At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Tom Banks Other Format BradyGames Joe Branger, Michael Lummis and Jennifer Sims N/A
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
None. Click here to buy World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Signature Series Strategy Guide.

World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Signature Series Strategy Guide review

Game guides tend to be a mixed bag. On one hand some games do a great job of hiding things which the average gamer will never find, and although not crucial, some gamers want to get the most out of their game. Others contain lots of extra information which supplement the game and enhance the experience. I tend to buy guides not to tell me what to do blow-by-blow in a game, but more as something to read when not able to play, something to help me when I get stuck and don't want to search online. Good quality guides can be a nice supplement to a game, but how useful it is depends a lot on the game.

A guide, for an MMO?

I've never bought a game guide for an MMO before. This is because of the nature of MMOs; they're constantly changing. One element of the game is not the same between patches, so a printed guide will go out of date - and fast. I've only bought guides for long RPGs, single player games which will not change. They're lucky if they get one patch let alone the numbers of patches MMOs go through.

So, what's inside?

The authors of the guide have managed to avoid a lot of the issues to do with going out of date. There is a lot of content for the new gamer, basic rules and ideas that they need to get their head around if they've never played an MMO and/or RPG before. There's pages of lore about the different races, and basic information about what each of the classes' roles is. Again, this information is pretty solid, and even if a class changes, its main role(s) do not tend to change, only the abilities within. As I looked at creating a new class I found the class and race information interesting, the classes had changed since I last played the game and this helped to let me know of which classes are best suited to what at the time of printing. Of course, patches since then have changed skill trees a little, and as time goes on they will change more and more from what the guide tells me.

There were pages dedicated to the starting areas for the races, which for someone who is new to MMOs would be a reassuring hand to guide you through your first few quests. Beyond those areas though the guide doesn't help you; there isn't page after page of go kill this, pick up that item, go do that, as that wouldn't be suitable for the book (it would also be the size of a small family car).

There is background information on each of the areas of Azeroth, as well as information on new creatures in the game and the professions you can play as (with useful information on which professions go well together and how to get started with them). There's also plenty of artwork and glossy images, and the book is interesting to read; the writers and Blizzard did work hard to ensure that it was suitable. (There have been guides for the previous expansions, so they have quite a bit of experience to polish this just right).

The guide in all its glory

The guide in all its glory

So is it worth buying?

The content is interesting, and for a player new to MMOs in general I can see it being a help. Saying that, there are parts which aren't that useful; if you've ever played a fantasy MMO before you'll not need a lot of the information in there for beginners. I had out-leveled the quest guide within minutes as I'm used to MMOs and tend to tear through the initial levels very quickly. There are also problems with the game changing between the guide going to print and the game being released, parts which were out of date by the time even Cataclysm was initially released. One such example was an ability for the Worgens (the new werewolf race in the alliance); the guide said that I could do leather skinning without the need for a knife. So I picked up skinning as a profession and was confused when I couldn't skin creatures without a skinning knife. It turns out the ability was removed and the guide had misled me. I had to check Google for that information; there was no way of knowing if I’d missed something in the game which enabled the ability or not.

At £14.99 the guide isn't cheap, especially as all the information it contains which I would consider useful is in the guide sections, and everything but the lore can be found online for free - much of it on the World of Warcraft website! Still, a lot of effort has been put into the guide, and it is of a high quality. If I was really into World of Warcraft, or if I was just starting out in the MMO world and had just got into that game then I would be glad to have the book. Not because it contains information I can't find online (quite the opposite - all the information in the book is online), but because it is something nice to read. Instead of having to alt-tab out of the game, or use a different machine/screen I can read the stuff I want to know about on paper.

Ratings

Overall I didn't need this guide but I found it interesting. It's good for newcomers, and in terms of quality and the amount of time I spent reading it out of interest, it's at least as good as the best guide books I've read before. 8/10

Click here to buy World of Warcraft: Cataclysm Signature Series Strategy Guide from Amazon.co.uk.

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