Impressions & Previews Category

Hands-on, first impressions, and preview coverage. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

E3 2018: Hands-on with ReEvolve, Perfect World’s new mobile sandbox MMORPG

Remember how we learned that Perfect World would be showing off some new games at E3? Well, things happen at conventions like this – they don’t always go to plan. My FarSide didn’t materialize, for example. However, ReEvolve did happen, just not without setbacks. Our PR contact, Michael Meyers, did his level best to help me understand what was up with the game, despite the realization that PWE’s Chinese branch hasn’t pushed much information westward just yet. All this could have ended with my not writing anything, but despite it all, enough of the game showed through, and I’m definitely intrigued.

If a sandbox version of something like Adventure Quest 3D exclusively on mobile sounds like your thing, read on.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with the superb (and hopefully Switch-bound) Black Desert Mobile

While I’ve had kind words to say about the potential for mobile in the past – particularly MMOARGs – I just haven’t been able to get into mobile MMORPGs. The point of view, the auto-follow, the lack of chat, and a generally cheap feeling leave me feeling a bit ill. However, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on Black Desert Online’s mobile port this year at E3, which might just change my mind.

Now, let me preface this by saying I am not an active player of the PC version of the game, and my brief time with the console version of the game only confirmed to me that Pearl Abyss has competently adapted controls and UI for console, but oddly enough, the work on the mobile client stood out to me as particularly superb. And as Pearl Abyss CEO Kyungin “Robin” Jung told me during our interview, the company is indeed considering porting the title to the Switch. While it sounded interesting (and a bit odd considering Nintendo’s general status as an online-outsider), it wasn’t until I personally played BDM that I seriously started to consider the possibility.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Funcom’s upcoming Mutant Year Zero

Apparently, GDC was good to Funcom, The Bearded Ladies, and Mutant: Year Zero. The teams had originally thought to skip E3 this year, but after the reveal led to even one developer’s mail attendant in Sweden fanning out a bit, it became clear that an appearance at the Expo might be in order (and to maybe not wear developer t-shirts in public).

The Bearded Ladies developers said that they’ve received nothing but positive comments so far, and I can’t say I’ve been able to give them more critical feedback either. Part of that is because my tactical RPG experience is limited to super casual Fire Emblem outings that never end with my finishing the game. Admittedly, I also didn’t have a ton of questions to bring with me this time because the guys were just so open at GDC. It’s probably for the best, though, as I was finally able to get my hands on the game. Spoiler alert: Not only did I fail my mission, but so did almost everyone else!

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Ubisoft’s open-world pirate PvP game Skull & Bones

So, you want to be a pirate, but Sea of Thieves isn’t your cup of tea? If the issue was PvP, well, you’re probably out of luck, as Ubisoft Producer Karl von der Luhe emphasized at E3 this year that one of Skull and Bones chief strengths is that it lets you decide what kind of pirate you want to be: the kind who backstabs and murders his fellow buccaneer, or a wolf running with a pack. There’s no room for pacifists who just want to share Earl Grey and crumpets, alas.

While von der Luhe admits that Ubisoft admires what Rare’s done with SOT, it’s been clear for a long time that the two games are different enough to co-exist. They’re different takes on the pirate lifestyle. Even with the new hideout system for off-ship… um, town interaction, my demo of the open PvPvE area, the hunt grounds, further confirmed my feeling that Ubisoft’s game is more about the ship than it is about the pirate, something that surely has its own audience.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Pokemon Let’s Go

You know with my being the one at this year’s E3 that this would happen. A console Pokemon game that also connects to Pokemon Go? The possibility for a way to include trading in Niantic’s game in an indirect manner, a wider connection to the main series, its online storage system that helps give the games some semblance of persistence – altogether, it seemed for a moment as if Nintendo was indirectly building another pillar in its overall Pokemon world.

Sadly, from what everything we’ve learned, we’re no closer to a true (official) Pokemon MMO. However, my hands-on experience did hint at some really cool immersion for Go players who want to pick up Pokemon Let’s Go for a new mix of the core series’ gameplay.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Super Smash Bros Ultimate

With all the online talk about Nintendo this year, it feels only fitting to give Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros Ultimate a little time. We’ve talked recently about the unbundling of MMOs and why the market seems primed for a big title yet goes unanswered. Readers and writers all noted that other genres help meet the demands for this, from MOBAs to even social media.

In fact, we even covered an online fighting game last year because it included customizable characters (both appearance and abilities), quests, loot, guilds, and even guild quests that involved more than two people. An MMO it was not, but it certainly had enough overlap that it turned a few heads. The last Smash Bros included several of these components but restricted them to mostly offline play. However, one interesting note was that the Mii-fighter, a highly customizable character in the Smash-verse restricted to “fun” and “casual” play off and online, is being prepared for online battles. Whether that means in a new form or its customizable form matters, as one might hint at Nintendo’s aim for this title: another try for sanitized online fighter, or embracing the full spectrum of Smash fans. I’m leaning towards the latter.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Bethsoft’s Elder Scrolls: Blades (yes, in portrait mode)

Out of all the announcements Bethesda had at its pre-E3 presser, The Elder Scrolls: Blades was the last title I thought we’d be offered. Oh, we had asked about others, but they sadly weren’t being shown, nor did they have anyone around to answer questions. Beyond the basics, Blades was the same.

Which was a shame, since there was excitement about the title in the MOP newsroom, especially once we heard it would include some sort of multiplayer. Scaling from PC VR down to mobile is a vast tech difference and gameplay experience. And being able to potentially play in portrait mode? All jokes aside, that’s actually some promising stuff!

However, of those awesome selling points, I only experienced portrait-style ESO mobile goodness during my demo.

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Tamriel Infinium: With Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset, more of the same is a good thing

Today is the formal launch day for Summerset! My goal during the PC early access was to finish the main storyline, and I’m happy to say that I did it and some of the side quests as well. And I was also able to do a bit of exploring around the island just to see what was there. As an Elder Scrolls Online fan, I have to say that I’m satisfied with what ZeniMax delivered. If you are a fan of the game and really enjoy what the team has given so far in the game, then you will also like the Summerset chapter.

I strongly believe that ZeniMax over-delivered with Morrowind, so when making a direct comparison between the two different chapters, I will, unfortunately, have to admit that Morrowind was the stronger chapter. But that’s not to say that Summerset was a bad expansion to the game. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are some very strong characters, glorious set pieces, and fun Easter eggs.

As I talk about the story of the next chapter, it will be impossible not to talk about spoilers, but I will keep them as light and vague as I can. And I promise that anything that I reveal is not a major plot point. With that in mind, let’s talk about this story!

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Hands-on: The Jurassic World Alive ARG shows promise, but not for MMO fans

Ludia’s Jurassic World Alive isn’t being marketed as an MMO, but it is an augmented reality game that involves roaming in the real world for virtual dinosaurs so you can battle them against other players. Online. But not near you.

It’s not exactly perfect, kind of like the series, in several ways. It’s not as promising as Maguss seemed in some ways, and suffers from similar design issues, but it also does things differently from Pokemon Go that, with some tweaks, could potentially attract a playerbase, even among our readers.

Just maybe not right now. Let me explain.
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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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First impressions of Worlds Adrift: Innovation, Zelda, open-world PvP, and that sinking feeling

Worlds Adrift has been one of those games I’ve been closely watching but trying not to jump into until it was ready. I tried one of the alpha weekends, and while it was playable, I could tell I needed to wait, and wait I did. I had faith that once the game would hit Steam (“early access” shield be damned if you ask for cash to play your game), it’d be something that’d move me. In fact, I called it out by name when discussing possible future MMOs that could tackle griefing with a moral system.

Today, I’m here to eat my hat, good sirs and madams.

While Improbable has been trying to “save MMOs” with SpatialOS, this being the first big MMO that uses it doesn’t wholly impress me. Some things work well, and yes, there are some good ideas, but as a PvP fan, I think there are some glaring mistakes that are going to send a lot of MMORPG players heading for the hills. Let’s dig in.

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First impressions of State of Decay 2: Frolicking fun with friends and zombies

State of Decay 2 is out, and I know, I know, it’s not an MMO, but it does have online multiplayer in a shared world, as long as someone’s hosting. And I’ve been thoroughly sucked in.

Here’s the thing: It’s survival, it’s got a bit of a story, and you can immediately deal with griefers in the post-apocalypse and never have to see them again. I had great experiences with friends and foes alike, and I think some of you might feel the same if you give it a whirl.

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Returning to Conan Exiles: Praise for Funcom’s progress on PvE and PvP

As some of you may remember, I wasn’t terribly impressed with Conan Exiles when it first went into Early Access last year. It wasn’t exactly that the game was rough, but just more of the same: free-for-all PvP with people constantly zerg killing each other, now with slavery and some dragons!

But Funcom has done a lot to flesh out the game since then. My GDC look at the game gave me hope, and although the PvE conflict switcharoo is really upsetting, I actually have to say that, mechanically, Funcom has won me over. While I normally track my playtime, I have to admit that I spent far too much time playing Exiles. Sadly, I didn’t get to experience clans, god summoning, purges, teleportation, massive battles, or slavery, but it wasn’t from a lack of trying. In fact, Conan Exiles should give all of us, PvE players included, a reason to pay more attention to the survival genre.

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