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Exanimus

Behind the Curtain: More apocalypse please pt. 2

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Horror, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Opinion, Behind the Curtain, Exanimus

Seriously, don't get me startedThis was the point where things got interesting for me. One lasting memory of the event I have is a one-line message I saw in the Trade channel while in Ironforge. It read simply, "Stay out of Stormwind, it's infected." I did the only thing a sane person would do in that situation and hopped on the first Gryphon to Stormwind. It was like a dream come true. Zombies were thronging the streets, attacking anyone they could get their hands on, vomiting on those they couldn't, and blowing themselves up when all else failed. Nowhere was safe. I could barely see the floor of the Auction House for all the skeletons there; the Bank was similarly decorated and my FPS dropped sharply from the shimmery green glow the infection gave off.

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Behind the Curtain: More apocalypse please

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Horror, Culture, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Opinion, Behind the Curtain, Exanimus

Don't get me started on this guy...So let's be clear here – I loves me some zombies. A childhood brush with Ray Harryhausen means that I still get chills when I think abut armoured skeletons eviscerating hapless Argonauts. Later encounters, first with ridiculously over-wrought Victorian Gothic Horror literature, and later with the genius of one Mr. Romero sealed my fate.

Regardless of the source, my love affair with the Undead has been long-standing. And no, I don't mean that kind of love affair. Freak. After I finished reading The Zombie Survival Guide for the first time, I carried it in my bag for a month afterwards. Not because I thought Zombie might be real, but because the book was awesome. And don't get me started on World War Z – Massively is not the place for a 3000-word Max Brooks love-fest.

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Behind the Curtain: Are you frightened?

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Horror, Opinion, Behind the Curtain, Exanimus

We all know that MMOs can provide you with plenty of emotional experiences. The MMO genre – generally – is one in which the slow burn is the norm. We'll spend weeks, months, maybe years working on our level 70 characters, our fleet of ships, and our guild. We know this and we expect it. We are rewarded with a warm sense of wellbeing, of a comfortable achievement. We're happy when we beat an instance, down a boss or win an Arena or Battleground match, but what about the other side of emotions?

Has an MMO ever made you afraid? Have you ever been truly scared of what might happen next, of what might be round the next corner?

I love the Stratholme and Scholomance instances in World of Warcraft. The former is a ravaged, ruined city, home to hordes of the Undead Scourge, and a small but fanatical cult of insane ex-Paladins. The buildings which line the street are smashed and burned; they lean at precarious angles, with fire still licking hungrily at their walls – what few remaining signs there are outside the houses remind you that people once lived here, before Prince Arthas Menthil slaughtered them.

The Scholomance instance is a sprawling journey through the catacombs of a dark castle in the middle of a dead, poisoned lake – a place given over to the instruction and Necromancy and the Dark Arts. It's based on an old Transylvanian folk tale, and features the spirits of dead servants of the previous masters of the castle, tortured to death by the sadistic scholars within. As you run through its corridors and vaults, you come across the remains of people, perhaps innocents used as fodder for lessons, perhaps students executed as examples.

Both instances are two of my favourite in the entire game. Given the opportunity, I'll still run through them now. Not only are they technically well designed, but the lore behind them is excellent, hinting at the fate that befalls the innocents in WoW, the peons, farmers and sundry other NPCs we barely glance at.

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