Opinion Category

Opinion pieces are by definition neither neutral nor subjective. Massively Overpowered’s writers’ editorials reflect their own opinions, not necessarily the opinions of the site or company. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Betawatch: Crowfall lets races and classes mingle at will (May 19, 2017)

The teaser week for Crowfall is over, and it turns out the tease was all about decoupling races and classes altogether. No longer will all centaurs belong to the same archetype! Make a centaur everything! Of course, you could conceivably play races other than centaur, but why would you do that? You wouldn’t. You can prove you wouldn’t when the open beta arrives by the end of the year.

We’d like to end there, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve got to talk about things other than centaurs this week. For example, the other items on our list here.

And that’s everything. Unless you count all of the other games we have down below in various stages of testing. You can let us know if one of those games jumped into a later test phase in the comments; it’d be silly, really, but it happens all the time.

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The Soapbox: Your favorite MMO is going to die

Your favorite MMO is going to die. Don’t take it personally, though; every other MMO is going to shut down, too. That includes my favorites and everyone else’s favorites.

Do you like Final Fantasy XIV? It’s going to shut down. WildStar? It’ll shut down. Ultima Online? Oh, yes, the shutdown is coming. The Secret World? Guild Wars 2? The Elder Scrolls Online? Destiny (yes, I meant to leave off the 2, I mean the original)? RIFT, Trove, Black Desert, Revelation Online, Crowfall? All of the above will shut down.

But don’t get up in arms about this. Seriously, relax, take a deep breath, maybe hum a little William Shatner tune. All of these games are going to shut down, but that’s just because every single MMO exists in one of three states: not yet launched, shut down, or waiting to be shut down. And as cynical as that may seem, I think accepting that truth is going to do wonders for all of us when it comes time for the next unexpected shutdown. Because it’s going to happen.

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Perfect Ten: The perfect MMO cosmetic system

Whenever I hear about or get into a new MMO, one of the very first things I’ll be asking is if the game has a cosmetic outfit system and how involved it is. Wardrobes used to be a rarity in the genre, although as time went on these systems thankfully became more prevalent.

So yes, I’m a grown adult man and I’m totally into playing dollies with my video game characters. C’mon, it’s a pretty fun thing to do. You get to stand out from the clones around you and express your own personality through fashion that costs you, if not nothing, then far less than you’d buy at the mall.

But not every cosmetic system is created alike. When I was thinking about the best systems found in MMORPGs, I realized that many of them had drawbacks and advantages that differentiated them from other games. So what makes for the “perfect” MMO cosmetic system? I have a few ideas. Several ideas. OK, 10 ideas.

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The Daily Grind: Are you willing to reroll for Secret World Legends?

“I can’t help but think that I’d rather see a single-player adaptation of The Secret World than to lose it forever if Funcom truly does collapse,” MOP’s Justin Olivetti wrote way back in 2015, when the studio was dealing with financial turmoil. Little did he know that eventually The Secret World MMORPG would be turned upside down and rebooted as Secret World Legends. It’s not a single-player title, but it’s arguably a bit less an MMORPG than it used to be, to the point that even Funcom is hedging its bets by calling it a “shared world action RPG” (but also not admitting it has given up on MMORPGs).

Immediately after the announcement in March, almost half of the readers we polled said they were former TSW players who’d try the reboot come relaunch. But since then, we’ve learned much more about what’s coming for the game, including the sobering reality that TSW players won’t get to keep their characters and will instead have to reroll, in spite of the fact that the studio told us it “could have made [character ports from TSW] work given enough resources and time.”

And that brings me back to Justin, who earlier this week questioned whether he has the energy to do it all again — to start from scratch in a gameworld he already knows by heart. “I’m sure for some, it’s a dealbreaker,” he says, sorting through his anxiety, excitement, and frustration. How about you? Now that you know more about what TSW’s relaunch entails, are you still planning on coming back, even though you’ll have to start anew?

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Massively Overthinking: Being Uncle Owen in MMORPGs

Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.

Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.

“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”

For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?

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Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

There are games that simply do not hold up past the demo, and frankly I’ve played a lot of those in Boston. Usually those are non-MMOs that promise big but don’t wind up delivering; I was excited about Rock Band Blitz, but it didn’t really pan out as being as fun as a standalone game compared to a quick demo station. So I was aware that however much I liked Neverwinter from demo kiosks, it was entirely possible that sitting down to play the actual game would be something of a disappointment.

But it wasn’t. Made you look.

Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.

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The Daily Grind: How much does optimization affect your MMO play?

When I feel like lying to myself, I tell myself that I don’t care about optimizing my characters in MMOs. I even sometimes convince myself that it was true for a while; I did play a Retribution Paladin in World of Warcraft back before Crusader Strike was even in the game. But the reality is that even then, when I happily shot myself in the foot to avoid raid utility, I still worked overtime to optimize my character. I will gladly walk into an awful build with eyes open, but I will then do everything in my power to make that awful build work.

I have a Red Mage build on Final Fantasy XI that comes as close to being a functional melee attacker as any I’ve seen. I made a DPS Gladiator in version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV. The list goes on. But I know there are people out there who will only play with optimized builds, like a friend of mine from City of Heroes who had seven Shield scrappers to optimize AoE farming. And then there are people who hate any hint of utility and choose character builds solely for aesthetics. What about you, dear reader? How much does optimization affect your playing of MMOs? Do you play to optimize your build, do you avoid it, or do you enjoy making terrible builds the best they can be?

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Global Chat: Is Ashes of Creation worth backing?

With all of the hullabaloo going on concerning Ashes of Creation and its Kickstarter campaign, a few bloggers are asking themselves whether or not this is an MMO worth backing, especially if they’ve been burned before by grand promises and poor execution.

“All of this adds up to an enticing package and ought to spark the embers of hope that maybe there will be something new under the sun when it comes to the fantasy MMORPG genre,” The Ancient Gaming Noob wrote. “So why am I not excited about this? Why isn’t this helping me shake off the MMO malaise?”

“I’m not on the hype train by a long shot. Not that I see anything particularly wrong with the game, it’s just way, way too early to even think about commenting on it,” Endgame Viable said.

“Am I going to pony up? Mmmm. Maybe,” mulls Inventory Full. “I’m still thinking about it, although, after reading the Kickstarter page, I’m actually less interested in the game than I was.”

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Niantic MMOARG Ingress plots a Magnus event series in California this weekend

While Pokemon GO is getting a new global eventIngress is getting a local event in the form of new Magnus events, starting with an event in Camp Navarro, California. It’s a bit of an odd location considering the campground’s official website promotes the idea that it’s not exactly known for having good cell phone service. Niantic will be providing that itself, but the event seems more like a kind of art project/tech retreat from the event description.

13MAGNUS, an original lore society that infiltrates other societies and splinters off (because the game’s lore can be a pretty detailed and difficult to navigate), is also a reference to a previous Ingress storyline that involved international live events that were more than simple PvP matches, but organized gatherings by Niantic that even involved actors. It seems Niantic is trying to up its immersion game by grounding things not in the virtual world but in the real world.

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Tamriel Infinium: Five things to do while waiting for Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind early access

I have always found this part of the development cycle to be the worst part. Right now, we are sitting at the point in Elder Scrolls Online when you really don’t want to move forward progressing your character because some of the endgame or character progression, in general, will change next week. However, you are very excited about what is to come in the next expansion, and you really want to play ESO at the same time.

It’s a strange phenomenon, and one that is unique to MMOs. When Skyrim was about to release Dragonborn a few years back, it had been a little bit since we had visited Skyrim. For me personally, I had a little game called Star Wars: The Old Republic that I had been playing, so when Dragonborn came out, I replayed Skyrim to refresh my memory before jumping into that expansion. However, MMOs are meant to be played all the time, and well, we’ve been playing ESO this whole time leading up to Morrowind. How do we do to channel our excitement?

Well, I have some fun suggestions for every Elder Scrolls fan. These are my five suggestions for things to do while waiting for ESO: Morrowind to release.

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The Daily Grind: What makes an MMO community toxic?

I sincerely do not envy the task of MMO studios and community managers when it comes to wrangling their crowd of diverse, fickle, and often very loud-spoken players. Trying to communicate and guide passionate fans is a neverending task, with the accomplishments of one day being instantly erased at a perceived slight the next.

(As an aside, I love it when a dev refers to the community as “passionate,” because it’s almost always code for “more hot-tempered and irrational than a badger in a paint shaker.”)

Lately I’ve been thinking about how some studios seem to do a better job encouraging their playerbase to be civil and friendly (comparatively), while others seem to reign over a prison riot full of flaming posts, incomprehensible swears, and sheer contempt for fellow gamers.

We all can think of a game that seems to fall into the latter category, so my question is, what makes an MMO community toxic? Are there certain types of games that seem to attract malcontents? Is it a failure on the part of the CM team? What do you think?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 117: Starfall no more

Kind of a weird and fascinating week for MMOs, as an expansion has a legal showdown with a charity, a western MMO is announced, and Vvardenfell decided to come to us two weeks early. Is the industry shaping up for the most explosive June on record? It might just be!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s Flashpoint

I’ve managed to calm myself enough after finishing my Guild Wars 2 Flashpoint initial impressions piece two weeks ago to bring you a much more detailed look at the action-packed episode that is the penultimate instalment in the Living World’s eventful third season. The story contains so many twists and turns that you’ll be dizzy by the end, and in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months and missed all the hype about this content drop, you’ll want to know that Lazarus’ true identity is revealed within Flashpoint.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll unpack the reveals and angles taken by the penultimate episode of Season 3 and will share my most and least favourite aspects of the episode while I’m at it. This article will contain significant spoilers and is not safe to read for those who haven’t completed Flashpoint and have managed to avoid the spoilers so far. You can always bookmark this one to come back to whenever you have managed to find time to enjoy the content for yourself.

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