I finally had the chance to sit down and read through the pages of the first issue of the WOW magazine. I thought I would share some of my thoughts and impressions in case any of you out there are interested in getting a subscription in the future, or are waiting impatiently for your copy to arrive.
For those of you who don’t know, this is a quarterly publication that Blizzard is introducing as a subscription only product. The subscription will run you $39.95 for one year or $69.95 for two (in the US anyways – it is printed for other countries but I’m not sure of the cost). I was originally on the fence about whether to get it or not, but Jardal was kind enough to get me a subscription for my birthday (which was back in September – I’ve been waiting a long time for this darn thing. Also, wtf Figure Prints, where is my Onyxia Whelping that was supposed to be a Christmas present?)
I would recommend that anyone interested in the magazine also check out the preview that was posted a few weeks ago.
They promised stunning visuals, and they do not fail to deliver. This magazine is filled to the brim with glossy, high resolution art and screenshots. The ink in the magazine is very vibrant (including the unusual silver ink that decorates almost every page in some way), and the paper stock is high quality. The cover is thick – more paper-back book than magazine. The image of Arthas and Sylvanas on the cover of this issue really comes alive with their use of texture and gloss.
The layout of the magazine is very pleasing to the eye, and easy to follow. Future PLC, the publishers, are obviously very skilled at layout for print. Each page is very different from the next, while maintaining a consistent theme.
The custom art throughout the magazine is beautiful, depicting subjects from Grunty the Murloc Marine, to Gnomes, to Deathwing himself. The screenshots used throughout are probably the highest resolution that I’ve ever seen. A lot of concept art from Icecrown and Cataclysm is also interspersed through the issue.
Some of the features in this issue are: a Mike Morhaime interview, 5th Anniversary look back, Cataclysm Preview, and Icecrown Preview. The rest of the articles run the gamut of WOW interests, from PVP, to Trading Cards, to Crusader’s Coliseum tactics, to Pet Collecting. The magazine definitely does a good job of covering a wide variety of topics – I can’t think of a single aspect of the game they didn’t address in some way. They interviewed a lot of WOW players and guilds for personal stories, tactics, and quotes to add to the articles.
Most of the “news” was nothing new, and some articles had an outdated feeling to them. This is partially due to the fact that print medium will never be able to keep up with the rapidly evolving MMO universe. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt though – they did lose their original editor. It is possible that they intended this issue to be sent out before or around 3.3, in which case it would have been more current.
I loved seeing the Cataclysm preview, even though nothing was really new. It got me all excited again seeing the drawings of the Barrens torn asunder, and the new Guild interface with talent trees and news feed.
I did notice was a very strong hint towards Gnomes and Trolls getting their own city or area, from one of the developers. They mentioned that Garrosh kicks any non-orcs or non-tauren from Ogrimmar - so where would Trolls go? And there has been talk of Gnomeregan being retaken finally.
They also talked about the restructured leveling experience, and mentioned that they are going to add more ports to allow levelers to easily transition back and forth between Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor. Hooray, more boats and zeppelins!! There was a quote from Tom Chilton that discussed that they’re going to change some of the annoying send-you-all-over-the-world quests, like the Shaman totem quests to make them more fun. He said that to be Epic, a quest doesn’t need to take forever – it has to have a good story arc, and good rewards. If they do send you around the world they’ll give you reasonable tools to do so.
I enjoyed the interview with Breanni from WarcraftPets.com a lot, as well as some of the “looking back” stuff where they showed the original alpha WOW interface, and explained how rest XP used to work. The lore articles about Deathwing, Sylvanas, etc are great for people who haven’t read the Warcraft novels (and even I enjoyed a refresher).
I mostly just skimmed through the tactics sections, as I’m not all that interested in PVP and am currently not doing any raiding. The Trial of the Crusader tactics are probably useless to most people in raiding guilds, since they’ve moved on to Icecrown. They did take the time to interview people from top guilds like Ensidia for the tips though, which was a nice touch. I’ll probably refer to that section if I ever get to TOC.
There was an article about Healer UI’s that I found interesting, although I’m sure you can find similar information available online. There were also articles about tanking, dps, and healing. The dps article was outdated, unfortunately, due to changes to rogue poison mechanics in 3.3.
In the end, the information in the magazine can almost all be found online somewhere. If you read a number blogs, you’ve probably heard it all before – and any information that does get leaked from it will quickly appear online, so you’re not missing out on news if you don’t purchase it. The main appeal in this magazine lies in its visual presentation, and overall polish. The custom artwork is a site to behold. It’s also very nice to sit down and read something in print for a change – my eyes start hurting after staring at the computer all day. The writing is professional and well structured.
This is just the first issue, so things may change as the magazine progresses. It certainly has potential. I’m hoping they can get it out in a little more timely fashion next quarter. I would also love to see more of the Fan artwork section – some of these were brilliant. The “inside Blizzard” type stuff is also quite welcome, such as the interview with Mike Morhaime, and the random quotes from developers throughout – more of this please! It’s nice to have another “official” source of information.
The cost may seem a bit steep, but the more I think about it, the more I realize it’s probably fair. When you buy a random magazine in a super-market, it would probably run you at least $3 and contain about 10 pages worth of actual content (the rest of the pages being ads). The WOW Magazine is $10 per issue or less, and contains over 140 pages worth of content and beautiful images. If you’re the type to buy Collectors Editions of the expansion packs, WOW figurines and artbooks, or just enjoy having nerdy things laying on your coffee table, then this is probably worth it. For the rest of you, go ahead and sit back and laugh at suckers like me who buy this kind of stuff.