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]

EverQuesting: A guide to EverQuest II’s Tinkerfest 2017

After a few years, it can be difficult for long-time EverQuest II players to get excited over the return of a festival; not only are there many festivals to keep track of, but most have been going on for numerous years. You can feel like you’ve seen and done all there is to one and might give little more than a cursory glance to check for a new item or two. And if little to nothing is done for a festival some year, it only exacerbates the problem. To spark interest and enthusiasm, Daybreak needs to tinker with the event formula each year to add something fresh beyond just a new reward or two. And tinker it did: Tinkerfest 2017 adds a whole new experience atop the regular fare, so even the oldest of veterans have reason to jump in and participate.

So what is new for Tinkerfest? (And what is Tinkerfest if you are new to it?) Here’s a guide to get on on the gnomish goodness before it leaves for another year; departure is set for early Thursday morning, August 3rd, at 2:59 a.m. EDT.

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The Soapbox: Getting to the heart of toxicity in MMOs

So we’ve gotten another post from a developer saying that they’re going to really 100% be better about rooting out toxic players from their games. Seriously, we mean it this time. The latest one is from Blizzard, but let’s be real, this is something that’s always happened. We always get periodic statements from companies that this time they’re really going to address toxic behavior, someone links that inevitable Penny Arcade strip, nothing really changes, play laugh track, roll curtains.

I’d like to be happy about this, I really would, but it’s so much empty posturing, and it came out only shortly before the announcement that everyone who plays the game can now be signed to the Overwatch League. I think the two are pretty closely connected. And I think we need to actually start talking about this because this sort of darkly toxic problem is at the core of the designs of these games, even though on some level it’s entirely separate. The problem isn’t that these games are designed to be toxic; it’s that they’re designed to encourage toxicity.

Getting rid of individual toxic players, as Blizzard purports to do, is merely treating the symptom. We need to discuss the disease.

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The Daily Grind: What would make you stop playing your current MMO?

There are a lot of things that Final Fantasy XIV has done over the years that I’m less than enthusiastic about. Heck, some of them (like the badly designed housing system) have made me start really questioning the direction of the game. But at this point I’ve been playing for seven years, and it would take a major and sudden course swerve for me to really consider just up and leaving. I like the game.

Of course, we all have different levels of commitment. Maybe you’re just dabbling in Guild Wars 2 until Crowfall releases, for example. Or maybe you make even my commitment look shaky, because you are going to be playing Anarchy Online until the servers turn off. So today I’d like to know about that. What would make you stop playing your current MMO? Major mechanical shifts? A change in content delivery? Or would it just be a matter of time?

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Tamriel Infinium: The problem with Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind plot is the twist

I played the Morrowind expansion for Elder Scrolls Online to death when it was sitting on the test server. But oddly, it was a bit more of a struggle to compete on the live servers. Despite this, I believe that Morrowind is a wonderful addition to ESO, and I am looking forward to seeing future content like the Horns of the Reach.

Now that we have all had a couple of months to get through the Morrowind content, I believe that it’s safe to talk about some of the spoilers, especially since the thing that bothered me the most about Morrowind was the main story twist.

This is your warning: Beyond this point, I will probably spoil everything for you. Turn back now and finish the main story for Morrowind or risk being spoiled!

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Perfect Ten: Observations on Secret World Legends’ relaunch

Everyone has those sacred video game cows that are dearly special to them, carry personal meaning, and trigger fear and anxiety when messed with. In the realm of MMORPGs, one of my own cows (moo!) is definitely The Secret World, which has been one of my favorite online games since its launch a half-decade ago.

I won’t lie: The reboot of the game into Secret World Legends made me intensely nervous. I got the feeling that the game itself was on the verge of disappearing forever and that if the team didn’t get it right, this was it for Kingsmouth, Anima, Orochi, and the rest of the gang. I was — and still am — pretty critical of how Funcom’s been handling the relaunch and the need for it in the first place.

That hasn’t stopped me from playing, however. In fact, I’m logging more daily hours into Secret World Legends than I was in the past few years with The Secret World, partially due to the excitement and partially thanks to the changes that the team wrought. Now that we’re a month into all of this, I thought it was time to offer up some personal observations on how the relaunch is going, what’s working well, what needs improvement, and how I feel about the future.

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Global Chat: You’re playing MMOs wrong

Have you ever lost your top when someone condescended to lecture you that you’re playing MMORPGs wrong? You and Roger at Contains Moderate Peril both, pal. In a recent essay, he goes off on those who would presume to lecture others that there is a “proper” way to play online games.

“Is there a definitive way to play an MMORPG?” he asks. “‘No’ is the brief answer. Sure, each MMO has a set of rules and procedures that set out a path of progression. However, nowhere in these rules will you find a statement saying it is mandatory to play this particular way. Humans like to adapt things to suit their own needs. Play is underpinned by imagination and creativity.”

Revolt against peer pressure and conformity! Raid in your skivvies! Roleplay as an omniscient tree stump!

The parade of MMO blog essays continue in today’s Global Chat, where writers talk about LOTRO band outfits, the lack of excitement over online game launches, being a frog in EverQuest II, and more.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 One Path Ends is live, plus first impressions of Siren’s Landing

I realise that you were probably expecting some rather excited ramblings that contained my first impressions of the Guild Wars 2 season 3 finale, One Path Ends, to drop the moment the episode became playable, but the structure of my coverage for this episode is a little different than the rest of this season’s articles. This time around, my pre-episode playthrough with the devs was very different: The episode itself remained locked for the playthrough hour and the press accounts were deactivated afterwards to ensure that the finale would be an absolute surprise for everyone involved with no spoilers. We instead had a guided group tour of Siren’s Landing, the new open world zone that holds the bulk of the action in this episode.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll share my thoughts on the new zone with you while also talking about the zone’s relative location and basic meta. My full thoughts on the actual episode will come in the next edition without the usual first impressions piece, so you won’t have to wait too long for that if you are not playing for yourself and are living this season vicariously through others! Please note that the article contains meta and zone content spoilers, so read on with caution if you prefer to see that for yourself first.

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Wisdom of Nym: What happens next in Final Fantasy XIV?

It’s pretty clear that the Final Fantasy XIV team (and the localization team specifically) are pretty huge fans of Hamilton, to the point that I’m surprised that the Emperor didn’t specifically burst into a song from the musical in the ending sequence. Especially because it’s… kind of a relevant question at this point, once you’ve seen the end of the MSQ.

So what does come next?

Obviously, this column will feature spoilers, so consider yourself fairly tagged. But I think this is a relevant question to ask because this expansion is, in its own way, a very different animal from its two predecessors right out of the gate. The relaunch ended its story in a place so open that it could really go wherever without a problem, while Heavensward ended the 3.0 MSQ with obvious points for continuation. (It helped that the obvious thrust of the expansion took a sharp left turn around level 55.) In the case of Stormblood, though…

Yes, I’m avoiding saying more before the cut. Spoilers down below, people.

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One Shots: Hail to the victor!

Have you ever been able to capture a truly victorious moment in your MMORPG journeys? Rees Racer did, and he is not above showing off (fortunately for us!).

“No spoilers, so I’ll just pass along a TERA cutscene shot from a meeting with Priestess Ciebel after the defeat of a traitorous threat to the Alliance,” Rees writes. “Of course, my Gunner is issued new orders almost immediately as there are seemingly always other harbingers of doom to confront…”

You save the world once, everyone wants you to keep on doing it, over and over again. My advice? Start charging per apocalypse and put aside a portion for retirement in another dimension.

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The Daily Grind: How do you feel your first MMO influences your current playstyle?

I can tell you what my observations have been about how people act based on their first MMO, but I can only guess at the ways having Final Fantasy XI as my first game have influenced my subsequent play choices. I know that after that game I’m far more leery of any game requiring me to group up with others just to level up, often times eschewing the “fastest” methods of grouping and grinding just out of a deep-seated distaste for that. I’m also eager to dive into lore and world details, sometimes to the point of seeing depths in hints and suggestion that turn out to not be there on closer inspection.

So today, we turn the question over to you. How do you feel your first MMO influences your current playstyle? Part of it depends on what your first MMO is, of course, but the analysis from there is all you. Does having World of Warcraft as your first MMO make you gravitate toward raiding or specifically avoid it? Does listing Anarchy Online as your first MMO lead you to be more social or less social? Share your self-analysis with us! We’re curious.

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Betawatch: Dark and Light shines a light on early access (July 21, 2017)

For everything, there is a season, turn turn turn. We’ve bid farewell to Albion Online this week, as it has launched properly and thus no longer qualifies as being in beta, but we also can say hello to the early access period for Dark and Light. Seriously, that just came out of nowhere, after ages of delays. It’s kind of awesome like that. So hooray for new early access!

We also bid farewell to Gigantic as it reaches its official launch. It’s like everyone graduating from college, although in this case college is full of supposed tests that are mostly a matter of building notoriety and… huh. That analogy works surprisingly well.

More testing news? Of course, friends, of course.

Well, after all of that I’m sure everyone wants to retreat to the safety of the list of games in testing, yes? I know I do. It’s down below, and you can feel free to scroll through it and let us know if we’re missing something important in the comments.

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Choose My Adventure: Two approaches to whining about DC Universe Online

Dear readers, today I am going to try something different for all of you. And it’s predicated on the fact that I’m not just fond of video games; I’m also fond of comic books. This means that when I sat down for my most recent play session in DC Universe Online, I found myself of two minds about why I wasn’t super-duper happy with the content I was experiencing… and both of them could easily fill in a good chunk of words by themselves.

So this week, you get to choose the column you want to read. There are two spoiler warnings below: one covering my thoughts of playing the game from a strictly game-based perspective, the other one being my thoughts of playing the game from a comic book fan’s perspective. Read one! Read the other! Read both! Theoretically you could read neither, I suppose, but then you would have clocked out before you were done with this introduction.

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