It's been a long road since the Playstation Meeting last February, when Mark Cerny stood on stage with a dualshock 4 and a dream for the world's most powerful home console. Now, it's finally time for the start of the next generation. Ready up Niners, it's a Playstation 4 fuelled Tuesday Game Room!
The announcement of Warlords of Draenor sent me scurrying back to World of Warcraft this week (you'd think I'd wait till the expansion comes out, but no!) to level a Draenei Paladin, a race I've never played before in WoW. Don't really know why, but I tend to prefer other Alliance races (specifically Worgen and Night Elves) so I've never bothered. But now, I kinda know why.
You see, Velnaar here (assisted by his shiny new Blizzcon companion, Ser Murkalot the Murloc Crusader - appropriate for a Paladin in training!) gets to start in Azuremyst Isle, the Draenei starting zone that has been literally untouched since The Burning Crusade released in 2007 - which means from a design perspective, it has had none of the quest revamps made since Vanilla that were made in order to help the game not be a completely tiresome slog. This might rankle a few veteran WoW players who remember TBC fondly, but when put directly next to the revamped World of Warcraft of today, the WoW of yesteryear does not come out well in this regard. Quest flow is practically non-existent. Pacing is slow, wandering and at times nonsensical. The items you need to drop for quests have mind-numbingly low drop rates. It's absolutely horrendous. The Draenei and Blood Elf starting zones are trapped in this 6 year old time bubble, a window to the past that is a lot more scary to contemplate if you perhaps don't hold WoW's early days with the nostalgic reverence of longer-term players.
Thankfully I've now graduated from the turgid, red-mist-covered isles and hopped over the Eastern Kingdoms to level up to 60. Ahh, modern quest design, it's beautiful!
There's a little bit of housekeeping to take care of today, with several games releasing today ahead of friday's big launch. First off, XCOM: Enemy Within, the expansion to last year's sublime Enemy Unknown, makes its way to PC (expansion only), Xbox 360 and PS3 (as part of a 'Commander Edition' including the base game). It's joined by the expansion to SimCity, Cities of Tomorrow, bringing a sci-fi bent to the controversial city management sim that made its début earlier this year. Finally on consoles, the PS3 gets an exclusive in Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus, and Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition makes its way to PS3, Xbox 360 and PC.
Now for the big one: The Playstation 4 is out this Friday in the US, and it's bringing out a whole host of both retail and digital titles with it. Deep breaths, 'cos here we go: Killzone: Shadow Fall, Knack, Resogun, Minecraft, Warframe, War Thunder, Sound Shapes, Flower, DC Universe Online, Injustice: Gods Among Us - Ultimate Edition, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Need for Speed Rivals, Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Angry Birds Star Wars, FIFA 14, Madden NFL 2014, NBA 2k14, NBA Live, Just Dance 2014, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, The Pinball Arcade and Skylanders: Swap Force. *gasps for air* Phew!
And to cap it off, Nintendo is putting out Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games on Wii U. Never let it be said that good ol' Ninty will run from a competition.
Once again it's time for a few select picks from the last week of Gaming news, via Eurogamer:
- Blizzard announce the Fifth WoW Expansion pack, Warlords of Draenor - as mentioned above, last weekend's Blizzcon brought with it the bi-annual announcement of an expansion for the world's most popular MMO, this time sending players back in time to an era just before the original RTS games. Set on the Orcish homeworld of Draenor before the Orc clans allied with the demonic Burning Legion and subsequently blew up the planet (renamed Outland), WoD adds 10 new levels of content, an offline-minion mechanic called Garrisons, much needed updates to player character models (most of which have been untouched since WoW began 9 years ago!), and more.
- Bioware teases a glimpse of Mass Effect 4 - During their community faux-holiday 'N7 Day' (held on, you guessed it, November 7th), Bioware sneakily teased a few pieces of concept art for the upcoming entry in the Mass Effect franchise, which will start a new story for the game removed from the arc experience by players as Commander Shepard. Go take a look!
- Age of Empires II is getting an official expansion, over 10 years after its release - Wow. It's the week of expansions! This all new addition to the venerable RTS game is for its HD rerelease, and adds a bunch of new races and some multiplayer modes. Wolololo and all that.
- Ex-Microsoft director behind the infamous '#dealwithit' controversy speaks out - Adam Orth, who faced the wrath of an Internet scorned earlier this year after dismissively tweeting about gamers concerns for an Always Online console (and was subsequently fired for it... months before Microsoft revealed the 'Sort of Always Online' Xbox One to furious anger), has had said that he emerged from the twitter-storm a better person, although he stands by his opinion. He's now working on making his own games at an independent studio.
We'll be back this time next Tuesday for more gaming discussion, but for now, sound off in the comments with the games you've been playing, and what you're looking forward to this week - and don't forget to join us on Steam!