The Daily Grind: What's the strangest MMO you ever tried?

Last month, I wrote a column on several MMOs that walked on the weird side. Even though many online games play it safe with genre and theme, once in a while we do get very odd, very doofy, and very bizarre MMORPGs that go a whole different direction.

My question today is, what's the strangest MMO you have ever tried? Do you play it safe yourself and stick to classic fantasy lest your imagination be stirred and your perceptions of reality start to warp and bend? Or have you dipped your toes into some of the more eccentric online worlds out there?

I think one of the strangest MMOs I've ever played was actually Fallen Earth. The whole post-apocalyptic setting gave the team an excuse for rewriting society to include really whacked-out holidays and myths based on before it all went to pot. Also, there were giant, mutated prairie chickens and hermit crabs wearing old CRT monitors, so my nightmares had some fuel for a few months there.

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Hundreds of housing items and dimensions are coming to RIFT in March

Next week marks RIFT's first big update of the Starfall Prophecy expansion cycle, Patch 4.1: Forged in Flames. When the patch drops on March 1st, it will not only bring a new raid and eternal weapons but also a semi truck's worth of additional dimensions and housing items.

Dimension Gallery has rounded up all of the details and images for professional and novice interior designers. At least five new dimensions will be added to the fantasy MMO: Volcanic Playground (sounds safe), Wyrd Hut, Alittu, Saint Taranis, and the wonderfully named Fortress of the Apocalypse.

Hundreds of additional housing items are coming as well, including banners, candles, building blocks, music blocks, and at least 35 buildings. If you primarily get your housing decor through minion missions, you'll be happy to hear that 4.1 will increase the number and types of dimension rewards that your followers bring back from associated quests.

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DDO celebrates 11 years while LOTRO promotes its community

On February 28th, 2006, Turbine branched out into a new franchise by launching Dungeons and Dragons Online. In the years that followed, DDO would make headlines with its pioneering of the western free-to-play model while also pushing out dozens of models and a few expansions.

To celebrate the game's 11th anniversary, the Standing Stone team is giving its players their choice of select gifts (or a huge chunk of XP). You'll need to follow these instructions to redeem them from the store before April 2nd!

Meanwhile, over at Lord of the Rings Online the team has started back up its efforts to promote the community with the first issue of the LOTRO Beacon. In it, you can find links to articles and videos from players, community spotlights, and a summary of the recent news from the game. It's a good sign for people hoping the new studio would mean big improvements for the team's involvement with the community.

Source: DDO, LOTRO. Thanks, DDOCentral and BalsBigBrother!

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ZeniMax attempts to block Facebook's use of Oculus Rift code

Not content with a partially (and lucrative) legal victory over Facebook and Oculus Rift, ZeniMax is now looking to block the use of specific lines of code in the making of Oculus VR titles.

This week, ZeniMax filed for a court injunction that, if approved, would stop developers from using specific parts of the Oculus code and could even remove games from sale that use those lines of code. ZeniMax continues to assert (and Oculus denies) that Facebook literally copied portions of code that belonged to the game studio and said that the courts have ruled that ZeniMax's copyrights were infringed.

At the beginning of this month, a jury awarded ZeniMax $500 million due to copyright infringement, false designation, and failing to comply with a non-disclosure agreement. This was not the full $4 billion that ZeniMax sought in the trial, and Oculus Rift was not convicted for ZeniMax's assertion of outright theft of trade secrets and intellectual property.

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En Masse is bringing Kritika Online to the west in Q2 2017

The explosive and hyper-kinetic Kritika Online has been confirmed for a 2017 release in the west. En Masse Entertainment, the publishers of TERA, announced yesterday that it will be releasing the cel-shaded anime MMO in the second quarter of this year.

Kritika features four classes and an over-the-top combat system that utilizes intense visuals, high-powered combos, and fast-paced play. The MMO is structured more like the original Guild Wars, as players will share questing hubs but will then go into instanced zones for their missions.

The title was developed by Korean studio Allm and is currently accepting closed beta signups on the website. Check out the game announcement trailer after the jump!

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World of Warcraft Q&A covers legendaries, artifact power, and relics; Blizz nixes 7.2 PvP changes

If you missed it, yesterday World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas sat down for another one of his lengthy community question-and-answer sessions.

While no groundbreaking revelations came out over the stream, Hazzikostas did spend a good amount of time answering queries about the constantly hot topic of Legion legendaries. He said that players who swap specs should find that the game will give them an increased chance of getting a legendary for that spec when there is none present. The team wants to reduce the power gap between strong and weak legendaries, although the four craftable legendaries in Patch 7.2 will be "middle of the road."

Other topics included how Patch 7.2 will deal with catching up on artifact power and expanding relics to include two traits instead of the current one. The patch will contain artifact knowledge tomes to boost players' alts to 30 and 35, as the team doesn't want players to feel as though they're doing nothing other than grinding AP for the expansion.

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Hearthstone gives a helping hand to arena mode

Hearthstone's arena is getting some much-needed love from the developers in the hopes that players will flock back to this game mode.

The biggest change in store for arena in Update 7.1 is the switch from wild format to standard. This is being done because arena was getting a little too wild, apparently: "Attempting to create decks that utilize these meaningful synergies in a wide and diluted card pool will become more and more difficult as the wild card pool grows larger."

But wait, that's not all! Arena will be tossing in a higher percentage of rare cards, pushing out more spell cards than before, holding back boring neutral classic cards, and including players' own golden card visuals if any are owned.

The update should be coming before the end of the month, so keep your eyes peeled!

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Check out these gorgeous New World screenshots

Ever since last September's surprise announcement that Amazon Game Studios was actually building a sandbox MMORPG called New World, we have been dying to know more about it. As the relative lack of coverage on this site might suggest, the studio hasn't really been promoting it past that initial press release.

However, a sharp-eyed fan noticed that the company did put two new screenshots for the game some time recently on the Amazon Lumberyard page. The first picture shows a lush forest setting while the second gives an idea of what a settlement might look like in those early colonial days.

Recently, Amazon put ex-Daybreak CEO John Smedley in charge of a new studio and different mystery project in San Diego. Check out the screenshots after the jump and let us know what you think in the comments!

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Black Bolt leaps into Marvel Heroes

Maybe you missed it, but Marvel is no longer going to be making an Inhumans movie. Instead, it's decided to adapt the comic series into a TV show for this fall on ABC that will also have a two-hour IMAX premiere. With that in mind, it seems understandable why Marvel Heroes would want to get Black Bolt into the game.

With today's update, the leader of the Inhumans joins the roster as the 61st playable hero. "Having experienced terrigenesis before he was born, Blackagar Boltagon was granted frighteningly destructive powers," said the introduction. "Though he justly serves the people of Attilan through the wise words his council, he chooses his own words to protect Attilan from those who would put the Inhumans in danger."

In addition to Black Bolt, Marvel Heroes has made some improvements to hero animations and power speed, upgraded three of the game's story chapters, and pushed through the major summoning changes that have been in the works for a while now. You'll also now only need to go to your hero roster to unlock new heroes and team-ups with eternity splinters, as Adam Warlock has been retired from this duty.

Source: Marvel Heroes, patch notes

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Shroud of the Avatar's latest update is off the rails

If you assumed that Shroud of the Avatar's February update was going to be on the small size, thanks to a shorter month, then you're right there with the devs. However they ended up pushing out a rather big patch with Release 39 today that continues to fill out the game as it heads to an official release later this year.

There's no one major headlining feature for Release 39 but instead several middle-of-the-road improvements. The team is progressing in its development of the Path of Courage and added the technologically savvy Kobolds and their counterparts, clockwork attack creatures. The update also contains crafting patterns (think "transmog" for weapons and gear), a pair of new dungeons, savable houses, a better cover system, neighborhood buffs, tweaks to the NPC conversation system, and Asian-themed architecture.

Players will also be able to put down those lutes after a long day of barding: "For our first foray into making handheld player items decorations, we picked handheld musical instruments because they are a nice small subset of items to experiment with as we work our way through the system. This means players can now place lutes, harps, flutes, and tabor drums as floor decorations."

Source: Patch notes

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MechWarrior Online adds the Supernova, works on skill tree revamp

Glomping into MechWarrior Online this week is the brand-new Supernova, a fearsome beast of a machine with two weapon module slots and two consumable slots.

The Supernova is part of the February update, which also adds some cockpit items, renames the invasion game mode to simply "siege," auto-renews mercenary contracts, and makes a slew of faction play and 'mech adjustments and fixes.

Next on deck for the lobby brawler is a revamp to the skill tree. The team has been working on this for some time and is adjusting it based on player feedback from the test realm. "The biggest topic of discussion has undoubtedly been the economy of the skill tree system," the devs wrote. "Much of the feedback we received also centered on the relative balance of the skill tree and the structure and content of certain skill branches and skill nodes."

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World of Warcraft hatches hippogryphs, expands Nighthold, and continues token madness

The expansion of World of Warcraft's token utility continues to ripple across the entire Blizzard ecosystem, as prices remain high and supply occasionally runs out. Polygon has gone so far to posit that grinding out gold in WoW might be more efficient to get those Hearthstone packs and Overwatch loot boxes than actually playing those games.

The article contains a lot of math: "It takes about 135 hours of playing Overwatch to earn 100 loot boxes. A bundle of 50 loot boxes costs $40 plus tax, so Overwatch pays out loot-box rewards worth about sixty cents for every hour you play [...] You should be able to earn the six tokens you need to buy a hundred loot boxes in about 30 hours of grinding herbs in World of Warcraft, so you earn more than four times as many Overwatch loot boxes per hour farming herbs in WoW than you’ll earn from actually playing Overwatch."

In other World of Warcraft news, wing three of Nighthold is now open for business, so get in there and make us all proud. Today and today only is the new Hatching of the Hippogryph micro-holiday, if you're into that sort of thing. Additionally, you might also want to catch the latest new developer Q&A livestream this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. EST.

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Perfect Ten: MMORPGs that help you get your spaceship on

Sometimes even the most die-hard MMORPG player finds him or herself a little tired of constantly looking at the back of a head and a running butt. We yearn to slip the surly bonds of the world to explore the cosmos in our very own rocket ship to see what is out there. E.T., are you taking house calls? Can we hang for a little while? I brought Reese's Pieces!

Getting this experience isn't quite as easy as, say, finding an MMO that caters to the dragon-slaying crowd. It's well-known that sci-fi MMORPGs are in the minority, and only a fraction of those center around or contain some element of space flight and combat. However, over the years we've seen online games here and there allow us to live out our fantasies of being a space jockey, whether in the form of a trader, a fighter pilot, or an explorer.

Today, let's look at 10 MMOs, past and present, that helped us get our spaceship on!

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