Brianna 'Bree' Royce


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

The Crew 2 is rescheduled for a June 29 launch

The Crew 2 isn’t as delayed as you might’ve thought: Ubisoft just announced that it’s launching on June 29th, and it’s looking like a simultaneous PC, PS4, and Xbox release.

The Crew 2 will let players experience the thrill of American motorsports inside a fully redesigned USA. The game’s playground pushes physical boundaries to let driving and open world fans test their skills, solo or with friends, in nonstop competition and exploration. From coast to coast, drivers will explore America and compete to become the greatest motorsports champion, by collecting a wide variety of exotic cars, bikes, boats and planes, and dominating the motorsports scene on the land, on the water and in the air. Players will find challenges and inspiration among four different motorsports families: street racing, off-road, pro racing and freestyle, and will be given a broad set of options among a wide selection of vehicle types.”

MMO players will recall that the sequel to The Crew was originally announced just before E3 of last year, and by summer, it had a release date. That release date would’ve been tomorrow, incidentally. But in December, Ubisoft admitted it needed more time for TC2 and several other games, pushing the date somewhere between spring and fall of this year.

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Fortnite: The 3.3 update, Drake on Twitch, battle royale development, and next-gen online games

After a brief delay, Fortnite’s 3.3 patch is in with a bang, literally, thanks to new explosives and supply llamas added to battle royale mode. Epic says it’s improved server performance too. Save the Worlders will find a new St Patrick’s Day themed questline and gear to keep them occupied.

In other Fortnite news,

  • The game helped set a new Twitch record last night for concurrent watchers on a single string when rapper Drake hopped on stream with Tyler “Ninja” Blevins for some Fortnite talk. This is real life.
  • VG247 has a piece arguing that Fortnite is a “true next-gen game” for the first generation of kids raised on free games, crossplatforminess, and hand-me-down hardware.
  • And Gamasutra posted a Q&A with Epic Games on the development of BR mode. “Because our timeline was so short, and we wanted to create a playable version immediately, it wasn’t ‘hey we could do all these crazy things,’ it was ‘what can we do, and how can we get it done as quickly as possible,'” Epic’s Eric Williamson says. “It wasn’t pie-in-the-sky land. Naturally, that meant that lots of ideas we had didn’t really get fully explored.” Now, of course, there’s time.

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Otherland formally announces new expansion, Fire Isle, coming this summer

Otherland’s promised summer expansion is definitely happening, according to a press release from Drago this morning. It’s called Fire Isle, it’s themed around Chinese mythology, and it’s launching is summer.

“Fire Isle introduces a brand-new storyline about the legendary Fire Army including a broken nation that focuses on a large scale civil war. Players will meet up with their old friend SweetieCheng to follow her and the true leader of the isle in their quest to bring an end to the war and getting back on track with the ultimate goal – battling the Celestial Dragon. On their upcoming adventure players will cross the unique landscape of Fire Isle seamed by streams of lava and igneous rocks to face many new challenges. With a total of ten new areas and 60 new story-driven quests, Drago Entertainment is extending the storyline by six new chapters, promising hours of exciting entertainment and exploration coming this summer.”

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Shroud of the Avatar releases co-op and world videos ahead of launch

Portalarium is going all out for Shroud of the Avatar’s formal launch next week – March 27th, for those of you keeping count. Last night, the studio held its launch party in conjunction with SXSW (we’ll have much more on that event when Massively OP’s MJ returns from it!). In the meantime, Portalarium and EU publisher Travian Games pushed out a press release that bizarrely dubs the game a “multiplayer RPG” and releases two brand-new videos. The first is clearly intended to introduce the Ultima Online spiritual successor to newcomers, while the second shows off just how far combat and co-op play have come over the last couple of years.

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ARK Survival Evolved is coming to mobile in full, with a beta beginning today

You know what the world needs? Obviously, it’s another version of ARK Survival Evolved, duh. PixARK and ARK Park, nevermind Jurassic World Alive, aren’t enough! ALL THE DINOS.

Ahem. Yes, apparently Studio Wildcard has tapped War Drum Studios to build out a mobile version of the game called just ARK Mobile. It’s the real deal, the real game, not some wimpy spinoff.

“Based on the genre-defining adventure from PC and console, ARK: Survival Evolved challenges you to survive and thrive on a mysterious island, where you start out alone and unarmed. Gather resources and craft tools to build shelter and hunt. Expand your domain while capturing and taming dinosaurs to do your bidding. Make new friends online, form tribes, and build mighty structures to defend against man and mega-predators alike!”

The closed beta begins today on iOS; signups are on the official site. Launch – on iOS and Android – is expected this spring, though we haven’t gotten any clues about crossplatform play just yet.

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EVE Online, Star Trek Online, and Elite Dangerous players memorialize physicist Stephen Hawking

Multiple MMORPG communities are celebrating the life of internationally renowned cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who passed away earlier this week.

In EVE Online, players came together yesterday to “spend a little ozone for one of the brightest minds humanity has ever had” by gathering in the same spot, setting aside personal grievances and ongoing wars, and literally lighting up the game in tribute. Reddit is filled with screenshots of the occasion, but here’s the one CCP retweeted:

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Snail’s mobile MMO Blade Reborn plans global launch on March 27

Here’s another one we’ve never heard of: Blade Reborn. It’s a Snail Games mobile game, and the studio is calling it a full-fledged action MMORPG, though maybe OARPG would be more accurate.

Blade Reborn gives players a whole new game experience of dungeon explorations with Action features, in-combat weapon switching mechanics and tons of unique PVP modes. Players have found out the deepest secret in the dungeon with the choice of 3 distinct warring classes: The Fast-immortal wizard, the incomparable warrior, the Silent fatal assassin, each of those class wields 2 weapons with 4 unique skills, which empowers them to attack with destructive combos. Furthermore, there are up to 64 skill talents can be used to create a unique build for the character.”

Apparently, today’s launch is being touted as a soft-launch for Australia and Northern Europe following a Russian and Brazilian beta that’s just concluded. The company’s Facebook says the global release is set for March 27th.

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Ascent: The Space Game is close to pushing out a new patch and client after switching engines

Back in January, we expressed concern for the brilliant one-man space indie sandbox MMORPG called Ascent: The Space Game (not to be confused with that other Ascent). Talks with an investor were supposed to come to fruition in December, when a studio liaison (the in-game president) reported that developer James Hicks was also working on a second game, changing Ascent’s engine, and building out the new update and client. And while the game could run in maintenance mode indefinitely, according to the dev, that’s obviously not ideal for what remains of the entrenched playerbase.

But in February, hope arrived. Fluffy Kitten Studios posted a market update on Steam and said the “new client [was] at last approaching beta.” And over the last few weeks, Hicks told forumgoers through the surrogate that the patch does indeed switch the game to Unity and the new client as well as adds terraforming, NPC commands, and camera tweaks.

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Ever, Jane eyes a new update, overhauls forums and website

We haven’t checked in with pre-eminent roleplaying MMORPG Ever, Jane in a long time – since last summer, in fact – but the game, as it turns out, has been humming right along in in beta.

You’ll recall that in autumn of 2016, the Jane Austen-themed social MMO had launched into open beta with loads of quest and lag bugs repaired, special events in October, proximity chat, login stability, and new content. In December of that year, studio 3 Turn Productions rolled out the 3.1 update with the home ownership system. A year ago, update 4 hit the server with even more housing as well as horseback riding and carriages. And then… well, that’s the last newsletter on the official site, though we covered the card-playing update this past summer.

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Stardew Valley multiplayer development progresses, includes horse hats for some reason

Doesn’t it feel as if it’s been half of forever since Stardew Valley was supposed to pick up official multiplayer, thereby finally becoming a multiplayer sandbox we can legitimately cover because it’s awesome and we’d like to? It’s actually been almost two years as Chucklefish Games, whom creator Eric Barone brought on to handle the ports and multiplayer, worked on just that, with a late 2017 beta and early 2018 launch planned. Obviously, that didn’t happen. Last month, we learned that the beta is now slated for spring. The latest news is that… work continues. And also hats.

Stardew Valley multiplayer is in QA and bugs are being fixed at a very good pace!” Barone tweeted yesterday. “One of my favorite things in the new update… hats on your horses. They look very good on the horse. Looks pretty natural, actually.”

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Black Desert’s Xbox One teaser site is live ahhhhh

Hey, Xbox One players. You’re gonna like this. Black Desert’s Xbox One port is happening. I mean, we knew that, yes. But now it’s happening-happening, as Pearl Abyss just rolled out the teaser website to tantalize you. Forums are also expected to open up today too, and yes, the launch is still happening later this year.

Black Desert for the Xbox One family of devices is scheduled for launch in 2018. Supported devices are: Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and Xbox One.”

Interestingly, the game’s PR is claiming “Black Desert has the most fully developed character customization system of any game that is currently on the market.” Anybody want to debate that? Hype!

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Black Desert patches in Rabam’s Enlightenment, new PvP modes, and St Patrick’s Day events

The Enlightment has come to Black Desert today – Rabam’s Enlightenment, that is. And only the first phase, as explained in the patch notes.

“Players will be pleased to learn that Rabam’s Enlightenment will be rolled out for all 15 classes as a free update. Every character from level 56 and up can access this new feature from the skills page, provided they have sufficient skill points to attribute to Rabam’s Enlightenment. Furthermore, players will need to have unlocked the subsequent skills and sub skills in order to combine them. Through Rabam’s Enlightenment, two main skills can be combined into a greater and more powerful skill. A Warrior class can, for instance, combine the Ground Smash with the Ground Roar skill to create Seismic Strike and a Striker can mix Flow: Mass Destruction with Flash Step, creating Flow: Back Step.”

The second phase is next week and will be locked to level 57, ultimately granting all classes two such skills total.

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Pantheon on mismatched newbie armor and open-world dungeons

This month’s Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen newsletter is stuffed with images, thanks to features on gear creation and dungeons. Over on the armor side, Pantheon will cleave to the old paradigm of making newbies dress like hobos.

“We want players to feel a genuine sense of rags to riches in Pantheon,” says Visionary Realms’ Chris Perkins. “And so we want to be thoughtful about how quickly we roll out higher tier armors. So yes, you should be able to tell how high level someone is just by looking at them. That’s the goal. I also want to make an important point that while we are creating these Armors in sets, this doesn’t mean everyone will always be in a matching set of armor. […] At lower levels, it will be the norm to see players in more of a mismatched ensemble of gear, since they’re using whatever they can get their hands on without the luxury of going after specific pieces beyond their level range. And so part of the rags to riches equation will be seeing higher levels players getting closer to a matching set look.”

The dungeon deep-dive covers Halnir Cave specifically. It’s a “true open-world dungeon,” not instanced, with a mix of level ranges, but it’ll also have plenty of related quests.

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