cosmetic gear

Blade and Soul announces server merges, hypes upcoming patches

Major events are in motion over at Blade and Soul, illuminated by the game’s newest producer’s letter from Jonathan Lien. While Lien spent a few paragraphs touting the team’s progress over the past year, he had a few bombshell announcements that followed.

The first is that server merges are incoming for August 9th. These will impact both North American and European servers, taking the server count down to two for NA and three for EU. Server transfers are scheduled to be taken offline on July 26th, so if you need to move your character for some reason, you’ll want to do it today.

Lien also outlined the game’s upcoming summer updates: “Immediately ahead of us is the new Fortune Falls update. You’ll be able to explore a new event dungeon, where you can snag an awesome swimsuit set and valuable upgrade materials for a limited time! And on the horizon, you’ll be able to explore a new major update named Dark Origins. It’s got two brand new high level raids, a continuation of our story quests, a new dungeon, systems updates, and LOADS of new gear and cosmetics.”

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The Daily Grind: What’s your biggest pet peeve about early access MMOs?

Early access is kind of a garbage system for the vast majority of gamers. Yes, yes, I know, some games and game types just wouldn’t be made without it, and this is probably better than having no options at all. But the whole system is saddled with bullcrap, from unpaid testing and exploits and wipes to scope creep and content cuts and delays and outright abandonment. And, ahem, charging for expansions and housing plots and cosmetics while supposedly still in a test phase. It feels like perpetual amateur hour and I’m sick of it.

And yet for all that, there are a couple of things that really bug me more than anything else, and one of them is putting paid demos out there without female characters, with extra frowny-faces for making female avs a stretch goal. Even if a team says the male character is just a placeholder and that it’s working on the ladies, it still bugs me, as if we’re afterthoughts. Sure, non-transparent, non-early-access games do this (or related sins), but somehow it seems more obnoxious when gals are left out (and men are treated as generic/default) in tandem with the studio asking us for cash upfront.

That’s just one frustration among many, however, and obviously those of you who don’t play primarily women aren’t going to care quite as much as those of us who do. So what’s your biggest pet peeve about early access MMOs?

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Lord of the Rings Online explains the Allegiance system in Mordor

We’re probably not going to blow your mind by saying this, but here it is anyway: Mordor in Lord of the Rings Online is not a friendly place. You’re shocked, obviously. But the point is that you’ll need to have some allies to deal with the problems of that land, and those allies need to know you’re their ally. Hence, the upcoming Allegiances system, a chance for players to improve reputation and standing with one of four factions for cosmetic rewards and unique storylines.

It’s important to note that the four factions (the Hobbits of the Company, Durin’s Folk, the Court of Lothlorien, and the Kingdom of Gondor) will not affect your access to endgame gear, even though the Allegiance system will be tied into the endgame. But your choice is mostly between the four stories you wish to follow and which cosmetic gear you want to access first. Still, much like Merry and Pippin’s oaths of service (which formed the initial concept for this system), it’s going to be important from a narrative standpoint to consider whom your character will bend a knee for.

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Massively Overthinking: Consumer protections in the MMORPG industry

Veteran Massively OP reader Miol says he’s exhausted by a recent string of stories in which MMO companies screw gamers over, one after another: ARK Survival Evolved, Albion Online, Skyforge, and now Black Desert all figure into his list, just from the last week.

“I want to ask what more can gamers do to protect themselves and everyone else as consumers than speak up? It feels exhausting to always stay vigilant and feel upset all the time, since games, as an everchanging medium, give devs so many opportunities to screw us over with every single patch or update. And the worst immediate consequence seems many times a meek apology for what they’ve done, only for them to try out something different that maybe could go over unnoticed.

“You guys have reported about this UK watchdog group ASA, who investigated No Man’s Sky, but even they dismissed the tons of complaints about false advertising. Steam did declare some changes to advertising on their platform, but I still don’t see them taken place. If even those big negative stories don’t have that much of an impact, what hope is there for all the smaller communities, spread thin globally? There was a recent wave of gamers imploring each other to not pre-order, but that ebbed away fast enough, when the next shiny pre-order advantages over other players were presented. But even so, this still can’t protect you from what may happen after the launch!

“As said by Bree many times: Merely quitting won’t help either, as the studio will never know why most of the times. But also sending feedback for nine whole days didn’t help Skyforge players to make its devs to scramble! So what else could we do? Or should we just take rotating shifts to call them out?”

We’ll take the first shift right here in Overthinking.

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EVE Online is killing off the last remnants of walking in stations

Hey remember EVE Online’s walking in stations, the talk of the genre a decade ago? Remember when all we really got was a captain’s quarters where you could finally see your character moving around as more than a flat avatar? Even that is now coming to an end.

In a dev blog this week, CCP says that “development time involved in maintaining the current state of the feature is significantly disproportionate to the number of pilots using the feature,” due largely, we assume, to the fact that the feature was a half-measure to begin with that was never developed further. While usage increased when EVE Online went free-to-play last year, it’s shown “steady decline,” and CCP doesn’t want to devote 4-6 weeks of art team dev time on it any longer.

“It is of course important to note that while use has been falling steadily over time, part of the reason for further decline recently has been a change in the default view that occurs when a character docks in a citadel, which doesn’t offer captain’s quarters and switches the account setting to hangar view,” says the studio.

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The Daily Grind: What kind of MMO achiever are you?

Yesterday’s post on Richard Bartle’s new unplayer matrix got me thinking once again about my quibbles with the original Bartle quotient, which won’t surprise anyone here, least of all Bartle himself, who’s expressed similar sentiments about his early work (and specifically the test it subsequently spawned).

One thing that always bugged me is how your score masked why you picked what you picked — why you do what you do in the game as presented to you. That wouldn’t matter if people treated Bartle’s theories as descriptive, but developers apply them prescriptively (for example, in WildStar) and tailor games to attract achievers, indeed turning most game content into achiever content. As I wrote a few years ago, a player who explores every last inch of a game map would be an explorer in a game without achievements, but in a game like Guild Wars 2, she’s far more likely to be an achiever on a quest for achievement points. An old-school World of Warcraft PvPer was just as likely to PvP for twink gear and titles as for an actual drive to slay other players as a “killer.” And so on.

All of this is to suggest that in a world where most games reward achievers with the best stuff, most of us are achievers. Are you? And if so, what kind of MMO achiever are you — were you born to competition and leaderboards and prestige-acquisition, or do you “achieve” to meet your goals in other parts of the game, like a roleplayer who raids for the best cosmetics?

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The Daily Grind: Do you want to see a Guild Wars 3?

At this point, everybody who cares even a little about Guild Wars 2 knows that it’s getting an expansion later this year; even most of the details have leaked out. But every time we talk about Guild Wars 2 — and indeed, earlier this year when I commemorated Guild Wars 1 — people come out of the woodwork to talk about the franchise in a way most games will never know. Most MMORPGs never get a sequel, after all, and a sequel is often seen as a way for a good game to become even better, a chance to start over and fix mistakes.

I think Guild Wars 2 did that, truthfully — the auction hall, the wardrobe UI, the dye system, and the open world are all huge improvements over classic Guild Wars. But there will always be areas where I think Guild Wars 2 dropped the ball, like cosmetics, heroes, guilds, and endgame. There’s room for improvement, the kind an expansion may or may not ever tackle.

So that leaves me dreaming about a possible Guild Wars 3. Do you think the franchise deserves it? What would you want to see in a third installment?

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Watch Secret World Legends’ official launch trailer

If you’re a The Secret World fan who hadn’t already given Secret Worlds Legends a shot — and given this weekend’s exploits and downtime, we wouldn’t blame you — today is your day to get in there, as the first of the game’s two planned formal launches begins today. (The second, on Steam, is later this summer on July 31st.) Do note that this version of the game is indeed free-to-play.

Funcom has released a new trailer to go with the launch; we’ve tucked that down below. If you’re still on the fence, consider both Larry’s and MJ’s very different first impressions of the game to push you over.

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Secret World Legends’ headstart launches today

Pack up your stuff, The Secret World fans: It’s movin’ day, at least if you don’t care about playing on Steam, as Secret Worlds Legends’ headstart period for veteran The Secret World players and beta testers begins today.

Funcom’s said the headstart hasn’t technically begun just yet — we still don’t know when the flag will drop — but that preloading is underway. [Update: Expect it live at 2 p.m. EDT per Funcom’s latest tweet nope, live at 4 p.m. EDT per Funcom’s latest-latest tweet.]

The studio outlined its legacy transfer system last night; your accounts should already be linked (don’t go making a fresh account) and allow you to reclaim and transfer your patron time, lifetime sub status, cosmetics, mounts, and other bits and bobs. You’ve got until August to take advantage of all that.

Stay tuned for Larry’s impressions and MJ’s stream later today, and in the meantime, check out our roundup of guides, interviews, and news leading up to today.

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Lord of the Rings Online: Mordor reveals key expansion details

The cat is out of the bag, and this year’s Lord of the Rings Online expansion into the long-awaited country of Mordor is going to be called… Mordor. Let that sink in for a minute.

The Standing Stone Games team devoted an hour-long livestream to unveiling key details (but not everything!) about this summer’s expansion, including the following:

  • Mordor will add five regions to the game and increase the level cap by 10 to 115. Crafting will also be increased to 115 and the virtue cap will increase to 20.
  • The expansion is “not going to be easy” but “not discouragingly difficult.” Stay on the main path for easier going!
  • An “ashes” barter system will allow you to buy gear upgrades that haven’t dropped for you yet, curbing RNG frustration.
  • High Elves will have their own starting area and be able to roll every class except Burglar and Beorning. They’ll also have their own racial traits and skills.
  • The allegiance system allows you to pledge your efforts to a race and earn special rewards (including cosmetics). You can work on more than one allegiance, although they get progressively harder the more you do.
  • Legendary items will get new relics and additional legacy tiers.
  • Barbershops will now allow you to modify all of your character’s visual details (but you can’t change your race).
  • The anticipated avatar revamp is going to start with Man and Elves.
  • The expansion will also take players to Erebor (The Hobbit’s Lonely Mountain) for the first time.

You can watch it for the full scoop below!

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E3 2017: ‘Gravity-defying’ LawBreakers releasing this August 8, PC beta on June 28

Hope the start of your summer is calm, peaceful, and orderly, because it’s sure as heck not going to end that way if LawBreakers has anything to say about it.

This “gravity-defying” multiplayer shooter is coming to us courtesy of Nexon on August 8th. The launch date was revealed at this week’s E3 2017, where the team also announced that it would be holding a “Rise Up” PC beta test from June 28th through July 3rd.

LawBreakers will roll out on both PC and PlayStation 4 and retail for $30, unless you want the deluxe edition for 10 bucks more. Players can pre-order the game right now to reserve exclusive character skins.

The key hook of this FPS is the extreme gravity (or lack thereof) situations in its futuristic multiplayer maps. It is rated M, so chances are pretty good that there will be a blood splatter or two during these matches.

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Final Fantasy XIV reveals its upcoming set of Sabotender-themed weaponry

A lot of new things are arriving in Final Fantasy XIV when Stormblood early access kicks off next week on June 16th. New jobs, new levels, new areas, and all of that will be available. But the real question was always going to be about what spectacular new stuff you can buy at the Gold Saucer, and the answer to that question is a set of new weapons themed after the casino’s mascot, Senor Sabotender himself!

These new weapons will be available to purchase and glamour after the 4.0 launch, which means after the end of the current Make it Rain promotional event. However, that also means you can use the event running now to earn up MGP for spending on these weapons in the future, so it’s safe to say they’re at least peripherally connected. Why not get in there and earn a little more money? You could use it to stab your enemies with a cactus, and isn’t that all anyone really wants?

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Wild West Online shows first in-game footage, offers early bird preorder packages

In other games it might be called a founder’s pack, but in Wild West Online, the team is calling it an Early Bird special. No matter what the lingo, the end result is a pre-order bundle that allows players an avenue to secure alpha and beta access, a discounted Steam key, and some extra cosmetics, such as an exclusive horse skin, a gun skin, and a character outfit.

The Early Bird packs range from $20 to $60 and will only be on sale through July 7th. The two higher-priced bundles also contain in-game bonuses such as housing plots and currency.

The team took pains to mention that this offer is only for early testers who want to get in on the ground floor and don’t mind playing an unfinished product. Fortunately, the studio promised “no fuss” refunds up until the second alpha test for anyone who buys a pack and then changes his or her mind: “This gives you a chance to play the alpha yourself and opt-out if you think the game won’t develop into the game you wanted.”

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