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NPR Is Very Worried That Gaming Is Going To Turn Kids Into Nazis

NPR Is Very Worried That Gaming Is Going To Turn Kids Into Nazis

In journalism, no two things are more often and easily confused than “this wild thing is happening” and “this wild thing is happening, widely.” When the wild thing is, say, mad cow disease—an immediate threat to life— the problem of weighing particulars against a greater sense of scale is critical. Readers can gauge their threat levels and get on with things, or not. In mainstream coverage of gaming culture, the possibility of disaster is less immediate, but the problem of scale, lately, has become impossible to ignore.

Yesterday, NPR published an article titled “Right-Wing Hate Groups Are Recruiting Video Gamers.” It’s the latest, most exaggerated version of a gaming-flavored narrative woven by elite media orgs in an apparent attempt to explain the rise of right-wing extremism in America. This article claims that games “have become one avenue for recruitment by right-wing extremist groups”; to support this, the reporter opens her story with a tale of a 15-year-old Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player whose father, John—no last name given—was one day startled to see neo-Nazi propaganda his son had printed out.

“There wasn’t anything obvious to me at first because it’s common,” said John about gaming. “This is the norm for kids. Instead of hanging out at the drive-in they’re all online.” (John’s son had, he said, been communicating with Nazi terrorist organizations, which were apparently attempting to recruit the 15-year-old.) The end of the story—prepare for a guttural cringe—is this: “It took time, but lately, John says, his son, now 16, seems to have left these ideas behind. He’s playing fewer networked shooter games, and on his own, he has started attending church.”

“Video games are a hundred billion dollar industry,” the article intones.

The powder-keg idea that Machiavellian deviants are dropping into online shooters to spew extremist propaganda and convert measurable numbers of gamers—significant enough numbers that the public should be alarmed!—is irresponsible to report on without some solid shit to go off of. This reporter, like many before her, did not have solid shit to go off of.

Over the last two years, political articles in publications like Salon, the New Yorker, The New York Times and the Washington Post have been including small nods toward the idea that the radical right owes some noteworthy part of its prominence to gamers. It’s not an outlandish idea, to be clear, that there’s a pipeline between the gaming and extremist right communities. Any time spent on Twitter, Reddit, or 4chan makes it abundantly obvious that the online alt-right draws some of its heroes and shitposting tactics from GamerGate, an outrage movement founded in some gamers’ negative reaction to the presence of “SJWs” in their community. Right-wing agitator Milo Yiannopoulos rose to prominence during GamerGate and subsequently transitioned into being an alt-right agitator; alt-right personality Mike Cernovich described GamerGate as “the most important battle of the culture war this century; hell, lawful-evil political figure Steve Bannon, who cultivated Yiannopoulos, raised money for a company that employed World of Warcraft gold-miners before moving to Breitbart, the hub of the alt-right. Taken even further, these celebrities’ viewpoints are the booming winds behind the sails of far-right extremism.

If you know anything about 2018, it’s that a lot of people are very vocal about abhorring political correctness, and that a lot of people are Nazis. Some of them are gamers. The existence of a shared language, and a shared belief system, does not mean that right-wing extremists are literally recruiting gamers to their cause—or at least doing so widely. It would be convenient if it were true; there’s just not much evidence that it is.

Yesterday’s NPR article, which attempted to make this case, was riddled with the sort of factual elisions one would expect out of propaganda journalism. On the basis of one real-life example and three interviews with apparent experts, the writer claims that gamers are getting plucked out of shooty-shooty games and dropped right into neo-Nazi forums. The most basic problem here feels beneath mention: inflating one anonymous father and his anonymous son’s journey through the bad net into an entire movement is preposterous. Had the reporter spoken to even two, three or four kids who had been rescued from the clutches of Fortnite extremists, it still wouldn’t have been enough. “Where,” one would ask, “is the sense of scale?”

This sort of lapse in research could be partially resolved by some rock-solid specialist sources. One of the author’s experts is a well-respected media manipulation researcher at Data and Society, an institute that studies online culture; another is a lawyer who represents game companies. Fine. The final and most influential source source for “Right-Wing Hate Groups Are Recruiting Video Gamers,” though, is a man named Christian Picciolini, a former skinhead whose Free Radicals project works to mitigate extremism.

Picciolini, who describes himself as a “former white supremacist leader,” came onto Kotaku’s radar in July, when he hosted a Reddit AMA. In it, he claimed that right-wing extremists go into multiplayer games to recruit vulnerable demographics into their cause. Intrigued, my colleague Kashmir Hill and I reached out to Picciolini to hear more. We were curious about the right-wing movers and shakers who could fit an entire political pitch into a Fortnite match.

When we asked Picciolini for evidence of his claim and an interview, he referred us to “the many who have experienced the recruitment” and attached a few screenshots of Nazi imagery in open world games like All Points Bulletin. He also forwarded a screenshot of the game Active Shooter, a school shooting simulator, which was pulled from Steam before its release. Another screenshot was from a YouTube video titled “Fag Jews” in which someone named AuTiSmGaMiNg played Call of Duty. It had 11 views.

A screenshot from a YouTube video titled “Fag Jews,” sent as corroboration for the idea that white supremacists are infiltrating games for the purpose of recruitment.
Image: Christian Picciolini
A screenshot from open world game All Points Bulletin
Image: Christian Picciolini

It’s hard to imagine that the blustering Picciolini has seen enough to make up for the NPR author’s otherwise sparse evidence, and if you have spent any time in an online multiplayer game, you know that some player-made digital swastika is as likely a product of some 12-year-old edgelords as it is of neo-Nazi propagandists seeking to turn the teens to their side. This leads to basic questions: Were any victims of the alleged conversion tactics interviewed? Any recruiters? If this is happening on a large scale, why haven’t any games journalists—and especially ones who spend countless hours each week playing online games—caught a whiff of this wild thing and reported on it?

NPR’s sources, at least as laid out in their report, simply do not provide adequate support for the claim that white supremacists are actively recruiting gamers on multiplayer games on a scale broad enough for anyone to be concerned about it. And to take it a step further, mainstream media publications claiming a clear pipeline between gamers and far-right extremists are buckling into a trope in normie games coverage that simply needs to end if anyone is going to responsibly cover the increasingly established gaming community: parental fear-mongering as journalism. It’s what turned the mainstream conversation around video game addiction into a hot-take circus of bad research and even worse interviewing tactics. It’s what’s completely distorted the scientific methods toward understanding whether violent games make kids more violent. And it’s the sort of thing that, in the ‘80s, led suburban parents to question whether their Dungeons & Dragons-playing teens were literal Satanists.

The NPR story’s author, who is a mother of two, wrote a book this year titled The Art of Screen Time: How Your Family Can Balance Digital Media and Real Life. Reached out to for comment, she did not respond. When I asked Picciolini why he feels confident stating that there is a pipeline between gamers and far-right extremists, he said this:

“I receive emails or calls weekly from parents concerned that their young sons are beginning to use language aligned with alt-right and white nationalist ideologies, narratives denying the Holocaust or defaming Jews, discussing conspiracy theories related to George Soros. Parents tell me time and time again that they believe that they are being influenced while playing multiplayer video games by other people participating in those games. It begins by using language like “f*ggot” and “n*gger” to desensitize them, followed by memes, then young people beging [sic] to parrot the words until they are led to forums on gaming sites or 4chan and 8chan.”

Games don’t need to be defended: They are the product of multi-million-dollar corporations who often rely on shady labor practices to meet corporate sales goals. Big-budget games are going to sell great basically no matter what. Gamers don’t need to be defended, either: They aren’t under siege as a class of person. What does need to be defended here is the principle that anything worth reporting on should be reported on responsibly.

When fear-mongering moves into spaces that require rigorous investigative reporting and large-scale interviewing, it stumbles into the danger zone of modern journalism: “This wild, but unlikely thing is happening, widely. Please panic.”

Falling into such a tired trope of blaming gaming for the bad in the world is, at this point, more than a little boring. About 70% of Americans play games. That’s a lot of people; among them will be some bad ones, and some who try to recruit other people to their bad causes. Framed slightly differently, this raises the prospect that awful things are happening, and, worse, that awful things are happening to your child while they do normal things like play Counter-Strike. Awful things are happening everywhere, though, possibly moreso in the games industry, and if we’re going to make any headway in doing something about it, or at least letting people decide whether it’s worth doing something about, it’s essential to have the facts straight.


Fan-Made PT Remake Captures The Original’s Terrifying Scares

Fan-Made PT Remake Captures The Original’s Terrifying Scares

P.T, the demo for , has gained a deep cult following since its release and eventual de-listing from the PlayStation store after Kojima split with Konami. A new PC remake captures most of the experience for those who don’t still have it on our PlayStations.

The PC remake was made by Artur Łączkowski and was still available for download as of time of publication. It recreates P.T’s iconic looping hallway and, while it doesn’t use the same character model as the infamous Lisa, features a terrifying ghost that can strike at any time. It’s not the first remake to be made; games like PT for PC and other projects have sought to recreate the game. They have inevitably fallen claim to takedown requests from Konami. Spiritual successor Allison Road was announced back in 2015 but hasn’t released yet. If you’re curious how this plays, you can watch five minutes down below. Gosh, P.T. scares the shit out of me still…

P.T. has captured players’ imaginations ever since its 2014 release. Secret hunters were turning up new content for as late as a year after release, and the design heavily influenced Resident Evil 7’s own secret-laden demo. Consoles with the game still on it have been known to sell for extreme prices, although sites like eBay cracked down during the height of these sales. Last week, rumors abounded that a new patch disabled the game for good on all remaining consoles, but that was thankfully untrue. Łączkowski has expressed interest in a Silent Hill 2 remake, but it remains to be seen if that project will be squashed by Konami. (Which it absolutely will be.) If anything else, he seems aware that this remake won’t last long.

“Guys, if you didn’t done it yet, you can still play my P.T. Remake,” he said in a tweet. Do it ASAP before Konami shut it down!”


Black Ops 4 players won’t stop turning this SMG into a damn power drill

Black Ops 4 players won’t stop turning this SMG into a damn power drill

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 features a really cool tool where players can create their own custom paintjobs for their guns. Ideally, such a system would be used to create beautiful skins like this Nerf inspired sniper or this badass sidearm that reminds me of something I’d loot in Destiny 2. But instead, Black Ops 4 players seem obsessed with making the Saug 9mm uzi look like various brands of power drills for some damn reason.

The trend appears to have started two days ago with redditor johnny_no_smiles who first realized the uncanny likeness that the Saug has with the Bosch PSB 1800 LI-2cordless power drill. Everyone had a good laugh and thought it was a clever idea for a gun skin. But I guess there exists some kind of esoteric rivalry between drill manufacturers because not even a day later redditor HplusGaming chimed in with his own Saug drill lookalike but with DeWalt branding. “DeWalt makes quality drills, c’mon now,” they wrote.

The bit caught on, and over the last day several members of the Black Ops 4 subreddit have contributed their own versions of the Saug 9mm, presumably each repping their favorite brand of power drill. The comments of each of these posts is filled with players repping their favorite brand. “Milwaukee is 1000 [times] better tho,” wrote ‘lets-trythis-again.’ Of course, being the internet, that just painted a target on this poor soul’s back, as other commenters promptly stepped in to say he’s wrong and that, in fact, Hilti makes the best drill—or so I thought.

“Hilti uses electronics that can only be programmed by the factory, and can’t be fixed be service centers,” argues one redditor. “Even then, Milwaukee’s hold up better in every tool class.”

“Bitch please, Milwaukee is absolutely professional grade,” a different one fires back. “You got no idea what you’re talking about.”

Meanwhile, every six hours or so, a new thread appears on the subreddit with a Saug 9mm redone as a different brand of tool and the argument reignites all over again. Black and Decker, Hilti, Makita, Milwaukee, and even Ryobi are all represented. And knowing how internet jokes work, I bet this is just the beginning.

Still, what’s troubling is that I’m actually in the market for a power drill and after skimming all of these comments I still don’t know which one would be the best purchase. But hey, the silver lining is that the next time someone respawns behind you and murders you so quickly you don’t even know what happened, you might get a good laugh when you realize they’re dual-wielding Bosch drills.


Our highest review scores of 2018 so far

Our highest review scores of 2018 so far

This week we’ve started discussing our GOTY picks for 2018. Since we first published this list in July, so many great games have arrived on PC—enough to fill the first two pages of what you’ll read below. Here you’ll find a mix of returning series, indie games, console titles that have finally made the journey to PC, and much more. We’ll update this list again before the end of the year, but you can be pretty certain that some of these games will figure heavily in our GOTY awards.

Football Manager 2019

Our review (90%) | Buy it: Steam

“Combine all of this with last year’s dynamics system and overhauled medical and scouting systems, and Football Manager 2019 marks another impressive stride forward for the all-encompassing footie management simulator. The long-serving series is the best at what it does, and will be forever judged on its incremental changes year-on-year. Not every annual update is a leap, but this instalment dazzles with both its headline features and a multitude of second tier improvements.”

Verdict: Football Manager returns with a kitbag full of new and overhauled features. It’s the best at what it does, and FM 19 is the best it’s ever been.

Bad North

Our review (78%) | Buy it: Discord

“If you can stomach the harsh consequences for failure then Bad North is a great little strategy game, perfect for playing on a break or in short bursts. I keep restarting in spite of the failures and the resets, so that probably speaks volumes for how compelling it is. There’s just something about watching those little sprites batter each other that keeps me coming back. At least until I burn my house down.”

Verdict: Mostly delightful and sometimes punishing, Bad North is a fun alternative to more complex strategy games.

Return of the Obra Dinn

Our review (90%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

“Return of the Obra Dinn is a stunningly clever thing and one of the best puzzle games on PC. It not only presents you with a vast, complex, and interconnected mystery to solve, but trusts in your intelligence enough to let you do it yourself with almost no hints, markers, or guides interfering in the process. Few games have this much confidence in the player, and it’s a deeply satisfying experience as a result, even if I did occasionally feel like I’d hit a dead end.”

Verdict: A beautifully constructed and powerfully atmospheric mystery that you really have to work to solve.


Our review (88%) | Buy it: Steam

“Wandersong might be the most heartfelt platformer that I’ve played since Night in the Woods. And while I don’t think its message is as specific or revelatory, it’s still a worthwhile and clever exploration of its themes, and a reminder that there’s joy in the act of play.”

Verdict: “I listened to Wandersong’s soundtrack while writing this review, and I’ve been happily jiggling my leg throughout.”


Our review (79%) | Buy it: Steam 

“Exapunks is a two-coffee game, one that requires focus and alertness. Even then, there’s a hard limit on how good I’ll ever be. I feel out of my depth, like a smart dog who graduated puppy school and has been put in a physics class. Infinifactory and Opus Magnum remain the Zachtronics games I’d recommend to people, but if you aced both of those and are ready to graduate, Exapunks is the next level.”

Verdict: Exapunks is a hacking game that will make you feel like a genius or an idiot—sometimes both in quick succession.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales

Our review (81%)| Buy it: GOG 

“Thronebreaker’s scenario variety is the crucial final element that makes it feel like time well spent, even as I approached the 30-hour mark. It’s too light on systems to be a fully fledged RPG, and too unbalanced to be robust and challenging card game. But through a great story, surprising, enjoyable encounters, and a new spin on The Witcher’s world, Thronebreaker carves out a niche that’s well worth your time.”

Verdict: A captivating story and varied card battles ensure this light-touch RPG remains entertaining throughout its lengthy campaign.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Our review (90%) | Buy it: Steam, Fanatical, uPlay 

“Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is enormous and beautiful, and it effortlessly ties action, stealth, sailing, faction control systems, mercenaries, and cultist hunting together into one cohesive game that, even after 50 hours, I want to keep playing. Odyssey is a lot more than just another Assassin’s Creed, it’s an RPG of unparalleled scale supplemented by satisfyingly layered and deep progression systems that each play their part in bringing ancient Greece to life.”

Verdict: Though the main story suffers because of it, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a remarkably massive RPG held together by a web of satisfying pursuits.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4

Our review (78%) | Buy it: 

“It can be hard to remember that this is the series that redefined the online shooter just a decade ago. Black Ops 4 is what it says on the back of the box, and little more, but the weapons are fun to use (particularly Prophet’s shock rifle, which never gets old) and its lighter, faster take on battle royale is best-in-class, at least at this early juncture for the genre. So even though nothing about it is surprising, this year’s CoD still gives me what I want after 15 years of blasting through the series: all-adrenaline, with guns that are a joy to use. That’s good enough for me.”

Verdict: A quality-made but unsurprising multiplayer FPS that offers refined versions of the current most popular modes and top-tier shooting.


Our review (83%) | Buy it: Origin 

“You can’t ignore FIFA 19’s obvious and sizeable qualities. Depending on your threshold for corniness, you could argue it’s worth it for The Journey Alone, and although PES feels like the more organic, spontaneous and subtle game of football, EA Sports’ latest effort isn’t far behind it. However, the significant new features feel a bit thin on the ground this year, and that shouldn’t be ignored.”

Verdict: Maintaining an almost impossible level of polish across its many modes, FIFA 19 might not eclipse PES 19 on the pitch, but it demonstrates its worth via The Journey.

Forza Horizon 4

Our review (89%) | Buy it: Microsoft Store 

“The best thing I can say about Forza Horizon 4 is it’s worth enduring the pain of the Microsoft Store for. But where Forza Horizon 3 quickly established itself as my favourite racing game, FH4 isn’t quite as noticeable a step up. It’s still an incredible sandbox, with a consistently satisfying loop of fun and rewards, but its differences won’t be apparent until the weeks and months to come, and the success (or not) of its seasonal event structure. What’s already here is beautiful, entertaining and polished, but it’s not yet clear if it can maintain the promise of the festival that never ends.”

Verdict: Unless you’re looking for a hardcore sim, Forza Horizon is still the best racing series around.

The Bard’s Tale 4: Barrows Deep

Our review (84%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

“I’ve sunk about 40 hours into The Bard’s Tale 4: Barrows Deep so far, and I’m not ready to hoist my ‘Saved the World’ tankard just yet. It’s a really big game. But even though I have yet to dispatch the latest and greatest threat to the city of Skara Brae—and the greater world of Caith, because the adventure goes far beyond Skara Brae’s walls—I am happy. This is the dungeon crawling adventure I’ve been waiting for.”

Verdict: An old-fashioned game in a shiny new package, The Bard’s Tale 4: Barrows Deep is a worthy addition to a classic series.

Valkyria Chronicles 4

Our review (86%) | Buy it: Steam, Fanatical

“It’s a pity that its moments of light relief sometimes strike the wrong note, and that later chapters introduce more far-fetched ideas that sit awkwardly next to the more sober character work. Yet these aren’t ruinous by any means: Valkyria Chronicles 4 has the narrative depth to match its tactical smarts, with enough small refinements to outrank its predecessors.”

Verdict: Combines robust storytelling with consistently inventive, surprising missions. 

Destiny 2: Forsaken (DLC)

Our review (86%) | Buy it: 

“It had a lot of mistakes to correct, and between an engaging campaign and an engrossing endgame, it’s managed to right almost all of them. I’m coming up on 100 hours logged in the expansion and I don’t even feel close to done, nor have I slowed down a bit. My friends and I have been burning the midnight oil and playing almost every night, which would’ve been unthinkable before. After a precarious first year, I’m finally enjoying Destiny 2 again. It feels good to have it back.”

Verdict: A fantastic course correction that makes Destiny 2 worth playing again. Here’s hoping the momentum lasts.

Frozen Synapse 2

Our review (85%) | Buy it: Steam 

“Frozen Synapse 2 is not a game of dice rolls or chance. Luck isn’t meant to be much of a factor. It’s about running the very same simulations your opponent is probably running too and then trying to get inside their head and figure out what they’ll do with that information. Just like in chess, it’s about seeing a good move and then looking for a better one.”

Verdict: Frozen Synapse 2 has plenty to offer with its campaign, but again, this sequel is at its best when playing against other fallible humans.


Our review (86%) | Buy it: Steam 

“So some of its systems are a little obtuse or would benefit from a bit of post-release tweaking but none of that got in the way of me properly losing myself in Megaquarium’s little world. The building is simple but fun, letting you shape your venue, but ultimately not distracting from the main draw: curating and caring for the fish.”

Verdict: A charming watery theme park management game where fish are friends, not food. Until they eat each other or you forget to feed them.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Our review (84%) | Buy it: Steam, Green Man Gaming

“The balance of puzzling, exploration, and action has always felt a little off to me in this modern incarnation of Tomb Raider, leaning a little too heavily and frequently towards the latter. But Shadow shows impressive restraint, rarely using combat as a crutch and focusing more on what makes this series special: namely, raiding tombs. And the tombs here are undoubtedly the star of the show, and some of the best in the series. 

Verdict: A greater focus on raiding tombs, and massively improved stealth combat, make this one of Lara Croft’s best modern adventures.

Two Point Hospital

Our review (87%) | Buy it: Steam, Fanatical 

“While Two Point Hospital does cover a lot of familiar territory, it doesn’t feel like it’s been rudely dragged out of the ‘90s. If you’ve been offering up stethoscopes to Hippocrates’ ghost for a new Theme Hospital, you’ll find it here; but if you’re not craving that fix of nostalgia, Two Points Studios’ spiritual successor will still keep you up to your elbows in corpses and icky illnesses until the wee hours of the morning.”

Verdict: Two Point Hospital is a brilliant management game, regardless of nostalgia.


Best PS4 Pro deals – get Sony’s 4K PS4 cheap (and get Red Dead 2 free)

Best PS4 Pro deals – get Sony’s 4K PS4 cheap (and get Red Dead 2 free)

Given the quality of the games we’ve had in 2018… a regular PS4 just isn’t enough any more. Hunting down a good PS4 Pro deal will allow you to play Red Dead Redemption 2 in glorious 4K, as it was intended, and you’ll be able to revisit some of the best games of the last few years and give them a new lease of life. God of War and Horizon Zero Dawn both look incredible with the extra visual fidelity. What’s more, PS4 Pro deals are cheaper now than they have ever been, making the premium console much more affordable.

So, what actually makes for the best PS4 Pro deal? Well, aside from the console you should be looking to get it with at least one great game. The hottest PS4 Pro package right now is the console + Red Dead Redemption 2, which you can pick up for $399 from, or £350 from Given that the PS4 Pro is usually $400/£350 with NO games, this means you’re getting one of the best experiences of 2018 for free. If Red Dead 2 isn’t for you, consider picking up a console with Spider-Man or God of War, for great value. If you just want to play Fortnite, you can find PS4 Pro deals which include free VBucks with each console. And, if you’ve already got all your games and are just looking to upgrade your console from a PS4 to a Pro… see if you can find a deal which includes a free DualShock or a few extra months of PS Plus. It all helps! And if you’re yet to take the plunge, here are the best 4K TVs for gaming right now.

Why buy a PS4 Pro?

If you own a 4K TV (or you’re considering picking one up) you can use a PS4 Pro to actually get things in 4K. Most modern PS4 games have a 4K option, and you’ll be able to access things like Netflix Premium, which has 4K and HDR enabled TV shows and movies. You can find out which PS4 titles support the feature in our list of every PS4 game with confirmed PS4 Pro support

The best PS4 Pro deals – console only

Most basic PS4 Pros come with a game nowadays (along with a controller, and all the cables you need to get started), and it seems. Red Dead 2 is the hotness, so the below deals include Red Dead 2 AND options for just the standard console, on its own. If you’ve already got Red Dead Redemption 2… just get the bundle, and sell your second copy / trade it in against another game. YES!

The best US PS4 Pro deals and bundles 

PS4 Pro 1TB console with Red Dead Redemption 2 for $399 from Amazon
Yeah, Red Dead 2 is all set to be the hottest game in the world. Grab this bundle and you essentially get Red Dead 2 for free. Saves you $60…View Deal

Limited Edition Star Wars Battlefront 2 PS4 Pro 1TB + game for $399 from Walmart
Nice. This PS4 Pro with Star Wars Battlefront 2 is limited edition, so getting it for $399 is genuinely good deal. It’s refurbished, but comes with a full warranty.View Deal

PS4 Pro + VR headset + Move controllers + 7 extra games for $1009 from NewEgg
Yes, this is $1000 for a games console but… you get HEAPS of value here, and if you’re looking to get into VR gaming this is a brilliant package.View Deal

The best UK PS4 Pro bundle deals 

PS4 Pro with Red Dead Redemption 2 for £350 from Amazon
Get yourself in the saddle with this PS4 Pro and the incredible Red Dead Redemption for £349. You essentially save £50.View Deal

PS4 Pro 1TB console + FIFA 19 for £350
FIFA fans can get their hands on this year’s title, that comes complete with FIFA 19 Ultimate Team Icons and Rare Player Pack. You’re getting FIFA and some goodies for free here.View Deal

PS4 Pro 1TB console with Spider-Man £349.85 from Ebay (ShopTo page)
This is the best price you’ll find a PS4 Pro with Spider-Man. Essentially you’re getting Spidey for free so… it’s a damn good deal. View Deal

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info. 


World of Warcraft: Classic is brutal and boring, but I love it anyway

World of Warcraft: Classic is brutal and boring, but I love it anyway

What World of Warcraft: Classic most certainly is not is a portal that leads back to a time when killing 15 boars felt exciting.

I can vividly remember that day in 2004 when I built myself a new computer after months of saving, just so I could play World of Warcraft. I had waited all damn evening for it to install, swapping out CDs the moment the prompt appeared. But it took too long. I only had about half an hour to play. I wandered the frigid tundra of Dun Morogh as a dwarf hunter I named Durian (I didn’t know it was a fruit at the time) before my mom forced me to bed. Despite her best attempts to ruin it, this was still a defining moment for me. In those short minutes, I glimpsed a virtual world beyond anything I could imagine.

World of Warcraft: Classic didn’t give me that same magical feeling. From the 60 minutes I played, the one thing I can definitely say is that I was pretty bored. When I first spawned into Westfall, it was overwhelming having to remember esoteric concepts patched out eons ago. Auto-attacking? Skill trees? Having to actually read quest text?

This is World of Warcraft almost exactly as it existed back in the day, before a decade of quality of life updates slowly transformed it into the Warcraft of modern times. What World of Warcraft: Classic most certainly is not is a portal that leads back to a time when killing 15 boars felt exciting. Just like all those times I dusted off old game disks and installed them hoping for that wonderful hit of nostalgia, Classic didn’t deliver—but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it. In fact, I feel just the opposite.

A trip down read-only memory lane 

World of Warcraft: Classic is a stubbornly authentic recreation that will likely turn away many players. Once the retro MMO novelty wore off, I remembered what a cruel game WoW used to be. In Westfall, my dwarf hunter accepted a quest to kill Defias bandits that had holed up in the nearby village of Moonbrook. I’m used to being able to fight up to a dozen enemies at once, elegantly mashing a sequence of hotkey abilities to easily dispatch them. But in Classic, pulling even just two enemies was a fatal error that I accidentally repeated again and again—each death requiring a painfully long run from the graveyard to my corpse.

It was frustrating, but that’s what I love the most about World of Warcraft: Classic. Though the graphics and interface look similar to the modern version, there’s also a mountain of nuances that make them feel like distinctly different games. Battle for Azeroth finely tunes WoW’s reward loop so that even players with 20 minutes can accomplish something meaningful. In Classic, by contrast, I spent 20 minutes just trying to find some dude’s wife for a quest that offered an almost insulting number of experience points. And that’s just the tip of the Classic iceberg.

Each class comes equipped with a wealth of skills that are cool on paper but aren’t very necessary, like hunters being able to temporarily see through the eyes of their pet. Combat feels significantly slower, and there’s just not a lot to do outside of quests that ask you to kill a dozen or so of the same monster.

During my second tour of the 60 minute demo, I started an undead rogue and took on a quest to gather mushrooms from a nearby oasis guarded by centaurs. These aggressive monsters were scattered so densely around the oasis that it was hard not to draw the ire of two or more at a time, and that tension was captivating. I had to carefully consider each step I took into the shade of the exotic trees that circled the waters.

Though the combat might be a lot slower, I like that there’s a greater emphasis on the moment-to-moment struggle between me and an opponent. I don’t feel like a god-slaying badass when my abilities frequently miss or are blocked outright. I don’t feel like a hero when all it takes is two raptors to pull me apart like a wet napkin. And, compared to the years I’ve spent being Azeroth’s champion, that contrast is satisfying.

All of these ugly, sharp edges ooze flavor and personality you just don’t see as often in modern MMOs. Classic is eccentric and weird, and it doesn’t give a damn how many abilities you have on your action bar or how balanced they might be. MMOs in the early 2000s could be weird and misshapen before everyone else in the genre started following Warcraft’s example.

The joy of old school WoW wasn’t from how much you could accomplish in one evening, but just the fact that you were there.

I especially love how those idiosyncrasies help create a sense of immersion. Any WoW player can wax on about how flying mounts and easy fast-travel options killed the sense of scale of Azeroth, but those are just symptoms of a bigger shift in design. World of Warcraft used to be a slow game, one that skirted boredom constantly. But that uncompromising pace left you with no other choice but to find some way to appreciate the little things, like saying hello to a stranger you pass on the road. The joy of old school WoW wasn’t from how much you could accomplish in one evening, but just the fact that you were there.

When Blizzard first announced Classic, I was ho-hum about it, but I’m beginning to see the appeal. This demo helped me realize that there was nothing inherently wrong with how World of Warcraft used to play, but Blizzard just patched it anyway because, well, that’s what you do with an MMO. That ceaseless need to innovate and iterate has birthed a World of Warcraft that is, today, a fundamentally different game, all about rewarding players no matter how much time they have to play in a given week. Classic, by contrast, relishes in the slow burn of a journey that can take months. They’re two very different games with two very different visions, and I like both of them. 

If you fell out of love with Azeroth at some point, I’m not sure World of Warcraft: Classic will rekindle those feelings. This is not some magical artifact that can breathe life into my fading nostalgia for those wonderful, adolescent internet years. I now realize it was silly to ever expect it to. But World of Warcraft: Classic does make a strong argument that new isn’t always better and that, even if something is ugly and janky, it can still have its charms. 


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