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Tarisland feels like a relic of the past

Level Infinite is trying to turn back the clock
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If you want to feel old, then all you need to do is remember that World of Warcraft came out in 2004. It’s a dinosaur. A successful one, sure, but ancient nonetheless. Developer Level Infinite and publisher Tencent were not afraid of that fact when creating Tarisland, a game that looks, feels, and plays like World of Warcraft. I’ve had the chance to run through a short dungeon at gamescom 2023 and though I don’t have any WoW experience outside of the two-week trial I used up many years ago, I immediately fell back into that time.

It’s nothing like any of the more modern MMOs that came out since then or that are soon to be released – the Lost Arks, the Throne & Libertys, the Blue Protocols of the world.

Tarisland screenshot of a city in the clouds.

Does that remind you of some other game of this genre?

I was not impressed with it. It feels clunky and static and old and simply redundant. Sure, there may be a place for it in China after Blizzard Entertainment had to conveniently leave the market and take WoW away with it, but in the West? I’m not sure who’ll play this when WoW is still right there and people have already invested thousands of hours into it.

It’s not like developers are blindly copying the genre’s long time dominator. Tarisland is a very conscious rejection of modern MMOs with their fluid class systems, reduced number of skills, automation to help out beginners, and snappy combat – the developers are very intentionally trying to turn back the clock, returning to old foundations of the genre. The visuals can partly be explained by the need for it to run on mobile devices as well, but you can’t expect anyone to believe that WoW wasn’t the obvious inspiration here.

The content I played through was pretty easy, but the developers have stated that things will be a lot more difficult in the final version. Again, they reject the need for players to be able to clear all dungeons in their first attempt. They want players to be ambitious enough to get through – they quite literally said players would need to “get good” to work their way through everything, and I can somewhat respect that. The amount of abilities in the game looks varied and massive, and there is no function for beginners to automatically assign themselves a selection here. Get good.

Is that approach going to find many friends nowadays? Hard to say. Is Tarisland a WoW clone? Absolutely. But it’s not a cheap cash grab – it genuinely feels like the developers want to bring something back they think the genre has lost. It’s just that this vision is not going to be for everyone and that representatives of those old ideals are very much alive and kicking.

Tarisland will be released on PC and mobile devices as a free-to-play game at an as-yet undetermined date. For more gamescom 2023 coverage, please visit