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]

Betawatch: Star Citizen dazzles, delights, and declines dates (November 3, 2017)

There was a lot of stuff that went down at the most recent Star Citizen convention, although none of the things that went down there included a firm date for Alpha 3.0. (Because of course it didn’t.) Want to catch up? Well, the good news is that we’ve got all of that rounded up nicely right here. Don’t say we never did nothing for you.

Meanwhile, there’s other testing news to cover here.

Just like last week and the week before, we’ve also got a full list of the games we know of in testing (and of wide enough interest to be worth including) down below. If we missed a title or missed one of these titles changing states unexpectedly, do let us know; the more specific you are about it, the more helpful.

Read more

Chaos Theory: Farewell Samhain, hello Secret World Legends Season 2 hype!

Do I love Halloween? Yes, yes I do. And while the season was in full swing, my mind was fully focused there. This season is a great diversion, especially in Secret World Legends. But with the awesomeness that is Halloween winding down and with Samhain now over, my mind can finally settle on other matters. Now I know for some, that means Christmastime and Krampusnacht. (One staffer here even declared/warned us of all out Christmas festivities starting November 1st!)

As cool as Krampusnacht is, my mind has turned instead to Season 2. Without my favorite holiday to distract me, I am keen on embracing the big awesome that we’ve all been waiting a long, long time for. New content! New stories! All new zone! Yes, Season 2, I am waiting for you. And the latest little teases coming from Funcom give me hope that we can get it sooner rather than later; the devs’ flaunting it more openly and allowing us to focus on it really has revved up my hype train. It’s almost like there is nothing else in the way and this is their complete focus. Oh yeah! *insert Kool-Aid Man here*

Read more

Jukebox Heroes: Revelation Online’s soundtrack

Eastern MMORPGs have a great shared legacy of incredible soundtracks, ranging from Aion to Lineage II to Final Fantasy XIV. And while there are both standouts and generic-sounding OSTs, it’s very unusual for an eastern game to feature a western composer.

But I suppose if you’re going to do that, you would do yourself well by recruiting from the best. I’m guessing that’s what happened with Revelation Online, which hired World of Warcraft and Overwatch Composer Neal Acree to score this fantasy title. The west-meets-east design here sounds a little bit odd and a little bit off to my ears, especially considering how Acree attempts to create a very Chinese-sounding album for a very Chinese MMO.

Was he successful? More or less, yes. It’s a decent soundtrack, nothing that I’m going to praise to the high heavens, but one that I won’t drag through the mud, either. I think that the best thing I can say about it is that Revelation Online’s score is that it’s very pleasant. And sometimes that’s exactly what you need when you’re sitting down to relax and play a game for hours on end. Let’s take a listen.

Read more

Choose My Adventure: The truth is out there about Secret World Legends

Oh, Secret World Legends. What are you? Are you a Frankensteinian change forced upon an existing beloved game that sucked some of the life and character out from your original source? Are you a relaunch that was billed as being something bigger than you actually were? Are you a new game that inherits the theme and setting of your nominal predecessor? Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

As I have mentioned, I don’t have history with SWL. I do, however, have history with The Secret World. And the fun thing is that said history informs my attitude going into this title as well as the reasons behind the remake-slash-rebranding, so it’s worth examining that along the way. Just as it’s also worth noting that The Secret World has also long been a victim of Funcom’s slow-running financial implosion.

Read more

The Daily Grind: What would surprise you from BlizzCon?

There’s a difference between predictions and hopes. Predictions are what you think is actually going to be there. Hopes are what you’d like to be there. So I have my predictions about this year’s BlizzCon, and you’ll all get your chances to publicly share your own in the near future. But that’s not the same as what you hope for, and perhaps more importantly, that’s not the same as what would surprise you.

Case in point: No new World of Warcraft expansion would surprise me. Heck, anything other than a standard boxed expansion would surprise me. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility, but it’s certainly unexpected.

So today, let’s talk about surprises. What would surprise you from BlizzCon? A new game being revealed? New modes for Overwatch or Heroes of the Storm? No expansion for Hearthstone? What sort of things wouldn’t be on your prediction list but would definitely throw you fora loop while still feeling remotely plausible?

Read more

Hyperspace Beacon: Datamining suggests big changes for SWTOR’s companions

It might be a little hypocritical of me to read into the datamined information from Star Wars: The Old Republic‘s upcoming patch 5.6, but I’d be failing at my job if I didn’t at least take a look. Of course, I’m not a fan of much of the datamined stuff because it leads to abhorrent speculation and misjudging, but there is one part of the most recent datamined info that has me kind of excited… excited about crafting, of all things.

So before we dive in, I should mention that datamined information might never make it in the game and that datamining itself is against the terms of service. And much of the datamined information can be and usually is taken completely out of context. That means that I want you to take everything that I’m about to write with a grain of salt. It probably means nothing, but every once in awhile, it’s fun to tread in places you’re not supposed to go. So if you would like to speculate with me, let’s talk about some very interesting changes that could potentially come to your companions.

Read more

Perfect Ten: 10 MMOs where you can live out your giant robot fantasies

Two years ago, NCsoft dealt a harsh blow to a certain subset of gaming fans when it canned the development of Project HON. This MMO was to be a glorious exercise in mecha combat, but scandals and a decision to reallocate development resources meant that it was never to be.

So where can that kid who grew up playing with giant robots go to get a Voltron, Transformers, or Macross fix these days? While many MMOs offer the occasional mech experience, there aren’t as many games that go all-in on that Pacific Rim experience.

But in the interests of a thought experiment and because I have fond memories of slapping five metal lions together to form the ultimate defender of the universe, here are 10 online games that offered or still do offer the thrill of high-tech mech and robot warfare.

Read more

Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Act II of Guild War’s 2’s Path of Fire story

In the last edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I discussed the opening sections of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire‘s story while providing you with a brief overview of what came before it. The return to Elona has been enjoyable and the character dynamics are developing nicely: The sheer breadth of content offered with the expansion in terms of story is fairly impressive and it deserves a thorough examination and explanation, so you know I’ve been bursting to continue covering it. In this edition, I’ll outline the rest of Act I and will begin into Act II: I’ll discuss Night of Fires, The Sacrifice, and Crystalline Memories. As before, expect significant spoilers if you’ve not had the opportunity to enjoy the expansion story for yourself yet.

Read more

Wisdom of Nym: Musings on Final Fantasy XIV’s current crafting game

Crafting is really important in Final Fantasy XIV. That much can’t be denied; the game places so much emphasis on the options available to crafters, adding in extensive new recipes and options for crafters, new content that can only be accessed by crafters (often with important lore and setting details), and a plethora of gear available just for dedicated crafters and gatherers. It’s indisputably not quite as supported as combat, but it is clearly super important.

At the same time, I think there’s some issues that are still running through the game’s crafting systems at a fundamental level, issues that are easy to overlook for a bit but jump to prominence when you take a closer look. Stormblood has been kind to crafters and gatherers on a whole, but it’s inherited some issues from the game’s initial rollout of systems during Heavensward, and some of these things could use a careful examination sooner rather than later.

Read more

EVE Evolved: The Agency could revolutionise casual PvE in EVE Online

Though EVE Online has a reputation as a cut-throat PvP sandbox where anything goes, the fuel that fires its conflict engine has always been PvE. Players collectively pump over 100 trillion ISK into the EVE economy each month by hunting NPCs all across the game, and at the same time they mine around 40 trillion ISK’s worth of ore for ship and module production. Over 90% of NPC bounties predictably come from people farming in the player-owned nullsec regions where some of the largest PvE rewards can be found, but data released earlier this year showed that 7.2% of bounties actually come from high-security space.

It’s unsurprising, then, that CCP chose high-security space as the test-bed for an entirely new casual PvE format with the release of Resource Wars in the recent Lifeblood expansion. The expansion also saw the return of the Crimson Harvest event and the release of a new tool named The Agency that helps players find nearby PvE content. I’ve been getting stuck into all three of these this week and seeing how it all ties together, and I’m now more convinced than ever that we could be heading for a full-scale PvE revolution.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss Resource Wars as a new model for PvE and consider how The Agency could be expanded to help promote casual pick-up PvE groups in EVE.

Read more

One Shots: Mummies making tracks

Let me tell you, I’m not playing RIFT right now but still I am so very tempted to log on and purchase that squirrel mummy mount. It may be one of that game’s best mounts yet, and that is saying something.

“One thing I love about RIFT is that the Ascended never take fall damage, no matter how far the fall might be,” reader Jake said. “While exploring the Gedlo Badlands, I needed to return to the kobold base camp and the quickest way to do so was to cliff dive from my current location. My descent was cut short when I unexpectedly landed on a rope strung across their camp. My mummified squirrel mount looked exactly like its real world counterpart would running along electrical wires.”

Read more

The Daily Grind: How long does it take you to get attached to an MMO?

As the current author of our Choose My Adventure column, I was going to open this off by saying that a month isn’t really enough for me to get attached to an MMO. But that’s not true; within a month of starting Star Trek Online back near its launch, I was hooked. I still look at it fondly and follow the game, even though it’s hardly my main title at the moment. The attachment is there.

Other games take longer. I think it took a good half a year before I felt really attached to Final Fantasy XIV, I certainly wasn’t attached to City of Heroes until a few months into my second attempt to enjoy the game, and it did take about three before World of Warcraft became a main game for me in the heady days of launch. So what about you, dear readers? How long does it take you to get attached to an MMO? When do you consider the game a big part of your gaming habits and/or history?

Read more

LOTRO Legendarium: Reviewing the Mordor soundtrack

Here’s a weird thing to admit: I was actually concerned when I heard that Lord of the Rings Online brought back Chance Thomas to score this year’s Mordor expansion. It’s not that I dislike him or his music; on the contrary, I recognized that Thomas has created a large amount of terrific music for this MMO’s beloved score. And while SSG has done very well with its scoring in house (Gondor in particular), I would normally be ecstatic to see Thomas come back again.

My concern stemmed from the source material. Mordor is evil, through and through, and I knew that this would call for an oppressively dark soundtrack. I felt that no matter who scored it, it wasn’t going to be an eminently listenable album, and I worried that Thomas’ efforts would be hamstrung by this setting.

After receiving an advance copy of the score (which will go on sale digitally November 1st), I found my concern borne out. Mordor’s OST is very competent and does a great job helping to sell the corrupted, death-strewn nation — but it’s not anywhere near as fun to listen to as, say, Thomas’ adventurous Riders of Rohan or his classic Shadows of Angmar work. That said, there are a couple of standout pieces and some very interesting elements going on with these tunes, so let’s go through it track by track to grok this latest chapter in the LOTRO musical archive.

Read more

1 2 3 4 5 125