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: Dauntless strides into open beta (May 25, 2018)

It’s certainly a daunting task to launch a game into its open beta, but the developers of Dauntless are undaunted as the title does just that this week. Now everyone can daunt gigantic monsters, daunting the local townsfolk into upgrading gear while forging names like “Daunter of Behemoths.” Without paying a dime!

In other news, I’ve now been forbidden from using the word “daunt” any further in this particular post. Also, there’s other beta news worth covering.

That’s some beta news, huh? Don’t fret, there’s also a list below if you want to look for other titles in testing. As always, if you see something there that shouldn’t be there or should have a different test state listed, please let us know. If you appreciate overuse of the word “daunt,” also let us know there. Just for funsies.

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Choose My Adventure: Two milestones at the start in Final Fantasy XI

If I have to summarize, in brief, how much Final Fantasy XI has changed since its launch in the United States? In half an hour before leaving the house I made a character, started the first nation mission, and reached level 6 in the process of smacking six bees. Most of the way to 7, at that.

This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but if you played the game before your remember it primarily for being insanely brutal and slow. The idea of reaching the limit breaks in the course of a month would require hardcore play and persistence along with lots of high-end help, which is why I specifically stated I’d be getting none of that. My playtime with this characters sits at around 9 hours right now, which is a fair chunk of time, but it’s not much when spread over the course of four days.

But yes, I am now ready to pick up my advanced jobs helped significantly by the fact that my adventure started in Windurst. So let’s start talking about the mechanics of the game, how you can end-run so many parts of the system now, and how bad the game still is about telling you these things.

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The Daily Grind: What was your first ‘wow’ moment in an MMO?

Your first MMO tends to stick in your mind in a certain way. The first time you realize that you’re in a game with other people, or you get a sense of the sheer scope of what that means. It happened early for me, pretty soon after I started playing Final Fantasy XI, but I still sometimes have moments in my preferred games where I’m all like “wow, these games are pretty great.” It’s a nice feeling when it happens.

Of course, today’s question isn’t how often those hit you, it’s when your first did. Was it your first dungeon in World of Warcraft? Your first surprising story moment in Final Fantasy XIV? Your first PvP killing in EVE Online? Heck, maybe even just your first moments of grouping with another player in Blade & Soul. Share your stories with us today about the first moment when you were playing an MMO and found yourself just… amazed.

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Tamriel Infinium: Eight things you need to know before jumping into Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset

Monday, the Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset chapter went live for early access accounts. For the first time since 1994, players can visit the island of Summerset. And needless to say, 24 years makes quite a difference in the world of gaming. I’m not going to pretend that I ever played Arena, but think its safe to say that things look a lot different and the mechanics of the game have changed, too.

I don’t think that Summerset is as highly anticipated as Morrowind was, but that’s can be a positive for ZeniMax Online Studios because there is scrutiny when it comes to the lay of the land and the storyline. On the other hand, it means less hype for the expansion.

As an MMORPG enthusiast, I’m excited to see MMOs continuing to grow the way ESO has. And I know that you might not be as familiar with Summerset, so I would like to give you my list of what you should probably look out for when you jump into the next chapter.

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Perfect Ten: The unique pitfalls of licensed MMOs

Making a list of the “biggest” MMOs currently running is always an exercise in frustration. It’s easy to put a few things on the list – no one’s going to argue with placing World of Warcraft on such a list, for example – but then everything else always gets mired in opinions and controversy, and endless cycles of “why isn’t this game I love on there while another game I don’t like is there?!” I speak from experience.

Still, on our list of the healthiest MMOs at the moment, we’ve got only three licensed games: Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Those are by no means the only entries on the licensed game list, of course, but there does seem to be something of a dearth of those. And perhaps that’s more understandable than it seems. For all that we talk about how one setting or another would be perfect for an MMO, there are some unique troubles you inevitably run into when you get into the licensed MMO shuffle.

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Global Chat: Dipping back into MMO underwater combat

Guild Wars 2’s recent renovation of underwater combat has brought back some interest to this oft-neglected sphere of gameplay. Inventory Full’s Bhagpuss used this occasion as an opportunity to examine the role of underwater combat in general and the changes to GW2 in specific.

“The undersea worlds of most MMOs weren’t quite so unforgiving but still they were shunned,” he notes. “Developers tended to avoid them too, other than blocking out something wet and watery in the most perfunctory manner possible. It was quite a surprise when Guild Wars 2 launched with a goodly amount to see and do below the surface, any number of bodies of water, from inland lakes to the open seas, offering much the same opportunity and inducement to explore as their counterparts on dry land.”

Once you towel off from that essay, join the MMO blogosphere as it looks at DC Universe Online, World of Warcraft, RIFT Prime, and more!

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Wisdom of Nym: Checking out Final Fantasy XIV’s patch 4.3 notes

As it always has been, so it is again; we’ve got our next patch for Final Fantasy XIV just around the corner, and thus we have a new set of patch notes to peruse well ahead of the actual patch. But we don’t have the full list of new items, which is frustrating. Especially if you’re thinking about which furnishing items you want to move around and so forth, because really, what other stuff is important in a given patch? Endgame progression? Who cares.

Reading through the patch notes is always a bit like some sort of ersatz holiday, because you already know the majority of the things you’re getting but not all of the details until the patch notes come out… and then the patch notes deliberately obscure some things so you still don’t know everything. But I can live with not knowing exactly what quests are in Return to Ivalice just because I can see that there are a lot of them. So let’s start taking this apart before we get to actually play it.

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One Shots: A sense of place

Why do you play MMORPGs? What keeps you questing through these ever-growing worlds? I think a lot of us might answer like Zyrusticae in Blade and Soul here, as we enjoy inhabiting and exploring virtual fantasy worlds.

“See, this is the sort of thing I play MMORPGs for,” Zyrusticae writes. “That sense of ‘place.’ Being somewhere else, even if it’s only behind a computer screen. Old shots, yes, but still some of my favorites just for that. It’s a very pleasant feeling, really.”

Will you find your sense of place in the following player screenshots? Let’s find out!

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The Game Archaeologist: Warhammer Online

When it comes to notable years in the MMORPG genre’s history, 2008 stands out as one of the most significant. World of Warcraft’s debut onto the scene in 2004 caused an upheaval in ways far too numerous to go into detail here. Suffice to say that its overwhelming popularity drew the attention of game designers who looked at the staggering numbers of players and found themselves envious of the potential to grab a slice of that money pie.

Many projects went into high gear following WoW’s launch, with plenty of them trying to copy the formula and structure that Blizzard established in the hopes of making it at least partially as big as that game. So-called WoW clones began to pepper the market and there was a sense that gamers were ready to move on from World of Warcraft to the next generation of MMOs. In many players’ minds, this would be either 2008’s Age of Conan or Warhammer Online, two big-budget MMOs with strong IPs that carried a lot of the weight of expectation.

Little did anyone realize that 2008 represented a bubble that was about to burst on the industry and the WoW clones that followed — including Warhammer Online. Today, we’re going to take a look at “bears, bears, bears,” the high hopes of Mythic Entertainment, and how WAR became a casaulty on its own battlefield.

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Betawatch: Worlds Adrift launches early access for airships and actual airships (May 18, 2018)

There are only a handful of games you can celebrate launching by releasing an actual airship into the sky, but Worlds Adrift is one of them. And fortunately for the lighter-than-air flight crowd, that’s exactly what the studio did. Of course, it’s just an early access launch, but hey. Points along the way.

More beta news? I guess, all right.

  • There are hints of more details coming about Amazon’s New World. Which is good, because boy, sometimes the beta field is thin upon the ground.
  • Speaking of things getting thin upon the ground… yeah, if you had invested in long-term stocks in Just Survive, you may want to unload those investments. There’s another patch coming, but removing all paid lockboxes doesn’t scream “and good news to come.”
  • Do you want to drive cars around? The Crew 2 will let you do just that when its closed beta starts up on May 31st. There are probably other mechanics, but… cars.
  • The subscription plans for Bless Online have been adjusted and unveiled, but you shouldn’t call them subscriptions. Call them something else, like… happiness payments! Something light and airy, you get the idea.
  • Last but not least, let’s just enjoy some stats from the Defiance 2050 closed beta. Stats are fun.

There are no stats included below in our testing list, but there is relevant and important information you can analyze, so that’s a good thing. Why not duck below and check it out? Of course, if you notice something that we missed, please do let us know down in the comments, whether it’s a changed test state or just something that soft launched without us noticing.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The SWTOR Summer roadmap might get you back into PvP

Star Wars: The Old Republic producer Keith Kanneg just dropped the next roadmap earlier today, outlining the features upcoming before September and a little bit beyond. Although he didn’t give much detail about the future of the story for the game, he gave us enough hints that we can speculate about the direction it’s headed.

At the very top of the roadmap post, Kanneg thanks everyone for such a great first year as producer of SWTOR and hopes that everyone enjoyed the traitor storyline. The story ends with a lot of questions unanswered, but unfortunately, those questions will not be answered until sometime after September according to the post. However, it’s possible that some of the setups this summer are pointing toward what the developers have planned.

Kanneg said the devs have been listening to players and “as a result, [they will] be making a lot of changes based on your feedback, beginning with our PvP plans this summer.” 2018 will be the summer of PvP for SWTOR, so let’s break down everything that the developers are doing.

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Choose My Adventure: Starting fresh-ish in Final Fantasy XI

This is actually a Choose My Adventure that I was somewhat reluctant to do for a long time, simply because… well, in some ways, it goes against the entire spirit of Choose My Adventure. Or at least the spirit that I’ve always used as a guiding principle for these columns, for however much it matters.

The goal of Choose My Adventure has always been to take someone who is either wholly unfamiliar with a game or at least not an expert at it and throw them into a game with as little support as possible. There’s no way that I can realistically hit the level cap and make major headway into the endgame, of course, but I can at least try a game with fresh eyes and see how it plays, while presenting those thoughts in a non-tedious fashion.

And then we have Final Fantasy XI, which I cannot possibly look at with new eyes because I know this game very well. If I had to list the MMOs I know best, FFXI would probably be third or fourth on the list. Which is why for a long time I didn’t bring it up, because… I know all of this stuff, right?

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Chaos Theory: A changing of the guard in the Secret World Legends

As a fan of the wonderful world that Secret World brought us, do you cringe or grin with excitement when Secret World Legends news pops up? Do you waffle between tell me more and no news is good news? I’ve been on both sides. Who can blame us? We’ve weathered everything from financial woes and the corresponding closure concerns to a complete reboot. And now, we’re experiencing yet another changing of the guard. The Creative Director position that has migrated from Ragnar Tornquist to Joel Bylos to Romain Amiel has been vacated, and a new lead designer is taking over; Amiel left Funcom last month to pursue different endeavors, leaving Chris “Nirvelle” Meredith in charge.

You can’t have a big change like this without people worrying that something will happen to their favorite conspiracy-laden game; it’s inevitable, like the sass of Kirsten Geary. The big question is, will this latest development in the structure of developers ultimately fall on the fear or cheer side of the fence? Will the recent momentum be lost? Is this just one step on the continued track of new content, or will the train be totally derailed?

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