First and foremost, before I start talking about my last week of adventures in WildStar, I'd like to thank the developers for giving me an opportunity I rarely have in this column. Nine times out of ten the reality of the column means I don't get to actually see high-level play at all; I don't know that I'd classify this week's adventure as being indicative of the whole level cap experience, but it gives me a better picture of it than just sitting down at level 10 or whatever.
I'd also like to thank a friend for accompanying me up to the high-level portion of the game, since she was curious about it as well. Teamwork, people, that's what MMOs are all about.
When I originally played WildStar, I had in fact reached level cap and done a fair number of the initial crop of dailies during one of the earlier patches. Thus, my friend and I decided to unlock the Primal Matrix and head out to Arcterra, which was added too recently for either of us to have seen it in the past. Yes, that meant I wasn't going to be in an area going "oh, I remember this," but it meant that I'd have a good idea about that part of the endgame.
The launch of the Morrowind expansion will bring three separate battleground maps to The Elder Scrolls Online, and while all three feature the same three-way battle, they aren't all going to play the same. First on deck? The Dwarven ruins of Ald Carac. If your first thought upon hearing that you're going to be fighting for dominance in a ruin is that you're going to have a remarkably constrained experience, well, you're more or less right about that.
Ald Carac features rather narrow corridors and twisting passages, so players will need to be aware that someone cold easily slip just outside of their fields of vision. Of course, that means you can also set up ambushes within the region, so it cuts both ways. You can also move to the center of the map, which is far more exposed but also gives you a clear view of both opposing bases. It's going to be a game of movement and tight conflicts in Ald Carac, so be sure to bring a melee weapon with you and get ready to realize that there's someone behind you a moment too late.
Bad news for those who were looking forward to another SMITE spinoff game; it appears that the digital card game version of the game, SMITE Rivals, is taking a vacation from development. According to Hi-Rez Studios president Stew Chisam, the game's development is being put on hold to focus on developing SMITE Tactics:
I'm quite fond of 20XX, but I really hate the upgrades you can pick up in the game that eliminate hit stun. Sure, it means you don't get knocked back by things, but it also means you can easily overlook when you're taking damage until you explode. I consider that slightly less than a desirable outcome, you know?
MMOs, in general, do not have the same sort of combat feedback as platformers, but they can have similar problems. One of the problems I found in early versions of The Elder Scrolls Online was combat feeling floaty and devoid of impact, making it hard to tell if my attacks were actually making a difference. (That's no longer the case, I should note.) Similarly, I've always found Final Fantasy XI with its slow pace to give you a pretty clear picture of whether or not your attacks are landing and doing something; the answer might be "no," but at least you have an answer.
Of course, there are lots of different games with many different combat styles; TERA has excellent feedback about whether you're doing well in combat, with everything feeling like it has a solid impact, but the similarly designed WildStar sometimes feels devoid of a strong sense of impact. So let's turn the question over to you. Which MMOs have the best combat feedback? Which games are great about making you feel like you're hitting something and causing an impact, and which ones leave you unsure?
I was pretty well taken by multiplayer survival sandbox Rend as soon as I saw it at this year's PAX East 2017, as I wrote yesterday. The concept immediately spoke to me as taking a lot of the cool ideas from other survival games while making the game as a whole into something very different. But I also entirely understand that sometimes you can look at the game and wonder what makes it so different. After all, it's hardly the first time that we've had a game using a lot of the building blocks. So why am I over the moon about Rend but not its obvious inspirations and close cousins?
The answer is that in some cases, I am over the moon about its close cousins. But it's also important to understand the distinction and the fact that Rend is not, say, Crowfall or Conan Exiles or any other game. So what makes Rend different? Not necessarily better, but how does it stack up to the obvious points of comparison?
The space combat of Star Trek Online
is pretty much the crown jewel of the game. It's intriguing, diverse, engaging, and pretty much everyone who plays the game is all but contractually obligated to praise it. But it's certainly not perfect, which is why the game is rebalancing the space combat. A new post on the official site details the core philosophy behind the changes
to keep the gameplay fun and vital while adding more choices, and the barest skeleton of the changes are also outlined.
Beam Overload is becoming slightly less powerful, while targetable kinetic weapons like torpedoes will be harder (but not impossible) to shoot down and no longer will be affected by abilities like Tyken's Rift. Several profession abilities are also being buffed up significantly to have a greater impact on combat, like a big boost to Miracle Worker's effects and a new Science ability to improve healing and exotic damage. The full list of changes will be detailed point-by-point in an upcoming test patch, so players can look forward to the full set of shifts with the upcoming change for feedback.
If you're playing Final Fantasy XIV
on a PlayStation 3, your days are numbered. Support for the platform is being discontinued with the launch of Stormblood
, something that the official site is reminding remaining console players about on a regular basis. This is why the option to pay for a 90-day subscription for PS3 users is being removed on the weekend of March 18th
; you won't have more than 90 days to play, so it's unfair to have you pay for that full subscription.
Of course, if you are on PS3 and want to keep playing, the game is still running on PC and PS4, and you can take advantage of the game's upgrade option to move your account to the PS4 at no additional cost. (If you don't already own a PS4, it's still a bit pricey.) It's just the end of support for the old hardware already struggling on occasion, but it's being done with an eye toward transparency for players on every platform.
If you've somehow missed it in every single discussion of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen's design philosophy, the game is very much a throwback to the older days of MMOs. Of course, back in those older days you would have to go to four or five different sites to find out about the materials for a simple crafting recipe, and there was no assurance that all of those sites would be providing the same information. The new Pantheon wiki should be much easier to look at for any needed information.
Due to the early state of the game the wiki is still on the lighter side, but it already outlines what we know about the game's classes, races, and mechanics. Plus, it's a wiki, so you know that updates are going to be pretty easy to come by. Check out the whole thing, whether you're looking for information right now or just want to bookmark it for future use.
Last week, No Man's Sky patched in the option to build rovers for quickly traversing the landscape. That's just a good thing, right? After all, it means that you could hop from place to place without having to use up fuel on your ship. Except that for some reason, the geobays required for these rovers could only be built on your home planet, meaning that you couldn't use them at all on any new world you discovered. In other words, a great new tool for exploring strange new worlds could not be used to explore strange new worlds.
Whether this was an accident or an oversight is unclear, but either way, it's been changed now. Players can now build geobays on new worlds, meaning you can hop in and start exploring with faster movement wherever you wind up. Or you can just put on an appropriate soundtrack and start crushing the local wildlife underneath your exploratory vehicle's wheels. It's all up to you, it's your playground.
Has it really been a year since Paragon first went into early access? It certainly has according to the developers, and they would know. By way of celebration, players are being treated to a nice big patch containing all sort of fun toys, starting with a new hero named Yin. She whips things and reflects projectiles, so if that's your thing you should be happy to see her show up.
The game has also adjusted balance on 20 different existing heroes, as well as adjusting several cards and adding a large number of new ones. Players also have access to the new Banner feature, allowing you to show off your sign for kills and tower destruction. Last but not least, there are also a number of promotional giveaways to coincide with the anniversary. You can find out everything from the full patch notes, or you can check out the top-level overview with the video just below.
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and another BlizzCon every year even if Blizzard has absolutely nothing new to announce. Then again, we don't know if Blizzard has nothing new to announce yet; it's only March, and BlizzCon isn't until November. The event page has just been updated to indicate that this year's event will be on November 3rd and 4th in the usual convention center in Anaheim, CA. Tickets will go on sale on April 5th and April 8th.
Of course, we don't yet have information on virtual tickets, associated digital swag, or anything else. But we know it's happening, and you can start blocking out the time for it. Meanwhile, we'll get our liveblogging posts ready well in advance of the actual event, as you know we'll have coverage is you can't make the actual convention. Feel free to join us in the official drinking game: Every time someone says e-sports, you can take a shot, and oh dear you now have alcohol poisoning.
My absolute first appointment at PAX East 2017 was to stop by The Elder Scrolls Online display to check out the new battlegrounds coming up with the game's Morrowind expansion. This should not have been difficult to do, but it was made quite difficult by unnecessarily awful traffic. Seriously, it was bumper-to-bumper through long stretches of the Mass Pike, despite the fact that there was barely any snow falling and no road accumulation. I was a little bit late, in fact.
Why am I telling you this story? Because the reality is that it's the most interesting story that I have beyond the title line.
I don't mean to imply that I was disappointed by The Elder Scrolls Online's battleground gameplay because I wasn't. It was solid! I would go so far as to say it was exactly what your mind pictures when you put the game's title and "battleground" into the same sentence. The problem with describing it is just... well, again, it's exactly what your mind pictures. It is a battleground, and it is in The Elder Scrolls Online. That's it.
The Breach queue in Star Trek Online
has been trimmed up nicely for console players, shortened to the most interesting portions of the queue and generally improved all around. That alone might be reason for players to jump in and start playing it, but the designers are offering some added incentive to play from March 16th to April 7th
. Queue up for either the normal or advanced version of the queue with a character at level 50 or higher, and you'll be able to earn a Voth Operative Transmission from a successful clear.
One transmission may be earned every 20 hours of real-world time, and a set of 14 such transmissions can be used for a special event project that rewards 50,000 Dilithium Ore, 500 Fleet Marks, 250 more marks of the player's choice, and a special Admiralty ship. The Advanced version of the queue will also award players with Voth Cybernetic Implants, as always. It's just a little extra push to get console players into the Breach, so we recommend getting ready to start heading in promptly once March 16th rolls around.