breaking

First impressions of Worlds Adrift: Innovation, Zelda, open-world PvP, and that sinking feeling

Worlds Adrift has been one of those games I’ve been closely watching but trying not to jump into until it was ready. I tried one of the alpha weekends, and while it was playable, I could tell I needed to wait, and wait I did. I had faith that once the game would hit Steam (“early access” shield be damned if you ask for cash to play your game), it’d be something that’d move me. In fact, I called it out by name when discussing possible future MMOs that could tackle griefing with a moral system.

Today, I’m here to eat my hat, good sirs and madams.

While Improbable has been trying to “save MMOs” with SpatialOS, this being the first big MMO that uses it doesn’t wholly impress me. Some things work well, and yes, there are some good ideas, but as a PvP fan, I think there are some glaring mistakes that are going to send a lot of MMORPG players heading for the hills. Let’s dig in.

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Worlds Adrift launches on Steam early access while overseen by actual airship

Floating up out of the drydock of closed beta, Worlds Adrift launched into the bright blue skies of early access today. The airship sandbox drummed up hype for the release with a publicity stunt that involved hauling a batch of players high up into the air over London to try out the game. (The first livestream in the sky? Why not!)

Worlds Adrift is now releasing to Steam Early Access,” Bossa Studios trumpeted. “This means we have opened up additional servers for both US and EU regions, and will release more servers depending on player population. The UI for the character creation screen has been adjusted to make it easier to pick a server to play on.”

With the early access start comes a full wipe and a new build that includes a different layout, additional islands, new clothing items, double the amount of ancient written stories, all-new music, and plenty of bug fixes.

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It’s been three weeks since Hand of the Gods players have had any news from Hi-Rez

Stretch your mind back to February 20th, when Hi-Rez’s SMITE-infused free-to-play online card game Hand of the Gods formally launched. The studio appeared to be actively supporting the game back then, with patches and tournaments and packs and Twitch promotions.

And then, just about three weeks ago, the information and update flow completely and dramatically stopped.

Reddit is freaking out. Discord is freaking out. The general consensus and concern is that the game is dead. One rumor floated in the game’s chat is that there’s now just one Hi-Rez dev on the game and he’s also working on another game, but we stress that’s just a rumor. Either way, the devs aren’t communicating with the public, players, and press about this launched live title; Hi-Rez’s Stewart Chisam, who recently told SMITE’s subreddit that he aimed to improve patch quality and communication between that game’s staff and players, has not responded to a public inquiry made by a prominent YouTuber. The playerbase is begging for information and simply getting nothing.

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Ouch, Conan Exiles players are pretty pissed off about Funcom’s PvE Conflict server switcharoo

It’s not every day that an online game changes the official ruleset of whole servers the day after everyone rolled characters, but that’s exactly what Funcom did yesterday in Conan Exiles. As MOP’s Justin reported incredulously yesterday, the studio abruptly changed all of Conan Exiles’ PvE Conflict servers – that is, the servers that are primarily PvE with small windows for PvP – into pure PvP servers. Pure PvE and Pure PvP continue to exist (Fast servers were done away with prior to launch), but that’s cold comfort to folks who thought their server would be partly safe and now isn’t safe at all.

And the playerbase is letting Funcom have it. Steam reviews are bashing the company for the move, accusing Funcom of misrepresenting the game and sacrificing hybrid server players at the altar of bringing more PvP servers online – and that’s on top of the ongoing queue problems brought on by the game’s popularity. And on the Conan Reddit, the front page is littered with angry rants about the topic.

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Star Trek Online is discontinuing monthly subscription purchases

There’s a business model shift taking place for Star Trek Online, although you could argue it’s a somewhat lateral shift. The game will no longer be offering monthly subscriptions from its website, replacing them with a “starter pack” that allows you to permanently unlock most of the same perpetual benefits for a one-time fee. Lifetime subscriptions will remain as they always have and will offer the same benefits as always, while veteran rewards will still be available to those who have earned them.

Players with an existing subscription will also retain the subscription and won’t need to do anything extra to keep it; it can still be cancelled at any time, although presumably that will prevent you from re-subscribing. There will also be no more subscriber locks on test server access. So it just means no new subscribers to the game, just everyone playing free. Or, you know, the same price as always.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Jake for the tip!

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Daybreak has now been hit with layoffs [Confirmed]

Daybreak has now confirmed the layoffs, and we’ve got lots more information from our own sources – see below for updates and context.

Multiple game industry veterans are discussing layoffs at Daybreak today. H1Z1 UI Software Engineer Grat Crabtree says he was among those let go.

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EVE Online Executive Producer Andie ‘CCP Seagull’ Nordgren is leaving CCP Games [Updated]

It’s always tough when a development studio loses one of its top people, but today’s news is sure to sting more than usual for both EVE Online players and the developers at CCP Games. We’ve just confirmed that Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren will be stepping down from her position as Executive Producer on EVE Online and leaving the company in about two months. Nordgren joined CCP in 2010 as a Technical Producer on the Core Technology Group before eventually spearheading the development direction of EVE as its Senior Producer and finally taking on a broader Executive Producer role in 2014.

Nordgren has been well liked by players for her clear vision of the future for EVE and open approach to development, and her interviews at events never fail to get us excited about what’s coming next for EVE. Most recently she has overseen the development of the Citadel, Lifeblood, and upcoming Into The Abyss expansions. CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, who has reportedly been getting more directly involved in EVE‘s development recently, will be helping to transition Nordgren’s roles until a replacement is selected.

We first heard this news as a rumour from a tip and reached out to CCP Games for comment, and it supplied us with the following confirming statement.

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Daybreak update: Chief Publishing Officer Laura Naviaux has left the company

Yesterday, Massively OP put together a piece on MMO company Daybreak Games Company and its corporate overlords, chronicling the US government’s asset freeze of Russian megacorp Renova on down the chain to its subsidiary Columbus Nova, which has for three years been the nominal owner of Daybreak since it parted ways with Sony and dropped the SOE name.

The twist? When reached for comment on the story, Daybreak informed the editors of Massively OP that our understanding of Daybreak’s ownership was in error. Stunning the MMORPG community and beyond, the company spokesperson insisted it had “no affiliation with Columbus Nova” and that former Columbus Nova rep Jason Epstein “is and has always been the primary owner and executive chairman of Daybreak Game Company” since its founding in February of 2015. When pushed for clarification, Daybreak told us that the “distinction was never corrected in the past, so [it is] correcting that now.”

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Daybreak says it has ‘no affiliation’ with Columbus Nova, the company it said bought it in 2015

Note: We’ve updated this piece heavily at the end with Daybreak’s statements and further links.

A chain of business connections could have a real and dire impact on Daybreak Games Company following the freezing of company assets by the U.S. government.

On April 6th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted several Russian oligarchs and froze their assets due to “destabilizing activities” by these figures (including suspected interference in the 2016 U.S. election). One of the oligarchs so punished was Viktor Vekselberg, who owns the Renova Group conglomerate and its subsidiary, Columbus Nova. [Eds.: Daybreak began disputing this part as of April 27th; see updates below.]

Columbus Nova, you may recall, is the parent company of Daybreak Games. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control has given Renova and other Russian companies until June 5th to “wind down operations, contracts, or other agreements” involving these figures.

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Russia’s Telegram crackdown blocks access to WoW, EVE, and Guild Wars 2

If you play Guild Wars 2, World of Tanks, EVE Online, or World of Warcraft in Russia, you may find that access to these titles has become spotty or non-existent as of late. This is due to the Russian government cracking down on the Telegram messenger app, which came under fire for essentially allowing people to communicate without being spied upon by intrusive government agencies (and then refusing to grant said agencies backdoors into the system). Over 20 million IP addresses have been blocked in the country as of April 17th, a move that has affected many services and sites not related to Telegram.

The crackdown has basically shut down access to the login servers of Guild Wars 2 and EVE Online for some, prompting outrage and frustration among players who suddenly were not able to access their games.

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Star Trek Online is finally adding playable Cardassians with its next expansion

A playable faction of Cardassians has been something Star Trek Online fans have wanted more or less since the game wanted, to the point that there was no small amount of consternation around the idea of a new faction being added that wasn’t the Cardassian Union. But fear not, lore fans; the release of Victory is Life will indeed see playable Cardassians for both the Klingon Empire and the Federation. That’s really all you need to know to be excited if you’re a fan of Star Trek.

Want a little bit more on the game? Fear not, the developers also have you covered when it comes to how the game’s leveling will work for the expansion’s level cap increase. Perhaps most importantly, players need not fear another tier of ships; Tier 6 remains the top end and there will be no additional lore ranks added. Check out the full rundown to get an idea of what the game will have in store for you, along with a breakdown of the experience needed to acquire the increased levels.

Source: Leveling, Playable Cardassians; thanks to Jake for the tip!

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Romain ‘Tilty’ Amiel departs Funcom and Secret World Legends

Secret World Legends players are in for a shock: Game Director Romain Amiel is moving on from Funcom. MMO vets will recall he’s been a fixture at the studio for 11 years, but he says he’s “decided to follow up on other opportunities.”

“My top priorities over the last few months [were] always to ensure the proper release and quality of Dawn of the Morninglight,” he tells players, referring to the SWL story update that just launched. “It seems that you’ve all been enjoying the new content (even if it felt a bit short… I know!). […] I’m proud to say that we’ve pushed the boundaries of what the MMO genre has done in terms of story-telling and immersion (rainbow unicorn masks aside maybe?).”

No need to panic, however: Chris “Nirvelle” Meredith will be taking over the helm of Secret World, Tilty says. Coincidentally, MOP’s MJ Guthrie will be streaming the game tonight on OPTV at 9 p.m. EDT, so you can join her in freaking out then and there.

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