Impressions & Previews Category

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

Tamriel Infinium: First impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset (mostly without spoilers!)

Over the years, I suspect I’ve made it well known what I find most important in my Elder Scrolls Online gameplay. I enjoy the environments and the quest storylines. I play most of the game solo with very little interaction with any other players. It’s not that I don’t like other players; it’s just that when I started playing ESO, the main storylines in the game where not very group friendly, so that kind of gameplay is what I expected and enjoyed. Of course, that means my primary focus, when playing through the Summerset Chapter for ESO, was story and single-player gameplay.

There are many things added with Summerset that aren’t single-player focused, like the new Cloudrest trial and the Abyssal Geysers, but I’d hardly call myself an expert in those areas. But we solo players do have many things to look forward to in Summerset besides the story quests, like jewelry crafting, a new skill line, and daily login rewards.

For today, I would like to focus on the main reason I play ESO: the story. I’m not going to spoil any major plot points as I describe my playthrough, obviously, but I would like to make mention of key players and things to watch for as you play through the newest chapter.

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Impressions of Project Gorgon from an Asheron’s Call player

It’s finally time for me talk about Project Gorgon as a released product. As you might have guessed, I was avoiding the game prior to launch. I’ve spoken out against early access a lot and have realized that, at this point in my gaming/career, playing games I’m passionate too early can be a threat to both work and play. I wanted a relationship with PG, but I didn’t want to rush into anything pre-release. I wanted it as complete as possible.

MJ’s streamed it a bunch of times, including the day before launch. Eliot’s comments from his pre-release CMA feel spot on still post-release. However, as the resident old-man Asheron’s Call fan with a review copy, I think I can add a few comments about how Project Gorgon compares to AC1&2, plus how developer Eric Heimburg’s infused PG in AC-esque ways.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Deep-diving Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System (Part 1)

Season 4 of Guild Wars 2 Living World was off to a roaring start with Daybreak so I was expecting a solid follow-up in A Bug in the System, and I can now say I wasn’t left disappointed. ArenaNet‘s focus on interesting story delivery hasn’t waned with time and the narrative is greatly improving as a result: Moreover, the teaser trailer for this episode was stronger than any of the Daybreak or even Path of Fire marketing content in my humble but honest opinion. I’ve rambled on about this before, but the trailer had a smooth delivery and polish that simultaneously captivated current players and contained enough information to entice newbies. The episode is gritty, dangerous, and humorous, and I’m delighted to share its twists and turns with you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll discuss the main plot points for this episode and will share my highlights with you. This article is best read after completion of the episode if you’re worried about spoilers, though tags will be used where needed to avoid the biggest spoilers.

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Hands-on with Conan Exiles’ launch build: Farming, frolicking in the swamp, and other feature fun

The early access days of Conan Exiles are coming to a close. In less than a month, the survival sandbox will launch. At that time players will get to explore two new regions, experience the new combat, farm, dive into two new dungeons, worship a new god, and summon her avatar on the live servers. But luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait! I joined Creative Director Joel Bylos in the game for few hours of hands-on experience with the new features, then got to keep playing for the evening.

After a farming demonstration and a quick tour of the volcano, I got to witness a Purge, watch the brand-new starter cinematic, wander around the swamp and climb into treehouses, participate in a siege, look over the new attributes and perks, parade around in new armor, and test out the new combat with all the weapon types. My impressions in a nutshell? Most of the additions really up the fun factor and improve the game (the jury is still out on the eating-to-heal mechanic). I’m pretty excited for these features to go live, and not just because I want to build a treehouse base! While there I can’t offer an elaborate play-by-play of everything I experienced during this lengthy play session, I do have additional details for those who want more than one nutshell’s worth of impression.
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The Stream Team: A first peek at PixARK

Welcome to our first peek inside PixARK! OK, so that may not be a catchy title, but Massively OP’s MJ is too focused on catching herself some blocky dinos. The Minecrafty ARK mix just launched yesterday, and MJ is dying (possibly literally — there are dinos after all) to play it! She simply can’t resist pet dinos. As a veteran of ARK, how will she do in this new environment? Tune in live at 5:00 p.m. to find out as OPTV‘s infamous Stream Team brings you a very first look at…

What: PixARK
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 5:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

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GDC 2018: A look at Funcom’s Mutant Year Zero Road to Eden

I didn’t play it, but I can’t be the only one who thought of the original tabletop when Funcom announced Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden. Well, if you haven’t heard yet, surprise! It’s based on the same IP.

However, I have some bad news, MMO fans: Apparently while there was a plan for Mutant Year Zero to have a multiplayer option, it got the axe. Good news, though: Developer and “First Lady” from The Bearded Ladies (the developers behind the game) David Skarin said nothing is stopping them from adding it in after launch. Normally CGI trailers without gameplay make the press side of me roll my eyes, but I have to admit that, after seeing some actual gameplay, I’d probably enjoy some hands-on time with the title.

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GDC 2018: Making sense of battle royale MMO Mavericks with Automaton Games

So as you may know, I’m an MMORPG guy – not really a battle royale guy. There are some cool ideas for people who like the combat of survival games turned up to 11, but that’s not my thing. I like community building, crafting, negotiating, and generally using my words to avoid direct combat. So when Automaton games announced Mavericks and said it’d be adding MMO elements to the battle royale genre, I got a bit excited. However, after having some hands-on time with the game and talking to Automaton Games’ CEO James Thompson at this year’s GDC, I’ve come to the realization that it’s much more for the battle royale crowd than the MMO crowd, and this will be especially true at launch.

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GDC 2018: Funcom’s Tor Egil Andersen on Conan Exiles’ early access, launch, and beyond

My initial impressions of Conan Exiles, written just about a year ago, weren’t exactly glowing. While I know not every game I play needs to appeal to me, so much of the genre just felt like a repetition of what we’d already seen countless times before: a survival game in early access filled with bugs, naked people killing each other, and nothing that really made living in the game world feel worth it. Character progression felt bland, building was significantly harder than destruction, and the guild recruitment button on day one resulted in axing people in the face.

But that was a year ago. MJ has covered in-depth what the game’s done right since then, but even I’ve noticed just how much Funcom’s done to bolster the title. It made buildings more difficult to destroy. More emotes came in. More PvE content. Climbing. New zones. And then the launch announcement about a year after EA, with February’s honest look at the game’s future. Promising that no EA features that come later will be behind a pay wall is quite refreshing.

Still, I had some questions I wanted to pose to Community Manager Tor Egil Andersen at GDC 2018, so let’s get to them.

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A sneak peek of South Africa in Secret World Legends’ Season 2

The things I do for you! You know that story is everything to me, and in order to bring you more information, I allowed myself to be partially spoiled on Secret World Legends’ start of the long-awaited Season 2. If you know nothing of what’s ahead and are trying to stay totally pure of any information other than it launches on April 4th, then go ahead and leave now. Right now. That was your warning. Because I was just on a pretty detailed (but not completely spoilerific) tour of the upcoming content release with Game Director Romain Amiel and Community Manager Andy Benditt. And I am going to share some of it with you. Don’t worry, though – I’ve got your back. I’ve made it so incredibly obvious the different levels of spoilers — from nothing to lots — so if you get spoiled, you will have only yourself to blame.

If you already know where we are heading and want to learn details about non-story stuff that is pertinent to the expansion, I’ve got a whole section ahead for you. You can stop before any of the story spoilers happen. For those who want to go ahead and get even more of the juicy tidbits of the story, I’ve got a whole big bite of it for you, including screenshots. But even you don’t get to know everything!

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First impressions of the newly launched ARK Park

By the time you read this dear reader, I’ll already be dead… dead tired, that is, from running around the Game Developer’s Conference talking to developers from such companies as Snail Games about upcoming games like ARK Park. Ahead of my meeting about the game, I was granted a review copy so I could get some time in with the real thing before my interview and end of the media embargo. As my Oculus Rift set-up isn’t exactly travel-friendly, and I can be prone to motion sickness, I only had enough time to jump into the game for a few scant hours. It was an interesting experience, since the game wasn’t simultaneously available to the public, and that meant I was probably missing out on the critical social factor for my impressions. Nevertheless, I think they’re worth hashing out. Let’s dig in.

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Hyperspace Beacon: So SWTOR’s Update 5.8 happened

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched the delayed Update 5.8: Command Authority to the servers. BioWare now offers its first complete operation since Shadow of Revan. For those keeping score at home, SoR was launched way back in December 2014. We also see some much-needed improvements to the guild questing system that was originally launched with Strongholds expansion earlier in June of 2014, although BioWare has been adding to and improving strongholds since then. And lastly, we are introduced to some of new interactions companions Arcann and Ashara.

It’s only been a day since the launch, but I’ve had a chance to take a long look at most everything BioWare introduced in this expansion. And overall, I’m glad to see an update, but it’s just kind of… there. I have to wonder whether it was really necessary to make the bulk of what was introduced into a major update at all – or the developers could have placed the individual pieces into a much more impactful update. Let me explain what I mean by breaking apart the major pieces.

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GDC 2018: Rend is looking to ‘WoW’ the survival genre

I’m already old and bitter when it comes to survival games. I’ve killed zombies, dinosaurs, infected bears, maybe even infected dinosaurs, and people. Lots of people. Even for food, and I don’t mean apples. I’ve been been forced to hand over my clothes in the freezing cold, drowned myself to escape imprisonment, and endured beaches full of dead, starved naked men on a PvE server that was unable to provide food for its citizens. It’s been the worst parts of The Walking Dead when I’ve been looking for the “It’s going to be OK!” moments. All this during what’s largely proven to be an unending “Early Access” period.

To say I’m critical of the survival genre at this point may be an understatement. By all accounts, someone might think I hate them, and they’d be half right. I hate most of what I’ve played. There’s cool stuff, but it’s like finding a $1 bill in what you hope was a pool of mud. It’s cool, but not really something you want to do a lot of. You mostly want the good stuff. Frostkeep’s upcoming survival MMO, Rend… well, it’s hard to not get excited, but my time talking to the developers actually gave me some faith for the future.

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GDC 2018: Hearthstone’s Witchwood goes monster hunting

Massively OP is at GDC 2018 this year, and like Hearthstone, we’re kicking things off with a bang: with monster hunting! No, not the dino-esque kind Matt and I have been doing, but the kind Gilneas are doing in HS‘s upcoming expansion, The Witchwood. I got to sit down and talk with Lead Mission Designer Dave Kosak and Associate Designer Dean Ayala about the new expansion, RNG, and more.

What the Witchwood brings

First, the best part: Just logging in after Witchwood launches grants you not only three free packs, but a random legendary card as well. In fact, we’ve seen a few new cards and card mechanics in the past week or so. The Rush mechanic, essentially Charge without letting creatures attack players on their first turn, isn’t exactly new, and I was told it wouldn’t be retroactively added to any cards, including the warrior move “Charge,” which essentially just adds Rush to a creature. Echo is kind of cool, allowing the player to cast an Echo card as many times as they can afford that turn. And then there are the Worgen cards, which switch their attack and HP each turn add some flexibility to your decks depending on what you need. The latter two feel more interesting for an old CCG fan like yours truly since those are the kinds of things that are hard to do in a physical CCG.

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