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

Defiance 2050 blasts its way into closed beta this weekend

Defiance 2050’s closed beta – for PC, anyway, since the console version’s beta testing has been delayed – is set to launch here not long after this post hits the front page of the site.

“Let the fight begin Ark Hunters! Closed Beta is finally here and we’re excited for players to experience the brand new class system and weapon enhancement systems in Defiance 2050. The PC Closed Beta event starts Friday (4/20) at 10:00 AM Pacific Time and extends all through Sunday to end on Monday (4/23) at 10:00 AM Pacific Time.”

Reboot participants this weekend will be testing the Mt. Tam and Madera story mission areas, the Liberate the Lost co-op instance, the Assault class, the new class system and tree, and the new itemization system. What won’t you see? The rest of the planned classes, PvP, achievements, and the cash shop. Oh yeah, and for your trouble, you’re getting a sweet “Beta Blazer” title. Sound off if you’re giving it a go!

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Star Citizen deep-dives the guts and glory of the character customization system

Cloud Imperium Narrative Director Dave Haddock joins the Around the Verse crew for this week’s episode of the Star Citizen community video. The majority of the studios, the devs explain, are already moving on to the next quarterly release – that being the 3.2 alpha.

But the highlight of the episode is the first iteration of the character customization system that rolled out in 3.1. It’s a pretty complicated system under the hood that hooks together everything from facial structure, hair, eyeballs, and then colors and textures for all of those bits, all properly tagged and linked together to make it easy for artists to add new assets. Hats and hair pose problems too, as any MMO player who’s even been annoyed by clipping can attest. The whole episode is below!

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The Daily Grind: What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

Earlier this month, Pantheon’s community team tweeted out a question that keeps coming back to me: “What motivates you to play an MMORPG for long periods of time, as in months, sometimes, years?” My first reaction was a pretty common one I bed and was true for me for a long time: friends and guildies! I certainly played some games far longer than I would have otherwise because I wanted to hang out with friends (EverQuest in particular is coming to mind).

But in recent years, when I already “see” my friends and guildies every day in external chats, I’d found games need some other draw too. Housing is probably the biggest one. I don’t usually get sucked in for dailies or anything like that, but give me a house that I love and want to keep up – that I’ll not only log in for but pay for, as my continuing Ultima Online fees prove.

What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?

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Massively Overthinking: What we really mean when we talk about ‘difficulty’ in MMORPGs

Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:

“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”

I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
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NetEase’s Age of Exploration MMO Ocean Legend sets sail for mobile

Multiple new-to-us games calling themselves MMORPGs seem to land on mobile devices every week these days. On our radar today is Ocean Legend. Live on iOS and Android in some soft launch beta hybrid mode, it’s a swashbuckling “Age of Exploration” MMO that’s a mix of Sea of Thieves and Pirates of the Burning Sea and Sword of the New World. Here’s NetEase’s pitch:

“Players take part in the growing naval empires of 15th and 16th century Europe. Choose between four different characters and five separate countries for your own oceanic adventure in the Age of Exploration! In single player mode, join Columbus and his shipmates on their third expedition, battle against pirates, then set out on your own to make a name for yourself as commander of your own fleet.”

Exploration is accomplished through “Cards of Discovery” – History, Theology, Architecture, Art, Biology, and Geography – each of which “opens up a new world of knowledge for players, and an opportunity to travel more and face new challenges, like difficult weather conditions, real navigation, and even other players in multi-player mode.”

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Elder Scrolls Online’s update 18 adds PvP dailies and buffs, tackles PvP latency

Even if you’re not buying Summerset at launch like some kind of crazed loon, you’re still going to want to keep an eye on the free stuff going into The Elder Scrolls Online when the chapter launches. That goes double for PvP players, who will see a load of improvements come Update 18 next month.

For starters, you’re getting new PvP daily quests to cap a set number of keeps, towns, resources, and players, with pretty decent loot that’s normally available only through alliance wars. Catapults, NPCs, and underdog algorithms are also due for an update. How you’re rewarded in Cyrodiil is changing too.

“Now, when you perform an action (fighting, capturing, healing etc.) around an objective, be it a keep, resource, or outpost, you’ll be added to its reward credit list. When the objective ‘ticks’ and distributes Alliance Points and Experience, you’ll receive them regardless of where you are at the time. You’ll no longer need to wait for the tick, and you can freely move around, fight enemy players, or even capture other nearby resources!”

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Black Desert Korea is letting players date (and vie for) NPCs

If yesterday’s Black Desert patch in the west didn’t grab you, maybe a peek into what Korea’s getting will. Daum’s official patch notes over on the Korean site lists some of yesterday’s changes here, including the PvP and crowd control tweaks, but it also has some fun new bits, including “a new system where you can date an NPC.” Wait, what?

“After establishing an intimacy with a specific NPC and succeeding in confession, you can become a lover with that NPC. Also, when you become a lover, you can get special title.”

Inven Global’s translation is better than Google’s here; it refers to an “amity” pool and a “confession” of love to pick up that NPC as a girl/boyfriend. You can also send gifts to your new beau in a system that looks a lot like the one in Star Wars The Old Republic – except that in this system, everyone’s vying for the same NPCs instead of lugging around a copy with eyes only for one PC.

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Coming soon: PUBG will finally let players block their most hated maps

Mappety map map maps. Soon you can pick your own map in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and won’t be stuck in Miramar.

According to PUBG Corp, people have been begging for the feature for half of forever, but a number of issues stood in the way. The studio says matchmaking was its biggest concern: “We analyzed tens of millions of matches and sorted the data by server, mode, and time to make sure map selection wouldn’t break the game for anyone. We wanted to make sure that we could create a solution that worked for every region’s players, even the ones with a naturally low server population.” On top of that, it wanted to take into account the supposedly different preferences and playstatles of different regions.

“Ultimately, we created a version of map selection that we think is unlikely to cause issues for matchmaking” as maps are added in the future, PUBG Corp writes.

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Hey Alexa, where’s Blind Mary? Activision and Amazon put game advice on personal assistants

Among hardcore MMORPG players, particularly vets of a certain age, there’s a longstanding grudge against the shift toward being able to look up every single thing about the game on some website somewhere. If that describes you, you’re definitely not going to like the evolution of that – you won’t even have to type your dumb questions, just shout them into the air.

We’re talking about the ubiquitous branded personal assistant, of course – specifically, Amazon’s Alexa, which in partnership with Activision is now beta testing a “personal voice-controlled reconnaissance scout” in Call of Duty that” grants the player “critical intel, personalized instruction and essential after-action reports in real-time so you can take your game to the next level.”

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Albion Online is adding respecs and a GvG training system next month

May 2nd is destined for glory thanks to the planned arrival of Albion Online’s midseason patch.

“On May 2, we’ll be launching a new patch that will bring several new features and updates to the world of Albion,” Sandbox Interactive explains. “It will bring numerous updates to the metagame and combat, including adjustments to the value of siphoned energy, the removal of GvG mage bonuses, a rework of siege camps, and a wide range of weapon and armor balancing changes.”

Don’t like your build? You’ll be able to take advantage of the new re-spec system that allows players to “trade skill masteries between different skill paths” at the cost of combat fame.

One of the more original features in MMOs is the GvG training system.

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Grab a Mu Online, Mu Legend, Flyff, C9, or Rappelz key in honor of Webzen’s 9th anniversary

Webzen is celebrating 9 years of MMOs today, and in honor of that anniversary, the studio has granted Massively OP 1000 keys that can be applied to one of Webzen’s online games (Mu Online, My LegendFlyff, C9, or Rappelz) so you get to pick what you’re getting!

Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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Black Desert’s latest update is for the birds; includes renown, gear purification, and PvP tweaks

This week’s Black Desert update is officially upon us. Its key feature is a new guild boss, the Ahib Griffon, plus “several new Balenos Hunting Quests and Monsters for players to engage in the pursuit of fame and glory.” The Gear Purification NPC is also brand-new today.

“Revisions to the gear enhancement system are underway, the first to arrive is the much anticipated Gear Purification NPC, allowing players to downgrade equipment for a nominal fee. In addition to this, the recently introduced Renown Score system has been included, granting a variety of new bonuses to work towards. To make finding your equipment even easier, we’ve added the ability to view all individual storages at each city from local Storage Keepers.”

Players should also expect the new “renown score,” new titles, storage conveniences, new dailies, new baddies, easier guild kicks, a big boost to PvP damage and crowd control skills, and bird meat for you folks who fancy eating seagull.

Source: Official site, patch notes. As for the title, I regret nothing.

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EVE Online’s ‘million dollar battle’ set a Guinness World Record for PvP battle concurrency

Last January’s much-hyped “million dollar battle” in EVE Online may have been a $3300 bust in terms of the value of the ships destroyed in the chaos, but that doesn’t mean the battle was for nothing. As The Ancient Gaming Noob himself noticed, the folks at Guinness World Records have determined that the event set a new record in online PvP.

“Fans of space-based video game EVE Online have helped set a new record after achieving the Guinness World Records title for the Most concurrent players simultaneously involved in a single multiplayer PvP videogame battle. A total of 6,142 players took part in an enormous battle – the Siege of 9-4 – in January 2018.”

At Fanfest, where CCP accepted the award, CCP Guard fittingly said, “This award is yours; we’re just its stewards.”

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