The end of September marked a major milestone for Dauntless, the upcoming monster-slaying action-MMORPG from indie developer Phoenix Labs, as it officially concluded its Founder’s Alpha event and made the jump into closed beta. Since then, legions of would-be Slayers have stormed the Shattered Isles, taking up arms to defend the last bastions of human civilization from destruction at the hands (and talons, fangs, or similarly sinister appendages) of the marauding monstrous beasts known as Behemoths.
And as it so happens, I was one of them. As a long-time fan of Capcom’s venerable Monster Hunter series, which pioneered the “kill-carve-and-craft” action-RPG subgenre upon which Dauntless aims to build, I’ve been eager to check it out for some time now. So when closed beta rolled around, I shelled out for a Founder’s Pack and joined my fellow prospects in the frontier settlement of Ramsgate, where I hoped to prove worthy of the Slayer mantle, or failing that, then at least to avoid dying horribly.
So here’s a happy surprise: THQ Nordic just launched an expansion for Titan Quest, the multiplayer-optional ARPG that’s been rattling around on hard drives for over 10 years now. Not even terrible timing since there are about to be a lot of homeless ARPG fans, and hey, this game even has a subtle Thor tie-in!
Dubbed Ragnarok, the expansion is $14.99 (a discount from its regular $19.99 price), and it boasts a Norse-mythology-themed fifth act with concomitant storylines and quests, new physics and graphics enhancements, a new mastery (Runemaster) to combine with the existing ones for a total of 45 new character templates, a new level cap of 85, new gear, and critically, PANTS.
You’ll need to to own the anniversary edition of the game to run this expansion, but that shouldn’t be a problem for fans, as THQ granted existing owners on Steam access to the anniversary edition for free last year. Maybe we should’ve seen this coming!
When we first heard rumors about a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go, I said I could barely imagine what the game might be like before listing several other IPs that would translate better as AR games. It’s not that I don’t like the Harry Potter series (I do) or Niantic (someone’s got to push the envelope). My issue is that I can’t see how their respective styles could combine to create something great.
So I’ve gone back to some of my pre-POGO notes about Ingress and what would need to change before it went live and, well, Niantic clearly thinks differently than I do because this game is very much happening. I thought it might be useful to consider Niantic’s past and how it may affect its upcoming game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Let’s dig in.
We’ve kept an eye on multiplayer ARPG Absolver since its debut just before last year’s E3, and it’s back at the show again in 2017 with not just the three combat melee forms we already knew about but a fourth.
“Zui Quan masters at Sloclap and bootleggers at Devolver Digital revealed the mysterious fourth combat style for the upcoming combat melee combat game Absolver today: Stagger,” the studio writes. “A sight to behold, players can master this savage style later this summer in the game’s closed beta and attendees of E3 who have appointments to check out Absolver can try their hand at this difficult and entertaining fighting style.”
You can tell somebody was having fun in this press release too: “Absolver drunkenly punches you on PC and PlayStation 4 on August 29.” Well then. An Xbox One release is referred to in press materials, but no date for that has been announced. Check out the new trailer too!
While you’ve been off playing other games, Grim Dawn has become a sleeper hit in the ARPG community. The dark game just announced its one millionth copy sold since its February 2016 launch. As a cherry on top of that cake, over 200,000 batches of DLC have been purchased by players as well.
And times are about to get even better for Grim Dawn. This year, the multiplayer game will roll out a so-far-unnamed expansion, and part of this release will include the new Inquisitor mastery. Inquisitors are “hunters of all things eldritch and bizarre,” wielding skills such as protective seals and offensive runes to decimate the army of darkness. If you like classes that toss out traps left and right for enemies to stumble blindly into, then the Inquisitor is tailor-made for your desire.
Are you a sucker for pixel art and retro JRPGs? Then here’s a nice little treat for you: Kingdom of Loot will launch tomorrow in early access on Steam. It’s expected to stay in early access for the next two-and-a-half years while development continues.
Self-described as “the love child of Secret of Mana and Diablo,” the ARPG Kingdom of Loot marries the 16-bit era to the MMORPG genre… and it actually looks pretty cute and fun. It’s divided up into social town hubs, an open world map, and private instances. Players will take up arms to do some Zelda-style hack-and-slashing while going on quests and hanging out with their guilds.
“Kingdom of Loot seeks to bring back the timeless feel of these classics while answering the question: How would they have been if based in a global mass multiplayer system?” the team describes. “An immersive persistent world to explore, tons of loot to collect, new friendships to forge and adventures to live and strongly focuses on collecting, crafting and sharing in-game loot. You decide whether doing it on your own, with a small group of friends, a guild or joining hundreds of other players on your quest for epic gear.”
If you are the sort that has ever looked at online game design and thought to yourself, “I could do so much better,” then it’s time to put your boasts to the test by checking out MyWorld. This software allows players to whip up their own action-RPG levels and then connect them with others to make a near-infinite sprawling patchwork quilt of worlds.
“At the heart of MyWorld is the ability to link worlds together, construct multiple level games and adventure through them with friends,” a press statement said. “Via portals, game makers and game players can cross over into worlds created by other users and play the action RPG they’ve made to be discovered. Any game level can be linked to any other level and can be easily chained together to create a unique experience.”
The software is currently 25% off at Steam. Get your first look at MyWorld after the break!
Keeping an ear to the ground for Dauntless news? You should be: It’s a co-op ARPG from Phoenix Labs, an indie studio made up of former BioWare, Riot Games, and Blizzard devs. It’s expected to launch on PC later this year as a free-to-play (and apparently online) title that focuses on basic cosmetics and boosts to fund development costs.
It’s not massive, mind you, but it’s worth a look for multiplayer fans. The new PAX trailer is below.
Despite what I may think, Niantic is still calling Pokemon GO an MMO at GDC 2017.
Senior Product Manager Tatsuo Nomura referred to it as one while speaking with Polygon. Nomura also mentions that that when it launches, trading “won’t be through the internet,” and that while online trading might be seen by some as a way to potentially help rural players, the developers’ goal is more about potential distribution for regional Pokemon (such as North American Tauros or South American Heracross). You’ll need to be in close proximity to your trading partner, though don’t expect it until at least later this year, as the company is worried it may kill the game. The team is trying to improve the gameplay experience for rurals still, but no specifics were given.
Perhaps this is partially why company president John Hanke discussed the gym situation with Wired, and yes, Hanke mentions attempts to combat spoofers. Translations note that an overhaul of the gym system is the team’s “next step,” wanting to get more people into the gym scene and to have gyms focus on teamwork. Supposedly, legendaries will also be available later this year, as will player vs. player battles.
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.
Pokemon Go has received some large updates recently: the buddy system, medals, some big gym changes (twice), and now we’ve got dailies. We’ve been dazzled with two events granting bonus… well, everything, and yet, I’ve been noticing veteran players around me retiring anyway. Casual players are playing less often. During the Halloween event, I was surprised about the number of people that actually didn’t return to the game!
Rather than go on pure anecdotal evidence, I conducted an impromptu survey on social media to get a clearer picture of why people quit the game before the November 0.45.0 update. Here are the results.
Although Pokemon Go isn’t advertised as an MMO, both experts and players have noted it does present some interesting similarities: Both have tons of players on servers where player locations are tracked. Both games task players with interacting with AI and (in simple ways) other players. And the game worlds in both are directly impacted by player action (remember, Pokemon Go is based on the Ingress map that was sourced out to the players).
Being an MMORPG site, we’ve talked about socialization and how it relates in particular to our genre. However, much like other modern MMOs, PoGo can lead to the sort of “alone together” situation that seems to eternally threaten our genre’s relevance — indeed, its existence.
Four years ago or so, a number of folks at Massively, including me, had their sights set on Akaneiro: Demon Hunters. It was a co-op ARPG by American McGee with a successful $200,000 Kickstarter behind it and a Red Riding Hood-inspired, horror-esque Mori Girl setting and beautiful, cel-shaded graphics. The only real problem with the game was its hybrid business model, which couldn’t quite decide whether it was buy-to-play or free-to-play with an excessive pay-to-play cash shop.
Along the way, the game’s real-life business model collapsed. In 2014, McGee admitted that studio Spicy Horse Games was $1.7 million in debt and had downsized to just two people. But the game was at least playable — in a messy but free-to-play state on Steam.
That is, at least until recently. Over the past week, players have begun reporting on Steam that the game has gone offline without warning. According to MMO Fallout, support tickets are apparently triggering an auto-responder that declares Spicy Horse closed entirely (in July, as a matter of fact) and that it will no longer offer support for any of its games, though it does say “Akaneiro WILL continue to remain online for the foreseeable future.”