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]

Choose My Adventure: Anniversary groupings in Warframe

Last week’s poll on Warframe was a nail-biter, but it ultimately came down in favor of me not buying a new frame for my explorations this week. So I didn’t. But I did heed the numerous people telling me to go run those anniversary missions.

I also, belatedly, realized that my access to Amazon Prime meant that I also had access to that Twitch Prime promotion from a while back, which would have been really useful if I had realized this before now. Of course, I didn’t know that I’d be playing Warframe at the time, so perhaps my lack of precognition doesn’t qualify as a character flaw.

Regardless, my first goal this week was to get in those anniversary missions and the rewards which went along with them. Of course, that also meant that I’d be largely useless in those missions, but that would also serve the purpose of giving a sense for how the game plays in a group instead of just running solo.

Read more

The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the worst discrepancy in combat pacing?

Back when I played TERA for a feature on Massively-that-was, I found myself playing both a Warrior and a Lancer. Playing as a Warrior meant deftly weaving back and forth, dodging, jumping, and springing all over. Playing as a Lancer meant standing there and, when necessary, poking the target. It was a wildly different amount of work for two classes which at least ostensibly had the same roles.

Obviously, this is not the only case. There was a joke in World of Warcraft that Enhancement Shaman was like frantically playing the piano and Frost Mage was like lazily tooting on a kazoo; you have to constantly be aware of what you’re doing on Red Mage in Final Fantasy XIV but you can sort of just hit abilities as they come up as a Bard. So what do you think, readers? Which MMO has the worst discrepancy in combat pacing? Which game has a few combat options that are constantly in motion, and others that just let you get up and go make a sandwich mid-combat?

Read more

Hyperspace Beacon: So SWTOR’s Update 5.8 happened

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched the delayed Update 5.8: Command Authority to the servers. BioWare now offers its first complete operation since Shadow of Revan. For those keeping score at home, SoR was launched way back in December 2014. We also see some much-needed improvements to the guild questing system that was originally launched with Strongholds expansion earlier in June of 2014, although BioWare has been adding to and improving strongholds since then. And lastly, we are introduced to some of new interactions companions Arcann and Ashara.

It’s only been a day since the launch, but I’ve had a chance to take a long look at most everything BioWare introduced in this expansion. And overall, I’m glad to see an update, but it’s just kind of… there. I have to wonder whether it was really necessary to make the bulk of what was introduced into a major update at all – or the developers could have placed the individual pieces into a much more impactful update. Let me explain what I mean by breaking apart the major pieces.

Read more

Perfect Ten: Why MMO progression servers are a brilliant idea

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been enjoying the journey through RIFT Prime, the game’s first progression server. Trion Worlds surprised and delighted many of us when it announced that it would be creating a slightly more difficult, vastly more cash shop-free shard that would take players through the entirety of the RIFT experience from vanilla through the latest expansion.

As I’ve reset the clock on my RIFT adventures, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the benefits of progression servers. With a lot of World of Warcraft fans wondering if Classic will eventually morph into a progression shard (which I certainly hope it does), and with games like EverQuest and EverQuest II repeatedly embracing the alternative ruleset, I think we could be moving into an era where older MMOs experience new life with this relatively simple move.

So why are MMO progression servers a brilliant idea? Here are 10 thoughts on the matter.

Read more

Wisdom of Nym: A week after Final Fantasy XIV’s Eureka

It’s been a little under a week since the Eureka launch in Final Fantasy XIV, and opinions about the content are pretty universally strong. Some might argue that they’re downright entrenched. Most of the vocal ones consist of a whole lot of griping, and a not insubstantial number of those gripes also dovetail with people who are still playing the heck out of it anyway. Heaven knows it’s not exactly what I had expected, either.

So what do I think of it? I like it. But then, I’m kind of just the right person to like it.

I think there’s a lot of stuff to unpack around it, and I think it’s something where not liking it is both wholly understandable and also suggests a course of action. So let’s talk a little bit about the overall experience, what parts work and what parts don’t, and why it’s important, if you don’t like it, to at least have a realistic understanding of what it’s going to be and what it wants to be in the first place.

Read more

EVE Evolved: What pushes EVE Online players to breaking point?

How many times have you read the comments on an EVE Online article and found someone talking about an experience they had that turned them off the game? They were suicide ganked and lost a month’s worth of progress in 30 seconds, scammed out of all their ISK, or their corporation fell apart after a war declaration. Even former players who look back fondly on their time in EVE Online will relate some event or trend that ultimately pushed them away from the game, whether it’s a gameplay change that ruined the way they liked to play, their alliance suddenly losing all of its territory, a valued friend quitting the game, or a social structure they relied on breaking down.

These natural breaking points happen to all players eventually, and some will invariably take the opportunity to quit the game when they occur. EVE is more of a long-term hobby than a game, so it’s only natural that some players will leave the game if something catastrophically upsets the way they’ve learned to enjoy that hobby. Lately I’ve been thinking about these moments in which a player can lose something they’ve invested heavily into, and wondering whether there’s something more that could be done to minimise these failure states. Should CCP provide safety nets for players against catastrophic failure, or is this just part of the player-directed nature of the sandbox?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I consider some of the things that can push a player to breaking point, and whether additional safety nets would make a difference.

Read more

One Shots: Don’t you forget about me

I think that we can all agree that Hirku seems like he’d be a pretty fun-loving dude to hang out with in World of Warcraft. We would all get cooler just by association, and he would take us on these crazy adventures where we’d log in the next day, find ourselves naked in some unfinished expansion, and have no recollection of what happened the night before.

I mean, look at this picture! “Ordinary” does not suit this party pirate’s life at all.

As a side note, I am completely jealous of players who have the ability to take great screenshots using fun emotes. Trying that usually results in me taking a picture of my character’s left ear from an extreme close-up view.

Read more

The Daily Grind: Have you ever engaged in an MMO price war?

One of my friends in Final Fantasy XIV is engaged in a perpetual trade war with another player who tries to drive her out of the markets by buying all of her stuff and reselling it. We do not know how in the world he continues to acquire the gil for same. For that matter, I can’t understand what he’s getting out of it; I barely understand what she’s getting out of it, since she already has plenty of gil. (Stockpiling to help others when needed, I suppose.)

I’ve never been sufficiently into the economy of any game to dive that deep into a trade war with someone, but in some games like EVE Online it’s almost half of the gameplay. And even in games that reward the mere mention of crafting with a swift punch to the ribcage, people find a way to engage in epic battles of gouging and price fixing. So what about you, readers? Have you ever engaged in an MMO price war? Have you bought and resold in an attempt to corner a market? Or have you never even considered such a thing until now?

Read more

EverQuesting: An EverQuest 19th anniversary retrospective and party planner

There are MMOs that have been around a while, and then there is EverQuest. It’s so old school it is old enough to be out of school! Yup, EQ turned 19 years old yesterday. That’s 19 years of the iconic music, 19 years of Qeynos, and 19 years of Fippy trying to storm that gate! So much has happened in Norrath between March 16th, 1999, and March 16th, 2018 – more than one single restrospective could cover. So we’ll just look at a single year!

As is tradition, I’ve sat back and looked over the previous year, remembering the highlights and goings on of the game. How did the 19th year play out for one of the oldest MMOs? Sadly, this year was of the leaner variety; not much happened across Norrath. You wouldn’t know that by all the anniversary offerings, though! Take a stroll down the cobbled lane of memories, but don’t get lost in the nostalgia; there are oodles of anniversary quests to fill your schedule with during the celebration, going on now through Thursday, May 10th, 2018.

Read more

The Game Archaeologist: World of Warcraft’s Corrupted Blood pandemic

It began with an exploitable glitch. It exploded into an uncontained nightmare of death. It established a meme as strong as Leeroy Jenkins. It even saved lives.

One of the most notorious events in World of Warcraft’s history didn’t emerge from the design of Blizzard’s controlling developers, but rather from players looking to grief the community. In a prank that briefly grew out of control, a pandemic was set loose upon the game’s world that decimated the population and changed the landscape overnight.

This was the Corrupted Plague incident, and it would go on to leave a mark upon World of Warcraft that remains to this day.

Read more

Betawatch: TERA does the beta warp again (March 16, 2017)

The first round of open beta testing for TERA on consoles went well. (According to the developers, at least.) What can be done to extend that warm fuzzy feeling? Why, doing it all over again, obviously. Although you won’t be allowed into this particular second round if you weren’t in the first round, we’re sorry to say. It’s standing room only.

Meanwhile, the magnificently quirky Project Gorgon has entered early access, so you can go buy it now. Unless you have some deep-seated fear of being turned into a cow or something.

Elsewhere in the beta universe… war was beginning.

You know what? We’re dropping the war thing to just let you know that there’s a list of games in testing below and you can let us know if we missed one or two important phase changes. Sometimes that happens when we’re in the trenches. The war against the onrushing tide of titles is never-ending.

Read more

Choose My Adventure: Single-track shooting in Warframe

After my second week in, I have to admit that I’m kind of bothered by Warframe. Or, more accurately, the fact that I like the game’s overall mechanics doesn’t fix the fact that it has some seriously irritating bits of work running through the whole experience.

None of this is to say that the game is bad, mind you. In fact, the second week, if anything, reaffirmed the fact that this is in fact a well-polished game with a clear picture of what it wants to be. All of that is commendable. The issues that it has are entirely down to issues of choice and the investment needed to make those choices, and the fact that it frequently prevents you from getting information that might be entirely valuable.

But then, the game also still does a good job of letting you enjoy running around while shooting stuff. So it’s a mixed bag that’s going to hit everyone a little bit differently, in other words.

Read more

WoW Factor: The Kul Tiran Druid ‘problem’ in World of Warcraft

One of the important things to note about World of Warcraft lore is that it’s never been static. It will retcon itself six ways from Sunday letting you know that the stuff you thought was true was never actually true, and it’s something the franchise has been doing since the second installment of the series was launched. (Remember when Azeroth was the name of the human nation, not the freaking planet?) This is not a game where the lore has been carefully planned out so that you can make reasonable predictions much of the time, this is where the lore repeatedly changes as new installments come out.

This is fine. I really like games where all of the lore is written out and planned well in advance (obviously) but I also have appreciation for the way that WoW’s backstory does change with the tides. It rarely outright invalidates the past, but the past is not static as we learn more about it.

Enter the speculation about Druids in Kul Tiras, speculation that seems to be getting backed up with increasing amounts of evidence. And as I look at all of this, I can’t help but note that even a moment’s consideration reveals that this is an enormous mess for the game’s overall lore.

Read more

1 2 3 141