Preview: Trove’s Heroes expansion is super – and launching on March 27

If you were ever of the opinion that one thing the voxel world Trove needed was a superhero, then you are getting your wish! The upcoming Vanguardian class is very much your classic superhero — or villain! But what is a hero without a city to protect and foes to protect it from? The Heroes expansion offers all of that and more. I got to hang out with Senior Producer James Karras and animator Ted Sanger as they flew through the neon world of Luminopolis on a new Vanguardian. This new superhero-themed class might just be the very class to finally pull me away from my Dracolyte (which is ironic, since this update is also when the Dracolyte finally gets some buffed-up love!).

As it turns out, this expansion is also more about a story. And you know me — I love story! That makes me even more excited to get into this expansion for myself. If you are also looking forward playing this class, touring the new city, or just collecting the many new allies, you’ll be able to join me when Heroes launches on March 27th. Until then, we’ll all have to settle for living it vicariously.

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For science: New long-term study shows video games don’t make adults violent

Before we start, yes, I’m sure many of our readers are feeling a big wave of “duh” at the statement in the headline, but remember that testable results carry more weight than anecdotal evidence and feelings. And these results are solid.

As researchers Simone Kühn, Dimitrij Tycho Kugler, Katharina Schmalen, Markus Weichenberger, Charlotte Witt and Jürgen Gallinat note in Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study, the paper here is the “first to investigate the effects of long-term violent video gameplay using a large battery of tests spanning questionnaires, behavioural measures of aggression, sexist attitudes, empathy and interpersonal competencies, impulsivity-related constructs (such as sensation seeking, boredom proneness, risk-taking, delay discounting), mental health (depressivity, anxiety) as well as executive control functions, before and after 2 months of gameplay.” While two months may not be that long, it’s pretty good when you consider the number of shortcomings we see in game aggression research.

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Exclusive: Explore Bless Online’s Hieron races, including elves and werewolves

Most western MMORPG gamers know about Bless Online’s mechanics and visuals thanks to years of watching the game developed from afar. What hasn’t crossed the ocean and language barrier as easily is the lore, which is something Neowiz is helping to rectify today! The studio has granted us an exclusive dev blog covering this half of the playable races in the MMO – specifically, the Hieron, whom we’ve already discovered is the gloomier of the pair. Read on for the details and new images, then stay tuned for the launch of the official website next week and the eventual early access release!

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Perfect Ten: MMO missteps that didn’t have to happen

Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.

I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.

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Interview: ArcheAge 4.5 Legends Return launches April 5th with dragon taming and fresh start servers

If I were to tell you that ArcheAge’s next big update is launching next month, you’d tell me that it’s too soon. And we’d both be right! Although 4.0 was just released last December, and North America has been on a six-month cadence for getting the content after it launches in Korean, 4.5 will hit servers on April 5th. Yes, that’s 4.5 on 4/5 — easy to remember, no? Executive Producer Merv Lee Kwai explained that as XL Games is putting a renewed emphasis on the Western market, North American and the European regions get to launch an update first after Korea for the first time, instead of waiting until after Russia and China.

So what goodies do we have to look forward to before the other regions? Dubbed Legends Return, this update introduces dragon mounts, two new world bosses, a crafting commission system, and Battle Balance (a change to skillsets). There are also changes to regrading equipment and the bruisers badges. And last but not least, new fresh start servers are opening up, this time with a time-locked twist. To get a feel for all these changes, I sat down and previewed the new content with Kwai, Associate Producer Seraphina “Celestrata” Brennan, and Community Manager Joe “Muzzy” Brogno .

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Project Gorgon has officially launched on Steam early access with a big sale

The time is here for brave Gorgoneers to suit up, face curses, and brave the lands of beta testing. Project Gorgon has officially gone into Steam early access as of today, bringing the game out of its years-long public alpha and into its next phase.

The MMO is 25% off through March 19th, meaning that you can pick up this buy-to-play title for $30. The website also received a facelift to mark the occasion. Early access is planned to run for about a year, at the end of which players will be able to retain their characters and skills, but items will be wiped for the launch.

For the uninitiated, Project Gorgon is “a fantasy MMORPG that features an immersive experience that allows the player to forge their own path through exploration and discovery. You won’t be guided through a world on rails, and as a result there are many hidden secrets awaiting discovery. Project Gorgon also features an ambitious skill-based leveling system that bucks the current trend of pre-determined classes, thus allowing the player to combine skills in order to create a truly unique playing experience.”

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First impressions of RIFT’s Prime progression server

The best word to describe what was happening on the launch day of RIFT Prime was “surreal.” It was absolutely surreal to see crowds of players running around in the low-level zones, and more than one person made the observation that it felt like the original launch day all over again.

I had to concur. With guilds forming left and right on the new progression server, players scrambling over each other to try to grab quest objectives, and fishing lines as far as the eye could see, it was a sight not seen in the beginning zones of RIFT since March 2011. And also as in 2011, everyone here on this progression server was paying a subscription to be a part of this new, tailored experience.

It’s a weird bird, too. RIFT Prime isn’t exactly vanilla, but it does offer a way to go back to the core game without some of the “fast lane” features (like instant adventures) to zip up through the levels. It strips all players of their extra starting bonuses, save for the special cash shop packs that kind of ruined this pristine level starting field.

It was a good, strong start, at least as far as my limited observations perceived, but what was playing RIFT Prime really like? After a couple of days on this new server ruleset, I have a few thoughts about both the good and bad of RIFT’s stab at a progression shard.

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Trion looking into RIFT Prime XP issue, says Carnival should be arriving next week

Had a few issues with running out of XP from doing quests on RIFT Prime’s new progression server? You’re not alone, pal. Following concern and feedback from players on the slower-than-expected intake of XP (which was apparently set up to mimic the rate of gain at the 2011 launch), Trion Worlds said that it is looking to improve the situation with careful tweaks.

“We are looking into things and are planning on solving it with a scalpel and not a sledgehammer,” the team said on today’s livestream. Linda Carlson followed this up with a post on the forums: “XP is under review and being revised RIGHT NOW. Rift and invasion exp is definitely being retuned as well. I don’t have the ETA, but can guarantee it’s ASAP.”

Trion encouraged both the regular server community and the Prime server community to get along and not to snipe at each other. It emphasized that the studio is not giving priority to either server type and said that, if all goes well, the Carnival event will be arriving across the entire game next week.

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Perfect Ten: A dozen MOBAs that didn’t make it

With the insane success — both in terms of popularity and finances — that Dota and League of Legends spawned, you can easily understand why game studios latched onto the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) as a relatively quick cash grab. After all, with players providing the ongoing content (through PvP matches), developers were freed up to focus on balance tweaks and churning out new skins and characters to sell.

In a relatively short span of time, the market became flooded with many imitators that sought to grab that slice of the profitable pie. And while some, such as Hi-Rez’s SMITE, have endured, many games discovered the one key danger with this approach: If you could not generate and sustain a large, active playerbase, you were as good as dead. A critical mass was needed, and when it was not achieved, games started folding up left and right.

In today’s Perfect Ten, we’re going to look at a dozen MOBAs that tried and failed to make it. Perhaps they serve as cautionary lessons to other studios seeking to mimic League of Legends’ format, but we somehow doubt that the era of the MOBA is over just yet.

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Wisdom of Nym: How Final Fantasy XIV’s latest housing war was won and where it got us

With the removal of the perpetual server restrictions and the opening of personal housing again, Final Fantasy XIV seems to have decided that its housing problems were fixed. Or, if not fixed, at least significantly ameliorated. The game added a huge chunk of new wards, rules were put in place to make sure that people couldn’t snap up tons of houses for themselves, and I will definitely concede that a whole lot of stuff was different this time around. For some time after housing was introduced, small houses were actually available, so Free Companies who wanted one but hadn’t quite made it were ready.

I will be the first to say that the new rules and restrictions were definitely a success. In terms of getting people connected with houses, this all worked, we got stuff more sorted out, and this is definitely the best we’ve had it since housing was first introduced. That doesn’t mean that I think the problem is really solved yet, though; a lot of the rules as they stand are inelegant solutions to a problem, and that’s part of why we are where we are.

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Chaos Theory: A guide for Secret World Legends’ new agent network

Admit it: Ever since your faction handler in Secret World Legends started sending you off on jobs, you’ve wanted your own underlings to boss around. Am I right? Well thanks to the conspiracy game’s latest feature, now you do get your very own minions to send scurrying off on little assignments. Called the Agent Network, this new system was just deployed this week. And while it’s neither a massive story feature nor a hefty progression feature, it does have a bit of both.

Go ahead, dive on in and start ordering your minions around! With this guide, you’ll have all the info you need to be running your very own agent network.

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Trion reboots Defiance as Defiance 2050, launching on PC and console this summer

Welp, now we know what Trion Worlds has been working on: Defiance is getting a sequel, launching for PC, Xbox One, and PS4 this summer. The MMORPG studio says Defiance 2050 is a “completely from-the-ground-up recreation of Defiance” that “overhauls the exciting story and groundbreaking gameplay of the original, reimagining the San Francisco-based sci-fi shooter experience for current gaming hardware.”

Defiance 2050 recreates the original game from the ground up to be representative of the current generation of consoles. From updated textures to improved resolutions and framerates, Defiance 2050 is a marked improvement over the original DefianceDefiance 2050 is more than just a simple graphical remaster, as the game’s systems have gotten major improvements to create the definitive version of the game. Today’s consoles and PCs enable the dev team to implement features and upgrades that fans of the game have been clamoring for, while advancements in hardware allow for action on an even larger scale than before, with more players able to take to the battlefield in white-knuckled combat.”

It’s not entirely clear just yet what’s happening to original-flavor Defiance itself (we’re reaching out to Trion about that right now and will update when we have more info). Beta signups are live on the official site right now, and we’ve got the announcement trailers down below too.

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Guild Wars 2’s next living story episode, A Bug in the System, launches March 6

After just a week’s delay, ArenaNet has rolled out the teaser trailer for Guild Wars 2’s next living story episode.

Dubbed A Bug in the System, the second episode of season four launches March 6th. Anet is promising a new map with its requisite storyline and mastery, as well as a new legendary dagger, and if you’re tired of desertscapes, you’ll dig the techy Asura lab that apparently features here as our heroes embark on their heist-like hunt for Joko’s base. You gotta love the presentation on this one.

Here’s our regular reminder to log into your accounts, even if you’re on a freebie with no expansions, to “bank” the current episode before A Bug in the System is live. Though you won’t be able to play it sans expansion, you can play it for free should you upgrade at some point in the future.

The trailer is below!

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