World Of Warcraft

a game by Blizzard Entertainment
Platform: PC
User Rating: 8.0/10 - 1 vote
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See also: Warcraft, Christmas Games, Best MMORPG Games

Accepted wisdom has it that whenever an MMO is granted a major expansion, add-on or upgrade, the existing subscriber base will become instantly polarised and a vast majority will turn their noses up in disgust at how the development team has single-handedly decimated their entire reason for living -the game into which they've poured so much time, love, effort and (most importantly) subscription fees. Player numbers inevitably dwindle, game servers become akin to deserted wastelands and the companies in charge start firing off press releases left, right and centre about how wonderful the game is, how steady the user growth figures are and whether you'd like to take advantage of its special 14-day free comeback' trial offers.

As far as World Of Warcraft goes however, accepted wisdom can get knotted, as the player figures are so astronomically huge. Entire university mathematics departments have been taken over by Blizzard s accountancy platoons in order to accurately calculate the monthly profit figures. Therefore, any wholesale changes to the infrastructure of the game are certain to be swallowed up without incident, and the number of aggrieved souls berating the public message boards barely registers even a ripple in the overall player-base pond waters.

Bloody Kids

Thus it was when the PvP Honor System (named with the Americanised spelling in yet the latest example of our increasing role as the 51 st US state) rolled off the production and testing lines. Infected servers from Agamaggan to Zenedar were swamped by the outcries from players suffering at the hands of murder-obsessed kill gangs running rampage across Azeroth, slaughtering anyone who dared to even try playing sensibly. Blizzard, in the meantime, ostensibly just shrugged its collective shoulders and put it all down to high spirits, safe in the knowledge that a) the rampagers would tire themselves out eventually and go back to sleep; b) the somewhat under-populated PvE servers were starting to fill up nicely with migrants; and c) the upcoming militaristic Battlegrounds enhancement would soon sort all that nasty player-killing business out by providing a much needed sense of focus and structure to geek-on-geek combat. Conscription you see, solves everything. Drum some discipline into the buggers. Worked in '42.

Time To Spare

But does it work now? The Battlegrounds have been open for a month or so and opinion, like Israel, is divided. The common consensus is that, while the actual content itself is pretty enjoyable and rewarding enough to keep coming back to, the surrounding framework is one of the biggest public messes since the million-man march took a pit-stop in a local curry house, blithely ordered the strongest thing on the menu, then discovered that the protest site only had a single working portaloo.

Mostly it's the waiting times. Putting the NHS to shame, Battlegrounds requires even teams of Alliance and Horde players to fill up the rosters before starting up a match. Unfortunately, there's a couple of teensy little problems with that system. First is that just about every server in existence is running at a 3:1 or 4:1 Alliance to Horde ratio. Meaning that if you're on the side of the goody two-shoes brigade, Battlegrounds often feels like little more than a queueing simulator. Worse is that you have only the barest indication of how long you're likely to be waiting for a game to begin. Even then it's an estimate, and usually a hopelessly inaccurate one at that. I was often told that my expected waiting time would be as little as two minutes, only to watch the Time Spent In Queue counter clock the three-hour mark and show no sign of coming to a conclusion.

Know Your Limits

The second barrier to actually having any fun with the game you're paying nine quid a month to enjoy, is that the Battlegrounds have certain level limits. For the basic Capture The Flag action found in Warsong Gulch, you need to be at least level 21, with separate queues forming for each sub-group of ten levels. The idea is to stop level 50 demi-gods from taking on mere level 21 mortals. The effect is that unless you're at the highest level in each tier (30,40, 50 and 60), you might as well not bother as you'll be outgunned anyway. It actually has the effect of making level 30 players, for instance, actively not want to go up a level as it means they'll have to gnnd through another nine before they can really take part again. Alterac Valley, meanwhile, is the more mouth-watering map to play on, containing the full range of Battlegrounds' prerelease promises - mini-quests. support roles, tactical objectives, capture points and so on. The full fantasy war spectrum in fact. Trouble here is it's only open to level 51 -60 players and as before, the preponderance of maxed-out players hanging around means that it's a pointless affair below level 58. Which makes the queuing even worse if you happen to be on a server dunng its quieter hours, as you'll be waiting even longer for appropnately levelled players to turn up on both sides.

What A To-Do

So basically, Battlegrounds isn't really the kind of thing you can just jump on and play at a moment's notice (you know, like most other games in the world). On the plus side, you don't literally have to hang around in a queue while you wait. You just make your way to the registration desk, sign up for a match, then are free to wander off and bash woodland animals on the head while you watch the queue timer explore the more fantastical types of number currently in existence. It's little comfort though, as on those few occasions when you do make it in, oh ho!, what a time you'll have. Meaning all those times you can't get in are even more infunating. It's like being dropped into a giant field of willing, naked porn stars, then realising your legs are encased in concrete and they're all roller skating just beyond reach. Apparently.

Yes, the actual Battlegrounds themselves are glorious. OK, Alterac Valley is glorious. Warsong Gulch is merely good, but ultimately trivial, and I'm not personally certain that Capture The Flag gameplay really works in this environment. Also, Warsong Gulch matches only last until three flags are captured (sometimes taking as little as 15 to 20 minutes), before dumping you back into the main world and forcing you to go through the whole queuing system again. Madness.

Still, there's the undeniable pleasure that always comes with PvP gaming, and being part of a well-balanced ten-man team with a strict chain of command and players who know their stuff can make things very enjoyable.

Brave New World

Which is equally, if not more true of Alterac Valley. This is the much broader in scope 'quest' affair, designed ideally for teams of 40 and with a wealth of gameplay options. Essentially it takes the form of a small world zone', complete with towns, caves, wandering monsters, NPCs and, of course, enemy players. By and large the quests you'll pick up - capture a mine and harvest its resources, take control of a tower or outpost, raid a dungeon and destroy a boss' creature and so on - will both have a beneficial effect on your side if you succeed, but will also be the targets of the opposing team. Shifting front lines of battle (sadly still affected by lag when the numbers get high), diversification of tactics, support groups - the whole thing actually has the effect of feeling like the old Warcraft RTS games, without the comforting hand of god' viewpoint.

It can be confusing, again mostly dependent on your level of expenence and the competence of your teammates. but with Alterac matches capable of lasting for hours at a time, it at least provides a worthwhile experience once you finally make it inside.

Battlegrounds is like the smashing orangey bit at the centre of a Jaffa Cake sponge that's crumbling and hard to eat. Think of it as a nice side dish to your main WOW game, something that can be dipped into from time to time (although not really the time to time of your choosing), but shouldn't be seen as the defining WOW expenence. Besides which, we're British, god damn it! Queuing is in our blood.

They Do Say That Time Is Money... So Can I Borrow Ten Minutes For Lunch?

So what's the solution to Battlegrounds waiting times? Hard to say. You're at the mercy of your server's populace, unfortunately. Certainly, only having two Battlegrounds and giving the only one of any real interest such a limited acceptance policy, plus hiding the entrances out in the middle of nowhere doesn't help. You'd almost be forgiven for thinking that Blizzard didn't actually want anyone to play the things (it's only one step away from covering each entrance with a big blanket and a sign reading Go Away, Nothing To See Here'). The current rumour is that the development team is thinking of shifting the entrance zones into the far more populated town areas which should help drum up interest. However, we'll have to see if and when that actually happens and whether it works. Possibly a few more lower-levelled arenas could do the trick, although it might have the side effect of diluting the player numbers from other zones even more. Maybe scheduled opening times are the key? But at the end of the day, the only solution might be to eliminate the minimum player numbers and make the zones persistent, allowing a PlanetSide-style dip in, dip out game style. Basically, I'm just glad I'm not a games designer.

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PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

Seeing the Warcraft franchise grow up is rather like watching the progression of a precocious child. In the original game, it was a chubby orcish toddler, in Warcraft III it was a brooding adolescent and finally, with World Of Warcraft, the game's turned into a grown man - and one who has more than one saucepan and puts the toilet seat down.

So it was kind of inevitable that there'd be an online version of Warcraft - what better way to experience Lordaeron or Kalimdor than by running around in them, battleaxe at the ready and furry codpiece rippling in the breeze? So step this way and I'll take you on a short tour. Stragglers will be left behind (and possibly eaten by a slavering beast).

WOW (best acronym ever) gives you eight races to choose from. First, there are the Horde factions which comprise of trolls (the big angry guys), orcs (the big, angry green guys), tauren (half-man, half-bull, unlikely to get invited to dinner parties), and the undead (tendency to lurch a bit).

Or, if you prefer your character to be a bit more 'traditionally' shaped, you might want to look into the Alliance instead. That's where you'll find humans (the conservative choice), night elves (if you think yourself stylish and misunderstood), and ' not forgetting the little guys -the dwarves (small angry guys) and gnomes (smaller, angrier and a terror to kneecaps from the Tirisfal Glades to Stranglethorn Vale).

Take Your Pick

However, it's not just about shape, it's what you do with it. So be prepared to take your new creation down the path of the paladin, rogue, priest, hunter, warlock, druid, warrior, mage or shaman.

Not all these classes are on offer to just anyone, though. For example, only taurens, trolls and gnomes can be a shaman - and believe me, it's not wise to make jokes of the 'garden ornament' variety when one of those little buggers has got a lightening bolt handy.

Each character starts in their homeland (humans begin in the woodlands of Elwynn Forest, for instance), and they're free to wander wherever they like on the regular servers (as long as they behave). But woe betide the Alliance adventurer who ventures into Horde territory and starts to cause trouble, as they'll find themselves with considerably more of their blood on the wrong side of their skin. If you're looking for a fight however, there are PvP servers for people like you.

Come Fly With Me

The producer behind this virtual land, Chris Sigaty. offers these wise words: "With many MMORPGs, after you create a character it's not very clear what you're supposed to do next. The main goal with WOW was to make it very easy to get into. We have an in-game help system and a simple interface, but it still has a lot of depth for hardcore players."

So whether you're a hardened MMORPGer or just a casual dabbler. WOW has something for you. Perhaps you'd like to hone your useful professional abilities, which include things like skinning, leatherworking, herbalism and alchemy. Alternatively, instead of high adventure, perhaps you dream of becoming a blacksmith or a fisherman, spending your time peacefully casting a line or two?

The stables provides the last leg of our tour, although we're not talking horses here. Griffins are just one of several creatures in the game that fly you from area to area - although take care not to surprise it from hefiind as those things have a mean kick... Hold on tight too, because fallers will not get a refund!

As you see the land dropping away beneath you, you might notice there are no loading screens and no darkness. Instead, you can sit back and enjoy a seamless ride through these colourful landscapes. Lush woodlands give way to parched deserts, that in turn slowly merge into treacherous mountain ranges heavy with snow.

From the air, Warcraft's world is a tranquil one; a beautiful idyll of breathtaking scenery. On the ground, it's a violent, adventurous wonderland of thrills, all tied together with a spot of Blizzard polish. We'll see just how well it all hangs together in a few issues time.

The one thing that the MMOGs of E3 almost all seemed to share was a desire to include content for players that has some meaning. No-one has taken that to heart quite as much as Blizzard though, as the large crowds surrounding the plethora of World Of Warcraft machines proved. Every quest in the game has an associated storyline, often containing multiple parts, meaning your character progression is as much about exploring the unfolding narrative as it is levelling and numbers.

Of course, Warcraft is best known for the intricately balanced strategic gameplay - a factor that most comes over in the PvP areas of World Of Warcraft.

Battlefields provide teams with the chance to really go at it, fighting for control over gold mines, binding stones (for regeneration and empire growth) and habitable towns. Knowing how best to use your personal skills in the combat zone - as well as how to combine them with the skills of your team-mates - is the key to victory.

So far, the game has been in a closed, invitation-only beta test state across North America, and the response from the fans has been overwhelmingly positive. The Warcraft universe is one of such depth that being able to enter it first-hand is proving an almost irresistible attraction for most. However, it's also causing the development team the most problems with regards to keeping people happy.

Just days before E3, for instance, the team added a new feature to the beta that received mixed responses at best. Characters now get expenence point bonuses for being fully rested, as well as penalties for adventunng while tired While this doesn't sound too radical on the face of things, what rankled most players was that you could only be fully rested at specific inns - meaning that it actually punished the hardcore crowd who put in hours of questing and adventunng time. Luckily, the demonstrations at the show seem to indicate that player-built camps will now also allow 'full' resting bonuses, which should hopefully calm a few hackles.

It has to be said that most of WOW follows fairly standard MMOG lines. But where the hook lies is in that Blizzard magic - the ability to push an existing genre practically to breaking point in terms of craftsmanship and gameplay mechanics. Just adding a sense of purpose to everything is so far putting the game at the top of the list for many gamers, so what the team has in store for inclusion between now and the eventual release will most likely be enough to keep that banner raised high for even non-devotees.

There's Just something about World Of Warcraft. Whenever you see a screenshot, you just know that it couldn't possibly be from any other game. Perhaps it's the bright colours - a few shades off being garish - that give the environments a slightly comic-book feel. It's certainly something that Chris Sigaty, producer on WOW, is musing about.

Our artists took a while to come up with the style, then they had an epiphany, Chris explains. There's something about the proportions in the game, the art and the style that's reflected in everything. It's very unique. You could break it down and say this is snow, or this is desert, but everything has a particular flavour and character which you don't see in other MMORPGs." WOW might be stylish, with its epic landscapes that stretch from snow-capped mountain ranges to parched deserts, but it certainly isn't particularly realistic. As far as Chris is concerned though, there's no reason why it should have to be.

There was a great post in one of our forums where someone was arguing against WOW, saying that realism in a MMORPG was better. One guy defended us by posting up two pictures. One was a photo of these two German guys on a raft going down a river, and it was very realistic. The other was a painting from the 1600s of men on a boat with waves crashing all over them. It was stylistic and epic, which is what we're all about.

When it comes to being epic, the WOW team has a lot to draw from. Much of the inspiration for the environments and details in the game have been taken from Warcraft III. The team has done a fantastic job on it, enthuses Chris, who was also the producer on WC3.

There was this very established universe to work from, and they've done so many things where they've captured the character of that world. For example, in WC3 you fight these creatures called the Narga, which are these lizard-mermaid creatures. You learn that they're related in some way to the night elves. In the game, when the night elves swim, they do so in this very serpentine way. It's a really subtle thing, but having all this rich, rich detail in the background allows for little things like that to be put in.

And as any devotee of Blizzard's previous titles will tell you, it's the little things that make the games the classics they are. WOW looks set to join them.

By our calculation, there are 100-odd massively multiplayer online games currently in development. And no doubt many more that haven't been announced yet. Of these, most will never see the light of day. The market for online smiting just isn't big enough, and besides, a lot of them are crap. (Just for fun, let's name a few: Caeron 3000, Ages OfAthiria, Frontier 1859, Gladius Online...) By the same token, there are very few online games that are guaranteed success. This, however, is one of them, partly due to the fact that Blizzard games are played religiously in the heartland of online gaming (South Korea), and partly because Blizzard is a guarantee of painstaking, polished-to-a-sheen quality. What's more, Blizzard's first venture into the massively multiplayer arena is probably its best looking game ever.

The game-world has a brilliantly solid and chunky feel to it and a cheerful, cartoonish quality accentuated by jaunty angles and the trademark bold colour scheme. The sheer imagination in the creature design is also brilliant. Forget spiders and skeletons - here you're talking giant fish, dinosaurs, razor-clawed scarecrows. It's still a traditional fantasy world at its core, but handled with such creative abandon and humour that it has none of the po-faced tedium of many fantasy games.

The gameplay may still be straight down the line questing, levelling and item-collecting, but unlike most of the fantasy worlds being built out there, this is one we can't wait to explore.

If You're Reading this, most likely you're just like us: you've played World of Warcraft, maybe for hours, grinding to 60 or 70, then decided it wasn't for you (after realising how much time you'd spent in Azeroth) and promptly quit. But everybody - even those who played it only briefly - feels the itch from time to time to return and see whether the world's biggest fantasy MMO has changed - only to find that it's still the same, charmingly addictive hamsterwheel it's always been. With every update there's a little tweak or polish, and depending on how long you've been away, varying levels of changes make it appeal to anyone, from casual manbabies to full-on neck-beard veterans.

If you gave up before it was released, The Burning Crusade changed a great deal. There were two new races added - the Blood Elves and the Draenei - but the most notable alterations were to Blizzard's design philosophy. While some of the original zones and dungeons had quests that were badly spaced and flowed in an irksome fashion (Ashenvale, for example), Burning Crusade areas were beautifully crafted. From the lower level areas such as the Ghostlands to the Hellfire Peninsula and Zangarmarsh, WOW became far more pragmatic and geared towards clusters of quests. And 60-70 was, for all intents and purposes, a great deal more fun and dramatic than the relative slog from 30-60. This included bombing runs that had you riding bats or gryphons and dropping explosives on huge crowds of enemies, and the Hellfire Citadel, a multi-level instance towards a final raid against Magtheridon of Warcraft III.

After The Burning Crusade, patch 2.3 led WOWs developers to tweak every level between 30 and 60, and re-tuning most quests to reward more experience. They also, after leaving it rather sparse after release, filled in Dustwallow Marsh with a series of 30+ quests, which filled a gap once hastily covered with grinding instances. Suddenly the Scarlet Monastery was no longer a source of RSI, and the Hinterlands were an enjoyable romp that scored you a level or two - especially with the several Elite troll-killing quests now being soloable.

Battlegrounds and PvP were also established and expanded a few months past release, with the Arathi Basin, Warsong Gulch and Alterac Valley battlegrounds allowing players to war with each other from level 10 up. This was later expanded into Battlegroups, with players from different realms tearing each other apart and gaining honour, which can be turned in for special armour and weaponry.

Between Tuesdays and Thursdays, Blizzard also introduced Holidays, rewarding victories in a rotating set of battles (including those from the expansions) with cash and reputation rewards. This was very effective in : retaining the 70 crowd prior to the release of Wrath of the Lich King at the end of 2008, alongside daily quests that intertwined with the heroic (ie much harder) dungeon quests.

I Players are allowed to complete 25 daily quests a day, with each one giving a certain amount of money and Badges , of Justice, which can then be turned in for higher-level equipment This allows .non-raiders to gear themselves up without having to guild up. The badges aren't totally limited to the heroic dungeons, with some rewarding you with gold and reputation for normal dungeon-crawling, but badges are available only for the top-tier grinders. There are even cooking and bonding quests throughout Outland and Northrend that reward you with faction-related currency to cash in for special gear.

We reviewed Wrath of the Lich King recently, and made a point we're repeating again: WOW has become the FIFA of the MMO world. There isn't much innovation, but it is one of the slickest, consistently playable games out there. There's little danger that servers are going to be downsized (in fact you'll have to queue to get on the popular servers) and we predict that there'll be a two more expansions in WOWs lifetime - more if subscriptions continue to rise above 11 million.

The question you want to ask yourself is how much grinding you can take. While The Burning Crusade was an original, fun-packed expansion, Wrath of the Lich King repeated the 'kill this, do that' mentality without much that was new. If you stopped playing after Crusade, you'll most likely return to find you're playing much similar content Unless you can scrape up a group of 10 people, World, of Warcraft isn't stunningly different to how it was two, or even four years ago - it's just a lot slicker and a lot easier to get into.

Verdict

We'd still recommend it to new players, as it's well-made and undeniably addictive, but if you've taken less than a year's break from the game, there's not a great deal that's changed - for better or worse.

Developer's Commentary

It A Large orc statue to his left, Blizzard producer Shane Dabiri in front of him and lead game designer Jeffrey Kaplan to his right, Will Porter discovers the true story behind World Of Warcraft. Now, in the wake of the announcement of the Burning Crusade expansion, he lets the men in the know do the talking. Shane's got the goatie since you ask...

Origins

Dabiri: "The original idea came about six years ago: a lot of us were playing MMOs, so we just thought why not make one? The debate at the time was over what kind of MMO it would be and what world we would put it in. We have all these great universes that we based our RTS games around, and Diablo (which was already an RPG), so we decided to just tap into what we already had. People had already experienced the RTS side, they'd fought these battles - but they hadn't actuaily been able to explore these worlds."

Why Not Starcraft Or Diablo?

Dabiri: "At the time, we were all very much into fantasy-type MMOs and we'd only just finished doing StarCraft: Brood War- so we had this real excitement about the Warcraft universe because we hadn't touched it in a while. There's so much history behind it, there've been books about it, we've even done paper-and-pencil role-playing games - it's a universe that really has a dear place in our hearts and that's why it was the route that we decided to take."

Building The World

Kaplan: "Most of the concepts in the creation of Azeroth came from our creative director Chris Metzen - he's the keeper of lore around Blizzard and he started designing maps based on previous maps and lands. We started figuring out the landmass, figuring out the different areas and asked ourselves questions about the places, the races and the stor. Then we moved onto concept art and getting everybody excited about it We looked at it as if we were building a real, existing place - but it really all started with just one simple idea."

The Lore

Dabiri: If you look at the different RTS games we've made, then you can see we did a ton of lore in those, but there are things that we never touched on - like women in the game, for example. There were a few women characters in the game, but we really didn t have a lot about them, and we didn't have religions in the game or the origins of the races either. So we replicated a lot of what you saw in the RTS game, although there was a whole world that wasn't there - it was up to our imaginations to come up with new things to do for say, the Titans or Ogrimmar - a lot of this stuff had been talked about, but we'd never worked out exactly what they looked like and where they came from."

Kaplan: "It's definitely a set universe, but it's a universe that we've created so if we need to bend it, we don't have to go and ask permission from a license holder. We can do whatever we want with it, as long as we keep true to the spirit of the world. If we need to change things around, we'll do it"

The Unexpected

Dabiri: "There's a recent example of the unexpected: the plague. We'd implemented a new dungeon which included a spell effect called 'Corrupted Blood'. It was a spell that did damage to you, and if you came near other players, the spell effect passed on to them. The idea was that this spell existed only in this dungeon, but there was a bug and it got out. Players went back into towns and were spreading it to other players. We quickly resolved the issue, but what surprised us was that on the game's forums, players were like: "Wow, what a fantastic world event! The day the plague wiped out Ironforge!" We got calls from the CDC - the Centre for Disease Control - saying: "Hey, what's all this about the disease in your game? We want to look at the simulation data -it might help us in a real-world situation." We kept saying: "No, no, no, it's just a bug! We fixed it, it's just a game!"

Kaplan: "It showed us that players have a tendency to live in this world and see things that happen as part of it. We had some angry customers calling us saying they just died, but it did give us some ideas for some possible real future events."

Easter Eggs When It Isn't Easter

Dabiri: "One of our designers wanted to do some secret content, so there's a lot of stuff in our game that players have to discover - and when they find it, they think it's awesome. Like the first time you see the sea giants and they bend over and fart and the bubbles come out. Plus, a lot of the emotes for players were thought of because when you're fighting a monster, you don't want it to just stand there. So, every now and then it'll do something crazy, like a skeleton will take his head off and toss it in the air. It's so that players have a few things to discover above and beyond the regular levelling up."

Customers Are Always Right

Dabiri: "Right now, World Of Warcroft is exactly what we wanted it to be when we shipped, and even to this day we're just evolving it even more. We always listen to the customer feedback though, so a lot of the systems that are in place now are based on player demand - like the necessity for more PvP in the game, which is why we added Battlegrounds and the honour system. With the latest dungeon that we released, Zul'Gurub, we had a lot of players who said they didn't have time to go into a 40-man raid and spend hours playing. With Zul'Gurub, we wanted to bridge the gap between doing a 40-man raid and doing a five-man dungeon. There's this idea of casual level 60s, somebody who only has an hour or two to play, so we wanted to give something to this type of player so they could progress within the game. A lot of the reputation-based quests in the game are based on feedback from players who wanted content they could do themselves."

Favoured Races And Professions

Kaplan: "I love my gnome, my gnome is awesome. And I love my undead character as well. I play all of the races, but the one I've most recently played tends to be my favourite."

Dabiri: "I play a priest. It's interesting - we've had psychologists call and ask us to tell them how many people play as these different classes, and to ask those players if there's a certain personality they tend towards as a hunter or a warrior. So I thought yeah, I sort of have the personality traits a priest would have - I like to help people, I want to be the guy that makes sure everybody stays alive, and as a producer on the team that's sort of what I do anyway - I help people out. It was interesting to make that parallel."

Leeroy

Dabiri: "Leeroy was awesome! After we'd seen the movie, all you could hear that day from office to office was: "LEEROOOOY!" At one point, we even considered putting the ghost of Leeroy Jenkins in Blackrock Spire. That's the sort of stuff that's just endlessly entertaining, we just love it."

Favourite Moments

Dabiri: "There's this quest that you do right at the entrance to Dun Moragh with these Dwarven riflemen at a shooting range. They start shooting at the targets and shooting at each other, and one of them shouts out, "Now I got my boomstick!" or something like that. I hadn't realised the sound team had put that in yet, and when I was doing the quest I heard that and thought it was hilarious. It just shows that there are so many little areas in the game with so many intricate details.

"We spent the last five years building this stuff in, and that's one thing I think is lacking in many games: the attention to detail. You can tell that every zone was tenderly painted, every rock and tree individually placed, you go into a building and see books, and pots and pans - somebody visualised and placed all of these things. The quests follow the same route too - you may have noticed the little parodies we include like peoples' names and references to previous games: players really dig that. They pick up on those, and there are an endless amount of them in the game. It's what makes this game really special; it's deep and far more than just levelling up, finding items and increasing your abilities. It has a lot of cool and funny elements to it. it's almost like watching an episodic TV show and you're waiting to see what happens next, waiting to see how we'll surprise you."

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