Columns Category

Enjoy a run-down of our recent long-form pieces, both game-specific and more general. You might also be interested in our list of all of our columns and recurring articles. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Betawatch: Fortnite rolls out a free-for-all mode that’s free for all (September 22, 2017)

Remember when Fortnite’s whole thing was that it was going to be about co-op survival gameplay without any PvP aspects? That clearly didn’t last, as it turns out the game’s new Battle Royale mode is going to be free-to-play and seems to be getting an unexpected share of the game’s development. Oh, and the game accidentally turned on cross-platform play before turning it right back off, so that was great too.

In unrelated news, we bid farewell to Guardians of Ember as it has actually, like, launched now. It’s not in early access any more! It’s just access. Guild Wars 2 has also dropped its second expansion, and The Elder Scrolls Online has its latest DLC up on the test server.

More beta news? Yes indeed! Including titles you might not have seen this week otherwise.

  • All right, Pantropy, do you really think that the only thing you need to seduce someone into survival sandbox games is to include a bunch of stompy mechs? Because you are very possibly right.
  • The stress testing for MU Legend is running on September 23rd, which is the server equivalent of packing tons of college freshmen into a phone booth and daring them to fall out. Taking part will earn you 500 Bound Redzen for use in the future, so if the simple joy of stress testing isn’t enough, do it for the bribery.
  • You’ve missed the first alpha testing weekend for Closers, but there are several more weekends coming up, such as this weekend. Would you like a whole schedule for the next few weeks? You’ve got one.
  • The closed alpha weekends for Survived By are starting very soon, with several closed alpha weekends planned over the next several weeks. Exact dates aren’t given, unfortunately, but considering that there are only so many people being invited, that seems at least moderately sensible.
  • Around 350 players took place in the second OrbusVR closed beta, and you can catch up on the notes from that second beta right now. It’s a good chance to keep an eye on the game when you’re not keeping both eyes in the headset.

And as we always do, there’s a list of titles in testing and early access just below, because that’s how we operate. Did something hop to another phase of testing without letting us know? Fix that oversight in the comments. You can also use the comments for other comments, of course.

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EverQuesting: Is EverQuest II in a downward spiral?

Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)

Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!

But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.

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Tamriel Infinium: First impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC

It’s hard to know where to start with these impressions because the upcoming DLC for Elder Scrolls Online is significantly more complex, more extensive, and more fun than I originally anticipated. Clockwork City has surprised me on multiple levels. Those who were fans of the Tribunal expansion for Elder Scrolls III will find nostalgia everywhere, and those who are new to this part of the lore will find a world that is similar yet very different from the rest of ESO.

Over the last couple of days, I have been spending my time on the public test server for Elder Scrolls Online where ZeniMax Online Studios has dropped its latest DLC: Clockwork City. This isn’t the first time we’ve been to the Clockwork City, but this DLC will be the first time that we are allowed to freely explore this creation of the god Sotha Sil.

There is no way that I am going to be able to sum up the hours of gameplay that Clockwork City has to offer in just a few hundred words, but let me hit on a few things that were the most important to me: aesthetics, storytelling, exploration, and gameplay.

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The Daily Grind: Is inventory management a fundamental part of MMO gameplay?

Growing up mostly on consoles, inventory management was not a big part of gaming when I was younger. Downright irrelevant, even; the question was how many cottages I had on-hand in the original Final Fantasy, not whether or not I could fit them in my inventory. (Which makes sense, since by the time you’ve fit an entire cottage into your backpack you might as well be able to fit ninety-eight more.) But MMOs work on stricter requirements, and thus we have ongoing changes with games like Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft giving me more space even as they give me more stuff to manage.

The latest bit of inventory management hassle for Guild Wars 2, though, makes me wonder if this is really just a matter of chasing old ideas when there are better options available. That might be more a function of annoyance than a useful idea, but then I remember that the games I remember most fondly are not ones in which I recall inventory management; at best, I forget those irritations (such was the case with City of Heroes, where I actually forgot about the glut of Enhancement drops even at launch, much less the later crafting materials). What do you think, readers? Is inventory management a fundamental part of MMO gameplay? Or should it be something you don’t have to worry about any longer?

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Choose My Adventure: The return to Guild Wars 2

Many moons ago, when I was first hired on Massively-that-was, my fellow hire at the time was a lady by the name of Rubi Bayer. We hit it off pretty well and became friends. She was also very excited about a title that had yet to come out at the time, a game by the name of Guild Wars 2. For those of you coming to this story without knowledge of names, she’s now working for ArenaNet on that exact same game, along with two other former writers from our staff, all of whom are people I consider friends of mine.

So perhaps it’s a bit odd that I’ve not played Guild Wars 2 since well before Heart of Thorns launched. I have some history with the game, but it’s never been one of my main titles. And now that I’m heading back into it for its second major expansion, I think it’s a fine time to walk back through my experiences there, what I hope to find, and also ask a few reader questions along the way. Because that’s how polls work, after all.

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Jukebox Heroes: Music from Destiny 2, LOTRO, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online

Apologies for being extensively absent from this column over the last few months! Every day the Massively OP offices are deluged with fan mail demanding, “Bring back Jukebox Heroes! Where is Jukebox Heroes? How can I survive without that epic MMO music to get me through the week?”

To which I can only mutter something about a classified mission to Paraguay, being adopted by a jaguar for six weeks, and subsequently finding myself co-starring with The Rock on his latest escapade. It’s all in the line of duty when you are an MMO reporter.

But I am back, and boy is there a lot of news to talk about this week! Let us catch up on the MMORPG music scene and see what is happening with Destiny 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online already!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Our Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire launch countdown checklist

I can’t quite believe that around 18 months of Guild Wars 2 development is about to drop in our laps this week through the Path of Fire expansion! It feels entirely different to the mammoth Heart of Thorns hype train that was somewhat marred by first expansion trepidation and the controversial pricing structure and content inclusions: On the second pass through an expansion release cycle, ArenaNet has managed to field a largely more low-key, straightforward road to launch, barring some grievances regarding material storage and gear identification. The hype train is building this week, and I wanted to help the effort by sharing my launch countdown checklist with you all so you can join me in

The hype train is building this week, and I wanted to help the effort by sharing my launch countdown checklist with you all so you can join me in looking forward to the expansion drop. In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll speculate on main story points I hope to see in PoF, give pointers on prepping for Friday, and share some of the upcoming must-see ArenaNet launch materials. I’ll mainly just throw some ideas out that might help distract you while you wait on the big day. Do take note that those who wish to avoid all information about the expansion before Friday should give this column a miss for now in case of spoilers.

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood dungeons in review

Have I really not talked about the dungeons of Stormblood yet? That’s unexpected. Usually I would have mentioned them by now, I talk about these things a lot. Yet here we are and I haven’t really given a deep look at any of the dungeons through the leveling experience up to the top. It is, frankly, a shocking realization, and it’s all the worse that I spent a lot of time thinking (and working on) columns on more esoteric elements of Final Fantasy XIV before remembering this obvious one.

So let’s correct this now and talk about these dungeons. The level range for things was adjusted after my initial preview, and we have a similar leveling arrangement to how things were in Heavensward, but I honestly like this batch more. Part of it is familiarity, sure, but I remember feeling like the first two dungeons in Heavensward were kind of clunkers even when they were new, compared to really enjoying the heck out of everything in Stormblood. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t high points and low points, but… well, let’s just get to it, yes?

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EVE Evolved: How much toxic, antisocial behaviour should MMOs tolerate?

The EVE Online community is aflame this week after alliance leader gigX was permanently banned for making threats of real-life violence against another player following possibly the biggest betrayal in EVE history. Some players don’t want to accept that gigX crossed a serious line and deserves his ban, and others have been asking why The Mittani’s similar actions in 2012 resulted in only a temporary ban. CCP’s official stance is that its policies have become stricter since 2012, but it’s still not entirely clear exactly where the line is drawn.

Another side to the debate is that the internet itself has evolved over EVE‘s 14-year lifespan, and a lot of toxic behaviour that was accepted or commonly overlooked on the early internet is now considered totally unacceptable. Many of us have grown from a bunch of anonymous actors playing roles in fantasy game worlds to real people sharing our lives and an online hobby with each other, and antisocial behaviour is an issue that all online games now need to take seriously. The lawless wild west of EVE‘s early years is gone, and I don’t think it’s ever coming back.

So what’s the deal? Does EVE Online tolerate less toxic behaviour today, has the internet started to outgrow its lawless roots, and what does it mean for the future of sandboxes?

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PAX West 2017: ARK Survival Evolved on optimization, the Aberration expansion, and future development

This past summer, ARK: Survival Evolved finally officially launched, ending its stint as an early access game just three days before PAX West, then promptly announced its second expansion on the first day of the convention. There wasn’t even a week between launch and the second expansion’s unveiling, and there will be fewer than two months between the two launches; Aberration is scheduled to launch in October.

While at PAX, I sat down with Studio Wildcard Senior Producer Navin Supphapholsiri, who thanked fans for supporting the game: “We really appreciate the support for the past two years. Just to see how far we’ve come along, it’s all thanks to the community.” Then we talked about the launch, about Aberration, and about the team’s focus going forward.

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One Shots: A bridge too far

One more bridge. That’s what she kept telling me, even though I cautioned her that sooner or later our luck would run out. She would pause, then shake her head and urge us on. One more bridge.

That day, when we crossed a seemingly innocuous wooden bridge over RIFT’s gorgeous Scatherron Forest, our luck broke — as did six boards, sending us plummeting down into a gorge. As I fell, I wondered why I was taking orders from my talking mount anyway. Perhaps she knew that fall damage was a thing of the past and I could be pressured into recklessness.

After I pick myself back up and find another route onward, we’ll look at the rest of this week’s player-submitted screenshots and stories!

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The Daily Grind: What sort of content discourages you from projects in MMOs?

Pretty soon, we’re getting the next tier of anima/zodiac/whatever weapons in Final Fantasy XIV. Every time those show up I find myself thinking that this time, this time I’m going to knuckle down and get this done. And each time a FATE grind kicks things off, and then I’m out. No thank you, see you again next expansion. That instantly and viciously kills my interest in the quest line each time around, and honestly I don’t know why; it’s not that I won’t do FATEs for other purposes, after all.

I’m not unique in this, but it’s also nice to know that I’m not the only one who has similar barriers. I know there are people who clocked out of crafting quests in World of Warcraft: Legion because those quests require dungeon running, and these are people who generally are happy to run dungeons and craft. Putting the two together just felt like orange juice and toothpaste, it seems.

So what about you, readers? What sort of content discourages you from projects in MMOs? Is it always the same sort, or does it depend entirely on the game in question? And is that content stuff you enjoy normally or something you don’t want to do anyhow?

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Whatever happened to Black Gold, Order and Chaos Online, and Eden Eternal?

Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.

Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately?

That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing. Today we look at whatever happened to Black Gold, Order and Chaos Onlineand Eden Eternal.

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