Matt Daniel

Matt is an incurable, lifelong nerd who has almost certainly spent more time in front of various screens and monitors than is strictly healthy. On the rare occasions that he manages to pull himself away from said screens and monitors, he's probably absorbed in a good book or scribbling down the latest half-formed story that's popped into his head.

Twitter: @Matt_DanielMVOP

Currently Playing: Black Desert

Hands-on: Digging deep into Crowfall’s pre-alpha crafting systems

Last weekend, Crowfall developer ArtCraft Entertainment held the last of its February playtest weekends, inviting the game’s Early Access backers to jump into the gameworld to play, test, and provide feedback on the game in its current state of development. As one of said Early Access backers (full disclosure there), I was among those invited to take part in the test, and having last played the game sometime early last year, I figured now would be a good time to pop in and see how the game’s coming along.

At present, the game build is a very early one that the devs have dubbed Pre-Alpha 2.0, so the features on display during the playtests are both limited and almost certain to undergo radical changes between now and Crowfall’s eventual launch. The game’s current, rather bare-bones incarnation includes the frameworks, in varying stages of completion and polish, for its basic gathering, crafting, and PvP combat features, though my playtime over the weekend was limited largely to the former two, with relatively little in the way of bloodshed. I don’t consider that to be altogether a bad thing, though; even this early implementation of Crowfall’s gathering and crafting systems is intricate enough that I reckon it deserves a column in and of itself, so let’s go ahead and dig in.

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Lost Continent: ArcheAge Revelation’s fresh start servers aren’t doing newbies any favors

It’s been over a month now since ArcheAge’s massive update 3.0 went live, adding oodles of new content to Trion’s expansive fantasy sandbox. The update, dubbed Revelation, is indeed monumental: It introduces two new races, the Dwarves and the Warborn—who join the Nuia and Harnya, respectively—and new starting zones for each; two massive new housing zones (one for each continent); new housing and social features such as housing-zone community centers and an overhauled family system; and an absolutely ludicrous number of adjustments and changes to almost all of the game’s existing systems.

On top of all the new content, Revelation also brought another new feature to ArcheAge’s proverbial table: brand-new “fresh start” servers, which are limited to players whose accounts were created on or after December 8th, 2016, and feature a modified version of the in-game cash shop that aims to limit the much-decried pay-to-win aspects of the game.

As someone who has always wanted to like ArcheAge but just couldn’t get past the pay-to-win stigma and the domination of the legacy servers by established players and guilds, I was intrigued by the prospect of starting the game with a blank slate, so I joined the flock of fellow fresh-starters to see if the experience might erase my former misgivings.

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Launch impressions of Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade, part two

On Monday, I delivered to you the first part of my impressions of the newly launched Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade, laying out both the basics of the game and whether it measures up as an MMO. Today, I’ll answer the second set — maybe the more important set — of questions my piece posed: Is the game finished, and is it fun?

Is Eternal Crusade finished?

Not even close. I mean, let’s say we set aside for a moment the previously-mentioned pushing back of the open-world elements of the game – elements that I consider to be core to the (ostensibly) planned vision of the game – which of course means that the game is by definition unfinished. Let’s say we set aside the fact that we are (ostensibly) talking about an MMO which, by the industry-standard principle of regular post-launch development and updates, are arguably never “finished.”

Even with those allowances, Eternal Crusade is, by almost every criteria, objectively unfinished. The idea that someone, presumably a person in a position of authority within the studio — or publisher, as the case may be — took even a cursory look at the current state of Eternal Crusade and said, “Yeah, that’s ready for launch,” is frankly inconceivable.

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Launch impressions of Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade, part one

In the grim darkness of the future, there is only war. That may be unfortunate for the inhabitants of the planet Arkhona and the rest of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, but you have to admit that it makes great material for game developers to capitalize on. The latest effort of adapting the world of WH40K into gaming gold comes in the form of Behaviour Interactive’s Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade. Although it’s but one in a long line of WH40K video games, Eternal Crusade is the first (uncancelled) title to attempt to bring this line of the franchise to life in MMO form.

The development of this ambitious MMO shooter has been somewhat tumultuous: 2015 saw the departure of the game’s lead level designer, lead programmer, and creative director from Behaviour Interactive, all in addition to the announcement that the studio had decided to reduce the game’s scope, pushing back the implementation of the game’s open-world elements.

In spite of these setbacks, however, Eternal Crusade became available through Steam’s Early Access program in January 2016, and just last week the game dropped the Early Access tag and celebrated its official launch. A quick glance at the game’s reviews on Steam, however, indicates that its reception has been less than stellar, but as both a critic and a fan of the WH40K franchise, I felt that I ought to check it out for myself, so here we are, in part one of our impressions (part two is also live now).

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First impressions of World of Warcraft: Legion’s Demon Hunter

Nearly 10 years ago, the opening cinematic for World of Warcraft’s second expansion The Burning Crusade heralded the return of misguided anti-hero turned madman (madelf?) Illidan Stormrage, the first Demon Hunter, who taunted players with the now-infamous line, “You are not prepared!” By the end of the expansion, though, players proved otherwise, venturing into the Black Temple and, with the help of the Warden Maiev Shadowsong and the Broken Draenei Akama, putting an unceremonious end to Illidan’s life. And I was so pissed off.

At the time of his defeat during The Burning Crusade, Illidan’s apparent death also signaled the death of my hopes of my own Night Elf (a Rogue whom I have roleplayed as a Demon Hunter since sometime around Wrath of the Lich King) ever being able to actually take up the class’s iconic warglaives and blindfold outside of the imaginary realm of RP. Needless to say, when the announcement came that Legion would introduce Demon Hunters as a hero class – the first since the concept of hero classes was introduced by Death Knights in Wrath – I was a little bit excited, to put it mildly. So now that I’ve been given access to the expansion’s beta test (with the expansion’s official launch just over a month away), I figured I’d indulge my excitement by checking out the new class and its starting experience to see if it lives up to the lofty expectations I’ve set.

This piece will touch on the class’ starting experience and lore, so be warned: There are spoilers ahead.

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First impressions of Nexon’s Riders of Icarus

Earlier this month, the latest addition to Nexon’s perpetually expanding stable of MMORPGs, Riders of Icarus, took wing into its “soft launch,” or open beta, whichever meaningless term you happen to prefer. However soft the launch may be, the fact remains that the game, which largely centers around the taming and training of a variety of mounts, both terrestrial and aerial, has by all meaningful parameters gone live.

Over the last couple of weeks since the game’s release, I’ve spent the majority of my admittedly limited leisure time working my way through RoI’s early game. Although Riders, like almost all games in the genre, contains a great deal more content than I’ve yet had the time to experience, I think I’ve seen enough to provide some first impressions. So go ahead and saddle up, ‘cause we’re going for a ride.

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First impressions: Why Pokemon Go is uniquely compelling

I, like many others who were children throughout the ‘90s and early 2000s, went through a period in my young life where the only thing I wanted in life was to be a Pokemon master. I wanted to be the very best like no one ever was, the whole nine yards. My mom swears that when I was a wee lad of five or so, the top item on my Christmas list (which was of course intricately arranged in order of priority, because even five-year-old me was neurotic) was the rather large order of asking Santa to send me real, live Pokemon, which I was sure had to exist somewhere in the world. If we, the human race, possessed the technology to clone sheep, then surely Santa could just inject some lightning into a mouse and create a Pikachu. Five-year-old me’s logic was airtight.

Well, a couple of decades later, we still don’t have the technology to genetically engineer honest-to-god Pokemon so that eleven-year-old children everywhere can flee their homes and wander the world with their trusty pets/instruments of borderline godlike power at their sides. I know, I’m disappointed, too. But what we do have is Pokemon Go, the augmented-reality mobile title from Niantic that is letting everyone who ever hoped to travel across the land (searching far and wide) in hopes of becoming the world’s greatest Pokemon master do exactly that through the magic of their mobile phones.

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Choose My Adventure: Amnesia and exploration in Project Gorgon

Hello, friends, and welcome back to Choose My Adventure. If you’re just tuning in, you need to know that this round of columns is focusing on indie sandbox Project Gorgon. Last week, I asked y’all to vote on my character’s race and gender, and it was a close race, with the innuendo-loving Elves and the feral feline Rakshasa vying for supremacy while the ever-milquetoast Humans watched from the sidelines. I thought for sure that the Elves had it in the bag, but in the end, the Rakshasa cinched the victory. The contest to choose my character’s gender was a good sight closer, as it always is, but in the end, the decision went for male by a slim margin of 10 votes. The result of your votes is Koshekh the Rakshasa, pictured above in all his fabulous feline glory.

Although Koshekh and I have only just begun to dip our toes into the fathomless deeps of Project Gorgon, we’ve already had a few delightfully bizarre escapades. Koshekh’s adventure, like all others in Project Gorgon, begins at character creation. Following a brief introductory scene where poor Koshekh was incapacitated by a trio of grotesque, levitating crones who lamented that they were unable to break his will and ultimately decided to just wipe his mind and call it a day, he awoke on the shore of a desolate island.

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Desert Nomad: Massively OP’s guide to Black Desert’s siege warfare

Hello friends, and welcome back to Desert Nomad. This week is a pretty big one for Black Desert, as I’m sure you’re all aware. At some point this week, the game is getting the siege patch — as of today, the update has been delayed until Friday. For players who are inclined toward PvP, this update is a major one, as it will finally allow guilds to duke it out for control of nodes and entire continents in hopes of earning the bragging rights (and not to mention the sweet, sweet tax money) that comes with victory.

In preparation for the grand premiere of Node and Conquest Wars, Daum released a handy-dandy manual on Siege Warfare 101 to prep players on how everything’s gonna work. If you’ve taken a look at it, however, you may have noticed that it’s not exactly a quick and easy read; there’s a lot of information to take in, but it’s all sort of scattered throughout the manual. So today, I’d like to try to break down the basic mechanics of Node and Conquest Wars for more convenient digestion.

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Choose My Adventure: Priming up for Project Gorgon

Hi there, friends! Welcome back to Choose My Adventure, where this week I’ll be unveiling the results of last week’s poll, fine readers like you (perhaps including you) voted to select the game I’ll be diving into for the next however-many weeks, where I’ll be obeying your every command so that you can play vicariously through me.

The Division and Tree of Savior were basically out of the running from the get-go, barring a feat of divine intervention. Alas, the divines were apparently too preoccupied to bother, and the pitiful pair came out with a paltry 7% and 19% of the overall vote, respectively. The race between the two real contenders, Project Gorgon and The Elder Scrolls Online was a good bit closer, and although Project Gorgon got off to an early lead, ESO was never far behind. But, to my admittedly pleasant surprise, Project Gorgon – an underdog for sure, I’d thought – kept its lead until the very end, crossing the finish line with 42% of the total vote to ESO’s 32%.

And so, as Caesar said, the die is cast. I’m not sure that Caesar’s was a d20, but I’m going to assume it was. So without further ado, please join me as I prepare to cross the Rubicon into the world of Project Gorgon.

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Desert Nomad: Immersion, atmosphere, and roleplaying in Black Desert

Hello friends, and welcome back to Desert Nomad, your more or less biweekly source of ramblings that are almost guaranteed to be at least tangentially related to Black Desert. As is custom around these parts, since I spent last week’s column pretty much roundly criticizing the game, I’d like to swing the emotional pendulum back in the other direction this week by discussing something that is near and dear to my heart: roleplaying.

Specifically, I’d like to talk about roleplaying in Black Desert – surprise, right? I know that I spend a lot of time, both in this column and in other pieces I’ve written, talking about the finer details of the games I cover – mechanics, game systems, and the like. While those underlying nuts and bolts have a lot to do with whether or not I find a game fun from the start, once I’ve hit max level, geared up, seen the sights and so on, there has to be a reason for me to keep logging in every day. For me, that reason isn’t the daily quests, the raids, or the PvP — it’s the roleplay.

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Choose My Adventure: Revenge of the CMA

Hello, friends, and welcome to the long-overdue return of Choose My Adventure. I don’t have a lot to say in the way of preamble, for once in my life. You guys know how this works: You choose a game for me to play, tell me how to play it, and I come back each week to report the consequent joys and/or psychic trauma that I experience.

This week, I present to you four games that will be contending for your votes, all in the hopes of being the primary object of my gaming attention for the next few weeks. Will I walk the ruined streets of The Division’s New York City, explore the many possibilities of Project: Gorgon’s sandbox, kick it old-school in the isometric-2D Tree of Savior – which has been hailed as the spiritual successor to Ragnarok Online – or will I wander the expanses of The Elder Scrolls Online’s Tamriel? The choice is yours, of course! So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at each of our contenders.

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Desert Nomad: The misplaced individuality of Black Desert

Hello, friends, and welcome back at long last to another installment of Desert Nomad. I’m very sorry to have kept you all waiting during my impromptu sabbatical, and if it’s any consolation, the vast majority of it was spent dealing with aggro from the dread fiend known as Real Life. But I survived with my sanity more or less intact, and I’m once again ready to recklessly abandon the real world in favor of one in which most of my problems can be solved by swinging a sword, pickaxe, or other suitable implement at them.

Once I had recovered from dodging the barrage of curveballs that reality had so generously thrown at me, I immediately set to work trawling Black Desert’s forums and subreddit to see what had gotten the community abuzz during my absence. Needless to say, I had a lot of catching up to do. The Mediah content update went live, granting players access to a big new chunk of the world, which is accompanied by oodles of new quests, and opening up the Crimson Battlefield 40-vs-40 PvP deathmatch. Unfortunately, however, I can’t write about that yet on account of the fact that I have experienced none of it because of another major content update I missed: The classes I’d been waiting for, Blader and Plum, made their debuts under the new names of Musa and Maehwa, and since my return to the game, every iota of my attention has been focused solely on catching my dashing new Blader up to my former Warrior main.

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