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]

The Daily Grind: What do you do while you’re waiting in MMOs?

Let’s face it, MMOs are not always filled with new stuff happening every minute. You wait for queues, you wait for enemies to spawn, you wait for the rest of your usual group to log on so you can run the dungeon already. It’s that stage when you have enough time that the wait is awkward but not enough time to get up and do something else because if you go play Fallout 4 then you’re the jerk making everyone wait for the dungeon.

Back when I would be waiting for boats, I would often have a book close at hand to read while I waited. These days, I usually browse the internet and catch up on various articles. I know people who take the opportunity to fix food, clean their desks, and occasionally even take showers during particularly long waits. So what about you? What do you do while you’re waiting in an MMO?

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The Game Archaeologist: Shadowbane

Way back when I used to haunt the corridors of Gamestop and had yet to shun the place due to its stinky evil, I remember being enticed with these fancy-pantsy “MMORPG” boxes when I’d see them on the shelf. I must have picked up Shadowbane a dozen or so times to check out the blurbs on the back, mentally weighing whether or not this would be the one to introduce me to online gaming, but ultimately it was not to be.

It’s probably for the best, considering that Shadowbane was primarily PvP and I’m a PvE guy at heart. Plus, the title never really took off the way that publisher Ubisoft had hoped, spending most of its six years of operation lurking in the background of the MMO industry instead of sharing the spotlight.

But still, six years! That’s not the worst run we’ve ever seen from an MMO. Considering that its creator has gone on to make Crowfall with some of the same ideas, it’s as timely as ever to take a look back at Shadowbane and what it brought to the table.

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Betawatch: Devilian steps up its PvP game for its fourth closed beta test (November 20, 2015)

How strong is Devilian‘s PvP game? Really, it’s hard to say, but it’s being stepped up for the game’s fourth closed test. That closed test is running now, so you can let us know if the stepping was sufficiently upward. Perhaps it’s more of a lateral PvP game move. Hard to be sure.

Other beta news? Oh, you’d better believe it.

And don’t you know it, there are other games in various stages of testing, so we toss a whole bunch of stuff in a list. Did we miss something? Well, darn it, let us know in the comments and we’ll sacrifice a goat as an act of contrition. Or celebration. We’re big on sacrificing goats, really.

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WoW Factor: The look of the Legion class previews

Last week was a pretty fun ride, I have to say. Leaving aside everything else we had to chew on after a weekend’s worth of BlizzCon, the World of Warcraft team really went to town with the class previews. I didn’t discuss them last week mostly because we had other things to talk about, but I did greatly enjoy reading them, and after a week or so to mull over all of the changes I think we’ve got enough space to consider all of the changes being made.

Overall, I’m thoroughly happy about what’s being done with all of the classes. There are a couple of losses and a few classes not receiving perhaps as much attention as they deserve, but on a whole the class changes are positive and improve the game for the better. There’s also a lot we don’t know, unfortunately, and the changes aren’t actually the same as opening the beta that we kind of need to already have running at this point, but the first impressions are positive.

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EverQuesting: First impressions of EQII’s Terrors of Thalumbra

Since EverQuest II’s newest expansion just launched on Tuesday, there is no way I could have explored and experienced all the content completely before today. I know there are gamers who can get through all new content in a matter of days, if not (frighteningly) hours, but I am just not one of them. Luckily, the beta afforded me the opportunity to peek into places I wouldn’t otherwise see for a very long time, so if you add that time in, I have been able to get a taste of what awaits players in Terrors of Thalumbra. Here are my first impressions of that new underground kingdom.

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Perfect Ten: MMOs you forgot existed (but are still running)

No MMO can be in the spotlight eternally. Even some of the biggest names out there — your World of Warcrafts, your Guild Wars 2s, your Star Stables — wax and wane in the amount of press and attention they get depending on what they’re doing and how well their PR department is functioning.

It doesn’t take much for a title to fall off of practically everyone’s radar. In some cases it’s merely a matter of passing time and slipping popularity, but in others it’s just that the game or its marketing team hasn’t done anything of note in a long, long time. So that’s when you get MMOs that, when mentioned, cause the listener to cock an eyebrow and say, “Huh. That’s still around?”

Today we’re going to look at 10 such titles — not to demean them or laugh at some misfortune but to call attention to MMOs that are still humming along even though they’re not headlining news or ripping up Steam charts.

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Choose My Adventure: Running amok with Guild Wars 2’s Revenant

Hello again, friends, and welcome back to Choose My Adventure. As you may or may not have noticed, CMA took a little hiatus last week on account of my having some computer issues that ultimately ended up requiring me to reformat. But now I’m back with a fresh, clean hard drive, and not one but two weekends’ worth of Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns playtime to talk about.

But before we get down to that, here’s a recap of the last column’s voting results: While the gender vote was a close contest, with female eking out a victory by a slim 12 out of 274 votes, the polls for my character’s class and race were considerably more decisive. The race vote went to Sylvari with a commanding 41% of the vote (the next-closest contestant, Asura, had only 19%), and as predicted, the class vote was little more than a formality, with a sound majority of you voting to see the newly added Revenant class in action. Well, I did as I was told, and I’ve got a lot to talk about, so let’s jump in.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2’s enhanced Squad UI factsheet

I’ve already brought you my initial impressions of the Gorseval raid encounter followed by a quickfire interview with Guild Wars 2 Associate Game Director Steven Waller to clue you in on the first Heart of Thorns raid wing that launched yesterday, but there’s still so much to say in this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles! I managed to spend some time raiding last night, and I was particularly keen to test out the enhanced squad UI functionality that has also been introduced to Guild Wars 2 expansion. Although the new system is multipurpose and doesn’t just apply to raiders, it seems particularly apt that its release coincides with this type of endgame content.

Today I’m going to take a good look at the enhanced squad UI that has been created to more efficiently handle the community’s grouping needs. I’ll talk about its features and impact on grouping to save you having to dig too far to get to grips with the new grouping functionality.

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Global Chat: Gearing up in WildStar

If you’re anything like me, when you get to the max level in a game, there’s a general flailing of hands and a feeling of inner stupidity that go along with the thought of “what do I do now?”

That’s why I’m deeply and profoundly grateful for Asmiroth, who put together two incredibly helpful guides to WildStar’s endgame PvE gearing and rune system. Seriously, he’s doing all of the heavy ‘splaining that the game should’ve done in the first place. It’s quite straight-forward and useful, which are two qualities that I find attractive in a blog post.

If WildStar isn’t your jam, don’t worry. Today’s blog tour includes stops at Asheron’s Call 2, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars 2, among others!

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Hyperspace Beacon: The confused state of the galaxy in Star Wars: The Old Republic

I don’t write a lot about the Star Wars: The Old Republic roleplay community because I don’t usually like it to be known who I am in the community. I want people to react to my character, not to me as the player. However, I recently started playing a character that people would recognize me as the player, and surprisingly, I was able to find a group that takes me at face value and not as a writer for Massively OP. Because of this group, I have been given a unique perspective on the roleplay community as a whole and the struggles it goes through.

And the biggest hurdle for the roleplay community has been Knights of the Fallen Empire.

The expansion not only introduced a brand-new faction to the entire universe but bumped the timeline up five years. Not only do characters and factions within the existing world change over five years, but introducing a new faction adds that much more complication to the world. Many times, it’s the little things that elude us roleplayers. Many things that people would use in regular conversation are completely lost on us because we just don’t know the answers, or the answers are buried so deep in some fragment of conversation that we lose them.

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Wisdom of Nym: The first impressions of Final Fantasy XIV patch 3.1

Part of me feels really ungrateful for being upset that it took five months instead of the usual three to get Final Fantasy XIV‘s next big patch. It’s even more like four and a half, which just makes me kind of want to smack myself, because how high on Maslowe’s hierarchy of needs are you? Seriously, who gets upset when the magical wonder box that is this game dispenses a fresh dose of marvelous content at a slightly slower rate?

Apparently, I do. That is a character flaw to be addressed at a later date.

Still, the reality exists that all that time has passed. It’s a real thing. And while I can gently chastise myself until I’m blue in the face, there’s the fact that said long gap leads to certain expectations. I’m generally pleased with the patch, but there are a few things that do sort of bother me, some of which I expected and some of which were surprising. Let’s dive in.

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EVE Evolved: Huge PvP battles and corp wars in Citadel

Huge PvP battles have always been a core part of EVE Online‘s territorial warfare gameplay, with fleets of hundreds or even sometimes thousands of players slamming into each other in the depths of space. Battles usually erupt at points of interest such as stargates, space stations, sovereignty command nodes or individual player-owned structures. There might even be multiple fights going on simultaneously at different points of interest all across the same star system, each of them happening within its own little bubble of space just a few hundred kilometers across. Now it looks like CCP may be planning to increase the size and complexity of those battlefields by a huge factor in preparation for the Citadel expansion in spring.

We’ll be able to build citadels close enough together that they’re only a few seconds warp from each other, but due to a quirk of how EVE divides its space up into small bubbles, structures and players more than 500km or so apart usually can’t even see each other. That’s the problem CCP is experimenting with right now, with grid sizes on the test server currently increased from around 500km in diameter to 8,000km or more. This would allow players to build communities of citadels in order to work together or to use them as huge battlefields where warring corporations can have staging citadels within visual range of each other. The change could have wide consequences for everything from territorial warfare to piracy and even industry, and it could be the first big step toward finally fixing corporation wars in high security space.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I examine what increasing grid sizes would mean for EVE and propose some much-needed changes for the war declaration system that could soon be possible thanks to the Citadel expansion.

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One Shots: Slice ‘n’ dice

New expansions across the MMO sphere are prompting many of us to take up a part-time job as in-game photographers. And why not? Eye candy is part of the fun of this genre!

Reader Brooks sent in this cool action shot of Star Wars: The Old Republic: “Neither Skytroopers or the Knights of Zakuul can stop a Jedi Master from reaching her new friends as they wait aboard the Gravestone.”

There is no Dana, there is only Zakuul. What? I can’t be the first one to make that joke!

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