Entering the beta of an MMO expansion pack on a borrowed, pre-levelled character can be a bewildering experience. Who are you, rune-keeper Kronkite of Lórien, with your spiky grey hair and strangely low rep with the Galadrim? And what about you, minstrel Zzordon of the Blue Mountains, with your burgundy floppy hat and braided beard? What's your story? And more importantly, what the heck does this button do?
The apocalypse has never been more popular. While literary figures such as Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood give us grim, cautionary novels like The Road and The Year of the Flood, movies like John Hillcoat's adaptation of The Road, The Book of Eli (written by erstwhile games journo Gary Whitta) and even 9, the Tim Burton-produced CGI tale of sentient soft toys being hunted by machines, are all coming soon. In games, Bethesda's long-lived Fallout 3 will soon be joined by Valve bringing us more survivalism in Left 4 Dead 2, and both id and Gearbox are honing open-world, RPG-tinged, Mad Max-style first-person shooters.
The launch of a game can be a blurred affair. This is particularly true of direct download games, even more so if you've been involved in a beta. After closed betas, open betas, then a nominal "launch", then an ongoing series of patches, bug fixes, tweaks and adjustments, the finished product is a fluid thing. And often the finished product doesn't even feel finished. Such is the case with Warrior Epic, which ostensibly launched on 19th May after not one but two closed betas.
Although you might well be suspicious of so-called "free-to-play" gaming, there are some aspects of it you just can't argue with. Visit a website. Get a sense of what it's offering you. Download the client. Install it. Jump into the game. Enjoy, or if you don't - uninstall. No loss. Nothing spent.