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]

EVE Evolved: Last-minute advice on Abyssal Deadspace in EVE Online

There are just two days to go before EVE Online‘s Into the Abyss expansion lands on May 29th, introducing its new Abyssal Deadspace solo PvE feature. Players will use abyssal filaments to travel into Abyssal Deadspace pockets that exist underneath space throughout the EVE universe, risking their ships in challenging procedurally generated encounters. It’s in these instanced solo encounters that players will come face to face with The Triglavian Collective, a bizarre and twisted subspecies of human with powerful new ships and a new type of subatomic particle weapon called the Entropic Disintegrator.

This new solo content is intended for players of all skill levels, with the lowest tier sites being easy enough to complete in a well-designed tech 1 cruiser and higher tiers requiring considerably more expensive gear. Each site contains 3 randomly generated pockets of deadspace to defeat within 20 minutes, after which time the pocket will implode and destroy your ship. The prizes for risking it all in these dungeons include blueprints to build player-controlled Triglavian ships, plans for Entropic Disintegrators, and Mutaplasmids that can randomly mutate the stats on existing items.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I follow up on last month’s article on preparing for the Into the Abyss expansion with some last-minute guidelines on preparing your ships, how to use drones effectively in Abyssal Deadspace, and useful tips and strategies for tackling the sites.

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One Shots: The cream of the shuttercrop

What do you get when you ask MMO players with bulging folders of screenshots to pick their very, very best to show off? An absolutely amazing array of visual delights, that’s what.

Zyrusticae kicks off our look at the MOP community’s best-of-the-best screenshots with this view of what I think is Blade and Soul: “Just one? Really? Just the one? Boy, you really know what to say to induce absolute decision-making paralysis in me, don’t you? Well, after much deliberation, I just realized that it had to be this one. There is no other shot that gets my attention as much as this one does. The absurdly saturated, bright blue color palette in contrast with the autumn colors… yes, it does my heart good.”

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best in-game cosmetic options?

With the changes made in Legion, World of Warcraft wound up with a pretty great system for cosmetic outfits. Unfortunately, it also has some notable problems, starting with the fact that there is a fairly narrow range of different cosmetic options actually available in the game. Every robe, for example, has the same basic geometry as every other. The expansion helpfully adds a few more bits and bobs, but it kind of points to the fact that the best cosmetic system in the world doesn’t help if the game’s cosmetic options are lacking.

Of course, that simply raises the question of which MMO has the best cosmetic options. But more than that, which MMO has the best in-game cosmetic options? It’s all well and good if you love the costumes in Black Desert Online, but if you feel like all of the good ones are available only on the cash shop, it rather cuts down on your practical choices. So which game do you vote for the best options available just through the game, regardless of the cosmetic system?

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LOTRO Legendarium: Why Mordor fails and Northern Mirkwood succeeds

When Lord of the Rings Online turned its sight toward Mordor, it had been running off of a rather hot streak. Not perfect, mind you, but the past couple of years had seen a lot of great content come into the game. Gondor itself was beautiful and, taken together, a full expansion’s worth of content. Minas Tirith is one of the most breathtaking cities ever created for an MMORPG (performance issues aside). The game reached its 10th anniversary and had us all buzzing about with the new scavenger hunts.

And then… and then we knew we were finally headed into Mordor. That in itself was a monumental moment for many players, and I lost track of how many friends I saw taking screenshots of themselves “walking into Mordor.”

Unfortunately, this ultimate moment of storytelling in a story-heavy, IP-grounded game ended up being a disappointment. Mild for some, crushing for others. From my perspective, I say without malice that Mordor, as an expansion and a region, failed. Today we’re going to touch on the multiple reasons why this is, as well as how Standing Stone Games is getting its groove back with Northern Mirkwood.

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Betawatch: Dauntless strides into open beta (May 25, 2018)

It’s certainly a daunting task to launch a game into its open beta, but the developers of Dauntless are undaunted as the title does just that this week. Now everyone can daunt gigantic monsters, daunting the local townsfolk into upgrading gear while forging names like “Daunter of Behemoths.” Without paying a dime!

In other news, I’ve now been forbidden from using the word “daunt” any further in this particular post. Also, there’s other beta news worth covering.

That’s some beta news, huh? Don’t fret, there’s also a list below if you want to look for other titles in testing. As always, if you see something there that shouldn’t be there or should have a different test state listed, please let us know. If you appreciate overuse of the word “daunt,” also let us know there. Just for funsies.

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Choose My Adventure: Two milestones at the start in Final Fantasy XI

If I have to summarize, in brief, how much Final Fantasy XI has changed since its launch in the United States? In half an hour before leaving the house I made a character, started the first nation mission, and reached level 6 in the process of smacking six bees. Most of the way to 7, at that.

This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but if you played the game before your remember it primarily for being insanely brutal and slow. The idea of reaching the limit breaks in the course of a month would require hardcore play and persistence along with lots of high-end help, which is why I specifically stated I’d be getting none of that. My playtime with this characters sits at around 9 hours right now, which is a fair chunk of time, but it’s not much when spread over the course of four days.

But yes, I am now ready to pick up my advanced jobs helped significantly by the fact that my adventure started in Windurst. So let’s start talking about the mechanics of the game, how you can end-run so many parts of the system now, and how bad the game still is about telling you these things.

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The Daily Grind: What was your first ‘wow’ moment in an MMO?

Your first MMO tends to stick in your mind in a certain way. The first time you realize that you’re in a game with other people, or you get a sense of the sheer scope of what that means. It happened early for me, pretty soon after I started playing Final Fantasy XI, but I still sometimes have moments in my preferred games where I’m all like “wow, these games are pretty great.” It’s a nice feeling when it happens.

Of course, today’s question isn’t how often those hit you, it’s when your first did. Was it your first dungeon in World of Warcraft? Your first surprising story moment in Final Fantasy XIV? Your first PvP killing in EVE Online? Heck, maybe even just your first moments of grouping with another player in Blade & Soul. Share your stories with us today about the first moment when you were playing an MMO and found yourself just… amazed.

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Tamriel Infinium: Eight things you need to know before jumping into Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset

Monday, the Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset chapter went live for early access accounts. For the first time since 1994, players can visit the island of Summerset. And needless to say, 24 years makes quite a difference in the world of gaming. I’m not going to pretend that I ever played Arena, but think its safe to say that things look a lot different and the mechanics of the game have changed, too.

I don’t think that Summerset is as highly anticipated as Morrowind was, but that’s can be a positive for ZeniMax Online Studios because there is scrutiny when it comes to the lay of the land and the storyline. On the other hand, it means less hype for the expansion.

As an MMORPG enthusiast, I’m excited to see MMOs continuing to grow the way ESO has. And I know that you might not be as familiar with Summerset, so I would like to give you my list of what you should probably look out for when you jump into the next chapter.

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Perfect Ten: The unique pitfalls of licensed MMOs

Making a list of the “biggest” MMOs currently running is always an exercise in frustration. It’s easy to put a few things on the list – no one’s going to argue with placing World of Warcraft on such a list, for example – but then everything else always gets mired in opinions and controversy, and endless cycles of “why isn’t this game I love on there while another game I don’t like is there?!” I speak from experience.

Still, on our list of the healthiest MMOs at the moment, we’ve got only three licensed games: Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Those are by no means the only entries on the licensed game list, of course, but there does seem to be something of a dearth of those. And perhaps that’s more understandable than it seems. For all that we talk about how one setting or another would be perfect for an MMO, there are some unique troubles you inevitably run into when you get into the licensed MMO shuffle.

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Global Chat: Dipping back into MMO underwater combat

Guild Wars 2’s recent renovation of underwater combat has brought back some interest to this oft-neglected sphere of gameplay. Inventory Full’s Bhagpuss used this occasion as an opportunity to examine the role of underwater combat in general and the changes to GW2 in specific.

“The undersea worlds of most MMOs weren’t quite so unforgiving but still they were shunned,” he notes. “Developers tended to avoid them too, other than blocking out something wet and watery in the most perfunctory manner possible. It was quite a surprise when Guild Wars 2 launched with a goodly amount to see and do below the surface, any number of bodies of water, from inland lakes to the open seas, offering much the same opportunity and inducement to explore as their counterparts on dry land.”

Once you towel off from that essay, join the MMO blogosphere as it looks at DC Universe Online, World of Warcraft, RIFT Prime, and more!

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Wisdom of Nym: Checking out Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 4.3 notes

As it always has been, so it is again; we’ve got our next patch for Final Fantasy XIV just around the corner, and thus we have a new set of patch notes to peruse well ahead of the actual patch. But we don’t have the full list of new items, which is frustrating. Especially if you’re thinking about which furnishing items you want to move around and so forth, because really, what other stuff is important in a given patch? Endgame progression? Who cares.

Reading through the patch notes is always a bit like some sort of ersatz holiday, because you already know the majority of the things you’re getting but not all of the details until the patch notes come out… and then the patch notes deliberately obscure some things so you still don’t know everything. But I can live with not knowing exactly what quests are in Return to Ivalice just because I can see that there are a lot of them. So let’s start taking this apart before we get to actually play it.

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One Shots: A sense of place

Why do you play MMORPGs? What keeps you questing through these ever-growing worlds? I think a lot of us might answer like Zyrusticae in Blade and Soul here, as we enjoy inhabiting and exploring virtual fantasy worlds.

“See, this is the sort of thing I play MMORPGs for,” Zyrusticae writes. “That sense of ‘place.’ Being somewhere else, even if it’s only behind a computer screen. Old shots, yes, but still some of my favorites just for that. It’s a very pleasant feeling, really.”

Will you find your sense of place in the following player screenshots? Let’s find out!

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The Game Archaeologist: Warhammer Online

When it comes to notable years in the MMORPG genre’s history, 2008 stands out as one of the most significant. World of Warcraft’s debut onto the scene in 2004 caused an upheaval in ways far too numerous to go into detail here. Suffice to say that its overwhelming popularity drew the attention of game designers who looked at the staggering numbers of players and found themselves envious of the potential to grab a slice of that money pie.

Many projects went into high gear following WoW’s launch, with plenty of them trying to copy the formula and structure that Blizzard established in the hopes of making it at least partially as big as that game. So-called WoW clones began to pepper the market and there was a sense that gamers were ready to move on from World of Warcraft to the next generation of MMOs. In many players’ minds, this would be either 2008’s Age of Conan or Warhammer Online, two big-budget MMOs with strong IPs that carried a lot of the weight of expectation.

Little did anyone realize that 2008 represented a bubble that was about to burst on the industry and the WoW clones that followed — including Warhammer Online. Today, we’re going to take a look at “bears, bears, bears,” the high hopes of Mythic Entertainment, and how WAR became a casaulty on its own battlefield.

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