Alphas & Betas Category

MMOs in various stages of testing and crowdfunding, playable and… not. Don’t forget to follow our Betawatch and Make My MMO columns for a weekly rundown. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Guild Wars 2 deep-dives Path of Fire’s elite specs for every class

ArenaNet has a new dev vlog out today focusing on the development of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire elite specs. Some of the class specs were born from a great name and concept, the studio says, like the Mesmer’s Mirage, whereas others were put together via a systematic review of game mechanics and consideration for what each class is currently lacking, like the Necromancer’s new support skills.

ArenaNet announced yesterday that it’ll be announcing even more (heh) about the elite specs throughout the week; expect the team’s livestream on Thursday ahead of the PvP preview weekend this Friday, then mount details on August 28th and story info coming at the beginning of September. In the meantime, the dev diary and the older elite spec videos roundup are down below.

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Interview: Daybreak’s Just Survive drops H1Z1 branding for massive revamp and relaunch today

Remember the survival version of H1Z1? If not, we can’t say that we blame you: Since Daybreak split the game in two, the bulk of development and attention has gone to the last-man standing tournament mode. Just check out how many patches and tournaments H1Z1: King of the Kill has seen! Those wanting to focus on the survival side of things were just out of luck as those servers seriously languished.

But all that changes today. No longer will H1Z1 Just Survive be lost in its sibling’s shadow; from here on out, Just Survive is its own game. And the name isn’t the only thing changing; beyond a rebranding, the entire game has gotten quite an overhaul.

I sat down with Creative Director Ben Jones for a tour of the many changes that go live today. We traveled the new map, investigated new POIs, visited the new safe zone respawn points (a few times!), met NPCs, checked out the new economy, and peeked at the new stronghold system. Jones also assured me that with its own development team, Just Survive will be receiving regular updates going forward. Will it be enough to bring players back? It worked for me. I had stopped playing the title quite a while ago (as I had no interest in KotK), but what I’ve seen now has me excited to give it another go.

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The Repopulation-spinoff Fragmented has reached release on Steam

Gosh, I had almost forgotten about Fragmented – it’s been a while! But it’s formally launched on Steam as of today for a discounted $5.99.

“Today we have moved Fragmented into a released state after 16 months and more than 30 patches in Early Access,” says Above and Beyond’s JC Smith, noting that launch “does not mean the end of updates” for the game; “tweaks and bug fixes” are still on the table.

Fragmented was originally created by A&B in the Great Repopulation Pause of 2015 as a survival sandbox spin-off of the The Repopulation, first Kickstarted in 2012. The MMORPG was crippled by a nasty public contract dispute between the dev team at A&B and its Hero Engine-lessor Idea Fabrik, driving The Repopulation offline and causing A&B to spend a year working on Fragmented instead. Earlier this year, the studio announced it had sold the game to Idea Fabrik instead, a move that A&B said was in the best interests of the game and the playerbase, while A&B kept Fragmented. Since then, Idea Fabrik has gotten The Repopulation back online in a limited alpha.

Source: Steam

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Conan Exiles to partially restrict nudity on Xbox One

Can barbarians experience censorship and shame? On a recent livestream, the Conan Exiles team briefly explained that there will be one significant difference between the European and North American versions of the Xbox client: nudity.

Specifically, it sounds as though the NA version will only have the options for fully clothed or topless characters, whereas the EU version will share the PC’s ability to show downtown plumbing if players desire. Because immersion cannot be reached unless your game world looks like the locker room at the gym, of course.

Some players are not happy over the restriction, although others point out that if this restriction is such a dealbreaker, it is not that hard to switch your game region over to Europe. Now that this crisis has been dealt with, we return you to the rest of the internet, which is completely and totally nudity-free.

Source: Funcom Mixer, Reddit. Thanks Tony!

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Wild West Online counters griefing with a rep system

So many sandbox MMOs claim to have cracked the problem of griefing with an open PvP system — but could Wild West Online actually do it?

In a new post on Facebook this week, the devs outlined how WWO’s reputation system will work as a safeguard against griefers getting too rambunctious in a free-for-all PvP situation. All players accrue positive or negative reputation based on their actions, with those sinking deep into negative territory becoming bandits. Bandits can be identified and hunted by sheriffs and deputies, and the worst of the worst will have a “most wanted” status and a bounty slapped on them for anyone to claim.

There’s more to it than just that, but the team hopes that this structure will curtail the worst behavior in players: “When we started designing these systems we had two mutually exclusive goals: make a game with relatively unrestricted PVP while still making sure the game doesn’t turn into COD deathmatch where all players shoot first and ask questions later. We feel that we have solved that by giving players a choice about how they will live in the world that carries actual in-game consequences. ”

Source: Facebook

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The Stream Team: A Jackal assassination in Warframe

As much as Massively OP’s MJ wants to complete all the missions on Venus, she heard that there’s a pet to be had on Mercury — a cuddly kubrow pup! That means she’s eager to finish up the requirements for the Mercury Junction, other missions be darned! All she has left to do is defeat Jackal at Fossa, so an assassination is in order. Join us live at 9:00 p.m. as MJ offs everything standing in the way of getting her puppy.

What: Warframe
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, August 14th, 2017

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Citadel: Forged with Fire deployed a patch to finally stop non-responsive AI

In the strictest sense, there’s nothing wrong with non-responsive AI in a game. Even in Citadel: Forged with Fire, it just means that whatever NPC you started smacking will not smack you back. So it technically means you get an easy win… while also feeling like you’ve cheesed the system and not actually won at all. Good thing that the game’s last patch last week was aimed at finally stomping out this particular problem once and for all, right?

The team is also looking ahead to its next Wednesday patch, which promises to add new creatures requested by the community, full WASD rebinding, and corpse markers on the map. Of course, it’s worth noting that those new creatures should all be responding and hitting you back at this point, so just keep that in mind before you decide to prod some kind of burning bird.

Source: Steam page

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Shroud of the Avatar is playable for free right now

If you haven’t been aware of it, Shroud of the Avatar is currently running yet another extended trial for the remainder of the month. That means that even if you haven’t purchased the game, you can still jump in and try it out between now and August 30th.

Of course, it is to be expected that a trial will come with limitations, and Shroud of the Avatar’s program is no different. There’s a long list of restrictions that freebies will have to accept, such as being denied trade privileges, property ownership, and open PvP flagging. Trial users also cannot play in the game’s offline mode and are limited to the Path of Love for the game’s story.

It should also be noted that if you get attached to your trial character, you’re going to want to pony up some money to keep it: “Character data may be deleted after free trial test is over if not upgraded to a paid account.”

MOP’s Eliot is exploring Shroud of the Avatar in this month’s Choose My Adventure series.

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Ubisoft on Skull and Bones’ business model, ‘treasure chest’ lootboxes, and live events

If you thought that Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones pirate MMO wasn’t going to have lootboxes, seriously, what rock are you living under? (And is it comfy? And can you maybe scoot over and make room for the rest of us?)

In a new interview with Gamespot, Ubisoft creative director Justin Farren says that the studio is going for “more of a service-based approach so that when you pay for this game, you have a commitment from us to develop content, new gameplay, modes, new content for the player to earn, and then of course, new regions to explore, and those things will unfold as the game launches and provide service over time.”

“We don’t want to create pay to win,” he says. “We don’t want to create something where players have to pay to compete. Our PvP is completely horizontal in a way that gives players a chance to develop their skills and compete against other players.”

But Overwatch-style lootboxes are definitely still on the table.

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Dark and Light turns on three new servers, does a few magic tricks

Attempting to keep up with the current demand of the early access fantasy sandbox, Snail Games announced this morning that it is activating three new servers for Australia, the US, and Europe.

Last week, the dev team wrapped up a lengthy look at its various schools of magic. The final videos looked at air, beast, and earth spells, such as being able to turn yourself weightless, transforming into a Deathstalker (whatever that is), and camouflaging yourself to avoid conflict.

Check out these new videos after the break!

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VR is still on the table for Star Citizen

VR-centric website Road to VR has a brief quote from Cloud Imperium Games that might be good news to those of you still hoping to someday see Star Citizen in virtual reality.

“Nothing new really to report here,” CIG told the publication in response to its status request. “We do plan on having VR support for Star Citizen. But it’s just having to fit in as a technology with all the other tech that we are currently incorporating into the game. As I’m sure you know, VR technology is evolving quickly. As with anything that fits this category, we are going to spend the time to make sure it’s integrated properly for our game.”

Indeed, as one Redditor points out, the game’s latest Around the Verse, which we covered Friday, features what is basically an in-game holo-watch dubbed mobiGlas; during that segment, CIG explained that it’s kept VR in mind while designing it.

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The Daily Grind: Are you a fan of Guild Wars 2’s non-traditional mounts?

Mounts are the big new thing in Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion, and as I’ve previously mentioned, I was initially concerned about their inclusion, given that traditional mounts would seem to necessitate a major revision of the game’s foundation. But of course, the new mounts aren’t traditional mounts; they seem more like toys to help players navigate parts of the world, not a second set of legs with a speed buff. I was OK with that; I was expecting, welcoming, something mundane and non-game-breaking.

But then my experience with the raptor mount in this weekend’s preview event actually impressed me: The raptor is astonishingly well-animated and genuinely fun (at least for those who don’t get motion sick), way better than a dumb toy or gimmick. While originally I rolled my eyes at the idea of romping around Elona on a dino, I surprised myself by enjoying whipping out rapty.

That said, I saw a lot of commentary this weekend from people who weren’t impressed — indeed, who talked themselves out of preorders specifically because of the mounts. The things I loved — the animations, the non-mandatory “toy” feel — seem to be huge turnoffs for other folks who want something more like, well, WoW. Is that you? Are you disappointed in the way the mount system works, or are you a fan of Guild Wars 2’s non-traditional mounts?

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Dead Maze shuffles into the crowded zombie survival gamespace

It’s been years since slapping zombies into your game was a novel attraction, yet it still remains a popular feature for players and developers alike. With The Walking Dead still generating water cooler discussions and geeks dreaming of that glorious post-apocalyptic fantasy, it is to be expected that more games take a stab (and a slice and a shot) at this setting.

Enter Dead Maze, a massively multiplayer cooperative survival game that places a greater emphasis on players working together than against one another. The title, which is coming to Steam in early 2018, has a colorful isometric look and is chock-full of hundreds of items that can be used for crafting and fighting. Camps can be built, classes can be swapped, and zombie hordes can be feared when they come calling.

“With Dead Maze we wanted to try and do something different,” said Atelier 801 Co-Founder Jean-Baptiste Le Marchand, “an MMO where you have to work together in order to survive and restore civilization. Exploring, crafting, fighting; all of this is key, but you won’t last long on your own. We can’t wait for our community and players to get started.”

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