Archive for the ‘Features (Gaming)’ Category

Gaming: World of Warcraft: 1) Worgen


As with the goblin campaign, the worgen opening puts you straight into the city.

First place goes to the worgen campaign, the other of the races new to Cataclysm. The worgen are werewolves, the ones you play as coming from the human nation of Gilneas. Back in Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness Gilneas weren’t exactly big supporters of the Alliance, the game’s instruction manual (which was an elaborate thing, full of more story content than it was game information) presenting their isolationism as their most notable characteristic. By the end of the Second War (ie. the second game) the Gilnean king, Greymane, had erected a massive wall around his kingdom and completely cut them off from the rest of the world.

This was the situation the nation was in when World of Warcraft launched, the wall making the area inaccessible (and for those who were able to exploit their way through there was nothing of consequence there), and that’s how it remained right up until the launch of the Cataclysm expansion, when Gilneas finally rejoins the Alliance. So what have they been getting up to behind the wall?

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Gaming: World of Warcraft: 2) Goblin


The setting is radically different at first, putting you in the heart of the city instead of a small village.

The goblins are one of the two new races introduced in the Cataclysm expansion pack (the other being the worgen werewolves). Traditionally the race has mostly been associated with the Horde, at least when they were an evil faction in the service of the demonic Burning Legion, but like the trolls there are many different factions (or cartels) with their own agendas and alignments, and the playable goblins in World of Warcraft are a formerly neutral one who are drawn into the conflict.

This gives them a big advantage over all of the pre-Cataclysm races. They carry none of the existing baggage that comes from the established story or locations already present in the game, and as such their opening has been designed purely according to the new goals Blizzard has for the game’s structure. Their story starts with the cataclysm, and it’s so much better.

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Gaming: World of Warcraft: 3) Undead

There are lots of graves in this zone.

The starting zone for the undead Forsaken already had a lot of character before the launch of Cataclysm, the nature of the race enabling Blizzard to use well-established themes. It was an area of dead trees, graveyards, gloom and zombies, adding a lot of personality to a zone that was structured just like all the others. One key difference was that there were several-questgivers who were clearly evil (the game never presents either playable faction as villains), experimenting on people and working on a plague that they hoped would turn the whole world into free-willed undead and bring an end to the prejudices directed against them, many people unable to distinguish the Forsaken from Arthas’ Scourge. It was already a solid zone, but Cataclysm has still managed to improve it dramatically.

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Gaming: World of Warcraft: 4) Draenei

Azuremyst Isles

You can tell they're near the night elves because of all the purple.

When the draenei race were first announced as being the new race who would join the Alliiance in World of Warcraft’s first expansion pack there was a fair bit of controversy. Like the blood elves the draenei are an established race in the Warcraft setting, but where the new blood elves fit the established version of the race, the draenei… didn’t. In the established lore the draenei, part of another race called the eredar, were the wholly evil race responsible for driving the titan Sargeras mad, who then went on to start all the troubles with the demons (ie. the entire Warcraft storyline). When you meet them in Warcraft 3 and World of Warcraft they look like this:

Were the Alliance about to get their first 'monstrous' race?

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Gaming: World of Warcraft: 5) Death Knight

The Scarlet Enclave

This isn't how the area looks when you first start playing. Phasing in action!

The death knight isn’t a unique race, they’re a class, but with several key differences. They start at level 55 and can only be created if you already have a high-level character, and they have their own starting area and opening questline which means they qualify for this series (though I played through the whole opening, level thirteen not being a valid milestone here). Freshly created and sworn into the service of the Lich King – this is the one opening that can’t take into account the changes of Cataclysm – new death knights are tasked with mopping up the last remnants of the Scarlet Crusade. They were introduced in the Wrath of the Lich King expansion and were therefore Blizzard’s first chance to show off their phasing technology.

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Gaming: World of Warcraft: 6) Tauren


It's a well.

For me the tauren always struck a better balance between being a peaceful people and having to take part in conflict than the night elves do. I don’t think the tauren in World of Warcraft come across as quite the same race as they did in Warcraft 3, the big broad character models in the MMO not quite aligning with the leaner ones of the strategy game, but that’s not a major issue. They’re a people who know that aggression is sometimes necessary, but they strive for peace.

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Gaming: World of Warcraft: 7) Dwarf/Gnome

Dun Morogh

This is part of the gnome area. You can tell from all the toxic pollution.

As with the orcs and trolls, the dwarves and gnomes used to share the exact same opening sequence, the latter race being a late addition to the game. Also just like the trolls, the Cataclysm expansion added a unique starting sequence for the gnomes that covers the first six levels. After that it merges with the dwarf one again, so I’ll talk about each section individually:

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