January 25, 2007

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World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade (PC/MAC)
Blizzard, 2007
By Glenn Given production@hippopress.com

Dear Xavier Brian Given (my son), I am sorry that I can no longer be your father. These past two years have been swell and you are a source of continual amazement as you learn, grow and bring joy into the hearts of our family. Unfortunately you do not have 11 new zones, two new character races and a quintuple fistful of new dungeons, quests, spells and talents. My love for you and your beautiful mother is greater than level 60; sadly, The Burning Crusade expansion pack goes to level 70.

Xavier, you’ve known World of Warcraft since birth. The massive multiplayer online game with 8 million players must have made a deep impression on your psyche; I know it has done so on mine. You’ve watched me down gigantic raid bosses made of living fire with the help of 39 nerds from across the globe as you enjoyed your midnight bottle in my lap. You uttered some of your first words, “Bwur-dee!” for example, as my level 60 priest flew on gryphons across the fantasy world of Azeroth. Hopefully you can share in my joy as we put those experiences behind us and plunge through the Dark Portal into the demon-torn Outlands for 10 more levels of exploration and adventure. If not, well, then it’s back to the play room for you. Try and stay off the dresser — and don’t eat things from the floor, please.

In the Outlands hundreds of new quests will draw Daddy across seven new lands, each double the size of pre-expansion’s largest area. The barren battlefields of Hellfire Peninsula, the giant mushroom-adorned swamp of Zangarmash, the craggy Blade’s Edge Mountains and the bizarre veldt of Nagarand among others will be our playground. When Daddy fights extra-planar horrors among the warp-torn asteroids of the Netherstorm you’ll be by my side cooing and awing at the magnificent art, landscape and architecture that the Blizzard design team has crafted to destroy any semblance of “family” that we may have had. This is, of course, provided that DSS hasn’t removed you from my house by then. ’Cause it would be a shame for you not to experience the new flying mounts that will be available to Daddy at level 70.

As your vocabulary grows, Xavier, be sure to let Mommy know that you don’t want to leave Daddy before you get to see the nine new multi-winged dungeons. Say, “Mommy, we can’t get our own apartment ’cause Daddy hasn’t defeated Gruul the terrible demi-god of the ogres.” I know that may not happen soon, Xavier, and that with the new 25-person party cap for raid encounters like Serpentshrine Cavern and the battle with demon-lord Magtheridon it will require even more skill than before, but we’re a family and with you not getting hurt while Daddy focuses his attention on being the best group healer he can be we can overcome any challenge that The Burning Crusade throws at us. The new talents and spells that each class gets will also help in that regard.

Much of our favorite gear, the glowing wands and brilliant armor that Daddy stayed up night after night to acquire, may be quickly replaced by drops from the new areas. But don’t fret, sweet recipient of 23 of my chromosomes, the new gear has much better stats. And with the new profession of jewelcrafting I can place magic gems into new staves, gauntlets and the like to imbue them with even greater power. With the help of you basically raising yourself, Daddy will shed the derogative title of “nub” and once more be “leet.” “Leet” means awesome, powerful and badass. Xavier, you know Elmo, or “Mell-moo” as you call him? He’s the “leetest” Muppet on Sesame Street. But Sesame Street is a lowbie zone compared to the Burning Crusade. That whole guild wouldn’t last a second in the Mana Tombs of Auchinduon, and don’t even get me started on the new Heroic difficulty settings for dungeons. Yeah, sorry kiddo, Ernie and Cookie Monster would be toast.

And when Daddy has done these mighty digital deeds in this oh-so sweet expansion pack and looks to be returning to regular life he’s got two new races to make brand new characters with. Will Daddy be the noble inter-dimensional Draenei and fight for the good of the land? Or perhaps he can try his hand as the nefarious Blood Elves with their never-quenched thirst for magic and dastardly-ness. I’ll let you pick, my treasured son — but don’t touch the mouse. You can point at what you want me to do.

Say hello to your new brother, he and I will be spending A LOT of time together. The Burning Crusade expansion piles the beauty of an untethered design aesthetic onto the deep and varied gameplay of WoW. It adds another + to an A+ game by tweaking the past, expanding the playstyles that we can choose from, and by invigorating the world with stellar new content and challenges. See ya when you’re grown up, Xavier. A++

— Glenn Given loves his family and hopes that divorce papers have not been filed