Brianna 'Bree' Royce

Editor-in-Chief

Bree is an unrepentant escapist with a predilection for MMOs. When not compulsively proofreading cereal boxes and newspapers, she can be found modding, PvPing on the auction hall, and touring the Next Big Thing with her guild on a quest for the elusive perfect game.

Working As Intended and Ask Mo are her pet op-ed columns, but she also pens Daily Grinds and compiles both Massively Overthinking and the Week in Review. You can hear her ramble about MMOs every week on the Massively OP podcast. If you're nice, she'll even talk about something other than Star Wars Galaxies.

Personal blog: Skycandy
Twitter: @nbrianna
Favorite MMOs: SWG, CoH, Glitch, GW2, GW1, WoW, MH

MMO Week in Review: Elder Scrolls Online’s cash shop controversy (February 18, 2018)

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

Elder Scrolls Online’s first DLC of the year, Dragon Bones, launched this week along with update 17. While the patch is loaded with content, including a new cosmetic system and new dungeons, the rollout suffered from an experience exploit that caused server downtime in addition to angst from the community, which objected to the pricing scheme attached to the new outfit system.

Meanwhile, Camelot Unchained picked July 4th for its beta, we got the scoop on Bless Online, SWTOR delivered its spring roadmap, Trove announced a new expansion, Star Citizen launched a new ship sale, and LOTRO began testing a new region.

Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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Make My MMO: Camelot Unchained’s beta will be born on the fourth of July (February 17, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained invites you to break out the sparklers because the game will finally launch its long-delayed beta one on July 4th. That’ll follow the “feature lock” date of June 12th. We got the whole scoop in our interview earlier this week!

Meanwhile, Star Citizen posted a new ship sale, had a nice friendly chat with the BBB, and talked about the thrilling topic of refueling. Plus, Crowfall got a lore update, Albion updated its Kay build, Pantheon teased its pre-alpha, Project Gorgon detailed its Steam preparation, and mecha-shooter Pantropy updated its ongoing Kickstarter.

And Maguss, the wizarding MMOARG that raised almost half a million bucks on Indiegogo, launched its open beta on iOS and Android this morning.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Betawatch: The beta for mobile MMOARG Maguss is about to begin (February 16, 2018)

Remember Maguss, the Harry Potter-esque ARG everyone was buzzing around right up until Pokemon Go company Niantic said it was making Harry Potter: Wizards Unite? It’s just about to launch its open beta; you west coasters will want to wake up early on Saturday indeed to make the 8 a.m. EST starting time on Android and iOS. The game originally raised almost half a million dollars on Indiegogo, so its popularity seems assured!

What else happened in the world of MMO testing this week?

  • Camelot Unchained finally has a beta date: the fourth of July. Fortunately, nothing else important happens on that day. Our interview all about how beta will work is pretty great if we do say so ourselves.
  • Dead Maze officially launched! No more beta! Free at last!
  • Villagers & Heroes seeks iOS beta testers ahead of its launch at the end of this month.
  • Project Gorgon laid out the details of its upcoming Steam beta.
  • Stardew Valley promised multiplayer beta this spring.
  • Soulworker Online is inching ever closer to testing here; forums for NA and EU arrived this week.
  • Ashes of Creation dazzled again with more footage of “alpha zero” gameplay.
  • Staxel landed on our sandbox radar; it’s currently in early access.
  • Bless Online is anticipating that when it starts, its early access open beta will run half a year.

We’ve tucked whole list of games temporarily and very much permanently in test stasis right on down below.

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Save Evangelion pilots in Maplestory’s crossover event

Maplestory players are getting a fun treat in the form of a crossover with classic ’90s anime Evangelion later this month.

“The heroes of Evangelion have entered Maple World through an inter-dimensional rift, allowing players to interact with characters from the movies while taking part in various events and quests,” Nexon said in its press blast this week. “The Evangelion pilots are lost in their new surroundings in Maple World, so players are tasked with completing daily quests to help them navigate and become more familiar. Maplers can interact with Shinji, Rei and Asuka to earn EVA Coins to spend on limited-time items and must fend off waves of invasions from Angel enemies to save Maple World.”

The event features themed quests as well as paid and questable lockboxes galore, with accessories, hairstyles, androids, and chairs (yes) as rewards. The festivities begin on February 28th and run for a whole month; the trailer is below!

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Diablo 3’s 13th season begins on February 23, and it’s completely predictable

Diablo III’s 13th season is kicking off next week. If you’re hoping for something revolutionary and thrilling for lucky number 13, this… isn’t that. In fact, the dev blog previewing the season actually uses the word “traditional.” But hey, if you like comfortable predictability, you’ll be pleased as punch.

Participants in the seasonal run will pick up more pieces of the Conqueror’s set (helm and shoulders), new Imperius portraits, and a new teddy bear pet (covered in blood, thus reducing its cute factor). Folks without four stashes can work toward an extra, and currency toward class sets is also on order.

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Trove’s Heroes expansion adds superhero-themed city and class this spring

Today is a positively massive day for fans of Trove – and fans of superheroes, for that matter – as Trion is announcing a brand-new expansion for the popular MMO and its 15 million players. It’s called Heroes, and yes, it’s comic-themed!

Trove – Heroes focuses on the neon festooned city of Luminopolis, a new high-tech skyscraper-laden section of Neon City. Luminopolis has been thrust into a battle for power between the evilly robotic Amperium and the Resistors, a rebel group fighting to bring the light back to the city. Players will partake in all new adventures, interact with new NPCs, wage battle against gigantic invading Mega World Bosses, and fight to save Luminopolis from the nefarious threat of the Amperion.”

If you’re sick of all your existing classes, you’ll be thrilled to know there’s a new one coming too, the Vanguardian. “A heroic class that pulls inspiration from the classic silver age of comic heroes, the Vanguardian is a paragon of virtue and strength,” Trion says. “Utilizing fluid combat in up close and personal melee skirmishes and from afar via effective ranged attacks, the Vanguardian is well-equipped to take up the cause of the Resistors and turn back the Amperion once and for all!”

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Conan Exiles is delaying mounts, pets, settlements, and sorcery to make its May 8 launch

Funcom is forging ahead with its plans to launch Conan Exiles for real and for true on all the things come May 8th. And, as the latest dev blog explains, to make that date, the company’s probably going to cut some features from that launch build.

“In the past couple of months, we’ve had to make some serious decisions as to what will be in for launch,” says the studio. “We’ve been going through every aspect of the game (including things still in development) and we have evaluated everything based on a range of criteria. Some features or content simply ended up not being good enough, some things have ended up not making sense for the game, some things have been replaced with other features and content, while some things just turned out to be out of reach from a technical or development capacity standpoint.”

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SWTOR’s spring content: Cash shop overhaul, conquest revamp, new flashpoint – but probably not a ‘traditional expansion’

Star Wars: The Old Republic’s had a couple of rocky months with the greater MMO community, following ominous rumors reportedly from inside BioWare that EA was internally debating the MMORPG’s future. While not everyone bought into the rumors, and the studio itself teased 2018 plans, the recent refer-a-friend promo didn’t exactly quell the growing concern that the game may be in trouble.

But maybe the roadmap will. As promised, BioWare posted the roadmap yesterday, and it’s happening as a living document in the forums from BioWare’s Keith Kanneg himself, as he says, to “not make it seem like [the devs] disappeared into the ether.” So here’s what we’re looking at for content in the short term. In March, expect GU 5.8: Command Authority; it features

  • big (unspecified) changes to the cash shop based on feedback;
  • the return of companions Ashara Zabros and Vector Hyllus;
  • a romanceable Arcann companion;
  • new companion gifts to boost influence levels to 50 (not something you can just buy outright, however);
  • a fifth boss (with two modes) for the Gods from the Machine Operation (though not all bosses are getting that Master mode, note);
  • and a major revamp to the Conquest system.

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Star Citizen’s new $185 Aegis Vulcan support ship is so ugly it’s cute

On this week’s episode of Around the Verse, Star Citizen’s Sandi Gardiner and Chris Roberts bookend segments on the ship pipeline in the game. Did you know Star Citizen has introduced 114 ships, vehicles, and variants since the start of development? Neither did I. Here comes another one: the Aegis Vulcan. The adorably ugly and chunky ship is essentially a utility starter support spacecraft that packs in repairing, refueling, and rearming. Says CIG,

“It’s a versatile support ship. It’s there to support other ships. It’s not great at combat. It’s not great at transport. It’s not great at racing. It’s there for helping out with other ships. So if you’re that sort of person that is interested in the not more active combat side but helping others, then this is a really great entry into that, because it does allow you to help out massively for ships that run out of fuel, ships that have minor damage, ships that run out of ammo and any of these ships could be stuck out in deep space. They can call for your help, and you can go out there and give them just enough to get them where they need to go to. It’s sort of like the space AA or AAA for America. You call them up. They give you just enough to get to where you’re going, and then you can do your full repairs, rearm, refuel there.”

It’s also for sale as part of the early VIP optioning system. It’s $185 right now (warbond price), and it is actually scheduled to no, it won’t make it into the 3.1 alpha (thanks Dividian).

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

At the end of every year, I always do a Daily Grind on the most expensive MMO to play at that exact moment, with the implication being that expenses are bad for the average MMORPG. What I don’t think we’ve ever done is flip it around and ask which MMO is actually best for the whales. That’s what MOP reader Arsin wants to know.

“I’ve got the money to win at pay-to-win,” Arsin wrote. “What pay-to-win MMO gives me the most bang for my buck?”

I’m positive the temptation will be to point at Star Citizen or some other Kickstarter game that lets you pile thousands of dollars in for content – but that content hasn’t actually arrived and probably shouldn’t constitute bang for buck just yet. So let’s consider live MMOs only and imagine that money is truly no object. Which MMO is the absolute best if you’re a whale?

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Massively Overthinking: Could bots save dying MMORPGs?

Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.

“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.

Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?

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New Hampshire senator Maggie Hassan has picked up the lootbox and gaming addiction cause

Up until now, the political grumblings about video game gambleboxes has been mostly limited to state governments, specifically Hawaii’s Chris Lee, who submitted four regulatory bills this week, and Washington state’s Kevin Ranker, whose January provisional bill would require an investigation of whether the mechanic constitutes gambling under state laws.

But they’re getting a higher-ranking ally today. As Rolling Stone reports, New Hampshire Senator – that’s the US senate, not the state senate – Maggie Hassan has apparently joined the fray. She sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and used a recent committee hearing to ask FTC nominees their opinion on gaming addiction and lockboxes. (All four apparently said the issue is something they will address.)

Hassan also penned a letter to the ESRB asking it to “review the completeness of the board’s ratings process and policies as they relate to loot boxes, and to take into account the potential harm these types of micro-transactions may have on children.”

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Elder Scrolls Online has been nonfunctional through Steam since yesterday

Elder Scrolls Online players on Steam woke up this morning to find that the game is still down for them. Apparently, the client through that platform is throwing up nothing but “internal error” messages.

“To reiterate, this issue is only impacting our players on Steam,” ZeniMax posted yesterday in the dedicated forum thread. “We’re actively working with Steam to get this resolved as quickly as possible.” The support Twitter said the team was on top of the problem 15 hours ago.

Why not just follow the workaround, which is to run the 64-bit client buried in Steam’s files? You can, but only if you’ve previously linked your ZOS account to your Steam account, only if your account is old (according to Reddit), and only if you’re not subbed; apparently, if you’re subbed, you’ll lose that sub. We’re pretty sure Bethsoft will sort that out eventually, but in the short-term, it’d suck.

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