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LOTRO Legendarium: A guide to starting fresh in Lord of the Rings Online

This past week, I received this letter from reader Thurro: “Your recent LOTRO resurgence has my interest, and from the sounds of you on the podcast I might not be the only one. Would you consider writing a beginners guide or even just a list of tips for getting started from scratch?”

Sure, why not? It’s still a little too early to tell, but we could be seeing a nice little LOTRO renaissance right now, and I bet that there are more than a few players who are checking the game out for the first time after reading the news and hearing recommendations from others. Considering that it’s a massive MMORPG with 10 years of content and expansions, I could see how it might be overwhelming during your first week.

A true guide would probably take so much longer than the space I have this week, so let me present a quick and dirty starting guide to the this wonderful MMO and then point you to LOTRO Wiki for any further questions (seriously, it’s a great resource!). Let’s get started!

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Take a primer on Revelation Online’s character paths

Hands up if you’re already in Revelation Online’s open beta early access! Anyone waiting until next week to try it out then? Are you reserving judgment until more reviews are in? In any case, why not go through a brief primer on one of the key ways you’ll grow your toon, with character paths.

The dev team said that this system is mandatory if you play: “Character paths are unavoidable for players that want to become the best and reach the very top of their rank. Not only do they provide additional stats, they also increase the amount of skill cultivation your character can learn — which is essential.”

Character progression paths begin at level 29 and involve six stages that go up through level 79. You’ll also have to accomplish missions, get a couple of travel skills, and meet other requirements to “break through” the paths and unlock these improved abilities. It sounds a little convoluted, but it’s probably one of those systems that makes sense once you see it in practice in the game itself.

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Hands-on: Digging deep into Crowfall’s pre-alpha crafting systems

Last weekend, Crowfall developer ArtCraft Entertainment held the last of its February playtest weekends, inviting the game’s Early Access backers to jump into the gameworld to play, test, and provide feedback on the game in its current state of development. As one of said Early Access backers (full disclosure there), I was among those invited to take part in the test, and having last played the game sometime early last year, I figured now would be a good time to pop in and see how the game’s coming along.

At present, the game build is a very early one that the devs have dubbed Pre-Alpha 2.0, so the features on display during the playtests are both limited and almost certain to undergo radical changes between now and Crowfall’s eventual launch. The game’s current, rather bare-bones incarnation includes the frameworks, in varying stages of completion and polish, for its basic gathering, crafting, and PvP combat features, though my playtime over the weekend was limited largely to the former two, with relatively little in the way of bloodshed. I don’t consider that to be altogether a bad thing, though; even this early implementation of Crowfall’s gathering and crafting systems is intricate enough that I reckon it deserves a column in and of itself, so let’s go ahead and dig in.

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World of Warcraft helps you get your pilot’s license for Legion

Remember how a while back Blizzard told fans that it was looking at eliminating flying from all World of Warcraft expansions going forward? Yeah, so that went down as one of the more bone-headed statements the studio ever said and then quickly reversed. It’s hard to ignore the irony that here we are, less than two years later, and the studio is now giving us tips on how we can gain flight clearance in Legion.

While players won’t be able to regain their ability to fly until Patch 7.2, they can complete one of the two necessary achievements for eventual takeoff. The achievement, Broken Isles Pathfinder Part 1, is made up of four sub-achievements, each which requires a significant amount of work (but fortunately, most of that work is covered naturally in the process of going through the expansion).

If you’re confused about what you need to do or where to go, check out this guide (or simply read the Wowhead guide instead, since that’s been out for a while now and Blizzard keeps linking to it anyway).

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Flameseeker Chronicles: A guide to Forsaken Thicket, Guild Wars 2’s first raid

I have to apologise to raiders for not finishing my boss guides I began back in 2015: This is one of those articles that I’ve been meaning to write for quite a while, but ArenaNet has been doing a fantastic job of throwing shiny distractions in my path that have some sense of urgency (or at least a topical timing factor I can’t ignore) to its deliverance. My Guild Wars 2 raiding experience so far has taken a backseat to Living World developments over the past few months, so rather than attempting to draw up more raid boss guides to round out the set I commenced before season 3 became my article content focus that would just regurgitate known information to most current raiders, I thought it would be a better idea to summarise the Forsaken Thicket experience and share my thoughts on its encounters to wrap up the first raid in writing.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll look at each wing of Forsaken Thicket and the encounters contained in them, presenting my opinions on the battles and providing a rated-and-hated sort of summary on the three wings in the process. I’ll link up the few boss guides I compiled where relevant, but the main focus will be on how the encounter plays rather than how best to approach it. This article should prove useful for those who haven’t yet completed Forsaken Thicket and are considering raiding in GW2 as well as those who raid in other MMORPGs and are interested in comparing Anet’s offerings to their raids of choice.

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Perfect Ten: Mobile MMOs coming in 2017

This past year, we couldn’t seem to go a week without bumping into news of some new mobile MMO or a tablet spin-off of some existing franchise. It seems as though the mobile market is still blowing up, and MMORPG developers are looking for a way to take advantage of the popularity and market penetration that these devices offer.

What does this mean? It means that in 2017, we have a whole lot of games heading our way. With any luck, some of them might unseat the low-quality half-breeds that seem to make up a bulk of the existing mobile MMO library and set a higher standard for fun and engagement.

Let’s take a look at about two dozen mobile MMOs we could be getting in 2017 — and which ones might be the new contenders for our undivided attention. Unless we mention otherwise, these titles will be coming out for both iOS and Android platforms.

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Massively OP’s MMO guide to the Steam Winter Sale

Do you have any money left after all of that holiday shopping, travel, and dining out? Steam would very much like to have what remains, if you please, and is willing to trade you some discounted games in return.

Yes, the annual Steam Winter Sale is up and running, which means all sorts of deals for the frugal MMORPG player. We’ve compiled a huge list of all of the deals — including discounts of up to 90% off! — to help you navigate the holiday promotion. The sale ends on January 2nd. Hope it helps!

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Massively OP’s guide to the 2016 MMORPG winter holidays

It’s time to get all snuggly in front of a crackling fire, roast up some chestnuts, down a gallon of hot chocolate, and log into your favorite online RPGs for seasonal festivities! Or you could “bah humbug!” your way through the season and ignore all of the silly, free, and rewarding events if you so desire. We’re not here to tell you what to do, after all!

With extra time off of work and school, many gamers have the opportunity to take advantage of all of the winter holiday events that are running across MMORPGs, MOBAs, and other online games. Feeling at a loss about where to start? Board the Massively OP sleigh and join us as we take you on a tour of all of the Christmas events going on right now!

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Perfect Ten: All the MMORPGs coming in 2017

Right now we are in a strange place in MMORPG history. Following the backlash of WoW clones and several high-profile titles that underperformed, major studios are becoming extremely risk-averse to creating big-budget titles the way that we saw not five years ago. Many former MMO teams are diversifying with shooters, MOBAs, and other safer and trendier titles.

Yet all is not lost! MMO features continue to ripple out into all types of game genres and new titles continue to be produced — just not from the usual suspects. Instead, most of what is on our immediate horizon comes from either crowdfunded indie teams or eastern giants. The good news is that 2017 should see the culmination of many of these long-brewing projects and adaptations, hopefully resulting in a bumper crop of interesting online RPGs for us to play.

So let’s run down the list of games that either are or possibly could be coming to you in 2017. We will provide an overview of each title, why you should care about it, and our best guess at the odds of its officially launching during the calendar year. If an upcoming MMO is not on the list, then it is our opinion that while we’ll see it eventually, a 2017 release isn’t happening.

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Chaos Theory: Our guide to The Secret World’s Unseen achievement

For the last couple of months, I have been focused on trying to acquire The Unseen achievement in The Secret World. Why? It isn’t anything anyone needs to do to complete the game or to even experience all the content; you can finish every associated mission even if you fail its achievement. However, it is a little extra that celebrates one of the unique offerings of TSW — the sabotage mission. It is also quite the challenge. (And by challenge, I mean something that will likely have you tearing your hair out at times.) It tests your abilities to conquer objectives through something other than brute force or a twitchy trigger finger. For that reason alone I simply must give it my full support. That, and it taunts me with its so-you-think-you-can-win-huh vibe. I must beat it; I cannot let these missions get the best of me! Also I really want the cool title and ninja face mask you get as a reward.

Since I have been running some of these missions a few times, I’ve learned a few tricks to completing them, including ways to reset them at times so you don’t have to wait out the mission cooldown to try again. These are tricks I am willing to share so maybe you can learn from my mistakes instead of making your own. You can be on your way to becoming a master of stealth. Even if you don’t want any hints per se, this guide will lead you to all the missions and those who give said missions.

Warning: This may contain spoilers! All hints and any mega spoilers will be hidden behind a spoiler alert.

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Jukebox Heroes: Massively OP’s guide to grabbing 120+ MMO soundtracks

One of the most common questions that I’m asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, “Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?” OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.

The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.

So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I’m going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles — some of which are free and legal for the taking. You’re welcome; don’t mention it!

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EverQuesting: Preparing to play EverQuest II’s Kunark Ascending

When I first spoke about preparing for EverQuest II’s latest expansion, Kunark Ascending, I pretty much focused only on leveling. That’s because you can’t really participate in the expansion content unless you are level 100. You can still travel to and tour the zone — and die in it — if you are lower level, as I totally demonstrated on launch day, but you can’t really dig into the content. And who wants to hang out in an expansion if you can’t do anything? Well, unless you are like me. Unfortunately, if all you focus on is your level, you might still be pretty disappointed when you enter; you may not even be able to converse with any of the inhabitants to participate in the story or do quests! I found that out just trying to chat with a nice Sokakar trainer.

Beyond reaching the level cap, there’s plenty more you need to do before you can take advantage of Kunark Ascending. You may have completed many of these prerequisites already, or perhaps next to none (a very possible scenario if your current character just speed leveled like my Arasi Fury did). This guide that will help you cross everything off that checklist so you can experience all that the expansion has to offer.

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EVE Evolved: Getting started with EVE’s free-to-play

Just under two weeks ago, EVE Online launched its new free to play account option with the introduction of clone states. Subscribers are now given the new Omega clone state that allows access to everything the game has to offer just as before, while free players get a new Alpha clone state with a limited set of skills available and reduced skill training speed. The people this helps the most are new players, who previously had to get a 14-day free trial to check the game out but can now just sign up and take their time with it. The Ascension expansion also delivered a brand new fully voiced tutorial that developers hope will retain more players.

Thousands of new players have poured into EVE Online over the past two weeks, so many that last week’s peak concurrent user numbers reached over 51,000 players for the first time since 2014. The Rookie Help channel is now regularly packed with 6,000 to 8,000 players every night, indicating that over 15% of the active playerbase is currently composed new players. I’ve been playing on a new alpha character this week to explore the new tutorial and see what I could do solo within the alpha clone restrictions, and it’s been an extremely interesting experience.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what new free-to-play players will experience in EVE, give my impressions of the new tutorial and alpha clone limitations, and deliver some important tips that should help all new players make the most of their time in EVE.

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