At least at the start of the expansion, this is a new high point for World of Warcraft. Proof that Blizzard still has plenty of juice to squeeze out of it. Proof that even when the Legion is relegated to farm status, there’ll be many more adventures to have, and that they’ll be worth the wait. And proof again that while Blizzard can’t hope to please everyone, it’s not going to stop trying its best.
With Siege of Dragonspear, Beamdog has come on a long way. It’s not perfect, either at matching the style or being a great new RPG in its own right, and future games will need some heavy QA loving. But, as the company’s first big attempt to both follow in BioWare’s wake (the presence of former BioWare people notwithstanding), it’s a good start and at least a good first step to one day giving us that Baldur’s Gate 3 we’ve been waiting so long for – another nostalgia trip, but with a slightly more practiced eye on the future.
The feeling I couldn’t get away from – though it is just that – was that this was meant to just be the Automatron building mode with a very quick quest bolted on to explain its addition, with the bump in Season Pass cost demanding it hastily be re-written as a full adventure in its own right. That means we get more, but most of it just going through the motions instead of offering anything that feels notably different, and certainly nothing as memorable as heading to Big MT in New Vegas or even the spaceship abduction or recreated war of Fallout 3.
Grim Dawn is one of the best action-RPGs out there, combining excellent hack and slash action with a world and progression curve that makes it worth fighting through. Alone or with friends, it's hour after hour of top quality combat and looting, with the promise of many more excellent dark times to come.
What it offers though is a solid combat system backed up with enough different flavours, little moments of triumph, pats on the head and surprises amongst the very, very quickly familiar terrain to be compelling, like a big bowl of popcorn sprinkled with chocolate.
Hearts of Stone reminded me exactly what I loved about it the first time around, and all I could think when the credits rolled was how much I look forward to firing this game up in a few more months and concluding both Geralt's final adventure, and one of the PC's finest RPGs. Give or take a few giant bloody spiders. Grr.
A solid expansion addressing the right problems, but still shackled by its core game's choices.
At its worst, it's the gaming equivalent of a drunkard shouting abuse from a park bench. At its best … well, the drunkard has leapt up and now he's wielding a plastic knife. Rage against political correctness if you like, but don't support this tired game as part of your ideology – there are so many better uses of your spare time.