Elite: Dangerous’ Horizons goes live today

Elite: Dangerous’ Horizons – specifically, the 1.5 ships update – is set for launch today. Horizons is considered the next season for the game’s original version, which launched a year ago. That makes today’s launch, Planetary Landings, the first expansion of this second season. Got all that? Good.

Frontier’s devs are busily streaming in honor of the launch, and David Braben submitted himself to the whims of a Reddit AMA early this morning, confirming galaxy map bookmarks for 2.2, a community site revamp to better connect players seeking groups, Powerplay improvements, and more.

You can purchase the base game plus Horizons bundled for $59.99 US on the official site. Check out the launch trailer below.

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Massively OP’s Best of 2015 Awards: Biggest MMO Blunder of the Year

Massively OP’s end-of-the-year awards continue today with our pick for biggest MMO blunder of the year.

Last year, we called developer hubris and obstinance the biggest blunder of the year, as we criticized game development and business model decisions in WildStar, Destiny, The Elder Scrolls Online, and ArcheAge. This isn’t an award we particularly enjoy giving, but I think it’s a fitting complement to praising trends and big stories: We must consider the mistakes of the year so we don’t make them again.

All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively OP staff pick for biggest MMO blunder of 2015 is…

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Star Wars: The Old Republic celebrates Life Day

It may be a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, but the residents of Star Wars: The Old Republic still know how to celebrate winter holidays. Sure, all of the emphasis on snow for Life Day might seem a bit odd if you were born and raised on Tatooine, but you can still take part in this year’s events. Dulfy even has a new guide to ensure that you can get everything you want from this year’s festivities.

Players can pick up several festive red speeders, a variety of toys and decorations, and new regen items for those who want them. There are also life day robes available for those who want to completely look the part. Life Day runs until January 5th of next year, so players have plenty of time to clear all of the event content. That should be useful, since something franchise-related is happening shortly; we forget what it is.

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Final Fantasy XIV previews this year’s Starlight Celebration

Have you ever noticed that every single holiday celebration in Final Fantasy XIV goes wrong? There’s never a year when player characters are not tasked with fixing something messy. This year’s Starlight Celebration is coming, and wouldn’t you know it, the holiday celebration is going wrong again and it’s up to players to ensure that everyone enjoys the magic of wearing fake beards and reindeer antlers on their heads.

Is that not the real meaning of the Starlight Celebration? Because it should be.

Aside from the fake beard and antlers, players can also pick up hooves, gloves, and a hat for cosmetic rewards, along with a Starlight tree and wall decorations for the house. The event starts up on December 18th and runs until December 31st, so players should have plenty of time to save Starlight yet again. One wonders if Eorzea’s residents would ever have another holiday without players.

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PSN users find level boosts for Destiny on the PSN store

Good news, Destiny players on the PlayStation with a desire to bypass a good chunk of leveling! You belong to a rather narrow subgroup, but you appear to be the first group able to purchase level boosts on the PSN store for a price. Players first noticed the level boosts on sale for £24.99 on the UK PSN, but have subsequently snapped shots of the items for sale in the US PSN for $44.99.  Which would seem a bit steep even if Bungie hadn’t previously said that the datamined level-boost items were not meant for microtransactions.

Friendly reminder: Bungie said exactly that.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, players are already up in arms over both the price and the sale of these level boosts, although thus far the noly reports are coming in from the UK PSN store. There’s no word yet on whether the items were meant to be sold or it was simply a fluke somewhere in the system; it does seem to contradict earlier statements, but a lot can change in two months.

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It’s a Wipe! mimics online guild management

How well do you fancy yourself a guild leader? If you’ve ever had a hankering to try it out without all of the drama and llamas that come with actual people, then there’s the new guild management simulator for you: It’s a Wipe!

It’s a Wipe! mimics the online game environment by putting you in the position of a guild leader who must recruit members and keep them happy as they raid and plunder their way through dungeons. You don’t actually fight the battles — your guildies do — but you handle the high-level strategy and organization. That’s the fun part, right?

The title is available for $5 on Steam and is still in beta. The team just pumped out an anniversary patch that includes player-made raids, a random raider selection, and improved speed modes.

Source: Steam. Thanks to Ageofmyth for the tip!

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The Daily Grind: Are you an MMO ‘harbinger of failure’?

Earlier this year, blog Kill Ten Rats wrote about “Harbingers of Failure,” a term coined by a quad of marketing researchers to describe people who “systematically purchase new products that” bomb, over and over.

“Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail – the more they buy, the less likely the product will succeed.”

I have joked about being bad luck myself when four MMOs I really liked shut down in the span of a single year. Coincidence, sure, but frustrating. And I have a guildie who is amazingly good at picking the worst class, every time. (He might be doing it on purpose, though!) So let’s talk about the concept as it pertains to our genre. Are you a harbinger of failure when it comes to MMOs or MMO content? Are there particular groups that MMOs appeal to that can signal the doom of a game months or years before it launches?

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Not So Massively: Counter-Strike nerfs all the guns (December 14, 2015)

Online gaming and e-sports are getting bigger by the day, and there are literally hundreds of popular online games out there that don’t really fit into the MMO category. Join me each week for Not So Massively, where I gather together the top stories from the biggest MOBAs, competitive card games, first person shooters, and other popular online games in one place.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive frustrated its community this week with the release of a ridiculous one-hit-kill pistol and serious nerfs to the game’s most popular weapons. Star Citizen hit $100,000,000 in crowdfunding and another equally impressive development milestone this week. Diablo III revealed more details of its upcoming patch, Path of Exile made some major game balance changes, and Elite: Dangerous revealed the launch date for its Horizons expansion. In MOBA news, League of Legends released impressive viewership numbers for the 2015 world championship and a pro player has quit the scene due to ongoing depression and anxiety. Heroes of Newerth also has a new hero, and Heroes of the Storm has annoyed its community with the release of new refer-a-friend rewards.

If there’s a game or story you’d like to see covered in next week’s Not So Massively, please drop us a tip and let us know.

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DDO previews Update 29: The Codex War

Before 2015’s hourglass runs out of sand, Turbine promises to get one last big update for Dungeons and Dragons Online out of the door. The developers hopped onto a 50-minute livestream last week to show off this month’s upcoming patch.

Update 29: The Codex War will revolve around the attempt to reassemble the Codex of the Infinite Planes and control its power. The devs said that this patch will feature a lot of high-level content, including “legendary” raiding and questing that requires a player to be level 31 or higher. The update is also going to go back to touch on some classic DDO themes, such as Greensteel.

You can watch the full developer preview of the update after the jump.

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The Ghost in the Shell online shooter is live now on Steam

Say this one ten times fast: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex – First Assault Online is live today on Steam’s early access platform. The EA packs run from $4.99 to $29.99, though there’s a steep price cut for the middle tiers right now.

Nexon and Neople consider this phase a beta and have asked for feedback; they’ve also addressed why such an iconic IP has been turned into an online shooter:

With such a wealth of great content covered in Stand Alone Complex, picking a genre was no easy feat. However, while watching the series we were particularly excited by Episode 24 of Season One, in which the wrongfully accused team at Section 9 are tested to their limits, forced to take on an opposing Special Ops team in order to clear their names. This episode really made us imagine what it would be like to fight together as a perfectly synchronized team like Section 9, which helped us decide to bring that fantasy to life in a tactical team based shooter.

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Shroud of the Avatar player band records musical performance

Do you enjoy blundering around in your online worlds, encased in darkness with no torch? Good news for you: The latest Shroud of the Avatar newsletter introduces a former palace overrun by kobolds, Holt Fortress, and it’s dark. I mean it. I had to boost the lighting on this picture just to see it!

Portalarium also included a video montage of the game’s scenery from a player named Myrcello and a video of a seven-player musical troupe performing onstage — “the performers included: Margaritte (lute), Leostorm (drum), Arkah EMPstrike (harp), Minerva (piano), Kazyn PhoenixFyre, Jack Knyfe and Kal Tasker (flute)). Check ’em out below.

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The Secret World kicks off 12 days of deals

Do you love The Secret World and have some disposable income to toss in its direction? Then Funcom’s 12 Days of Deals could be the temptation you need to go broke! Starting today, TSW will put one “top-selling” item in the store on sale (excluding issues and sidestories). Today’s deal, for example, is… 40% off mystery boxes. OK, maybe tomorrow’s deal will be better. Hang in there.

The Secret World also provided a preview of its new gift-giving system that will be coming with Issue #13. Through this system, friends can send each other items from the store purchased with Funcom points. Not everything in the store will be available as a potential gift at the start; for example, clothing isn’t on the table for the initial release of this system.

Source: Giving and you, 12 days of deals. Thanks to Crow for the tip!

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Guild Wars 2 plans post-Heart of Thorns balance changes

On the Guild Wars 2 official forums today, ArenaNet’s Gaile Gray has outlined a number of balance changes heading to the game, once again shifting the meta and generating salt from the usual suspects.

[O]ur strategy for adjusting the meta-game in Guild Wars 2 after the release of Heart of Thorns focuses on releasing balance updates on a set cycle – each and every quarter. We began this cadence with the release of HoT in October which undoubtedly changed the way that the game is played across all game modes. In the weeks following the launch of HoT we made a number of tweaks to elite specializations as we began to notice trends that did not align with our design goals. Today we stand about a month and a half since Heart of Thorns was released, and once again we feel it is necessary to make some adjustments for the overall health of the game. This week we will be making a few changes to address some emergent gameplay that has cropped up across multiple game modes.

In particular, expect tweaks (read: nerfs) to Runes of Durability, Mesmers’ Echo of Memory, Meditation interaction in Temple of the Silent Storm, and Revenant skills including Demonic Defiance, Radiant Revival, and Coalescence of Ruin.

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