Culture & Community Category

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

Take a look at Hearthstone’s biggest minion yet

The next expansion for Hearthstone will feature a big minion. Very big. Whispers of the Old Gods brings out the Ancient One, a minion with 30 attack and 30 health, enough to immediately kill another player at full health without armor. So that’s going to be fun to see on the battlefield. It’s going to take a bit of work to get it out on the field, though, as explained in a recent card preview and interview on designing the beefiest minion yet.

Players won’t be able to summon the Ancient One directly; instead, players can summon Blood of the Ancient One, a pricey-but-reasonable 9/9 minion for 9 mana. Finish a turn with two of them under your control, and they automatically merge and summon up the Ancient One itself. The result is a minion that’s going to take some work to summon and lacks in special abilities, but makes up for it by, well, being really big.

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Blizzard’s legal threat shuts down WoW emulator Nostalrius

Another World of Warcraft emulator bites the dust this week. Year-old “Progressive Vanilla” WoW emu Nostalrius announced on its official website that pursuant to a recent legal complaint from Blizzard, it will be shutting down its server, rendering 800,000 accounts and 150,000 active players homeless. The official site says,

“Yesterday, we received a letter of formal notice from US and french lawyers, acting on behalf of Blizzard Entertainment, preparing to stand trial against our hosting company OVH and ourselves in less than a week now. This means the de facto end of Nostalrius under its current form.”

The server admins say they will shut down the server on April 10th, and while they have no specific “plan for the future,” they do say they will make available the source code to other players to help them set up their own emu. They’ve also started a petition to ask that Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime allow their server in the absence of official legacy servers. “It won’t bring Nostalrius back,” they write, “but it is a way to express ourselves as a community.”

Given how notorious and persistent Blizzard is about shutting down illegal emus for its live games, we suspect that’s true.

Source: Nostalrius site. Thanks, LazyLex, Ian, and Boom.

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EverQuest II shows off the upcoming Scourge Keep raid

Back in the day in EverQuest II, Deathfist Citadel was the home of the Deathfist orc clan, and players went ahead and stormed the place and killed the clan’s leader. Why? Well, with a name like “Deathfist,” you’re either up to no good or forming a crappy college metal band, either of which made killing the leaders a reasonable response. But now there’s a new threat facing players, a brighter gang of orcs known as the Scourge, and they’ve taken over the building and renamed it Scourge Keep.

Needless to say, players will be needed to take care of the Scourge in both Scourge Keep and the Siege, both releasing with the upcoming game update 100 for subscribers. In the former, players can find a variety of orcish opponents at varying challenge levels; in the latter, players can fight through the Scourge and ultimately unlock a special challenge-mode battle against Sanctifier Goortuk. The fight against the Scourge should give players plenty to do when the update goes live, although there’s some debate over whether “The Scourge” sounds like a worse band name than “Deathfist.”

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Blizzard confirms BlizzCon dates: November 4th and 5th

Blizzard has just confirmed that this year’s BlizzCon is on for November 4th and 5th in Anaheim. That means it’s almost time to fight to the death for your tickets!

BlizzCon 2016 tickets will go on sale in two batches on Wednesday, April 20 at 7 p.m. PT and Saturday, April 23 at 10 a.m. PT through the online event ticketing service Universe, priced at $199 each (plus applicable taxes and fees). Check out the BlizzCon Ticket webpage for all the details.

A virtual ticket for streaming and the optional swag bag are once again planned. “Further details on the Virtual Ticket, including pricing, availability, and programming information, will be announced at a later date,” reads the press release.

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Blizzard swapped Tracer’s butt pose in Overwatch with a… different butt pose

We’re sure you’re all still watching Overwatch’s #tracergate with keen anticipation, so you’ll be pleased to know that Blizzard replaced Tracer’s infamous “butt pose” with the latest patch.

Tracer's original butt pose

Original pose

Player complaints over the original pose of the quirky kid sister character were addressed last week by Game Director Jeff Kaplan, who said his team wasn’t comfortable the butt pose either and would be changing it, which of course sent the usual suspects into a frothing fight over “artists’ rights,” by which they mean artists’ obligations to render all the butts. ALL the butts.

Well, the butt pose people are going to be happy about the (side-butt?) replacement pose that is apparently Blizzard’s solution, which is plainly derived from pin-up art, most likely a piece by Alberto Vargas, as Twitter user @christianmccrea noted.

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Meet RIFT’s Maelstrom, complete with awesome shark-head

If anyone ever asks you what the best soul in RIFT might be, you now know that the answer is the Maelstrom. Is any other soul cool enough to have a shark headpiece? Does any other soul summon an ethereal magma shark to superimpose over your character’s head? The answer is “no,” which should be obvious because if the game had two souls doing that, there would be no good reason to play any other games. Thus, the upcoming Maelstrom is the absolute best, full stop.

What, you want to know what it actually does? That’s fair, it does have game mechanics outside of just having a cool shark head. Maelstrom DPS is based entirely around dealing damage through the combination of fire and water, creating scalding bursts of vapor and steam. You can check the Maelstrom soul out for yourself when patch 3.6 launches; the official preview also includes some fiction about the soul which somehow avoids just being a repetition of “you have a shark on your head, that is so cool.”

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The Daily Grind: What advice would you give tanks in your MMO?

I’ve danced through many roles in MMOs, but the one that remains largely explored for me is that of the tank. Oh, the idea of being wrapped up in a comforting layer of hit points and armor is undeniably attractive — especially after having played many squishies — but I have never taken a shine to being the vanguard in dungeons.

It seems, at least to me, that MMOs have the hardest time convincing players to take up the mantle of tanks, considering how in-demand and scarce they tend to be. Maybe it’s the fear of letting your entire team down by not being able to protect them, or perhaps it’s the stress of needing to know dungeon layouts and boss fights perfectly to avoid scorn.

You all are smart (allegedly)! So whether or not you’ve played a tank in your MMO, what advice would you give to a player starting out in this role? What takes an average tank and makes him or her an exceptional one?

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Battle Bards Episode 72: Listeners’ request anniversary

Can you believe it — it’s the third anniversary of Battle Bards already! Three years ago, Steff, Syp, and Syl joined forces to create the world’s first, best, and only MMORPG music podcast. It’s been an incredible ride, and for the show’s birthday the Bards have invited our listeners to contribute more of their favorite tracks for a listeners request show! It’s a plus-sized show, so enjoy – and thanks everyone for sticking with us through 72 episodes!

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 Olivetti co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Stitcher, and Player.FM.

We’ve got Episode 72: Listeners’ request anniversary for you after the break featuring music tracks from The Secret World, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy XIV, Star Wars Galaxies, EVE Online, Glitch, and more!

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Final Fantasy XI updates with mounts and a new battle style

If you want to get somewhere in Final Fantasy XI, you usually have to walk there. Like an animal. Sure, there are rentable chocobos (expensive), airships (only between specific ports), and personal chocobos (on lengthy cooldowns), but odds are you need to walk. Or needed, anyhow; the latest version update adds in a variety of new mounts that you can just summon to ride about at your leisure. Now you can ride everywhere! Assuming the locale in question allows for mounts, anyhow.

Once you get tired of riding places and possibly kicking sand in the faces of the nearest rental chocobo NPC, you can move on to other entertaining diversions like the brand-new Ambuscade content which pits one to six players against monsters in a constrained arena. The rewards include a special sort of currency that can be used for items and upgrading specific gear, with hard limits on how much you can get each month and a reset for each version update. There’s plenty to be done in the game with this addition, so dive in and enjoy the version update.

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Hearthstone’s Whispers of the Old Gods is likely launching on April 26th

There’s no formal announcement just yet of when Hearthstone players will be able to jump into the Whispers of the Old Gods expansion, but it’s going to be pretty significant when it happens. But a hint has indeed come for anyone purchasing the Curse of Naxxramas adventure pack, which now comes with a warning that players will not be able to use the cards contained therein in Standard-format matches after April 26th. That certainly doesn’t say that the expansion is launching on the 26th, but it does raise a few eyebrows.

The expansion’s card reveals already raised a few eyebrows with the addition of its new card Ragnaros, Lightlord, depicting the fire elemental boss of Molten Core and Firelands fame as a benevolent entity. Lead designer Ben Brode took to Twitter to offer lore fans a slight clarification:

In other words, repeat to yourself that it’s just a cool card idea, and you may want to just relax.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic launches Visions in the Dark with its latest update

Are you of the mind that Emperor Valkorion in Star Wars: The Old Republic is an enormous jerk, or are you more in the “rah-rah-rah, this emperor isn’t so bad once you overlook the horrible stuff he does all the time!” camp? Because the newest chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire promises to make that stance quite relevant, what with a deadly mission to the heart of the Eternal Empire. If you were subscribed by April 1st, you get to start playing that chapter today; everyone else will have to wait a little bit to play the chapter on April 7th.

Even if you have to wait a bit, there’s still stuff in the patch to explore, including the new Focus option to switch between PvE and PvP instance types on a given server and a brand-new cross-faction warzone. Players can also unlock and use all 5 existing Strongholds on a single Legacy. Even if you have to wait a couple of days to enjoy the big story update, you’ll still have stuff to do when the game’s maintenance finishes up and the patch is ready (the current projected timing is noon EDT).

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The Daily Grind: What’s the ‘deadest’ live MMORPG out there?

If you were all prepared to troll with a sunsetted game or say “anything by Daybreak or Trion or whatever studio that’s popular to hate right now,” hold that in and keep on reading.

Last week, we covered the story about a blogger entering an online game called Active Worlds and finding it essentially abandoned. It was creepy, like photos of shuttered and overgrown amusement parks, and it may well have been a setup, but it did make me wonder about legit MMORPGs — the ones that are technically alive but not really.

I’ve had a hard time settling on one because even the ones I expect to be tiny, like Asheron’s Call, still bustle with life. I’d like to find some deserted MMO and cheer it on, to thank its creators for not pulling the plug, so I turn the suggestions over to you: What’s the smallest, deadest, but still living MMORPG out there?

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Heroes of the Storm previews Tracer’s mechanics

Cheers, Heroes of the Storm fans, the cavalry’s nearly here. Tracer is dropping into the game for Overwatch pre-orders on April 19th, and a brief new video highlights how the shooter’s erstwhile mascot will play once she’s dropped into Blizzard’s MOBA. It’s a very different style of game, but Tracer will keep her own uniquely mobile flavor, starting with her ability to move while attacking.

Beyond that passive trait, Tracer also possesses analogous abilities to her FPS self, including quick teleportation, altering time, and throwing rather nasty bombs around when she needs to. There’s also a promise of a single Heroic ability with three different upgrade paths to alter Tracer’s overall playstyle. Check out the video preview for the character just below. Read more

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