Archive for the ‘MMO Games’ Category

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Audiobook Review: Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

May 16, 2016

Durotan audio

Warcraft: Durotan by Christie Golden

Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars

Genre: Fantasy, Media Tie-In

Series: Warcraft

Publisher: Audible Studios (May 3, 2016)

Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Narrator: Toby Longworth

Warcraft: Durotan is the official prequel novel to the Warcraft movie, set to hit theaters later this summer. As a fan of the game franchise, I almost feel like I have an obligation to go out and see this film, though whether or not it’ll actually be good remains to be seen. Call me cynical, but I’ve been burned way too many times by underwhelming movie adaptations, and so while part of me is excited to finally see one of my favorite games come to life on the big screen, I will also remain cautiously optimistic for now.

Still, I picked up this book because I knew I would want the background story. A lot of people don’t realize that Warcraft is more than just a game series—it’s also an immense, indescribably huge body of lore. Its world encompasses a countless number of locations and characters, and its history stretches back thousands upon thousands of years. And as much as I enjoy playing the games, in some ways I enjoy hearing about the stories even more. I love the epic tales of legendary heroes, reading about their great deeds and how they made their mark on the world of Warcraft and its history.

The Frostwolf orc clan chieftain Durotan is one of these legendary figures. The eponymous main character of this novel will also be one of the key players in the upcoming film, and this is the story of how he led his people out of the dying lands of Draenor to find their home in a new world.

When the book begins, Draenor is already on the brink of destruction. With the spirits of the elements weakened, winters are becoming increasingly harsher and the dwindling herds mean that the orcs will soon have to abandon their territory or face death by exposure and starvation. However, when a mysterious warlock named Gul’dan arrives with an offer to save them, the Frostwolf Clan decides to turn him away, preferring to maintain their independence. No stranger to tough times, Durotan believes it would be better to take their chances on their own rather than join the outsider’s “Horde”, especially since he does not trust the warlock. But while the Frostwolf may be one of the last clans to hold out, things in Draenor are going from bad to worse, and soon they too will have to make a decision on how to move forward, or risk dying with their homeland.

Believe it or not, finishing this book actually made me feel more confident about the movie. The events portrayed here offer us a solid foundation and a promise of some fantastic things to come. But then again, it’s Christie Golden. She’s written some of my favorite Warcraft and Star Wars novels of all time, and I knew even before going into this novel that it was going to be great. I’m beyond excited that this was everything I expected, especially since Durotan’s story was one that I’ve always wanted to get to know better.

I’m also pleased that this novel was entirely about the orcs. I say this even as a diehard Ally, as I honestly believe not enough attention is being given to the races of the Horde when it comes to media tie-ins, plus fantasy in general can be so human-centric. It’s easy to get caught up in the faction pride sometimes, reducing the “other guys” to nothing more but enemies to kill, but the truth is, orcs are a complex race with values deeply rooted in their society and culture. We get to see many examples of this in Warcraft: Durotan, as our protagonist realizes that being a leader is about more than just his strength and pride. Wisdom is just as important, as is compassion—even for your enemies. Durotan often finds himself torn between his honor and what he knows is best for his people, but knowing when to listen and when you have to sacrifice for the greater good are just some of the lessons he learns first as the Frostwolf’s chieftain, and then as a husband and a father-to-be. This book is simple filled to the brim with all these feels.

Kudos also goes to Toby Longworth for doing a superb job narrating the audio version. He has a very strong voice, great for reading fantasy novels and perfect for capturing the personalities of larger-than-life characters like Durotan. In addition, this audiobook was very easy to get into; at seven-and-a-half hours in length, I finished this one in good time, probably within two or three listening sessions. Finally, the audiobook ends with an audio excerpt of the “sequel”, which is the novelization of the movie itself, also written by Christie Golden.

If you plan on seeing Warcraft, I highly recommend picking up Warcraft: Durotan first, because it shows a larger picture and puts some of the movie’s events in context. Lore hounds will also love this book, especially if you want deeper insight into those who had a hand in shaping the face of Azeroth. All told, this is a wonderful, fascinating look into the life of Durotan, who is the loving mate of Draka, a contemporary of Orgim Doomhammer, and the future father of one of Warcraft’s most prominent characters.

***A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Battle Bards Episode 74: Black Desert Online

May 3, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

This eastern sandbox import has many people playing and talking about it, but are they listening to Black Desert Online? The Battle Bards are, naturally, and in this conversation-packed episode, they charge through this fantasy soundtrack to glean the best and discard the rest!

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Black Desert Online

Episode 74 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Majesty” and “Keplan”)
  • “Main Theme”
  • “Town of Glycidyl/Glish”
  • “Discovery Theme”
  • “Tavern Theme”
  • “Road to Valencia”
  • “Trent Village Ambience”
  • “Media Horse Riding”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks: “Gravity Falls Mystery Tour” from Disney Infinity, “Makura Kouji” from Mushishi, and “Animal Apogee” from RuneScape
  • Outro (feat. “Nighttime”)
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Battle Bards Episode 71: Ragnarok Online 2

March 22, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Let’s get this out of the way up front: No, Ragnarok Online 2 isn’t the type of game that you’d think would have a terrific soundtrack, and yes, it totally has a terrific soundtrack. On this episode, the Battle Bards skip through renowned Japanese composer Yoko Kanno’s score, picking out their favorite tracks from this fantasy MMO. Will they convince you that this is a hidden gem? Listen and see!

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Ragnarok Online 2

Episode 71 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Beginners” and “Misha”)
  • “EverLand (Instrumental)”
  • “Yoru (Violin)”
  • “Small Dungeon”
  • “Clap and Walk”
  • “Din Don Dan Dan”
  • “Afternoon”
  • “Stone Music”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox picks (feat. “Sinister Euphoria” from Aura Kingdom, “A Writer’s Dream” from Alan Wake, and “The Battle of Lil’ Slugger” from Super Meat Boy)
  • Outro (feat. “Boss Battle [Karaoke]”)
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Battle Bards Episode 69: Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward

February 23, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

The Battle Bards are taking an airship back to Eorzea to cover the soundtrack to the first expansion to Final Fantasy XIV, Heavensward. How does the expansion’s score stack up to the original? How does it connect to Final Fantasies of the past? And will Syl spoil the plot for Syp? So many questions… so many mini-rants. It’s a great show!

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Heavensward

Episode 69 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Main Menu Theme” and “Alexander Boss Theme”)
  • “Ishgard Pillars Day”
  • “Heroic Moments Theme”
  • “Aetherochemical Research Facility Theme”
  • “Fractal Continuum Theme”
  • “Matoya’s Cave”
  • “Idyllshire Night Theme”
  • “Ravana”
  • Which one did we like the best?
  • Mail from WS_Dandelion about Dawngate
  • Jukebox (feat. “Oakvale” from Fable 2, “Stage One” from XCOM 2, and “A Place to Call Home” from FFIX)
  • Outro (feat. “Pharos Sirius Hard Mode Theme”)
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Battle Bards Episode 67: Age of Wushu

January 26, 2016

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Before they were podcasters, the Battle Bards trained in sacred monestaries deep in the Chinese mountains, where they learned martial arts and life without wifi. As they tackle the Age of Wushu soundtrack this week, memories flood back of their life as kung fu artists who drifted from town to town, setting right what once was wrong.

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Age of Wushu

Episode 67 show notes
  • Intro (feat. “Martial Instance” and “Youyunshiliuzhou”)
  • “Main Theme”
  • “Chengdu”
  • “Luoyang”
  • “Zhouz”
  • “Lingxiaocheng”
  • “Scholars”
  • “Saibeicaoyuan”
  • Jukebox (feat. “Explore” from Aliens: Colonial Marines, “The Swindle Title” from The Swindle, “Episode 1, Track 1” from Life is Strange)
  • Outro

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Battle Bards Episode 65: Fallen Earth

December 29, 2015

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

Welcome to the musical apocalypse! In this week’s episode, the Battle Bards get their Mad Max on with a trip to the premiere post-apocalyptic MMO, Fallen Earth. It’s a combination of western, action, and… “other.” What does the wasteland sound like? Find out in this episode!

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Fallen Earth

Episode 65 show notes
  • Intro (featuring “Last Call” and “Renewal”)
  • “Escape from Hoover Dam”
  • “Blood-Soaked Sunrise (Welcome to the Apocalypse)”
  • “Scouting the Wastes”
  • “Risen Moon”
  • “Thwarting Alec Masters”
  • “Pathfinding”
  • “Survival (They Always Come Back)”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Mail: Ironweakness: what’s a cost effective starting point for collecting MMO soundtrack music?
  • Jukebox (featuring “Almere Valley — Sunlit Forest 3” from Project Copernicus,  “Horseplay” from Red Dead Redemption, “Waiting for Fire” from There Came an Echo)
  • Outro
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Battle Bards Episode 63: Warlords of Draenor

December 3, 2015

Battle Bards

A new episode of Battle Bards is up!

With a new World of Warcraft expansion on the horizon, the Battle Bards turn their attention to Warlords of Draenor to see how it stacks up to the rest of the series. The answer? For at least one of the bards, it’s the best WoW soundtrack ever. Crank up the volume and get your Orc on, for it’s time to go on the musical warpath!

LISTEN NOW

Warlords of Draenor

Episode 63 show notes
  • Intro (featuring “Malach” and “Shadowmoon Valley”)
  • “Wolf at the Gates”
  • “Chieftans Gather”
  • “Family”
  • “Last Light (A Hero’s Sacrifice)”
  • “Man Down”
  • “T’s Have It”
  • “A Light in the Darkness”
  • Which one did we like best?
  • Jukebox (featuring “Abadis Forest” from Dust: An Elysian Tail, “Main Theme” from Fallout 4, “EverLand” from Ragnarok Online 2)
  • Outro
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