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The Soapbox: Getting to the heart of toxicity in MMOs

So we’ve gotten another post from a developer saying that they’re going to really 100% be better about rooting out toxic players from their games. Seriously, we mean it this time. The latest one is from Blizzard, but let’s be real, this is something that’s always happened. We always get periodic statements from companies that this time they’re really going to address toxic behavior, someone links that inevitable Penny Arcade strip, nothing really changes, play laugh track, roll curtains.

I’d like to be happy about this, I really would, but it’s so much empty posturing, and it came out only shortly before the announcement that everyone who plays the game can now be signed to the Overwatch League. I think the two are pretty closely connected. And I think we need to actually start talking about this because this sort of darkly toxic problem is at the core of the designs of these games, even though on some level it’s entirely separate. The problem isn’t that these games are designed to be toxic; it’s that they’re designed to encourage toxicity.

Getting rid of individual toxic players, as Blizzard purports to do, is merely treating the symptom. We need to discuss the disease.

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Fortnite touts sales figures while players lament pay-to-progress model

Epic Games’ PvE multiplayer zombie tower defense survivalbox MMO thing Fortnite is doing well in its launch week, at least in terms of non-Steam PC early access sales. Creative Director Darren Sugg tweeted out yesterday the presale numbers.

“Absolutely humbled by the response to this week’s @FortniteGame launch,” he wrote. “500k+ digital pre-order sales and just getting started!”

But the storm brewing on Reddit suggests the sale part is working as intended — the game’s current issues aren’t in the early game at all but in the paywall monetization that comes later. As one Redditor put it, the game is pay-to-progress after a certain point: “This process of churning items continues with the material requirements growing exponentially with each step of progression. You will need more and more items that are time/money gated and no amount of playing the game will alleviate that.”

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Frontier Developments plans a convention for Elite: Dangerous in October

Do you have a deep and abiding love for Planet Coaster? Probably not. How about Elite: Dangerous? Yes, that’s good, many more hands are being raised. How would you like to attend a convention for both of them in October? Frontier Developments announced the upcoming Frontier Expo 2017 in London’s Olympic Park, a one-day convention on October 7th devoted to both of the studio’s games and what comes next for the titles.

It is not immediately clear how much overlap there may between the fandoms for the two games, but that may be part of the entertainment.

Elite: Dangerous fans will be able to learn more about the game’s upcoming plans and features and attend panels about the real-world science behind the game, as well as collecting various exclusive digital and physical merchandise at the convention. If you’re going to be in the area and have a powerful need to be in on the ground floor (or would consider flying out to London for a one-day convention), tickets go on sale in about two days.

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The Stream Team: First foray into Fortnite

Did you say building game? You did! The idea of a new sandbox to build in makes Massively OP’s MJ a very happy camper (or construction worker, as the case may be). And with the early access release of Fortnite, she has a brand-new world to build in… and try to stay alive in. Join us live at 8:00 p.m. for MJ’s first foray into this new survival building game.

What: Fortnite
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

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Path of Exile’s Fall of Oriath has just begun Xbox One beta

Hey, Path of Exile console fans. Have you been moping on the sidelines throughout the long PC beta for Fall of Oriath? Were you sad to find out it’s launching on PC on August 4th? Then I have good news for you!

“Grinding Gear Games has announced today that its highly anticipated massive expansion, Path of Exile: The Fall of Oriath, will launch its beta for Xbox One at 2pm pacific on Wednesday, July 26th.”

That’s literally right as this post is going live; you can run over and register right now. “Space is limited and players selected will receive their Xbox One beta keys via email,” warns the studio.

As we’ve previously covered, the expansion adds literally new everything, from new skills and bosses to new locations, plus the new pantheon system, five new acts, and the difficulty level system. Just getting caught up? Don’t miss our February preview and reveal, our steam and hands-on with the PC beta, and our E3 interview on the expansion!

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Gravity-challenged Lawbreakers enters open beta July 28, launches August 8

Forget everything you know about physics and first-person shooters because Lawbreakers is about to make gravity its plaything. The wild-and-wooly team shooter announced today that it will be rolling out an open beta test starting this Friday to both PC and PlayStation 4 players who want to try some gravity-defying death matches.

The open beta will run from July 28th through the 31st, although players can go ahead and pre-load the game a day in advance so they don’t have to miss a minute when the OBT goes live. Following the open beta test will be about a week of internal preparation followed by Lawbreakers’ official launch on August 8th.

The base edition of the game is $30, and by pre-ordering, players can secure exclusive skins. Additionally, anyone who jumps into the game between August 8th and 15th will receive Kinetic Blades for the Wraith and Assassin classes for free.

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Overwatch gets serious about bad behavior yet again – for real this time, they swear

Even Mercy can’t save you from Blizzard’s wrath for being a cranky player.

The studio sat its playerbase down for a talk this week, saying that it was getting serious about bad behavior that is running rampant throughout Overwatch and stepping up the punishments for crossing the line.

“Effective immediately, we will be issuing increased penalties to players in response to verified reports of bad behavior,” the studio posted. “In Overwatch, that means anything from abusive chat, harassment, in-game spam, match inactivity (being intentionally AFK), and griefing.”

Blizzard encouraged players spotting such activities to make full use of the reporting tools. Those caught engaging in negative behavior will be silenced, suspended, or even banned. The studio said that a reporting system is on its way for the console editions as well.

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Tamriel Infinium: The problem with Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind plot is the twist

I played the Morrowind expansion for Elder Scrolls Online to death when it was sitting on the test server. But oddly, it was a bit more of a struggle to compete on the live servers. Despite this, I believe that Morrowind is a wonderful addition to ESO, and I am looking forward to seeing future content like the Horns of the Reach.

Now that we have all had a couple of months to get through the Morrowind content, I believe that it’s safe to talk about some of the spoilers, especially since the thing that bothered me the most about Morrowind was the main story twist.

This is your warning: Beyond this point, I will probably spoil everything for you. Turn back now and finish the main story for Morrowind or risk being spoiled!

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Citadel: Forged With Fire launches early access today

Those of you who hate long waits and excessive transparency during those waits are getting your wish today, as Citadel: Forged With Fire lumbers into early access on Steam today after surprisingly little preamble. The game will go on sale at noon EDT. Early access is expected to last up to a year, with a formal launch in 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

Should you buy it? Well, it’s early access, and by all accounts it deserves that designation. MMO players should note that while it’s been dubbed a “massive online sandbox RPG,” the servers aren’t currently massive at all. On the other hand? Magic, dragons, and a kickass construction system.

Blue Isle Studios says that the launch patch will contain some big changes; the devs have made structures harder to raid, rebalanced XP from building to stop an exploit, removed chest icons from the map, revamped VOIP, fixed tamed critters, nerfed dragon damage and mana regen, tweaked housing, and solved a number of outstanding bugs.

We took a look at the game in person last week while chatting with the studio’s community manager; that’s down below, along with a roundup of our coverage so far!

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DC Universe Online launches its far-reaching stats revamp

How do stats work in DC Universe Online? Before you answer, know that your answer is probably wrong if it doesn’t take into account today’s large-scale stats revamp patch. Yes, the patch that’s been in testing for half of forever is finally here, changing up every aspect of the game’s stats and powers to enable more diverse builds and make things simpler to understand while offering more options.

Power points are gone, new skill trees exist, and players can now more effectively differentiate between a power-focused build, a weapon-focused build, or a hybrid of the two. There are also new and changed powers across the board, ensuring that everyone has new toys and options to play with. Check out the full notes for all of the details, and log in to start learning how to value points all over again. Or, more accurately, log in once the maintenance downtime is over (it may be a while). Members can also grab a free respec token to go along with the change, since… well, under the circumstances, you’ll probably need it.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 128: Geeks at Disney World

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree talk about a beloved MMO going mobile, the end of Guild Wars 2 (in a manner of speaking), the start of Dark and Light, LARPing at Disney World, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Trove’s Eclipse expansion launches August 22 with dual classing and new map

Back in April while huge catch-up updates were rolling out to Trove on console, Trion teased much more content coming this year for PC and console alike, including sub-classing, club upgrades, mastery rank caps and prize updates, and plasma fishing. Today, the studio’s announced all that is coming in the form of a new expansion called Eclipse — and it’s a lot of what was teased, though not all:

Two New Shadow Tower Floors – Adventurers will come face to face with the imposing Shadow Hydrakken, the dreaded Darknik Dreadnought and the Daughter of the Moon to uncover limited edition treasures, including coveted Moonsilver costumes.
Deeper Class Customization – All Trovians level 10 or higher may now designate a Sub Class to unlock passive skills and stat bonuses.
The Trove Atlas – This fully illustrated map allows players to easily travel between different biomes and embark on far-out adventures.
Gem Forging System – Players can improve existing stats on gems by augmenting them closer to perfection. Undesirable stats can be rerolled into something more useful, and gems discovered after the Eclipse will no longer have the Health Regeneration stat.
Daily Login Bonuses and Events – The Hub’s portal tower has been replaced with a gilded, glimmering, glorious Sun Goddess Statue. Players can log in daily to unlock great rewards through the Boons of a Celestial Paragon, and trade in Daily Login tokens to The Radiant Merchant, the new Radiant Dayspring vendor.”

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Take Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind great house quiz

Stop what you’re doing: There’s an INTERNET QUIZ you haven’t taken yet!

OK, this one is pretty cheesy, but that’s the whole point, right? Elder Scrolls Online has a up an internet quiz that’s supposed to help you determine which of Morrowind’s great houses you’re meant to belong to.

If you don’t know anything about Elder Scrolls, you can do what Eliot did and just blunder along until you’re a Telvanni. Justin somehow ended up with the Ashlanders, that heretic. And I naturally cheated because I knew how to get the only real acceptable result: Hlaalu, of course.

ZeniMax posted a graphic showing the split so far, and it’s actually pretty even, though the Ashlanders are leading the pack. It’s almost like you guys don’t trust the Tribunal or the lying liars of the great houses. Now why would that be.

To the quiz!

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