The day has come. The Dark Portal has opened. To celebrate the imminent-ish arrival of World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade and our entrance into its hallowed realms, team PC ZONE has been cavorting through Azeroth and the remains of Draenor. Jon 'Log' Blyth has become a Draenei Mage on the gloomy Azuremyst Isles, while Will Porter has reclaimed his role as a nudie-dancing sexy elf - see below for their (mis)adventures....
LOOK WHO'S JUST MOVED IN NEXT DOOR...
Will: "Meet NanaBadMoon, a subtle reference to my former life as a Night Elf (/spit) and EastEnders. I'm now a sultry Blood Elf, and one of the few survivors of the Undead Scourge's attack on my lands of Quel'Thalas. My capital city has been hewn in two, the Sunwell is buggered and magic is spilling out and corrupting beasties left and right. The only way to reach my Blood Elf pals in Outland is to get slaying - and stealing monster guts..."
Log: "I've created Mahoney, a Draenei mage. In another universe, he'd be a wise-cracking trainee policeman, but there's not much scope for that in WOW, so I'm one of the longsuffering Draenei instead. Barely 25,000 years after being forced out of our ancient homeland of Argus, we've been catapulted out of Draenor, and we've crashed our spaceship into Azeroth because of those meddling Blood Elves. Tch!"
Will: "They may be new races, but the early-level rituals of The Burning Crusade certainly don't stray far from the expected template. 'Slay and gather', 'go here, do this' and 'take your clothes off and dance' tasks combine with gentle nudges towards exploration. They are, however, perfectly designed in terms of size, design and scale. Little mana worms make noises like balloons deflating as you spear them, little wooden chaps look a bit worried as you cleave them in two and their upper torso gradually slides to the floor and everything just pulsates with colour. It's all as absorbing as Bounty kitchen roll and twice as magical."
Log: "You've just crash-landed into Ammen Vale, and your fellow Draenei are in a mess. The injured are lying all over the place, and it's not just your lot. The radiation from your crash has caused the local flora to go mental, some weird Owlkins (feathered beaky bears) are looking aggressively red, and a massive crystalline shard is prettily steaming up the nearby lake. Your first few missions will be to apologetically mop up the area. Luckily, there's a few Blood Elves to the North, and they're at just the right level for murdering. Sweet."
Will: "Next stop is a ruined part of my capital city. Here, the colours become slightly mottled and the cheery Fantasia-style sweeping brooms, pet cats and magical book stands disappear for a while. Feral guardians and The Wretched fill the broken walls; but if there's one key theme with the Blood Elves, it's contrast. Amid the gloom therefore is cheery Falconwing Square, where you encounter your first true Blood Elf inn. It turns out to be more like an exotic brothel than a place of rest, full as it is of velvet cushions and silken hangings. Man, I love being an elf. We're sex on a stick."
Log: "Whereas the Blood Elves enjoy a rich and colourful environment, the Draenei's start in the fairly overcast Azuremyst Isle (off the north-west coast of Kalimdor, geography freaks). It's all greys and blues, streaked with polluted purple ground and eco-unfriendly red mist. As you move further out, it feels like perpetual morning, a misty lilac-tinged environment that you can't describe without sounding like a pretentious prick. It's hardly overwhelming - in fact, you could be forgiven for feeling a shade disappointed. That is, until you get to The Exodar, which is totally gorgeous, innit."