me to return. The worry is that I get sucked in again and lose another hundred hours, but I’m risking it. The download is almost finished. But I hear Blizzard are having some server woes at the moment, so I may not even be able to get on. Which might be for the best.
Tim Clark: Dusting off Hearthstone
I was delighted to learn that Blizzard is doing the right thing by the Goblins vs Gnomes expansion and not creating a new type of crafting dust. That means that those players, like me, who are sat on a small dust mountain—a dust hillock, if you will—can expect to be able to forge their favourite of the new cards as soon as the set launches next month. At least I was delighted until I noticed this Reddit thread, which mathemagically breaks down exactly how much dust you would need to make all 120 of the new cards: the answer, number fanciers, is 51,680. And it turns out I’m 47,580 shy. Oh well, guess I can look forward to more of those jaunty receipt emails from the Blizzard accounts goblin who takes my IRL money and literally turns it into dust. Now, about those bloody deck slots...
Samuel Roberts: Fantasy Lost
Square Enix announced that Final Fantasy XIII-2 will be released in December this week, and I would be optimistic were it not for the quality of the port of XIII. More encouraging to me is that Square Enix is patching in the resolution options that were lacking from the game’s original release—and the same options will be included in XIII-2. That’s not the only problem with the port of the first game, though: framerate on mid-ranged cards seemed to be locked at 30fps for most of the time, and that needs addressing as much as the resolution.
Tom Senior: Reviewing a nearly game
Assassin's Creed Unity frustrates me, not just as a fan of the series. It frustrates me because it's bursting with potential, but let down by technical faults. It ended up down in the 60s when the same game, free of all those silly errors, would have done much better. Check out our reviews policy for an indication of what our score brackets represent. A 60s game is an interesting idea poorly expressed, something you'd only recommend with caveats, and Unity is exactly that. Wait until the patches are in, read up on some benchmarks to find out how it runs on your graphics card. It may become the game that it should've been at launch in time, but for now, when it comes down to it, if you're asking for $60 for a product and major on-the-box features like co-op aren't working properly, the game's going to suffer at review. Hopefully future Assassin's Creed releases will be polished and beautiful, and make me as happy as I was when I gave Black Flag a big fat 90 last year.
Evan Lahti: Valve’s arms market
Valve launched Operation Vanguard for CS:GO this week, and with it also came 44 new “missions,” a ladder of in-game tasks (like “Get 20 kills in Demolition mode on this map”) across different webbed “campaigns.” CS:GO has become a weird beast in terms of monetization—if it weren’t for the issues of hacking and smurfing, I’m sure it’d be free to play.
Valve understands that disrupting the core balance of the game with many more new weapons or mechanics would be unwelcome, so it continues to roll out new paintjobs and knife models and still more of these underwhelming missions, which are essentially achievements that you pay ($6) to get access to so that you can have the right to pay Valve more money to unlock weapon cases. What’s also frustrating about this is that Valve hasn’t addressed most of CS:GO’s core issues as its grown to be the second-biggest game on Steam.
Tyler Wilde: Who is gaming for?
Blizzard Senior Vice President Chris Metzen said last week that he wants to do better at representing women in its games: less bikini armor, at the least. I thought some of his wording was clumsy—being “sensitive” and all that, as if not making women sex objects requires some kind of special training—but I like the sentiment. Good on Blizzard, I say. What I find ridiculous is those arguing that men are the market for games, and therefore should be catered to with boobies. This also happened last month when we reported on a research survey which concluded that a large number of PC gamers are women.
The ridiculous claim that “they only play Facebook games,” spoken by some commenters, simply isn’t true. Secondly, even if it were, what does anyone gain by arguing that gaming is and should remain a penis club? How does that enrich anyone’s life? Do they think that listening to and considering women is somehow going to ruin games? I don’t know. It baffles me that it’s an argument.
Yes, we’re all aware there’s money in catering to men—we have heard of the porn industry. People who are not men also have money. And anyway, if your biggest concern is how much money a developer will make, maybe you should consider why you’re more concerned with capitalism than culture.