Ooh, you really like that word “free,” don’t you? Caught your attention, and now you’re down here in the body of the article, wondering how you can Get Yours? Well, far be it from us to get in your way; we are facilitators in such situations.
It is true, Elder Scrolls Online is preparing to run a bonus event from April 24th through the 30th. During this period, players will earn one free crown crate every day just by logging in to the game. If you’re faithful to do this for the full run, that nets you six free crates (which may hold cosmetics, boosters, mounts, and skins).
In addition, ZeniMax is offering a free week trial of ESO Plus to see if you like the benefits that a subscription brings to the table (although it should be noted that trial users will not get a monthly stipend of free crowns). The trial can be found under the “featured” section of the crown store.
It’s hard to believe that summer is right around the corner, but RuneScape has its eyes on the ball and is already preparing many big changes for the months ahead.
Ripping off the Band-Aid of bad news first, Jagex announced that subscription prices will be increased starting on June 4th, with the new monthly rate going up to $11. Fortunately, all current subscribers will be able to maintain their current subscription rate indefinitely as long as they don’t drop the service.
Past that, it’s all pretty cool stuff for the summer months. Plans include adding elite dungeons, player farms, master skillcape perks, and the big, bad boss of Solak. The farms sound quite involved: “We’re planning for lots of rewards that plug into farming and other skills (magic beans are our current favourites), and you will be working towards building up the farm to its full potential and unlocking everything it has to offer.”
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen is running a free-fly this weekend, as teased yesterday. The game’s currently testing alpha 3.1.2, which also rolled out last night. (Thanks DK!)
At last weekend’s PAX East, we got hands-on with several crowdfunded MMORPGs, including Pantheon and Ashes of Creation, whose demos our writer thought were solid indeed. We also spoke with Ship of Heroes’ Casey McGeever to catch up with its progress!
As for Camelot Unchained, it’s been working on improving its tech and working on new assets, including “placeable decorations on a plot, new animations, and new scenario gameplay and environments.” Today and tomorrow, CSE is running player tests on the Dragon Fang map, so check those out if you’re a hardcore backer!
Meanwhile, Albion Online patched up its GvG mercenary system, Orbus is planning a free weekend next week, and the EVE Online sequel book has already funded. Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the weekly roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
If your preferred sort of RuneScape is the older variety of schools, we’re sorry to inform you that the price is going up. On the bright side, you’ll be happy to know that it’s not going up to anything approaching unreasonable levels; the cost of a one-month subscription will be $10.99 for US subscribers, which is still a fair bit cheaper than the industry standard for subscription prices.
You know, to the extent that an industry standard exists any longer, what with everything having a free option these days.
The game last had a price hike in 2015, so it’s been relatively stable for some time (that was, to be fair, the “current” version of the game). On the bright side, you won’t have to worry about the price hike if you’re already subscribed; the changes only affect new players and those who have been unsubscribed for at least 14 days. The FAQ clarifies this along with explaining some of the world economic factors like Brexit that have spurred the change, so at least it doesn’t come without warning.
At this year’s PAX East, I discovered that my mental picture of Casey McGeever did not match the actual man in person, but that was a positive thing; meeting the man himself, he projects an aura of warmth and earnestness that’s almost impossibly infectious. Not that it should be all that surprising, as he’s spent so much time talking about the strength of community when it comes to building up the base behind Ship of Heroes as a whole.
McGeever and I had an opportunity to speak about a number of issues surrounding the City of Heroes-inspired superhero MMO, starting with some talk about the game’s roadmap moving through the remainder of the year. The roadmap covers the past few months and recent known developments, but it had to be delayed slightly while the team pushed through the early stages of pre-alpha, engine upgrades, and the associated tasks. Now we’re into April, and it’s time for the community to see what’s on the docket for the next three months.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained continues inching along toward its planned summer beta. According to the game’s latest update, CSE is running internal tests on a new server while tweaking tooltips, the banes and noom system, capture-the-flag mode, item placement, armor, environment assets, and animations, including new idles for each class.
Meanwhile, Crowfall released its 5.5 alpha, Ashes of Creation announced alpha one will land by the end of the year, Albion Online balance-patched armor and GvG while counting a million dead bunnies, Dual Universe released its April newsletter, and Dogma Eternal Night hit the skids.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the weekly roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
It has been a month since that fateful day back in March when the MMO collectively lost its mind by rushing back to play a seven-year-old game as if it was new again. I was among the crowd that eagerly signed up for a month’s subscription to try my hand at RIFT’s
very first progression server, Vigil (or as I will always be mistyping it, Virgil).
It was, in a word, bizarre. It was bizarre to see such enthusiasm for an MMO that many had abandoned or forgotten about. It was bizarre to see beginner zones packed with players — several of whom were completely new to the game — doing quests and rifts like it was the first days all over again. It was bizarre for me to be this excited about playing a game that I have played many times over the past seven years.
Now we’re a month in, the initial hype is past, and some reflection and evaluation is required. Is RIFT Prime still worth playing? What’s going on with the progression schedule? How has Trion Worlds adjusted to the feedback and issues unique to this shard?
Everybody loves to dump on EA for wrecking companies like BioWare and escalating microtransactions and lockboxes to ludicrous heights, but is it warranted? Kotaku recently spoke to former BioWare studio boss Aaryn Flynn for the skinny.
“I think there’s this perspective among gamers – angry gamers – that EA comes along and buys studios and ruins them, or EA is forcing microtransactions,” Kotaku suggests. But Flynn isn’t having any.
“I think they are a great company to be a part of because they care very much about the creative process – they care about that – so they want you to be successful, and they will do whatever they can to help you be successful. Every company’s got constraints […] but they are excellent at giving creative freedom for sure.”
At 20 years old, Ultima Online is finally doing what its EA-backed handlers at Broadsword once said it would never do: It’s going free-to-play.
Game update 99, Endless Journey, should be live right now if all goes well with this morning’s patch, meaning new and returning players can jump right in without paying that monthly $13 subscription. They’ll have the same number skills, the same access to dungeon content, the same access to Felucca (PvP), and the same access to chat. On the other hand, they may eventually want to give that sub a go, since without it, they won’t accrue vet rewards, can’t place or co-own houses, can’t place vendors, can’t place auction safes, can’t farm champ spawns, and can’t participate fully in live GM events. They’re also limited to just two characters.
If you’re planning on coming back on an ancient account rather than a brand-new one, do note that your account may not be ready yet. “The transition for closed accounts to Endless Journey accounts has begun and will continue over the next 24 hours,” Broadsword said in its server-up message a few minutes ago. “We appreciate your patience as we work through this process. You will not be able to login until the account has been processed.”
It’s funny how presentation problems can have such a huge impact on the same product.
Warframe, as a game, is almost crippled by its lack of guidance and the poor resources it has to explain things to players. Some of this, as has been noted in the comments, is the result of a general design philosophy that producing more fun stuff is more advantageous than providing guidance, but some of it is also a result of having a philosophy that doesn’t seem to take full advantage of its business model. Better tutorials and direction would do a whole lot to redeem the game.
This would be a good thing because Warframe is also strikingly unique and fun in a lot of other ways, and it seems to be to be the logical apotheosis of a lot of game design aspects. It has flaws, it could use some streamlining and refinement, but at the end of the day it’s a slick and fun experience that is mostly let down by its failings in guiding players. And it’s another game that I’m not really done with even though my month is up.
Among the more unusual business model setups for the incoming wave of indie MMORPGs is Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen’s. As we’ve previously covered, Brad McQuaid’s Visionary Realms studio offers pledge packages for would-be players that range up to $10,000, payable in monthly chunks. The particulars have allowed the studio to sometimes dodge complaints about having a pre-alpha sub as well as about having high backer tiers, when in reality, it pretty much has both.
If that doesn’t bother you because you really want to see another McQuaid game reach live, then you might want to point your eyeballs at the game’s latest pre-order package in honor of PAX East. It’s similar to the regular-flavor $1000 tier, with a few extra perks, including pre-alpha access to let you hop into the game in May.
Less than a year ago, I faced a crisis as a fan and player of The Secret World
. Funcom abruptly announced that it would be throwing the current game — the one I had spent about five years of my time playing and leveling — into maintenance mode and then rebooting the title as a free-to-play quasi-MMO called Secret World Legends
It was an obnoxious, brute-force decision that greatly alienated many TSW players, and in my opinion, did not pay off as well as Funcom had hoped. Without allowing us to port over our characters or perhaps figure out a way to transform the old MMO into a free-to-play model (like so, so many other MMORPGs had), the studio forced us into a Sophie’s Choice. Did we say goodbye to the game we knew and loved (or worse, remain in a stagnant game forever), or did we start over and put up with the changes?
Grudgingly and not gladly, I started over. I spent a half-year leveling up a brand-new character just to get to the same place that I was before all of this started. And now that we are on the verge of the start of season two, I have time to reflect on why, exactly, I put up with the reboot and didn’t bid this game universe farewell. Here are my reasons.
If you didn’t already know that Ultima Online is planning to go free-to-play, you probably still wouldn’t be able to tell without reading between the lines of the latest dev update. But yep, this is happening – on Thursday.
“We anticipate Publish 99 will be going World Wide on April 5, 2018,” Broadsword says. “This update will be done manually, and not during regularly scheduled maintenance. […] Shards will be brought down at 10:30am ET. We anticipate the downtime will last approximately 3 hours.”
As we’ve previously covered, new and returning players will be able to jump in as part of the “Endless Journey” mode, sans subscription. They’ll have the same number skills, the same access to dungeon content, the same access to PvP Felucca, and the same access to chat. But they won’t accrue vet rewards, can’t place or co-own houses, can’t place vendors, can’t place auction safes, can’t farm champ spawns, and can’t participate fully in live GM events. They’re also limited to just two characters.