Impressions & Previews Category

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

Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 One Path Ends is live, plus first impressions of Siren’s Landing

I realise that you were probably expecting some rather excited ramblings that contained my first impressions of the Guild Wars 2 season 3 finale, One Path Ends, to drop the moment the episode became playable, but the structure of my coverage for this episode is a little different than the rest of this season’s articles. This time around, my pre-episode playthrough with the devs was very different: The episode itself remained locked for the playthrough hour and the press accounts were deactivated afterwards to ensure that the finale would be an absolute surprise for everyone involved with no spoilers. We instead had a guided group tour of Siren’s Landing, the new open world zone that holds the bulk of the action in this episode.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll share my thoughts on the new zone with you while also talking about the zone’s relative location and basic meta. My full thoughts on the actual episode will come in the next edition without the usual first impressions piece, so you won’t have to wait too long for that if you are not playing for yourself and are living this season vicariously through others! Please note that the article contains meta and zone content spoilers, so read on with caution if you prefer to see that for yourself first.

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MMO Burnout: Nintendo’s ARMS and the Switch in public and private

It won’t surprise anyone who reads our WRUPs that a lot of my free time gaming has been mobile-based as of late, especially if it has local multiplayer. While I still prefer PC gaming for the most part, it’s hard for me to bring a mouse and keyboard with me to a convention and play while the line is moving. MMOs with local multiplayer are even harder. Recent conventions have made jumping into traditional MMOs harder, as has the summer heat that magnifies the heat I feel when playing on ol’ lappy (although that could just be a result of the airless storage space I call home!).

At any rate, I decided to bust out my Nintendo Switch a bit more, bringing it with me to try to recreate Nintendo’s questionable marketing ploy and so I can play in a room where open windows don’t pose a risk to my papers and electronics. My weapon of choice? ARMS.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic’s mid-term report card

You would probably expect me to cover the new Star Wars: The Old Republic Manaan stronghold because it just released yesterday, and indeed, I will be covering that in my livestream with MJ this afternoon. But if you came here for my elevator-pitch impressions of the new stronghold, I can only say that it is mixed. There are some really great things about the new stronghold and some really bad things about the new stronghold; the base would have a bigger impact if there were visuals connected with it. I will lay that all out in the livestream with MJ.

Here, I would like to give my impressions of where Star Wars: The Old Republic sits in the middle of the year. As always, I like to use the Bartle Taxonomy to see how it appeals to different types of players. Bartle’s archetypes are Socializers, Achievers, Explorers, and Killers. I’ll get more into the details of what that all means in a bit. No one will fit any one of these archetypes 100%, but people will tend to lean heavily into one category or another.

Massively OP writers took a test based on Bartle’s Taxonomy a while back, and although it doesn’t cover everything that players are interested in, I believe it gives a good impression of what players of MMORPGs are looking for. Below, I have pulled apart the key features that each archetype is looking for in SWTOR and measured them with a letter grade scale.

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Pokemon Go’s first anniversary report card

July 6th, 2017, marks Pokemon Go’s first year anniversary. Love it or hate it, it’s a game that quickly made a global impact. It’s been released in at least 129 countries since January 2017, while MMO heavyweight World of Warcraft doesn’t even have Middle Eastern servers, let alone any located in Africa. Niantic has kind of waffled back and forth with its labeling of the game as an MMO, but the comparison is clear. While PoGo is more of a local multiplayer game, Massively OP staff have noted that local, non-digital games are also quite popular in MMO gamer circles. It may not be a true MMO, but Pokemon Go as a Massively Local Multiplayer Game feels like a logical evolution of our genre. ARPGs are one thing when they’re solo, but trying to build a game that puts a literal global audience on the same map feels significant.

It’s not a simple evolution, though. The genre itself is already being attacked in the courts. It has led to players being mugged, shot, and even killed, a situation we’ve seen in MMOs before. Luckily, we’ve yet to see trainer vs. trainer real-world violence. As many of you probably experienced, part of that may be due to the 80% reduction in playerbase before today’s first anniversary, though the game continues to make money.

Let’s review what the game’s changed since it’s release last year.

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Chaos Theory: Week one impressions of Secret World Legends

It’s been a week since Funcom threw open the doors of Secret World Legends’ headstart to everyone and removed the NDA. That’s seven days of choosing factions, meeting handlers, blasting zombies, dodging traps, upgrading weapons, and learning about the Filth — and getting to share those experiences! And share I shall.

So what do I think of the “new” game after a week of non-testing play added atop my beta adventures? Knowing that I am quite the fan of the original, some folks might expect me to sing unending praises of everything. For that same reason, others might expect me to decry that this version has obliterated what I held dear. In truth, this Chaos Theory will be neither extreme (sorry if that disappoints!). In Secret World Legends, there are some things I really like, some things I will tolerate for the good of the game, and then there are those things I do not like.

How would I answer the burning questions on many folks’ minds: How much has the game changed, are those changes actually worth it, and is SWL worth playing (again)? My short answer is that’s a very personal decision depending on your personal  tastes. But since the game is free-to-play, why not give it a go? I think it is definitely worth it.

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Tale of Toast impresses one YouTuber despite hardcore aspirations

By now, you probably know and have accepted the weird juxtaposition of Tale of Toast’s incredibly cute art style and its hardcore design. But how do those flavors mix together in practice? HiveLeader, a prominent MMO YouTuber, made it a mission to find out.

Jumping into the MMO’s alpha weekend test, HiveLeader found a small but ambitious game that really impressed him. He notes that it’s an unforgiving game that leans heavily on mandatory grouping (without a LFG tool, even), but that there’s a lot of fun, polish, and character flexibility that makes it worth the hassle.

You can watch his early impressions below!

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E3 2017: How Wargaming is bringing accessibility to Total War: Arena (without dumbing it down)

Following up on its original Steam release by Creative Assembly, Wargaming semi-recently decided to help publish Total War: Arena and present it at E3 2017. It makes a lot of sense, as both companies primarily focus on historical war games and pride themselves on trying to keep things accurate. It’s personally not my favorite genre of games, but I did enjoy history class and always liked when students told me they played these kinds of games because it at least got them interested in their past (though Asian dramas were also a popular “edutainment” option among my students). That being said, I was actually surprised by the process Creative Assembly used in its research — and with Wargaming’s help, tried to gamify it.

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E3 2017: Hands-on with Ubisoft’s The Crew 2

I’m a kart racer. Oh sure, I enjoyed Cruisin’ USA and San Fransisco Rush as a kid, and of course I played Gran Turismo a little, but in general, I prefer kart racing games. They’re easier for non-gamers to get into when played on a console and often have mechanics that make them games more forgiving. I can see the appeal of realistic racing games, though. I’m no good at them, but they can be fun.

Even when I first demoed the original The CrewI felt this way. I didn’t play the game at release, nor have I played any non-kart, non-arcade racers, but I respected it for what it was: a racing game with an MMO lean. However, this year, I feel like I could handle my car better in The Crew 2, which alone made me feel a bit better about the genre, but the addition of both boats and planes actually made me like the game.

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E3 2017: Fortnite is Crowfall for PvE fans

The other day when I made a rare venture out of my E3 coverage den, my slightly younger brother asked, “Hey, did you hear about a game called Fortnite?” 

Now, my brother doesn’t explore gaming like he used to. His MMO days are behind him. He wasn’t even aware of Super Mario Odyssey, so his asking about Fortnite was far from expected, especially since I’d learned something I think a lot of MassivelyOP readers will want to hear: The game is sounding a lot like Crowfall for PvE zombie fans.

So yeah, li’l bro, I heard about Fortnite. I even sat down with Fortnite’s Executive Producer Zak Phelps from Epic Games and talked to him during E3 2017 about “monsters,” survival games, and getting PvE fans in there.

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E3 2017: Why MMO players should be paying attention to Elite Dangerous

I sat down with Elite Dangerous Senior Designer Sandy Sammarco again at E3 2017, and while the information I’ve got in terms of game info may be a bit old hat for hardcore Elite players, I want to be clear on something: MMO players should take note of how Frontier is doing community eventsEven if you aren’t interested in the game itself, the design strategies and execution are things that are reminding this jaded MMO-enthusiast about what got me into the MMO genre in the first place. I don’t really do space sims, and haven’t touched my VR for months (though I could probably hop on normal PC or PS4 versions), but my time with Sammarco has gotten me closer to hitting the “buy” button on the game.

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Hands-on with Secret World Legends: A second chance for a first impression

I would like to start this article by saying that there are a lot of things to like about Secret World Legends, but for me, those good things — despite their being some of my favorite things about RPGs and MMOs — make it hard to overlook what I consider the flaws of the game.

Although there were always weird bits to The Secret World’s storytelling, like the silent protagonist, I’ve long considered it to be some of the best storytelling in MMORPGs. With the launch of Secret World Legends, that has not changed. In fact, I would say that as an introduction to the game, it’s improved. The weak point to the game has always been the combat. There were some very confusing things about it, which have been fixed, and there were some aesthetic issues, which have not been fixed.

I am very torn about how to approach my impressions of the game. I want to come at it as someone who hasn’t played it before because it’s being sold as something new. But at the same time, I have played the game, and I know exactly why I never played it for more than a week at a time. I approached the game from two different perspectives: Would this impress someone who has never played it, and will returning players who didn’t stick with it over the last couple of years be interested enough in the changes to come back?

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Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is everything you expect (and that’s outstanding)

In my mind, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is all about sticking the landing. After a few years of FFXIV being out, the game has consistently earned high praise from people who play it. Heavensward was recognized as a definite high point for the game, improving more or less everything in the game and adding more besides. So the question was whether or not Stormblood would continue down the same road or try to dramatically upend things, break down what once worked well and lose sight of what people enjoy.

The good news, then, is that it sticks the landing.

Everything that worked well in Heavensward has been brought forward and refined, and the parts that hadn’t worked so well have been trimmed away, repurposed, or outright removed. It feels very much like an expansion to the same core game, but in the process it manages to address almost every complaint I had over Heavensward almost incidentally. And it continues on in the high standards the game has set for itself over the years, resulting in an expansion which I’m already in love with after finishing the main storyline.

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E3 2017: Hands-on with mobile MMOs Lineage 2 Revolution and Durango

With Pokemon Go trying to avoid explicitly calling itself an MMO, Massively OP once again has room for a top contender in the realm of mobile MMOs. There’s just one problem: We’ve got mostly Western readers for a genre that seems to appeal much more to the East. I was given the opportunity to see top global mobile MMO Lineage 2 Revolution and up and coming dino-sandbox Durango at E3 2017. I can see the appeal of both games, but also some limitations. Let’s dig into both.

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