Betawatch: The Repopulation changes hands (January 20, 2017)

The good news for fans of The Repopulation is that the game is coming back online. The bad news is... well, it's completely changed hands, with Idea Fabrik (owners of the Hero Engine) taking the game and making it their own. Will it be as good as it could have been? Will it release and be stable? We just don't know right now. But it's coming back. The owners are also starting just by bringing the alpha back online, lest you expect a whole new game out of the gate.

And there's more beta news! Oh, boy, is there ever more beta news.

And yes, there's a list, and it's just below. Did we miss something in there? Let us know down in the comments. Do you want to share your opinions on this week's beta news? Do so in the comments. Sharing feelings about betas? That's what the comment section is for, folks, don't let us stop you.

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Chaos Theory: My Secret World 2017 goals

When the year-end Massively Overthinking asked about game resolutions, I honestly answered that I don't really make any because I hadn't ever done that and didn't expect to start. Many of the goals I make as I play throughout the year are pretty specific to what is happening at that time and what I feel inclined to do right then. But the topic stuck with me, and I began thinking about what goals I did have in The Secret World.

Once I started thinking about it in concrete terms, I was able to pinpoint a few more things I'd really like to accomplish this year. It turns out there are some that are more overarching than just an in-the-moment whim. So here they are: my 2017 TSW goals. At the close of this year, you can help me gauge how well I did. (Ironically, since this column was usurped by other topics hogging the spotlight for a couple of weeks, my first goal has already been achieved. Go me!) And please, add any goals you have in the comments!

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Perfect Ten: The MMOs with the most unclear futures in 2017

A little while back, I took a look at the healthiest games in the MMO space at this time. That was a nice, uplifting list, wasn't it? And all of those titles continue to do just fine, even if one or two might have had a few bits of shocking news along the way.

Unfortunately, this is not an industry in which health is assured. Games can be high-quality and beloved, but they can still be shut down by outside forces. And that's not counting games that just come out in the wrong time period or launch in an unrecoverable state.

That may sound grim, but we're already staring at the first two shutdowns of 2017 in the near future, and both of the titles being killed are surprises. One of them might have wound up on this list if it weren't being shut down, but at this point, it is. So let's look at the MMOs with the most unclear futures and start hoping for the best.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR Creative director discusses a 'new adversary'

For the last five years and more, Star War: The Old Republic told the story of Tenebrae, a Sith of humble origins who rose to great power and ultimately corruption. Of course, there were other great stories along the way -- the eight player stories, and ultimately, the Outlander's story -- but even the story of Revan revolved around this hidden but powerful figure who was eventually unveiled as the Sith Emperor.

At the end of last year, I talked to Producer Ben Irving and Creative Director Charles Boyd about the past five years of SWTOR and about what the future holds for the game. It turned out to be a wonderful, frank interview. I learned many things that I didn't know about Irving and his introduction to BioWare, which I mentioned a post last year. But I also learned some fun facts about the future of the SWTOR story.

Without spoiling too much, I think it's safe to mention that Tenebrae's story wraps up in a nice little bow at the end of Knights of the Eternal Throne. I spoke to Boyd about the challenges of closing up a long, pivotal story and where the writers go from there. And one of the things he mentioned is a "new adversary."

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Global Chat: Elder Scrolls Online renaissance

As I peruse a hundred or so community blog posts every day, it's fascinating to me to see what games the MMO blogosphere as a whole is playing and discussing. We sometimes end up flocking to certain titles based on recent announcements or because others are talking them up pretty heavily.

One game that's been getting a lot of mentions on blogs lately is Elder Scrolls Online, with players generally enthusiastic about how it's shaped up into a pretty decent MMO. "It's a really solid game that’s much better than the game that launched," writes Occasional Hero. "Visually, I would probably rank it second behind Black Desert Online for the best-looking MMORPG out there," touts Endgame Variable.

Elder Scrolls Online not your thing? No worries; we have articles covering The Secret World, LOTRO, RIFT, and more in today's community blog roundup!

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Wisdom of Nym: Getting ready for Final Fantasy XIV patch 3.5

Welcome to the next six months of Final Fantasy XIV, folks. Yes, there are going to be more changes over time, adjustments and upgrades to be made, but by and large the state of the game after tomorrow's patch is what you're going to be dealing with for quite some time. It's time to buckle in, wrap things up, take care of sidequests, and otherwise get ready for the long wait until Stormblood releases.

Fortunately, we're getting a meaty patch first, as you do. So while you might get a little bored with what's on display by the time June rolls around, at least you'll have something to do with reasonable consistency.

As is the tradition before each major patch, I'm taking a look at the patch notes and evaluating what we see therein before the actual patch goes live. It's possible that we might wind up with some other particularly cool additions or some neat stuff might be different when we're playing it, but... at this point, we'll just have to wait for Tuesday.

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One Shots: Tabula Rasa's 21-gun salute

Ralph the Wonder Llama kicks off today's community screenshot gallery with a salute to the late, great Tabula Rasa.

"Yes, Tabula Rasa ended up being rushed to market, and many of its features were pretty rough around the edges when the game first released, but this was 2008! Can you imagine what Tabula Rasa would have been like if it had survived and gotten a couple of expansions under its belt? The mind boggles. Here's a shot of my Grenadier at Foreas Base, taken just a few days before shutdown. You can't really tell with the helmet on, but I'm pretty sure my character is crying."

On that happy note, let's see what else you all have cooked up for us today!

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LOTRO Legendarium: My LOTRO wishlist for 2017

Ever since I've been covering Lord of the Rings Online for this site (dating back to 2010!), I've had a tradition of kicking off every year with a wishlist of some of my greatest desires for the game. I think I missed last year, but in the years previous, I would allow myself one wish for every year the game has been operating.

This year? The 10th anniversary means 10 wishes, baby!

It's shaping up to be quite an interesting and exciting year for LOTRO. I've seen friends coming back to the game thanks to the recent news and the promise of the expansion into Mordor. It's almost like we need periodic reminders that, "Oh yeah, that game is still running! And it's pretty darn good!"

But what would I like to see changed, added, or created for the MMO this year? Whether or not the devs ever get around to these, any of them would make my day.

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Betawatch: Project Gorgon gears up with high-level content (January 13, 2017)

Is it fair to call Project Gorgon a spiritual successor to Asheron's Call? I'm going to go with yes, which means that this year is the year for the game to launch. And that's the goal, too; the game is adding in more levels and more high-level content for players to explore before the launch later this year. Let's go gaga for Gorgon, yes?

Of course, there's other beta news too. But that one deserved a header nod. Everyone else can sit here in list format, like so:

Did we get a list past the break? We did! It may contain a whole bunch of betas, or it might contain the ingredient list for almond-and-cranberry scones. If it's the betas, do let us know if something is missing or inaccurate down in the comments; if it's the scones thing, just cook some nice scones for your friends and family.

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WoW Factor: New classes in a post-Legion world

So World of Warcraft patch 7.1.5 is out now... but I'm going to be honest, that doesn't feel like much of anything. It's there, it's all playable, but it feels kind of... perfunctory? There's not a whole lot of additional meat in this patch, it's just refinements and prepwork for the Nighthold and continuing to do the stuff you already do. Which is fine, as far as it goes, but it doesn't exactly fill up my senses.

It's a John Denver reference. Look it up.

Instead, I want to talk about Demon Hunters. And Death Knights, and Monks, and where we're going from here. At this point, we've brought the game's initial lineup of nine classes to a not-much-higher 12... or, if you'd rather look at endgame viability, we've brought the nine viable endgame specs up to a sense-shattering 36. This raises the question of whether or not we actually need or even want more classes at this point, given the huge number of options we already have.

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EverQuesting: The loss of Landmark

Daybreak did it again. Boy, that phrase has come to mean a great many different things over the years. However, in this case it refers to the art of dropping some bombshell that makes me toss aside whatever I was working on for the week and focus on that explosion -- and the resulting fallout. Sometimes it's good. And sometimes it's not. This time around we fell dead center into the "not" category. We are losing Landmark.

Remember when I said Daybreak needed a win this year? This is the opposite of that. This is Daybreak choking the last bit of hope and goodwill out of players like Vader faced with a lackey's lack of faith. Disturbing, I know. Well, gee folks, Happy New Year? Forget about breaking games; I can't help but agree that a more befitting moniker would be Sunset Games.

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Massively Overthinking: Tab-target vs. action combat in MMORPGs

Massively OP patron Duane is kicking the new year off right: with a brawl over combat types in MMOs.

"Tab-target, action, or hybrid combat, for many MMO gamers the combat system, regardless of whether it is a well-made, is a deal maker or breaker," he writes -- I like to imagine he wrote it with a mischievous glint in his eye. "What is the superior combat system, and why is it superior (please give examples)? Let the battle-lines be drawn!"

I posed his question to the MOP writers for this week's Overthinking. Here we go!

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Choose My Adventure: Starting my journey in Lord of the Rings Online

If I had to guess which tabletop roleplaying game I was going to associate with Lord of the Rings Online, I really wouldn't have guessed Call of Cthulhu. There have been actual tabletop games associated with this setting, after all. But no, it's that classic that's been in the back of my mind the whole time, which is something of a compliment.

To my surprise, the CE code that I had for the game from back forever ago did, in fact, work just fine, which meant that I started out with a fresh VIP subscription, a mess of coins, and all of the benefits that I otherwise would have unlock directly. Like the class which got selected for me, for example. After a bit of clicking through options, I created my newest incarnation of Ceilarene because why not her and got thrown into the game's opening sequence.

Which all happens a very, very long time ago, but the game doesn't communicate that terribly well. But that's not entirely its fault.

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