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The softer, gentler side of MMORPG life. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s free-to-play upgrades are pretty damn generous

You’ve probably heard by now that EVE Online is giving its free-to-play alpha clone characters a massive boost in power in December about a month after the launch of the Lifeblood expansion. The news has been spreading through the gaming media since it was announced last week at EVE Vegas 2017 and the reception online has been generally positive. Some existing players are worried that the change might even be too generous, with fears that veteran players may let their subscriptions lapse and play for free, or that the new skills might be abused to create an endless army of ganking alts.

There’s no doubt that the changes will help to close the power gap between subscribers and free players and will open up new avenues of gameplay. Free players will finally be able to fly tech 1 battlecruisers and even battleships, and cross-training for multiple races will unlock multi-faction ships such as the Sisters of EVE exploration ships. Alpha clone players will also finally be able to use tech 2 weapons and fly many of the ship setups flown in massive nullsec wars, though the way that the new skill limit is being implemented may actually benefit old and returning players more than new ones.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into the free-to-play changes, briefly examine the power gap between free and subscribed players, and look at who will benefit most from the change.

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Battle Bards Episode 107: Blade and Soul expansions

After 50 episodes, the Battle Bards have made the brave decision to revisit the hallowed lands of Blade and Soul to look at two of the soundtrack expansions. The team combs through The World and Silverfrost Mountain albums to see what bounty can be harvested. It’s another lively episode with plenty of upbeat music, so what are you waiting for?

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 107: Blade and Soul expansions (or download it) now:

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One Shots: Sea horsing around

When it comes to unusual ways for Massively OP readers to get around in MMORPGs, there seems to be no shortage of bizarre methods for getting from Point A to Point B. So why not an ocean creature that is known more for hanging about than keeping a dedicated commuter schedule?

“I really loved the free seahorse mount World of Warcraft gave my character when I started adventuring through the Vashj’ir undersea zone,” Mysecretid said. “You can’t use the seahorse mount anywhere but Vashj’ir, but it sure looks nice. Even the ornate bit and bridle design impressed me.”

I have to wonder if, when mounted, your character is thinking, “You know, this is just too ridiculous, even for this game. I really should say something to management.”

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The Daily Grind: Are you a completionist in MMOs?

As I level up my many jobs on my main in Final Fantasy XIV, I feel compelled to take on all of the sidequests meant for leveling from 60-70. This is not, strictly speaking, necessary. Heck, it’s entirely unnecessary at this point; I can just do Alliance Raid roulettes and Kojin quests. But I feel as if I should close out these quests, pick up these little extra bits of story along the way before they become perfunctory.

Some games reward completionist tendencies, of course; Guild Wars 2 maps are designed to be cleared out, to use an obvious example. But none of that changes the simple reality of whether you’re into it or not. So what about you, dear readers? Are you a completionist in MMOs? Are there things you feel compelled to clear out in your game of choice? Or do you take a strictly utilitarian approach and assume that any quests/objectives/whatever that you’ve outleveled can just remain forgotten?

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Underdog Pokemon Go players took over the capital of Croatia

But it’s cool; they gave it back.

We’re talking, of course, about Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, which is apparently a flourishing Pokemon Go city with 420 gyms thanks to seeding years ago by Ingress players. A group of Croatian gamers were trying to conjure a way to persuade Niantic to switch a famous Croatian POGO trainer to the outnumbered Instinct faction when they hatched a plan to put together a massive 70-man raid to help the tiny team take over the whole city — that is, all 420 gyms — which necessitated crews of players and a fleet of cars to zip around the capital all day and all night in shifts. And they pulled it off.

“The biggest pride for us is that we managed to organize such a mission and did everything in it 100% legit play – not a single multiaccount was placed in a gym to make it stronger,” Redditor LekoZG writes. “Maybe we demolished all other gyms in the city, but what we built is far more valuable – a strong, positive and forward-looking community of players.”

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WRUP: Names I have used for MMO zones other than their proper names edition

Boregrimmar. Dorkshore. Strangle-me Vale. Dun Moron. Ironfudge. The Kvetchlands. Hillsbad Footfails. Poorgrimmar. Zangrymarsh. More Donuts. Fishguard. Palaran. Nar Shady. Lomsa Lemonsa. L.A. Nausea. Goopstaberg. Winderps. Valkurm Dooms. Fort Smellsba. Rolanberry the Headless Thompson Fields. Castle Ooze Troy. Snoregrimmar. Nar Shut Up.

Lizardtown. Camp Steaky-place. Tython, land of pythons. Ord Mantelpiece. Sith Seattle. Invincible Turtle River. The Lich King Summer Camp. The Boyz II Men Tree. Gay Planet. Shadowlord Fun Time Activity Zone. Kitty Jungle. Pirate Jungle. Crackton. The Alliance Lives in a Closet. Stormwind Red Light District. Cat Gas Park. Earth Space Duck. “Oops I Crapped My Pants” City.

And those are just the ones where my wife and I didn’t just add obscenities to the name for no reason, or referring to a zone in one game with the name of a zone from a completely different game. Let us know what you’re playing in the comments, this is What Are You Playing. Theoretically.

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The Daily Grind: What is the best MMO dragon of all time?

Let’s throw down today and have an all-out brawl in the comments, shall we? That should keep Bree busy for a few hours at least!

Today’s topic: dragons! No, not those adorable ones you tame, but the ones that you fight (usually with a whole posse of equally deranged adventurers). They’re a staple of MMORPGs and share top billing in D&D, but not all dragons can be the biggest, baddest, and bestest. One has to emerge as Top Dragon, and the question is… which one?

What is the best MMO dragon of all time? Which dragon has the fiercest of presences, the most diabolical of fight mechanics, the wickedest of looks, and the most iconic of personalities? If all MMO dragons entered an arena to go at it… which one would emerge triumphant?

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Betawatch: Wild West Online’s alpha just isn’t ready (October 13, 2017)

It’s not high noon in Wild West Online. It’s not any time at all, in fact. The game’s early access alpha would have established a time, probably, but that’s been delayed because… well, the game just isn’t ready for that sort of testing yet. Disappointing for those looking forward to the game? Certainly. But probably for the best in the long run, we hope.

This week has been thin in terms of beta news, but we’ve still got a few pieces here and there to show off, don’t we? Of course we do; check out this list.

Sorry there’s a little less news this week, but we do have that whole list down below; that’s something cool, right? You can let us know what you’re thinking about betas you’re playing in the comments, or you can let us know if something surreptitiously launched without us noticing as well. We would prefer that you not place your recipe for chili con carne in the comments; just mail that along.

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Blizzard sues alleged Overwatch clone, bans World of Warcraft cheaters

Gone are the days when Chinese companies could get away with ripping off games left and right: Blizzard is going after another one of these alleged copyright-violating piles of crap.

The game in question is mobile title Heroes of Warfare; Japanese publication PC Watch reports that Blizzard’s Chinese conglom and publisher NetEase are suing the the maker, demanding and apology, restitution, and removal from Apple’s appstore, on the grounds of IP violations in China.

Meanwhile, stop cheating, cheaters. Your day has come, as the studio has apparently begun another round of six-month bans to folks who use cheat tools. Stoppit.

And in happier Blizzard news… here’s the whole WoW dev team. The fluffy white dog on the left personally made the no-flying-in-Argus decision, we’ve been informed by the PR collie being hoisted over on the right.

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LawBreakers reportedly drops to ten concurrent players on PC

Good news, LawBreakers fans! The game has set a new record for concurrency by reaching its unprecedented nadir of 10 players online! That’s according to PCGamesN, anyway, and we’re assuming they’re using Steam stats to come to that number, since we don’t have access to console numbers.

Ten is exactly enough players to play one match, so the game was still playable. Also, bad news; when the good news is “there were enough players to make one match happen,” you need to seriously re-index “good news.” Because there isn’t much.

Player counts did apparently spike up after the game’s most recent free weekend, but they immediately dropped right back off, despite hopes that the title would start to build up steam again. One can only hope that the concurrency numbers on console are significantly higher, because if they’re anything like the PC numbers, the future does not look bright.

Source: PCGamesN

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Choose My Adventure: Map-based antics in Guild Wars 2

One of the points of the polls and discussions for Guild Wars 2 the other week was that while I could focus on either map antics or storyline progression, I wouldn’t be doing just one or the other. Some of this is just practicality – if a story mission is bringing me close to a waypoint anyway, it would be silly for me to just shrug and not pick it up, and it’s kind of important that I use whatever means available to me to pick up more Hero points. But some of it was the fact that the game has, in many ways, an organic flow.

The game’s story doesn’t always bring you to the important places, but it usually at least strives to push players into spaces where they’re going to brush up against points of interest. (By which I mean “all the various map icons” rather than the game-specific definition of “point of interest.”) The intent, then, is not that you spend all of your time doing one thing or the other; you spend your time doing both, running through story instances and then hopping back out as it becomes relevant.

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Pantheon’s halflings are more like Peter Pan’s Lost Boys than Tolkien’s hobbits

The MOP team tricked me into taking this post. They promised me gnomes. They aren’t gnomes at all. They’re halflings!

We’re talking, of course, about Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, which this week released its October newsletter, the star of which is the newly revealed playable halflings. The Visionary Realms devs say the halfling will look familiar but not identical to what’s become a stock fantasy race.

“It was a real challenge to be sure, owing to how extensively the Halfling trope has been explored in popular culture,” Senior Concept Artist Jared Pullen says. “There are so many preconceived notions of what a halfling is, a good deal of which has been based largely on Tolkien’s Middle Earth Halflings; the Hobbits. The unique lore set in place by our talented writer and loremaster Justin Gerhart became the pivotal point of difference for us. While still being deep lovers of nature as one expects of this trope, Pantheon Halflings have a wild edge that sets them apart. They embrace a very literal and visceral affinity with nature, wearing furs and hides with plant and animal adornments both. As such they carry into the game with highly tribal design sensibilities, very different to the Halflings we’ve come to expect from books and film.”

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City of Titans outlines power set design for the game

As a spiritual successor to City of Heroes, there’s an obvious line through City of Titans when it comes to powers. That does not, however, mean that the game is just copying the CoH design process and calling it a day. No, CoT is designing its powers based on layers, starting with the set’s basic playstyle, then its focused style, mechanical identity, and speed.

The trick, of course, is that doing so allows quick pipelines for new sets and expansion; if the numbers are all tweaked, it’s fairly quick to go from a slow ranged area combo set to a slow ranged area damage-over-time set. Furthermore, by allowing every archetype access to a tertiary power set, you get access to another set of abilities to play off of your existing abilities. The full post outlines the 25 sets planned for the initial launch by name (if not in details), so check it out if you want a breakdown of the creative process and how the game will be implementing its superhuman abilities.

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