bethsoft

Short for Bethesda Softworks.

Tamriel Infinium: Our 2017 report card for Elder Scrolls Online

All in all, 2017 has been a fabulous year for the Elder Scrolls Online, and although I have been light on talking about the game recently, I have jumped in regularly to explore Vvardenfell and Clockwork City. This year ESO saw its first expansion and dare I say its greatest addition to the game: Morrowind. But that shouldn’t diminish the other great stories in the Horns of the Reach and Clockwork City DLCs. Also, ESO introduced one of the best player housing systems I’ve ever seen with Homestead earlier this year. I really don’t know how ESO is going to top 2017.

Let’s pull apart the accomplishments of ESO this year into my standard for grading MMORPGs: The Bartle Taxonomy. MMORPGs are wonderful because of the breadth of different activities that players can participate in. They draw together many different kinds of players, and Bartle’s Taxonomy breaks these players into four different categories: Socializers, Achievers, Killers, and Explorers.

Most people will be a blend of two or more of these categories. I’m going to measure the merits of the game based each category individually using a scale you’ll often find in American schools: A, B, C, D, and F.

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Elder Scrolls Online’s winter festival quests send you party-hopping on December 14

So, that Orc… this seems safe, right? Right? Guys?

The Elder Scrolls Online is bringing back the New Life Festival again this Christmas, beginning on Thursday. “In order to join the festivities, acquire the free New Life Festival Scroll from the Crown Store. Use the scroll to find the New Life Herald Breda in a tent just south of Windhelm, Eastmarch,” ZeniMax says. “She will give you the initial quest, ‘The New Life Festival,’ which will unlock a series of nine uniquely festive daily quests.”

Those quests will ask you to travel around the provinces of Tamriel, taking part in the local wintertime festivities for each of the gameworld’s races. BYO trick swallowing-swords for the Orcish race’s Stonetooth Bash, party with the Nords in the totally-safe-sounding Snow Bear Plunge, and enjoy the Altmeri’s cheerful War Orphan’s Sojourn. Your reward for doing them all? Breda’s Bottomless Mead Mug collectible, which grants a nice experience bonus during the festival. It stacks with other experience bonuses, too.

And what Christmas event would be complete without lockboxes? The good news is you can get some themed ones for free by completing the quests. There are some new goodies for direct-sale too, like the 10K-gold New Life Bonfire.

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The Daily Grind: What was the best new zone added to an MMO in 2017?

Last year, MOP reader Agemyth suggested we debate the best new MMORPG zone added in 2016, so it seemed only fitting to bring the topic back for another go now that another year is mostly behind us. And it’s even harder to answer this year than then, thanks to the plethora of expansions the MMO genre saw this year.

My vote would be torn. I was inclined to grant it to Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind – Vivec, specifically – but then I remembered all the jaw-dropping moments my husband and I had wandering around the Crystal Desert in Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire. “Spectacular” doesn’t even begin to describe it, and that’s before you’ve even left Amnoon.

I’m sure you can think of others. What would you argue was the best new zone or area added to an MMORPG in 2017?

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The Stream Team: Must save the sorceress in The Elder Scrolls Legends’ Act 2

Massively OP’s MJ made it all the way through Act 1 of The Elder Scrolls Legends card game last time, and she’s ready to head into Act 2. The Elder Scrolls story has been been quite fun to play through, and the unique lane elements makes the battles more interesting. Join us live at 5:00 p.m. to see if MJ can find and save the kidnapped sorceress.

What: The Elder Scrolls Legends
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 5:00 p.m. EST on Monday, December 11th, 2017

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Choose My Adventure: Wrapping things up in Secret World Legends

One of the things that I promised way back when I started writing this series about Secret World Legends was to mention the way in which this game seems to tie into The X-Files. There’s an obvious superficial connection (both take place in the real world with added supernatural stuff, for example), but that’s not actually the connection that sticks out to me. It has more to do with the nature of the story both are telling.

While I’m not on board with the game’s character vignettes (which are much more “portrait of this person you don’t really interact with” than anything), there is an underlying story running through every part of the game. I clocked out midway through Egypt when I played the original The Secret World, and there were an assortment of reasons, but part of it was that connection I mentioned above. To wit: the game really likes having mysteries, but it doesn’t really like having answers for a lot of them.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR, it’s time to destroy the Eternal Empire

Those players who were looking for consequence in their Star Wars: The Old Republic storyline can, I’m glad to say, look to Knights of the Eternal Throne to get it. Although the Vaylin side of the story will remain virtually unchanged regardless of the player’s choices, it’s possible to lose multiple companions, and there is even one choice where you have to choose one companion over the other. However, the quality of the story really hinges on how much you like or dislike Valkorion’s family. They are a bunch of rich brats doing bratty things, so on a personal level, I couldn’t care less about them.

You know what I do care about, though? The Empire and the Republic. You know what most fans of Star Wars care about? The Empire and the Republic, or possibly the Jedi and the Sith. Whether it’s a story buried in the conflict of those two armies colliding or it’s a gangster taking advantage of being in the middle of those two opposing parties, the Empire and the Republic have been central to all the engaging Star Wars stories.

For this specific reason, it’s time for BioWare to tear down the Eternal Empire.

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The Stream Team: A first look at Elder Scrolls Legends

If you just can’t get enough Elder Scrolls goodness between the single player games and Elder Scrolls Online, you can dive into the new The Elder Scrolls Legends card game. Massively OP’s MJ is dipping her toes in for the very first time to check things out. Tune in live at 8:00 p.m. as OPTV‘s infamous Stream Team brings you a first look at…

What: The Elder Scrolls Legends
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

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Perfect Ten: The healthiest live MMORPGs at the end of 2017

As Counting Crows told us, it’s been a long December, although the fact that it has also only just started being December speaks to something unpleasant in the makeup of this particular month. But it also means that this is a good time to check in on the overall health of various MMORPGs and see which ones look to be in the healthiest state at the end of the year.

This is, I hasten to point out, not a scientific process; last year I pointed to Marvel Heroes as a not-quite-MMORPG title that was still in a very healthy and robust place, and it later turned out that this was entirely not true and had been built upon a foundation of lies. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it in 2018. What are the healthiest games running right now?

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Elder Scrolls Legends joins the fun in Clockwork City

Just like any younger brother who is taken with an older sibling, Elder Scrolls Legends is copying Elder Scrolls Online in an adorable attempt to follow in the MMO’s footsteps.

The card game rolled out its Return to Clockwork City expansion this week, joining ESO in the mysterious town and all of its crazy gearworks. This card set takes place hundreds of years after the MMO, however, as players will go on a journey to explore the city and plunder its treasures.

Return to Clockwork City includes over 50 new cards and 35 additional story missions spread over three acts. Players will have to master the “assemble” and “treasure hunt” mechanics while fielding new fabricant creatures on the battleground. Players can buy the expansion for real money or with in-game gold.

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Choose My Adventure: Secret World Legends and the mystery of the level-based curse

Would you believe that I sort of forgot about levels altogether in Secret World Legends? It’s true! I remembered that they were a thing now (it’s hard to miss the explosions when you level up), but it wasn’t until I ran smack into a bit of the main storyline telling me “go level up” that I really was cognizant of them. “Oh, right, there are levels now! I need to work on those.”

My feelings on how this actually plays out are slightly mixed, and they wind up coming back a bunch to a combination of the issues with the original The Secret World and to the stuff the current rebranding does or doesn’t change. At face value, the inclusion of levels is probably not a terrible thing, because it provides a useful at-a-glance power metric and doesn’t really obviate the game’s main system of advancement. Any faults it has are more a result of underling issues the game already had just being thrown into sharper relief.

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Elder Scrolls Online is kicking off a free-play event on PC, PS4, and Mac starting tomorrow

Earlier this week, ZeniMax announced a new dungeon event for The Elder Scrolls Online with pretty nifty cash-shop related giveaways for everyone who queues up for dungeon LFG and can hang in there through a run. Today, the company has added to the fun by announcing a free-to-play week coinciding with that event, meaning you can take part in the whole event on any platform – except Xbox One – even if you’ve never paid a penny into the game.

“From November 30 to December 6, gamers will have seven full days to explore Tamriel for free, to build and grow their characters, run quests and dungeons with friends, and truly create their own story within the largest Elder Scrolls experience to date,” ZeniMax announced this morning, noting that the free-play week grants access to the base game (but not Morrowind). New players will pick up 500 free cash-shop currency and keep any progress from past free-play events. There’s a new trailer too!

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Elder Scrolls Online kicks off LFG dungeon event with huge cash-shop prizes this week

The Elder Scrolls Online’s #10MillionStories promotion keeps rolling along, and this week, ZeniMax is adding another incentive to getting players in on the fun. During the week between November 20th and December 6th, players will be taking part in an in-game dungeon event – for extra special loot.

“To participate, complete a random dungeon via the Dungeon Finder (Normal or Veteran) to earn a Mysterious Reward Box. (You can obtain one Mysterious Reward Box per character per day.) Mysterious Reward Boxes contain a variety of in-game rewards, such as Dye Stamps, Crown Repair Kits, or Crown Mimic Stones. They also contain rarer rewards, ranging from in-game valuables like Treasure Maps, Transmute Crystals, or Crown Experience Scrolls – or, rarely, a Costume, Pet, or even a Mount from a curated selection of both past and brand-new Crown Store collectibles.”

Some players will even be gifted huge bundles of items, including “a pack of 20 homes or 20 mounts” worth quite a bit of cash. Of course, you still have to hit the LFG button, dungeon it up, and kill all the bosses to be eligible. How hard can it possibly be?

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One Shots: The rat race

At times, I feel like I must be the responsible adult in the MMORPG genre and sit down some of these artists and tell them that while I appreciate their ambition and imagination, not everything can be turned into a mount. Not everything should be turned into a mount. We need to have some sort of standard, some line that must not be crossed.

I feel like RIFT crossed that line with this mouse mount. It’s a little too on the nose with the whole notion of leveling in games being a rat race, eh?

“Here is my new Sinister Cappie mount telling a fishing story (it was this big!),” said Ironweakness. Frankly, I want to hear the story where someone captured a giant mouse and then trained it to provide transportation to battle-happy adventurers.

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