1

ZAM Game of the Year Awards 2014: Recap

This week we awarded our top gaming picks of 2014. It wasn't easy; there were many stand-outs this year!

Our Expansion of the Year award went to World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor. ZAM's VP of Technology, Michael "Argo" Ender, said that "World of Warcraft fell off my radar a bit after Wrath. With WoD they made the WoW game I've always wanted to play. Thank you Blizzard!" President Cody "Micajah" Bye added that the release of Draenor "revitalized an entire game." Check out contributing writer Michael "Ragar" Branham's story about how Warlords drew him back to Warcraft in our Expansion of the Year article.

Consoles saw a lot of new titles this year, but Destiny took the prize home for our Console Game of the Year award. Bungie reached for excellence and delivered on many levels with the title that has half of our staff hopelessly addicted. It may not be all roses, as ZAM Deputy Editor Colt "ShdwFlm" Casey mentions in our Console Game of the Year article, but at its core Destiny is a fun experience with room to improve.

PC gamers were treated to a plethora of excellent titles this year, with BioWare's Dragon Age: Inquisition landing our PC Game of the Year award. The in-depth story and replayability ultimately won many of us over as we took the Qunari by the horns and laid waste to all who stood to oppose Thedas. Managing Editor Ann "Cyliena" Hosler talked about how DAI excelled on every level in our PC Game of the Year article.

Finally, we looked forward to what next year will bring and agreed that Overwatch, which Blizzard unveiled during this year's BlizzCon, is our Most Anticipated Game of 2015. Project Manager Katie Welka teared up at the epic cinematic trailer, while Colt admitted that he gets the feels every time he watches it. ZAM's Brand Ambassador, Lindsay "Geektr0n" Ferguson, teamed up with Ann to explain why Overwatch is the game we all should be eagerly awaiting in our Most Anticipated Game of 2015 article.


Thanks for joining us for another fantastic year in gaming! We hope everyone is having a great holiday week and look forward to seeing what 2015 will bring!

ZAM Awards 2014: Expansion of the Year

World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor

When I originally heard about Warlords of Draenor, I was excited, but a bit worried about the premise. As much as I liked the idea of fighting these big name Orc Warlords and seeing how powerful they truly could be when free of the Burning Legions corruption, when you mix in time travel and alternate realities into any fiction, things always have the potential to go off the rails and end up a mess. World of Warcraft has dealt with time travel in the past with dungeons and even the Mount Hyjal raid, but this is an entire expansion built around having an alternate reality invade our own? Can something like this really hold up to scrutiny? In a word: absolutely. For a longer description, Ill use my own starting experience to give an example.

Interview with Eternal Crusade's Miguel Caron

Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade has had quite a busy year. They launched their Founders Program after E3, shown numerous demonstrations of the current build on their Twitch livestream, talked about their design philosophies, and constantly polled their fans to make sure they were both staying true to the WH40K lore as well as making a game that will actually be fun. As 2014 comes to a close, Behaviour Interactive will do their final Twitch stream of the year today at 1:30pm ET, but theyre planning on going out with a bang.

Theyll have a never-before-seen war zone, a Razer giveaway, and more! On top of all that, they released more details on what F2P players will get to experience on Arkhona as one of the Ork Boyz. To bring us up to speed prior to the stream, ZAM spoke with BIs Studio Head Miguel Caron to learn whats happening in this corner of the 40K universe.

A Guided Tour of Landmark's Largest Update

Landing today, the largest update for Landmark so far is set to shake the foundations of the game. We were lucky enough to get a guided tour of what’s inbound from Director of Development Dave Georgeson and Senior Producer Terry Michaels.

After much time spent on polishing the building tools and laying the foundations of core systems, SOE is ready to unleash some features that signal a leap forward towards the game's ultimate destination. While Landmark has provided an excellent canvas for builders, the time has come to add the elements that make Landmark a full game, and this update includes a sizeable chunk of them.

There’s so much, in fact, we’re going to break it down into sections for the sake of clarity. There will be some overlap, but it’ll save me from going insane as my nerd brain tries to communicate all the awesome all at once. Have you ever heard a 7 year old excitedly explain Minecraft to a patient relative? It would be like that.

The Cave System

There are already surface caves to run around and get lost in, but this update is going to push them all the way down through Landmark’s massive underground space. As players travel deeper through the five layers the risks get riskier as the rewards get rewardier.

Featuring developer and player-made structures and points of interest, much larger caverns will be scattered underground, these will be the best places to find monsters and are intended to be quite a challenge for a lone player.

The team want these places to feel dangerous and to have an element of risk, which is why teleporting works a little differently underground.

A temporary change for this update actually sees the removal of surface caves, so we won’t be running down into the network from the surface for a while. Access to the underground areas will be via the Leyline point at the Hub. Surface caves are due to return for open beta, when the islands will be reformed. This means there is no chance currently that players will lose a claim to a pesky cave placement.

Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth Review

Beyond Earth — A Review From TotalNoob, aka Lindsay Geektron

Allow me to preface everything I say below with an admission: I’ve never played any Civilization games prior to Beyond Earth. None. In fact, the last “strategy” game I played was SimCity 2000. In 1998.

Beyond Earth is a turn-based strategy game built on the Civilization V engine and formula, but unlike previous Civilization games, it abandons the historical context which made earlier iterations so popular, and instead tosses you onto a new planet in the future, which you must then colonize. Folks have been comparing this game to Civ V and Alpha Centauri, which I find ironic, given that Firaxis cannot seem to escape its past even when dealing with the future.

Dragon Age: Inquisition - Full Review

Dragon Age: Inquisition — ZAM's Complete Review

I'm sure most of us have a favorite genre or series that we currently or at one point devoted hundreds of hours of our life to. It takes a special game to grab our attention and keep us entertained for hours, and with the number of games that are released every month, there's a lot tugging our attentions every which-way.

As I mentioned in my impressions article of Dragon Age: Inquisition, the game showed a lot of promise from an early first look. Since then I've devoted a lot of time into the story, and still have some more to go, but Inquisition definitely has that "wow" factor. The world of Thedas has captivated me with its deep story, cast of characters and expansive world.

If you're looking for a tl;dr, then here it is: you should be playing Dragon Age: Inquisition the moment it releases on Tuesday, November 18th (November 21st in the EU). Now let's get into what gives this RPG the legs to stand above many others.

Aeos Rises: A Look at Stormthrone's History

Stormthrone: Aeos Rising is an upcoming F2P browser-based experience by R2Games, styled in the tradition of MMORPG classics. Alpha kicks off this this week so today we're delving into the game's backstory!

The History of Stormthrone

In between plugs for pre-Alpha minigames (from which you can earn codes for in-game currency before the Alpha begins on November 19th) and comedic glimpses into the work life of monsters, R2Games has been quietly posting surprisingly rich lore nuggets about Stormthrone's game world.

About its game universe, actually. By the time you reach the end of "Aeos Rises: Part 1", Aeos hasn't even been created yet – but a great war has broken out between the pioneer gods who colonized an empty universe and the demons that live to destroy it. It's deep stuff, and while it's not like gods and demons ever get along in most fantasy worlds, there's enough style to make it worth taking a look.

Part 2 starts out with a poetic look at Stormthrone's demons:

Evolve: Big Alpha Impressions

The Evolve Big Alpha weekend was definitely a blast; nearly every top-tier journalism site started tossing out alpha codes by the thousands and the masses gobbled them up for the weekend to test out the game servers. Streamers, YouTube personalities, weekend adventurists and even teenage brothers and sisters joined the massive asymmetrical shootfest of man against monstrosity. An impressive turnout definitely helped 2K Games / Turtle Rock to turn development and server testing towards the right direction, but is it enough to promise that the game will have lasting power? We take a look.

Dragon Age: Inquisition - First Impressions

First Impressions: Inquisition

Dragon Age: Inquisition, the biggest RPG to-date that BioWare has built, releases next Tuesday. I stepped into the world of Thedas this week to take my first look at what Inquisition has to offer, and so far have not been disappointed.

Dragon Age Keep
The Dragon Age Keep is a companion website to help track your story you've created in the Dragon Age series. By using important decisions from Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age II, the Keep re-creates your world history and presents it to you.

If you're like me and this is your first Dragon Age game, the Keep still is relevant. A default story will play for you, and at crucial moments you can choose different outcomes to events. After the story completes you will be presented with tiles of events -- your Tapestry -- from the games and can choose to either lock those choices, keep them as-is and unlocked, or select a different scenario.

The Dragon Age Keep is available to everyone now, and Inquisition will be added to it for launch day.

Stormthrone: Blacksmith and Battleground Previews

Stormthrone: Aeos Rising is an upcoming F2P browser-based experience by R2Games, styled in the tradition of MMORPG classics. R2Games has recently shared with us a preview of two exciting features in the game: the Blacksmith and the Battlegrounds.

Blacksmith

BIGGER sword, TOUGHER armor? Yes please, especially in a harsh land like Aeos. Let’s start by learning the arts of blacksmithing from the legendary Dirk Ironbraid!