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

Today’s Guild Wars 2 patch adds automated tournies, 2v2 team deathmatch map

As June continues to roll along, so do the PvP-related updates in Guild Wars 2. So far ArenaNet has updated Tyria’s world-vs.-world content and skirmishing with the first part of the Competitive Feature Pack, followed by the start of PvP League season 4. Today’s update is live now and includes the new 2v2 team deathmatch map, Hall of the Mists; the retooled Heart of the Mists PvP lobby; and 5v5 automated tournaments: “The pinnacle of competitive combat. Compete in daily tournaments to qualify for a monthly tournament to earn rewards, glory, and the chance to see your winning team honored with statues in the lobby!”

The patch also has a bit for cosmetic junkies; Dulfy reports that the new cash-shop dyes appear to include the brightest white shades released to date.

PvP players, don’t miss our Guild Wars 2 columnist Tina Lauro Pollock’s most recent Flameseeker Chronicles, which is a great starter guide for jumping into WvW.

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Anthem is the start of a ’10-year journey’ for EA and BioWare

At this point, when a game studio says it has a 10-year plan for its online game, do you believe it?

Perhaps unintentionally echoing Bungie just a few years prior, EA’s Patrick Söderlund told the Xbox crew at E3 that BioWare is indeed anticipating a decade-long run for its newly announced mutliplayer online action RPG Anthem.

“It’s a game that we’ve been working on for almost four years now, and it’s a game that […] once we launch it next year will be the start of, I think, maybe a 10-year journey for us.”

So, who’s putting money on Anthem 2 in 2021?

The EA interview segment begins at the 1:39:27 mark for those who want to hear the whole thing.

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Shroud of the Avatar adds East Asian-themed town, kicks off Q&A

Fancy a bit of the Far East in your MMORPGs? Shroud of the Avatar is making that wish come true with its unclone of the town of Celestis, as explained in Portalarium’s latest newsletter.

“The terrain is heavily influenced by Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in China, while the cultural decor is influenced by feudal Japan,” writes Level Designer Chris “Seawolf” Wolf. “It will feature a new town center and harbor, several gardens including a rock garden, several koi fish ponds, and a Noh/Kabuki stage which can also double as a dance floor. There are also a few Easter-eggs throughout the scene which pay tribute to some of my favorite chambara (classic samurai films).”

Richard Garriott and crew are running an Ask Me Anything on the /r/SotA_Official subreddit beginning at 11 a.m. EDT today (just as this post goes live). The discussion is intended to focus on the SeedInvest equity crowdfunding campaign currently live for the company.

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Diablo III’s Rise of the Necromancer launches June 27 for $14.99

Blizzard has just announced that the BlizzCon-announced Rise of the Necromancer pack is launching for Diablo III on all platforms next week on June 27th. It’ll run $14.99 on both PC and console, a bit cheaper than some folks were anticipating.

“From the crypts deep beneath Blizzard Entertainment today came a dark invocation proclaiming that the Rise of the Necromancer™ pack, which summons the much-anticipated necromancer class into Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, will be unleashed June 27 – available to those in the living realm digitally in-game on PC or through the online Blizzard Shop, PlayStation Store, and Xbox One Store.”

As previously leaked by the ESRB, the game package includes an in-game pet, cosmetic wings, two extra character slots, two new stash tabs on PC only, plus the Necro portrait, banner, sigil, and accent, and pennant.

And also as leaked by the ESRB, console players can grab a base-game-plus-expansion bundle Blizz is calling the Diablo III: Eternal Collection “at a special introductory price of $39.99.”

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The Daily Grind: What’s the ideal group size for an MMORPG?

During this week’s Massively OP podcast (live this afternoon!), Justin and I tackled a detailed question about MMO group makeup, the trinity, and combat, and we took the opportunity to tangent a bit into praising City of Heroes, which not only managed to smash the trinity but did so in a way that increased the number of combat roles in a group over the standard, provided flexible difficulty modes at a time when that was unheard of, and scaled content to group size, meaning that you didn’t really need to take a full group of eight into most of the instanced content. You took what you had and that was enough. It was brilliant.

And while I’m not much of a fan of huge, methodical raids anymore, that’s more because I dislike them as the Only Thing To Do At Endgame. I do love massive group sizes, however, which is why I lamented the loss of the 20-man group in Star Wars Galaxies and adore the casual swarms of Guild Wars 2. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the formal group size is four or five or six; my guildies always seem to be one body short of what we need, and I constantly find myself wishing for City of Heroes’ ruleset.

What do you think is the ideal group size in an MMORPG? And do you base that on social balance or typical class configurations or something else entirely?

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Worlds Adrift beta trailer demos player-designed islands

If Worlds Adrift isn’t on your radar yet, your radar could very well be broken and need replacing. But here’s a way to get caught up on just what the game is capable of: Bossa Studios is hosting a fan-made trailer by player Synovus stuffed full of footage of what the studio calls “some of the most impressive islands created by the community.” The builder’s-paradise sandbox is composed of these islands, designed for exploration by skyboat, grappling hook, and good old-fashioned feet. (And by the way, the island-building tool is a free download on Steam.)

The game is currently in closed beta; the team has been doling out keys for the last few weeks in limited batches thanks to heavy demand, though you can also buy access with a founder pack.

The videos is down below.

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PSA: Don’t get phished in Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 is warning players about a “modest uptick in account thefts related to phishing,” according to a post on the official forums this weekend. ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray writes that the scammers are skipping out-of-game email and running their tricks inside the game itself.

“One of the more common phishing attempts today is coming from within the game,” she says. “The in-game message claims to come from ArenaNet or the Guild Wars 2 Team or it may be signed by someone who purports to be a member of our GM team.” Double-check that any mail you get in-game really is coming from ArenaNet (there’s gold text notifying you if it isn’t), click no links, and give out no personal information. Legit game companies don’t operate that way.

Locking down your account with the mobile authenticator is always a smart idea too. Yeah, it’s mildly annoying when your IP changes or you left your phone in your bag, but it’s a whole lot less annoying than having to beg customer service for the restoration of your hacked account.

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Rockstar has taken out three more Grand Theft Auto cheat mods

Last week, the Grand Theft Auto V/Online community was rocked by the shutdown of OpenIV, a modding tool that’s served the series’ community for almost 10 years, following a cease-and-desist letter Rockstar and Take-Two sent its operators. Rockstar said it wasn’t targeting single-player mods but dealing with what it says was OpenIV’s enabling of “malicious mods that allow harassment of players and interfere with the GTA Online experience for everybody,” in spite of player arguments that single-player mods are theoretically not available to play in GTAO.

Turns out Rockstar and Take Two weren’t done. As the purveyors of the Force Hax mod menu announced, they’ve been driven offline too and were actually tasked with donating their profits to charity, since confirmed by Rockstar.

“After discussions with Take-Two Interactive, effective immediately we are ceasing all maintenance, development and distribution of the Force Hax cheat menu services. We will be donating our proceeds to charity and we apologize for any and all problems Force Hax services have caused to the Grand Theft Auto Online community.”

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Conan Exiles demos climbing and experience-driven exploration

Funcom Lead Designer Oscar Lopez Lacalle and Community Manager Jens Erik Vaaler helmed an E3 recap livestream for Conan Exiles on Friday, and if you missed it, it’s worth a quick look now that the E3 hype is dying down. During the convention, Funcom announced big moves for Conan, including a date for its Xbox One launch (August 16th), a planned Xbox One X launch (sometime after November 7th, we gather), and a big freebie expansion for the game, which doesn’t have a name just yet but will go live alongside the Xbone preview release.

In the meantime, however, the devs showed off new tree modeling, climbing — including monkeybar animations — and the exploration system previously teased. As the two wander around the game, players see an old-school type of “you have discovered” pop-up indicating the point of interest they’ve just bumbled into. “There’s a lot of spots in the world which are significant because they have good vistas or because they are places of power or places where there are camps of foes or capital cities or many different interesting locations to find,” Lacalle says. Turns out you get “generous” experience for exploring too, and it’s based on how many spots you’ve discovered in total — explore a lot, and you get more XP per spot. “It is a pretty significant source of XP if you’re into exploration.”

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG developer would you most like to meet in person?

Be you press or player, one of the advantages of going in person to a convention (or any other gaming event!) is surely the chance to actually meet and talk to individual developers. You can get a partial read on developers from their written words and even their speech on streams, but nothing beats actually talking one-on-one with a dev, looking him or her in the eye, asking tough questions out of PR handlers’ hearing, and chasing a conversation down unexpected paths. I’ve been wowed by devs and community leader whom I didn’t expect to be so amazing — and similarly, I’ve been let down by veteran designers I thought were much more impressive on paper than in person. Sometimes both at the same event!

Which MMORPG developer would you most like to meet in person?

(That’d be Camelot Unchained’s Ben Pielstick in the header working on polearm animations, by the way!)

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MMO Week in Review: FFXIV Stormblood and E3 2017 (June 18, 2017)

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!

Botched MMORPG expansion launches are nothing new to veteran MMO gamers, so the roadblock issues of Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood this weekend won’t surprise anyone, though I can think of at least one MOP writer frustrated out of his mind! The good news is that Square-Enix is working on the congestion problems. The bad news is that headstart for preorder players is only the beginning.

Meanwhile, E3 drew to a close, and while its traditional MMORPG offerings — Black Desert, Elder Scrolls Online, and Final Fantasy XIV — were slim, there was plenty on display for multiplayer online gamers, including Sea of Thieves, Skull and Bones, and Destiny 2. We’ve got a bit more E3 to publish this week, but in the meantime, read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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Neverwinter celebrates its fourth birthday with events and unicorn mounts

Neverwinter is prepping the celebration of the anniversary of its hard launch on PC way back in 2013. The festivities, dubbed The Protector’s Jubilee, begin on June 20th and run for week, closing on June 27th.

“In celebration of this year’s Jubilee, Lord Neverember seeks to refill his coffers after months of austerity by slashing trade tariffs to encourage visiting traders. As a result, traders from far and wide are making their way to the city to ply their wares. Of course, the Sword Coast is a dangerous place, and these traders need the help of brave adventurers to make it safely to Neverwinter. Blacklake, Ebon Downs, and Whispering Caverns are rumored to be pretty dangerous. Look for some to also attempt deliveries to your Stronghold if you’re in a guild.”

Expect the city decorated to the hilt, special quests, a secret zone, a scaling skirmish event, traveling merchants, and loot — lots of it, including a unicorn mount and some bits and bobs from jubilees past.

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Here’s how to participate in Gigantic’s big stress-test event this weekend

Nothing to do this weekend now that E3 is winding down and everything you want to play is way far off in the future? Gigantic has the cure for that: Motiga and PWE have just kicked off an Arc Preview Weekend for the fledgling hybrid MOBA.

“Starting this Friday, June 16 at 10am PDT through Sunday, June 18 at midnight PDT, Gigantic will be open to ALL PLAYERS via the Arc platform. That’s right; if you have Windows 7, 8, or 10, you can download and play Gigantic on Arc as part of Gigantic Arc Preview Weekend.”

The studio says players will have access to all 18 heroes during the event, and all progress you make will be saved into the game’s open beta. During the event, you’ll be stress-testing the servers, matchmaking, the revamped UI, the new tutorial, bot matches, and voice chat.

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