Impressions & Previews Category

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

The Elder Scrolls Online releases Morrowind PAX recap trailer

ZeniMax has put out a fresh Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind video this morning, this time showcasing the PAX East reception for its battleground content and new Warden class. "Lucky players went head-to-head in Battlegrounds, fighting for supremacy in 4v4v4 showdowns using devastating new ice spells, tossing enemies into the searing lava of Red Mountain, and battling massive War Bears, which tore apart anything and anyone who dared attack their Warden masters," gushes the studio.

It's a little cheesy, admittedly, with carefully cut clips of journalists and players, but there are a few familiar faces, including prominent Skyrim vlogger "Grandma" Shirley Curry, whom everyone should be watching.

Morrowind took home our "most anticipated" award at this year's PAX, and our ESO columnist Larry Everett has since deep-dived the battlegrounds in particular, raising concerns about their impact on the future of the game's PvP. Check out the new trailer below!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Getting to grips with Guild Wars 2's Bastion of the Penitent

ArenaNet launched a new standalone raid tier, dubbed Bastion of the Penitent, alongside The Head of the Snake Living World chapter, but I've not had a moment to discuss it since the launch last month until now. I realise that raiding doesn't have the broad appeal of the Living World content, and that affects how I prioritise coverage of new Guild Wars 2 developments, but I always come back to raiding content since I personally get so much enjoyment out of it. This raid wing has been no exception: The encounters start off at an achievable level of difficulty and ramp up to pose more of a challenge fairly quickly, and even the easier encounters have clever mechanics that keep things fun.

In the first part of my Bastion of the Penitent coverage for Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll talk you through the rough mechanics of each boss fight, ignoring for now the lore you'll find locked behind the raid wing's door until the next part and also refraining from giving very specific meta or group composition advice. I've decided to leave that for any requested in-depth boss encounter guides you require so that I don't bore you with more raid coverage than you want to see! This edition is more of a what-to-expect rundown than a definitive guide to the encounters. As ever, let me know your thoughts on the raid in the comments and feel free to request detailed, phase-by-phase encounter breakdowns if a particular boss is giving you trouble. I haven't yet attempted the bosses on challenge mode, but if you'd like me to do so and provide you with any successful strategies I employ, then I will - all in the name of gamer science!

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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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The Soapbox: Pokemon Go Generation 2 still isn't a real MMO

Pokemon GO Generation 2 is out now, and it feels a lot like an MMO expansion in a lot of ways: We have new features, we have new grinding mechanics, and (of course) the combat system's been overhauled (twice, with the original change making dodging useless, the second possibly fixing the situation).

On the one hand, I'm excited as a Pokemon fan, especially since it's a free update. On the other hand, I'm starting to think that Raph Koster's famous comments on AR games being MMOs might be a bit off, at least in terms of POGO.
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Elder Scrolls Online: Deep-diving Morrowind's PvP battlegrounds

At last week's Elder Scrolls Online press event, I sat down in the ESO Live studio to talk to the PvP designer in person: Lead Designer Brian Wheeler, whose high enthusiasm for PvP in the upcoming expansion Morrowind is nearly absurd. Sheogorath-absurd.

Now, I would not consider myself an elite PvPer, but I am a fan of good PvP design, one that incorporates a good class meta, interesting maps, and meaningful leaderboards so that PvPers can prove to their friends how good they actually were. I was sitting on the edge of my seat as Wheeler and I discussed the ins and outs of this new game-mode for Elder Scrolls Online. Let's dig in!

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Elder Scrolls Online: Deep-diving Morrowind's new Warden class

Along with a new expansive 30-hour long story, Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind will introduce us to the game's first new class called the Warden, a class I previewed at last week's press event at ZeniMax HQ. And although it is called a "class" because that's the term that gamers understand, Game Director Matt Firor likes to call it a "theme," and the theme of the Warden is nature.

By now, I hope you've seen the Blur Studio trailer for the Morrowind chapter. The Redguard with the giant bear in that trailer represents the Warden. He shows off many of the abilities that are specific to the Warden, including the bear pet. But of course, there's much more to the class than a fuzzy friend, so when I spoke to Game Director Matt Firor and Creative Director Richard Lambert in person, I asked them all about our new class and the role it plays in the expansion.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2's The Head of the Snake

Now that I've had a little time to sink my hours into completing the episode after my initial impressions piece two weeks ago, I'm ready to bring you a more detailed breakdown of Guild Wars 2's most recent addition to the Living World's third season. The Head of the Snake was battle-heavy and pacey, leaving us with yet more questions that we hope shall be answered before the season is over. I was left wanting to know more and hoping that the episode would also feature some story asides from outside of the Kryta and White Mantle arc, so I was very eager to get playing so I could share my thoughts here for you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll unpack the story presented in The Head of the Snake and present you with my favourite elements and disappointments as well. The article will contain spoilers throughout and is not safe reading for those who have not yet completed this episode. Feel free to bookmark this one and revisit it when you're all caught up should you not have had a chance to play for yourself yet.

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Lost Continent: ArcheAge Revelation's fresh start servers aren't doing newbies any favors

It’s been over a month now since ArcheAge’s massive update 3.0 went live, adding oodles of new content to Trion’s expansive fantasy sandbox. The update, dubbed Revelation, is indeed monumental: It introduces two new races, the Dwarves and the Warborn—who join the Nuia and Harnya, respectively—and new starting zones for each; two massive new housing zones (one for each continent); new housing and social features such as housing-zone community centers and an overhauled family system; and an absolutely ludicrous number of adjustments and changes to almost all of the game’s existing systems.

On top of all the new content, Revelation also brought another new feature to ArcheAge’s proverbial table: brand-new "fresh start" servers, which are limited to players whose accounts were created on or after December 8th, 2016, and feature a modified version of the in-game cash shop that aims to limit the much-decried pay-to-win aspects of the game.

As someone who has always wanted to like ArcheAge but just couldn’t get past the pay-to-win stigma and the domination of the legacy servers by established players and guilds, I was intrigued by the prospect of starting the game with a blank slate, so I joined the flock of fellow fresh-starters to see if the experience might erase my former misgivings.

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Preview: Path of Exile reveals The Fall of Oriath

Path of Exile fans, today is the big day: Grinding Gear Games is officially unveiling your next expansion, dubbed The Fall of Oriath.

It turns out that the place your Exile called home before being banished is not only the main setting of this act but is going through some rough times. Even lowbies like yours truly who vaguely recall their origin story can get behind this act. We're going home, dealing with civil unrest, and welcoming back some lost deities with sharp pointy objects or finger-wiggling destruction. And that's literally just the beginning.

Read on for our preview of the expansion from last week's press event, plus brand-new screenshots and the new trailer!

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Tamriel Infinium: Four reasons Elder Scrolls Online's Homestead tops other MMO housing

Traditionally, in this Tamriel Infinium column, I have been extremely critical of The Elder Scrolls Online, and I promise you, I'm sure I'll lob criticism at the game in the future too. But I also like to give proper praise to video game developers when they do something extremely right, and that’s the case with Homestead.

My first MMO experience with housing was probably very similar to every other old-school MMO gamer's experience with housing: Ultima Online. But I didn’t really play UO for a very long time, only a month or so. My first real experience was in Star Wars Galaxies. Unfortunately, that game is shut down now, so I can’t show you just how powerful and creatively flexible that housing was. Since then, I’ve experienced housing in a number of different MMOs. I’ve seen EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, WildStar, and of course, Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Although some of these housing systems have elements that I really like, I don’t think any of them reach the level that ESO reaches. And to help illustrate what I mean, I’ve compiled a list of four reasons that Homestead is better than those other MMO housing systems.

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Choose My Adventure: LOTRO in hindsight, WildStar ahead

Writing about Lord of the Rings Online is an odd experience for me because the reality is pretty simple: I don't like the game very much. But it's not really the fault of the game itself.

There are, to be fair, a lot of games that I play without liking too much. That's actually not too unusual, even. But there are also a lot of games I play that I am no longer playing but still have something I point to and say, "Yes, this right here, this makes it worth it." The Secret World's ability building and setting are juxtaposed against awkward missions and lackluster combat. The Elder Scrolls Online has a mixture of open and linear elements and a greatly improved combat engine. Star Trek Online has plenty of open stuff in the endgame that almost justifies its incredibly complex opening moments. You get the idea.

But when I look at LOTRO, I see a game that more or less perfectly does what it wants to be doing with only a handful of exceptions. It just doesn't ever make a connection with me whatsoever.

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First Impressions: Struggling to survive in Conan Exiles

I am no stranger to covering survival sandboxes for Massively OP. I wrestled with dinosaurs before ARK: Survival Evolved was a thing. I got kidnapped and tried to drown myself in a puddle, spent days building a glorified shack before hackers or server admins could destroy them, and got to better understanding of what it's like to be an Asian gamer thanks to Valve's social experiment. There have been some good memories for sure, but the cancelled games, broken promises, and fact that most of the genre is in an infinite non-launch state are just some of the reasons I've been losing faith in online, multiplayer survival games. I love the idea of PvP allowing for meaningful social gameplay, but in reality, I mostly experience only ganking. But without PvP, I generally get so bored of PvE that I run into the arms of a (J)RPG so I can get drama and permadeath in a finished product, often without kids screaming at me to stop moving and just die.

But here I am again: roped into another shot at the genre. I'm looking at pay-to-play Conan Exiles like a launch title, "early access" be damned!

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Working As Intended: Two decades of Elder Scrolls housing

The Elder Scrolls Online's wildly anticipated Homestead patch has rolled out today, introducing housing for the first time for the MMORPG. But it'll be far from a first for the franchise, which has been well-known for its housing systems for over two decades. In today's video installment of Working As Intended, we're taking a trip back through my (often gloriously overmodded) installs of Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion, Skyrim, and then ESO itself to reminisce about just how far the series' housing content has come. Bring your own silt strider!

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