So Wednesday when the mail arrived it contained something I had completely forgotten about. The newest installment of the World of Warcraft Magazine. That same day they also released an online preview. The preview is massive, 40 pages of unedited content directly from the magazine. Considering the issue is only 144 pages in length this is MORE than an adequate idea of the content contained within. Between the Plate wearer and my oldest son I didn't manage to snatch it and read it for myself until yesterday. Since Kaelynn from Azure Shadows has also done a rather extensive review I will try to avoid repeating to much of what she has already discussed. I will attempt to keep this review general but there will be some spoilers so proceed at your own risk.
As with the first installment this magazine is artistically gorgeous, with both professional and amateur full color renderings, as well as black and white sketches. In addition it is a high quality publication more in keeping with a paperback coffee table book than a magazine. While the first volume content was dated before it was even released this one contains some information on upcoming content along with information on current endgame. They seemed to have learn some things from their first issue as well. First, while the silver embossed ink is still prevalent, it is generally used on dark backgrounds rather than light making it easier to read. By-lines are included so you know who wrote the article or at the very least credit is given within the article to the contributors . Furthermore the heavy cover is a fold out which works great as a bookmark.
Of the 27 articles contained in this issue my favorite by far was the interview with the quest design team right at the very beginning. The six designers discussed just how they each come up with the quests for the various zones, how long it usually takes them and one of the best features of the article was their discussion on both the quests they are most proud of creating (Lament of the Highborn for example) as well as quests they tell new designers to avoid because of their infamy (Fires over Skettis or The Alchemist's Apprentice stand out). They also discussed the pop culture references contained within the game and how those generally come about. It is obvious from the interview that these guys are a TEAM, collaboration is high and encouraged which helps to give World of Warcraft a cohesive feel as you journey around it. Some of the newer quests they discuss sound REALLY cool.
Another article that I enjoyed was the one discussing the Lore of the Dragons. This particular one is contained in the on line preview and is just as comprehensive. The "family trees" are particularly interesting as they show the relationships between each of the in game dragons players are familiar with. My only disappointment was it only deals with the five specific dragon flights. While the Netherdrakes and Protodrakes ARE mentioned, it is only briefly to explain their place in the over all family trees of the main five.
Two other articles of particular interest in this issue focused on the upcoming changes we with Cataclysm. The first went over each zone that Blizzard has stated will undergo massive reorganization and mentioned specific quests you may want to enjoy one last time before they are lost forever. Some of the quests they mentioned I was anticipating loosing like Mankrik's Wife and all of the Mirage Raceway. However there were a few I was surprised they DIDN'T mention like Lonebrow's Journal or Pamela. The second article presented screen shots to give you a tease of just HOW massive the landmass changes will be including Gadgetzan as beachfront property and the Blasted Lands looking more like a swamp. Of particular interest to me are the changes that the major cities will be undergoing. Orgrimmar we know is getting a massive overhaul so that it will most closely resemble the Horde keeps seen in Northrend, but Stormwind Keep will ALSO be undergoing some massive restructuring. My only disappointment with these changes is that it certainly means certain NPC's like Gamon and Hogger could be disappearing from our collective experience.
The feature recurring subjects such as Pvp, Arena, Tanking, Healing and Damage dealing are all still there, general enough as to not date TO quickly. The community article for this issue looked into FingerPrints and spoke with their CEO Ed Fries. Specifically the articles focus on the new Busts being offered and how that all came about as well as the original full scale renderings. While these are items still well out of my price range it was interesting to see such detailed photos of the final products. As well as learn a little bit more about their costumer service.
Final verdict? While this is still a rather pricey item they seem to be improving as time goes on and I am looking forward to the next installment.