My First Week in Neverwinter Online.

cleric1a I came to Neverwinter with no preconceptions, or indeed any idea, as to what the game would be like. All I knew about the forgotten realms came from reading a handful of books more than a decade ago. So what drew me into this game?

Initially it was definitely the fact that it is free to play. Entirely free to play. You do not have to spend a cent of your hard earned money to play this game. In games like SWTOR, players have to shell out Cartel Coins to run Flashpoints and the like, or they can pay a subscription. So far in Neverwinter I am level 29 and I have run multiple dungeons, skirmishes and foundry missions all for the low, low price of $0.

Buying Zen will certainly help you in this game – it will make profession levelling much, much easier and convenient and there are debates on the official forums and within the community about the effect it will have on end game PvP as the game ages. Neverwinter offers us the advantage of being able to buy Zen with in-game currency (astral diamonds), while at this stage the pricing is inflated it will (hopefully) begin to even out and settle into a manageable conversion rate as the game progresses. Though I have not seen specific proof of this I believe Zen is also hard capped on how much can be charged for it in regards to in-game currency.

So if F2P is what drew me into the game, what is it that is keeping me here? I can sum it up in one word: Foundry. The Foundry is an amazing resource, by which players can create their own content. This ranges from simple kill ‘X things’ quests to elaborately designed multi-stage group questing.

When I first started playing I was enjoying the game, though I didn’t feel that it would hold me for very long. The main quest line is rather linear and I couldn’t see where the replay value was and then I found it in the Foundry. The first quest I did was I am Slayer and I was hooked. I still primarily play the main quests but when I get a little tired of them I switch to the foundry for an added level of enjoyment.

If like me you have ever thought about looking in to what it takes to design a game, you will love the Foundry. It enables players to create intricate and rewarding content and publish it themselves. I have spent a little bit of time learning its systems and I have to say it is not overly complicated. It may take the novice (such as myself) time to come to terms with the initial learning curve but once you have the foundations it is really quite simple to use.

There are plenty of gameplay reviews of the game so I won’t go into that here. I will conclude with a recommendation for everyone to have a look at the game, I am confident that like me you will be pleasantly surprised.


Through The Mist: Making The Switch


Through the Mist has been a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft.!

As most of you are probably aware, it has been a long time between drinks for me. I recently made the call to cancel my WoW subscription – this was not entirely due to the quality of Mists of Pandaria (though it was a factor) but a culmination of a lot of other circumstances as well. I’ve taken on a larger course load at university and returned to playing SWTOR.


Why, you may ask, have I made the decision to swap from my once beloved WoW to the Old Republic? To put it simply, I was enjoying it a lot more when it came time to make the decision to cut back on my monthly expenditure. The fact that I can play without paying anything if I choose was also a factor.


Back to the enjoyment factor, I haven’t enjoyed Mists in quite some time. It took me months to get a second character to 90 and I didn’t even consider a third. From a game where I had max level characters of every class (bar druid) at every expansion this says a lot about my enjoyment factor. Most of the time that I logged in I had hopes and intentions of doing all sorts of things but it usually turned into pet battles because I found that’s where my enjoyment was coming from.


Then along came the Rise of the Hutt Cartel and I really enjoyed the new content – yes it was short but it was sweet. I now have three 55s and a handful on their way to level cap. So in future I will turn my writing to SWTOR – I want to thank the WoW readers I’ve had. It was a lot of fun writing about a game I was passionate about but the passion has died out and I have moved on, I hope my readers can forgive me and move on with me. It was a great honour and privilege to write about something so many people are interested in.


I will also turn some attention to Neverwinter Online (if I ever truly get a grasp of the game systems myself) and the Elder Scrolls online.


Elder Scrolls Online: Bring It On

Elder Scrolls OnlineMy first foray into the Elder Scrolls series came in 2002 when I purchased Morrowind on the Xbox. I’ve always been a fan of RPG’s (especially sandbox ones) so when I got home from work (I was with EBGames at the time) I put in the disc and I haven’t stopped playing the series since.

When it was announced that there would be an Elder Scrolls MMO I was immediately interested (I won’t lie I may have cheered and danced a little jig). The release of the recent cinematic reinforced my excitement* (see below)

This is a franchise steeped in lore, possibly moreso than any other currently on the market. This can be both a blessing and a curse, as there are certain things that “have” to occur in the Elder Scrolls timeline which can make it difficult for creating a truly unique online experience for gamers. As with Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Elder Scrolls Online is set at a time before the game we know and love. It is set approximately 800 years before Morrowind and 1000 years before Skyrim. This means that it is set in a well-established period of Elder Scrolls lore, but Tamriel is a big place and Bethesda has proven that they can deliver strong lore-based games before.

The game itself has been in  development since 2007; meaning that Zenimax had five years of development prior to the announcement of the game. It also allowed them to work alongside the Skyrim team during development, helping to ensure that the world of Skyrim will translate into the Online medium smoothly. Indeed it appears that all of Tamriel will be open to players for the first time, allowing us to revisit many of our favourite locations such as Morrowind, Skyring and Cyrodiil.

In addition we will encounter a number of familiar enemies such as the Daedroth:


The Storyline of Elder Scrolls Online will encompass the struggles of three factions: The Daggerfall Covenant, the Ebonheart Pact, and the Aldmeri Dominion as they take up arms and fight for control of Cyrodiil, the Imperial City, and the throne of Tamriel. At the same time, the factions will be attempting to counter the machinations of the Daedric Prince Molag Bol. Zenimax currently plan to enforce race restrictions on each of the three factions, limiting the playable races for each one. Already there is a lot of pressure from the ESO community to remove this restriction, the primary argument being that it takes away from the freedom found in previous Elder Scrolls games for the player to largely decide who they fight for. It also severely limits the roleplaying options for those so inclined.

Personally, I hope they retain the restrictions –  it is a simple fact of MMO gaming that races are commonly restricted to specific factions and given the basis of the storyline supplied so far by Zenimax and Bethesda it certainly fits with the lore we are dealing with.

So, there are the very basics of what we know so far about Elder Scrolls Online, so much more can be found on their website with their weekly Developer questions and a number of videos that easily explain the political situation and tensions that can be found in the game. I encourage anyone who is interested in the game to check it out.

You can also find out more about; and sign up for the beta here.

*The trailer:

Through The Mist: Excited For 5.2


Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

I’m excited – are you?

My last column was a relatively bare bones look at Patch 5.2 and a number of minor (yet significant) changes have been made that really have me wanting to get stuck into the new content.

I am excited for the Isle of Thunder. This zone may look like another in the long line of daily quest grind hubs that we have seen ever since dailies were introduced, and of course that is correct to an extent. However, Isle of Thunder is shaping up to be somewhat different in that it is a progressive zone like the Isle of Quel’ Danas in the Burning Crusade and even the Molten Front in Catacylsm. As we progress through the zone more areas and more quests will open up to players.

The Isle of Thunder also sees Blizzard trying to put the Multi back into MMO. I have been playing quite a bit of SWTOR of late and this push from Blizzard to offer small group content is something that has me excited as opposed to spam healing a companion that does everything for me. The core group of people I play WoW with is shrinking with every passing month and is no longer capable of raiding, but the new mini-bosses such as Oondasta on the Isle of Thunder will allow me to continue doing what I enjoy best in WoW- playing with friends.

We get to keep our valor! This is an interesting move from Blizzard, who would normally reset our valor points with the release of a major content patch and new tier of raid gear. This time around they are allowing us to keep what we have earned and spend it on the new items that will be available as well as heavily discounting the gear that is currently available to us. This allows us to either grab gear as soon as we can access it from the new content or buy those few pieces we have had trouble upgrading to move into the next level of content. It also offers us the chance to quickly upgrade the gear of our alts to a level where we can participate in and enjoy current content.

Legendaries – legendaries for everyone
I have been playing WoW since launch and short of a binding (4 of the same half to be exact) and crafting on an occasional Sulfuron hammer for others I have never had a legendary item. The continuation of the Black Prince storyline will give me this opportunity. It may only be a gem but by God man it’s a legendary gem!

And – my beloved pet battles also receive more love and bug fixes!

Through The Mist: WoW Patch 5.2 Thoughts


Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

Well it’s that time again: patch 5.2 is just around the corner and it’s a big one. I can’t hope to list everything that’s on its way in the patch but I will take a bit of a look at the bigger content that is being included.

First, we have the new Daily Quest Hub: The Isle of the Thunder King. This new area opens up a whole new chain of daily quests for players to undertake. Players will join the assault on Emperor Lei Shen’s island stronghold and offers players the chance to participate in special events. It will progress much like the Isle of Quel’Danas, where players unlock additional quests and areas as they progress through the island. There is great news for Blacksmiths as they will eventually be able to craft raid worthy weapons and more enticingly (in my opinion) classic weapons from the past.

This area also includes the new raid The Throne of Thunder which will drop tier 15 armour sets. This raid will consist of 12 new bosses, which will be split into 4 wings for the raid finder.

As expected, we see the Wrathion legendary quest line continue and offer players the chance at a legendary metagem.

More world bosses have been added to the game; these include Nalak, the Storm Lord and Oondasta. This leads me directly into a massive change coming for many players – World bosses will be tagged to faction. Meaning that multiple groups of the same faction can tackle these new bosses (as well as the old ones) and receive loot.

It looks like we will also finally see the introduction of the Warlock quest to change their fire spells to green.

In addition to these major content additions, we are going to see a lot of class changes – far too many to list in a column such as this but the outlook for the majority of the changes that I have seen is relatively positive.

Whilst this is nowhere near to covering the content of patch 5.2 (a much more comprehensive list can be seen on just about any of the wow community sites) it does include some of the major changes and I have to say some of the new mounts coming look amazing and will likely encourage me to explore this new content.  One of the more exciting changes revolves around the content we have already seen. With the addition of Thunderforged weapons to existing raid bosses, Blizzard are making a concerted effort to encourage players to return to cleared content. More importantly to the more casual players and LFR raiders is that these new high ilvl items being added to current content offers us a way to catch up gear wise in an effort to move into the new content.

Anyone who read my last piece knows where I currently am with the game and I have to say that 5.2 has me excited again. Having looked fairly closely at the new content and (more importantly) its rewards, I am really looking forward to this patch. Excited enough to contemplate active progression raiding once again.

How about you?

Through The Mist: WoW and Me Right Now


Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

Many apologies for the long delay between columns, as some of you were aware I was away for the entirety of December. I was hoping to do a review of the year for WoW by New Year’s Day but unfortunately I have been unexpectedly busy since my return organising my engagement party and by organising I mean nodding a lot in agreement with my fiancé. (It’s good practice for the many years of nodding ahead – Ed.)

Looking back at the year, I’m not entirely sure that it deserves a year in review. Certainly we saw the release of Mists Of Pandaria; which has already been reviewed by myself and many others so it seems pointless to do so. The only other big thing I can think of is the subscription numbers. The most recent figure I can find is a rather general 10 million. While up from the recent dip to 9.1 million I am sure Blizzard were expecting a higher number with the launch of another expansion. The positive trend though still shows that WoW isn’t going anywhere in the near future unless you count upwards.

Instead I think I will write a little bit about how the game has me feeling at the moment – it’s been several months since the launch of MoP and for many the shininess is beginning to, or has already worn off. Many of the long-time wow players that I game with (including several Vanilla guildmates) have been slowly drifting away from the game again. Many citing the daily grind as the reason, saying that they feel as if they have to complete daily after daily to progress in the game.

Feeling a bit jaded...

Feeling a bit jaded…

I can certainly feel their pain and I share it to a certain extent. Of late however I have found myself lacking the motivation to even do the dailies once, let alone repeatedly. Many times since I returned from my vacation I have logged in, wandered around aimlessly and logged out. I feel as if there is little for me to do within the game. On analysis this seems like a silly, impossible thing. There are dailies, scenarios, heroics and raids to do ( I am not much of a PvP’er ). Indeed, I still try to run my LFR runs on a weekly basis but I feel as if I am doing it because I have nothing else to do in the game.

In the past I would have levelled alts – in most expansions I have had a minimum of 5  (usually more) characters at maximum level but so far in MoP I have a solitary 90, an 87 and a smattering of 86’s of various classes.

I’m not entirely sure what it is currently – I am tempted to blame my holiday but I have to confess to feeling this way prior to going away. I still like the game, that much is certain but am I enjoying it? I don’t think that I am. Hopefully 5.2 will offer me something, I have always enjoyed Troll content and it will be interesting to see how it ties in with the Mogu.

How are you feeling about the current state of the game?

Through The Mist: 5.1 Landfall Overview

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

As I’m sure most of you are aware Patch 5.1 went live yesterday. David was kind enough to announce the full list of changes – as you can see it was a fairly significant patch with a number of bug fixes as well as some added content.

The most significant inclusion for the average casual player is perhaps the first steps of the Pandaria campaign. The content can be almost exclusively completely without flagging for PvP, which for many players is a positive thing (there were a number of threads on the official forums from concerned PvE players as to whether they could participate in the campaign). The mobs for the daily quests also award Black Prince rep so it’s worthwhile getting straight into the new content even if you’re not at honoured for the additional quests for the Wrathion chain.

I ran through the initial quests with my guild mates yesterday as well as completing the two new Alliance scenarios.  I have to say that this is the first time, with the possible exclusion of the Death Knight starter quests (that I can currently think of) in WoW’s lifespan where I can see the growth of an NPC character through quests. Without giving too much away for those who have not done it, King Varian Wrynn displays a number of characteristics I would not have ascribed to him previously. This bodes well for the future of this expansion and the Pandaria campaign itself.

Another major change for the average player is the introduction of item upgrades. Players can now upgrade the majority of items (both PvE and PvP). Upgrades vary in costs and the exact amounts can be seen in the patch notes. Having already upgraded a couple of items I can tell you it is relatively easy and the stat changes are made quite obvious before you finalise the process.

Probably the biggest change with this patch comes in the form of the Brawler’s guild. Whilst I personally like the concept of the Brawler’s guild I am not entirely happy with the way in which Blizzard have implemented it. Participation is via invite only – these invites can only be bought off the Black Market Auction House or from rare spawn Horde and Alliance NPC’s in the new PvP areas (I am unclear as to whether these NPCs flag you for PvP or not). Additionally you can be invited by someone with the appropriate rank within the Brawler’s guild. For the average player there is going to be a long, long wait before they will see this content. On my server, which has a fairly poor population and progression rate, invitations are already over 60k gold on the Black Market AH. The NPCs that drop invitations are heavily spawn camped. Hopefully Blizzard will continue to increase the amount of invitations and the way in which they can be obtained.

Pet battles have also received some attention, the user interface now has added functionality that makes it easier to sort, select and use pets. We can now also see the quality of a pet during a battle. This is handy for knowing what to catch but it takes the fun out of researching pet families so that you can work out quality yourself during combat based off their stats. We also saw the addition of new pets to older raid instances (which now incidentally no longer need raid groups to enter). A single run of Molten Core saw me snag the Corefire Imp and a Blackwing Lair run rewarded me with Chrominius and the Untamed Hatchling so the drop rates seem quite good.

I won’t go into the many class changes as I’m sure many of you are more familiar with the classes that received nerfs or buffs than I am. Rogues once again saw fairly minor changes.

UI wise we have seen the addition of a “banner” when under the effects of crowd control. This has received some fairly negative feedback – personally I think it’s an excellent addition by Blizzard and means one less add on.

As many people expected the new Warlock quest chain was omitted from 5.1 and is now slated to be released in patch 5.2.

As some of you are aware I am off on holidays for the entirety of December, so this will be my last column for a little while, I was hoping to get into more detail on the changes but last minute preparations coupled with my recent engagement have left me rather busy.  So merry Christmas and enjoy Patch 5.1!

Through The Mist: Is The Shine Wearing Off?

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

As I’m sure many of you do, I regularly check the larger WoW sites such as MMO-Champion and Arena Junkies  as well as the official WoW forums and I have to say I have been extremely surprised by what I have found there and more importantly by the responses of Blizzard reps on the official forums.

Players of all types have been expressing increasing concerns over the daily quest system. The most common area of contention is that players feel they are being forced into doing every possible daily every day in order to keep up with progression and this extends to repetition on alts. In response, Blizzard seem to be taking the stance that players are not forced into doing dailies – rather, we can do dailies, challenge modes, scenarios, heroics and LFR etc.

I can see both sides of the argument and for the most part I enjoy doing dailies but to say that we are not forced into them is ridiculous. Yes we can run these other modes to gear up and to obtain both Justice and Valor points but what do we spend these points on? Well the answer is reputation restricted items from factions. It’s a Catch 22 situation – players can gear up from these other methods but is the randomness of a random loot system reliable enough to keep players, particularly more casual players, at a level where they can participate in and enjoy content?  So far, my experience says no. In the past I have been involved in progression raiding and server firsts and the like but I am little more than a casual player in this expansion and I am still not at an ilvl where I can participate in current (albeit LFR) content.

Players have in turn suggested a return to the tabard system that was employed in Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm and on this point I agree with Blizzard’s stance of not reintroducing them. Tabards, whilst extremely convenient, made reputation a trivial part of the game. It should mean something and work should be involved in unlocking these Justice and Valor point items as well as many of the mounts that are available. My alternative suggestion is to implement a tabard system that works much the same way as the original guild reputation system: allow players to use tabards but cap the amount of reputation that can be obtained per faction on a daily basis. The cap would include both dailies and tabards – this not only gives players a choice (something the vast majority of complainants are screaming for) whilst maintaining the integrity of the daily system. It also has the added advantage of getting people into dungeons again.

Blizzard seem to be listening to an extent, insofar that they are planning changes to how alternate characters will accrue reputation and this is a positive sign going forward.

Do you agree?

Through The Mist: The Mogu’Shan Vaults – Looking for Raid style

The Mogu’Shan Vaults

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

This piece has taken a lot longer to write than I had originally hoped. This is mainly due to the fact that I could not f find a fresh run using the Looking For Raid (LFR) system for most of the first week. It finally happened on Tuesday morning and I decided to push the piece back to preview all six bosses as three more would come out that night. Unfortunately I could only find a group with two bosses down, so the second part of the raid will have to wait until after the weekend.

My initial impression upon zoning in was positive. The environment felt epic and I immediately felt like this was a zone where something big was about to go down. Whether it did or not doesn’t really factor into this column – I just wanted to get across that Blizzard have recaptured some of the epic grandeur of raid zones that we have seen in the past.

I will refrain from describing the boss mechanics; there are dozens of sites out there that can do that for you. This is an opinion column so I will stick to giving you my impressions of the fights.

The first boss, The Stone Guard consists of four stone Quillen, three of which are active each week. The fight on normal 10 and 25 man modes looks to feature some interesting mechanics. Unfortunately as with the LFR bosses we saw in Cataclysm, many of these impressive mechanics can be ignored. The LFR strategy consisted of stacking all 3 mobs together and ignoring everything but dps. I can see this being an excellent test of raid coordination in 10 and 25 man.

The second boss, Feng the Accursed is a fairly intimidating looking Mogu. Unlike the first boss, this required some concentration from players; particularly in the final phase where players had the Arcane Resonance debuff. This caused a wipe in my group due to a player not paying attention and I have to say it is nice to see some consequences for ignoring mechanics in LFR. The rest of the fight was relatively straightforward from a melee perspective – dodge bad things on the ground and stay behind the boss.

The final boss of this portion of the zone was quite a surprise. As some of you know I skipped a lot of the Townlong Steppes zone as I chased a quest chain while levelling and apparently I missed some interesting happenings with the Zandalari Trolls. I was quite surprised and excited to see Gara’jal the Spiritbinder in the zone. The fight lived up to many of my memories of previous troll bosses from the ZG and ZA raid days. Gara’jal reminded me of the original Jindo the Hexxer encounter in the Zul Gurub raid zone. DPS primarily focused on the boss – whilst this was occurring invisible spirits would attack and neutralise players. Players are required to enter the spirit world (through the use of a totem dropped by the boss) and kill these spirits before they take out the raid. This was a relatively simple encounter on this difficulty level but I can see the spirits becoming quite a handful in 10 and 25 man versions as well as in less skilled LFR teams.

Overall I quite enjoyed the zone. The fights, whilst straightforward required players for the most part to pay attention to what was going on around them. It’s a nice start to an expansion and I hope that as LFR progresses through the tiers the encounters continue to build on this foundation and increase in difficulty.

Finally, I just wanted to vent about the Elder Charm of Good Fortune. I have now used seven of these charms, one on each boss in the LFR raids as well as on Sha of Anger and received no items. I understand that they offer players a ‘chance’ at extra loot, however given the time put into getting them (a minimum of 45 dailies, if you do the ones that give two of the lower ones) per three Elder Charms, it is not beyond the realms of expectation that players would receive something out of 7 uses.

What’s your take?

XCOM: Enemy Unknown – A Review

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this title, I will give you a little bit of background. The original X-COM game from Microprose (also known as UFO Defense) was released in 1994. It is a turn-based strategy game in which you must defend the Earth from an alien invasion.

The primary interface was known as the geoscape and from here we micromanaged our organisation. The game required players to not only search for and shoot down enemy UFOs, but also to micromanage equipment, personnel and research alien technology to advance in the game. It is widely regarded as one of the best games of its genre to be released.  It has also spawned numerous offspring including the sequel Terror from the Deep, UFO: Aftermath, Xenonauts, XCOM Interceptor and UFO: Extraterrestrials.

This week saw Firaxis Games’ reimagining of this 90s classic and as you can see it has a lot to live up to. I spent many hours, probably months of my life playing the original so I was very keen to get my hands on this new version.

I was pleasantly surprised by Firaxis’ efforts – the game is definitely a spiritual successor to the original with the majority (if not all) units maintaining their original names. There have been some changes to the Alien races, such as the addition of the ‘Thin Man’ species which was not present in the classic version but the Sectoid, Muton, Chryssalid and Floater species are back with a number of major improvements.

Gameplay: 8/10

In this version we are required to launch satellites and station interceptors around the globe to ensure that global panic remains minimal. If a country or region is regularly ignored, or if we do not station units there, the country will withdraw funding.

Funding is how we accrue in-game currency, and apart from the occasional mission that rewards us with currency, keeping the nations of Earth happy is the only way to ensure we gain adequate funding from the mysterious council. Funding is based on a country’s panic level, the higher the panic of the general populace the less funding we will receive and eventually the country will develop a general panic and funding will be withdrawn.

It is a delicate balancing act to keep the various nations happy. The most efficient way of maintaining a low panic level is to conduct operations within an area.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown follows the lines of its predecessor with turn-based combat. Each player unit can move up to twice, with the option to fire on enemy units on either turn. Abilities that are acquired as soldiers gain ranks and soldier specialisations, such as Sniper or Support can effect what abilities can be used. Movement is relatively fluid and cover is a major part of gameplay as it offers soldiers (and aliens) protection from attacks and lowers the chance of incoming attacks finding their targets.

The primary interface when not on an active mission has seen significant improvement over the original game. We can see a true representation of our subterranean base and the facilities it contains. From this primary screen we can access Research, Engineering, Soldier management and the situation room, where the mysterious council reviews our progress and offers special missions.

As with the original, there is no real control of air-to-air combat as you attempt to shoot down alien vessels. In fact so far there is less control than in the 1994 version, where you could assign attack profiles such as max range and aggressive.

Combat: 9/10

While it does not have the haunting eeriness of the original, where alien movements were obscured in darkness yet their actions could be heard by players, leaving us with lingering footsteps and the screams of dying civilians, this iteration has an excellent combat engine. Alien movement outside of our units’ line of sight is hidden as it was in the original – we do not receive the echo of their actions in our ears.

The aliens react to our presence as they are uncovered and in most cases seek cover immediately. The AI of the alien forces is once again amazing – enemy units will coordinate and attempt to outflank player’s soldiers as well as opting to launch grenades if our units are clustered. Enemy units also retreat and regroup regularly making the higher difficulty settings a steep learning curve for those new to the franchise.

Customisation: 7/10

Firaxis’ edition of Enemy Unknown continues the XCOM series’ excellent customisation abilities. Players, depending on their preference for research can equip soldiers and craft with alien technologies throughout the game as well as customising appearances and names of soldiers.

Bases are customisable in their layouts to a degree, however the bonuses for having similar facilities adjacent to one another discourages it.

The difficulty settings also offer a degree of customisation within the game – on the higher difficulty settings, particularly classic (a nod to veterans of the original) sees amazing reactionary movements and strategy development from the AI.

Overall: 8/10

It’s fairly obvious that I was a huge fan of the original XCOM game, and indeed the majority of the series. As I mentioned earlier in the review I was very keen to play this version of one of my all-time favourite games. I have put aside WoW to a large extent over the past week to play XCOM, which will give readers an idea of how much I am enjoying this game. It also offers a nice introduction to new players to a genre that has been largely absent from the gaming community for a long time.

Through The Mist: Pandaria Daily Quests

Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

I was hoping to do a review of the Looking For Raid difficulty level of Mogu’shan Vaults in this piece. Unfortunately, with uni work due and the reluctance of a fresh raid to pop up (so far I have had the option to join raids with at least 2 bosses down) I have been unable to get a decent feel for the raid. So more on that in a later column.

I have elected to go with a look at the various dailies we have access to in Mists of Pandaria. Ever since the release of Wrath of the Lich King, players have been accustomed to fast, efficient reputation grinds. We hit max level, or even smiley equipped a tabard as we levelled and our reputation levels increased as mob kills in dungeons accumulated. Those days are well and truly over – whether you liked the speed with which you maxed out reputation and acquired items or hated it, Blizzard have returned to the grind method of reputation gain.

Daily quests have superseded Tabards and dungeons as the way in which reputation is gained. While not all of the dailies unlock at level 90, a huge portion of them do. Daily quests have been a part of the game for several years now and in this expansion they have truly stepped into the WoW spotlight.

Prior to the launch of Mists of Pandaria the vast majority of dailies included killing x amount of mobs or collecting x amount of an item. Whilst this style of daily quest is still present, the sheer amount of variety in daily quests has greatly increased. We now have access to quests such as the Tillers dailies which range from planting, watering and harvesting crops to stomping on marmots and Virmen.

Pandaria Daily Quests

The quests for the Order of the Cloud Serpent include quests to play catch with a future companion and we also have access to archaeology and pet battle dailies (provided certain achievements have been met).

Love them or hate them, daily quests are here to stay in Pandaria and I am of the opinion that it is a good thing. By tying reputation to daily quests Blizzard have put a hard cap on just how much reputation we can gain per day. This enables them to control the rate at which people can gear up and progress through content.

What’s your take?

Through The Mist: Hot Fixes and Mists of Pandaria Sales Numbers

mists of pandaria sales numbers
Through the Mist is a regular column from Luke Le Page covering everything World of Warcraft. If you’d like something covered in a future column, drop us a line!

This week has seen some a number of changes to pre-raid gearing for this expansion. Justice Point items (pre- raid blue items) have had their ilvl increased to match that of their pvp counterparts AND they have had the reputation requirements removed. Epic items, which had a faction requirement of revered, have been lowered to honoured.  The blue post can be seen in the list of 5.05 hotfixes

This is all great for the casual players except for one minor problem. The ilvl requirement for joining the random dungeon finder to run heroics, which required ilvl 450, now requires 435 ilevel, which players should have prior to reaching level 90. I was at 449 when I dinged. So basically Blizzard have made the items more accessible but also pointless as players can run heroics for higher level items without spending justice points.

There has been quite the negative reaction to Blizzard’s return to the reputation grind by the general community and it appears Blizzard have been listening. There are a number of changes in the works, though they are not yet finalised they could include increased reputation gain on alts when a main characters has achieved exalted reputation; a list of ideas being tossed around can be found here –

This week also saw the release of Blizzard’s initial Mists of Pandaria sales numbers which you can see in this press release. While it does not give a whole lot of detail in regards to the sales breakdown, I am quite interested to see how digital sales compared to box; it does give us the ball park figure of 2.7 million sales. I will leave it to the guys in the podcast to analyse this as they seem to have a better grasp on these things than I do. (Methinks the author is being too kind – Ed.)

We also saw the clearing of all gold challenge mode dungeons. MMO-Champion have an excellent rundown of the numbers on their chart here. It also saw the completion of Mogu’shan vaults by Exodus and if I am not mistaken the first raid was cleared the day it went live.

We also saw the start if Arena season 12 – while I do not personally arena I will try and keep up to date on the happenings to relay via this column.

Lastly I wanted to mention an addon I recently downloaded for pet battles. Petjournal enhanced has all the features that I wish Blizzard had included. It allows you to sort pets by level, rarity, type  and specialisation as well as offering you the option to filter pets by the zone that you are in to make identifying uncaptured pets easy. I have to say that since downloading this I have already captured a number of pets I had no idea existed. So if you’re into pet battles check it out.