Hey, remember the MMO Book Club? That’s the Reddit-and-Discord group that allows members to vote on a game to play, then organizes a guild and events inside that game over the allotted time period, ensuring that folks who want to try out an MMORPG have a ready-made community of likeminded casual people who aren’t going to immediately scamper off to greener pastures. You scamperers, you.
To date, the Club has dipped into Lord of the Rings Online (which we streamed!), WildStar, The Elder Scrolls Online, and TERA, the reigning champ. As the group enters its second half-year, it’s opened the voting once again; that takes place in Discord to avoid brigading.
“The shortlist of games you can vote on to play with the Bookclub now are: Guild Wars 2, Secret World Legends, DC Universe Online, EverQuest, RuneScape, ArcheAge, World of Warcraft and TERA.” (Voting for TERA extends the current cycle another month instead of moving the crew to a new game.)
Daybreak has quietly shifted one of the aspects of its free-to-play business model for EverQuest II. In response to a query as to when the studio would be making any previous expansions free as it has done in the past, Daybreak said that it “will not be adding anything further to the F2P lineup.” This means that free players can no longer hold out hoping that they will one day get to enjoy the newer expansions (unless, of course, they pony up for them individually).
While there is a new expansion to anticipate, this particular move doesn’t seem to be in the community’s favor. Massively OP’s MJ recently pontificated on the question of whether or not EverQuest II was in a downward spiral.
Over at EverQuest, things look a little brighter, especially if you’re a subscriber. Daybreak announced that it is handing out free Sarnak skeleton illusions to all members who log into the game between now and October 15th.
I would like to say that when I was a kid playing my first MMORPGs, I was impervious to the grind, that I embraced taking many months to level a skill or hit a level cap. But that would be a lie. I stuck a rock on my keyboard to AFK macro overnight in Ultima Online, and a friend of mine would log into my EverQuest account sometimes while I slept to catch me up in levels. I hated it. I have always hated it. Oh, I’d spend hours per day in those early games, but I wanted to chill with friends, make stuff, run dungeons with people without worrying about level discrepancies and gear and all the obnoxious mechanics designed so transparently to slow me down and make me pay to grind. And I’ve felt this way for 20 years.
This is why a recent tweet of Raph Koster’s, quoting Elder Scrolls Online’s Matt Firor, resonated with me:
“Removing levels as a gameplay factor was the best decision for retention ever made in Elder Scrolls Online.” -Matt Firor
It’s affirmation that I’m not alone: A huge portion of the MMORPG playerbase will pay for content that pushes us together by invalidating level grinds rather than keeps us apart. Is it not time? Can we just be done with the old canard that people “need” leveling make-work to feel achievement or investment in a game, when metrics prove otherwise? Should MMOs get rid of levels?
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Lawbreakers, Hyper Universe, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Pokemon Go, World of Tanks, DC Universe Online, Crossout, Monster Hunter World, Runes of Magic, Atlantica Online, Revelation Online, League of Legends, Crossfire, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Path of Exile, and Dungeon Fighter Online, all waiting for you after the break!
Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Today we have four fresh titles to take a look at.
Gamigo announced Savage Hunt – Dragon’s Prophet this week, the successor to Dragon’s Prophet, which Gamigo is calling “one of the most successful MMORPGs ever launched.” MMORPG players will recall that Daybreak sunsetted the US version of the original game in 2015, though it continued on overseas. The company says the free-to-play title will launch on September 28th in English, German, and French, and yes, you can still “hunt, train, and fight with […] dragons.” Over 600 of them, in fact, though you’ll probably be distracted by “4000 exciting quests and events” and PvP battles. The official site doesn’t appear to be live just yet.
“Savage Hunt – Dragon’s Prophet is the newest release after the long-standing success of Dragon’s Prophet. Discover new and epic adventures and find your own path in Savage Hunt – Dragon’s Prophet. Explore a fantastic world that combines classical MMORPG elements with unique features. Search through forests and mountains for rare dragons, items and always be prepared for the fight. In the new Book of Dragons, you can collect your dragons and plan your journey. Find, hunt and tame over 600 dragons with individual strengths and skills. Only the best hunters and collectors can improve their dragons and items.”
What else have we got?
Unless it mysteriously shutters between now and Monday, Ultima Online is turning 20 next week. Our Game Archaeologist will surely object to an assertion that UO is the first MMORPG to turn 20, but even if you do count pre-MMORPG titles as MMOs or include non-continuous or non-graphical games, UO is still among the very few MMOs to get there alive.
I’ve started thinking about numbers like that in light of Black Desert studio Pearl Abyss’ assertion a few weeks back that online PC games and MMOs have “an extremely long life cycle” on average between 10 and 11 years, implying that PA intends to support its games with those lifespans in mind.
There are a few MMOs coming up on 20 years now other than UO, including classic EverQuest. Alas, others, like Asheron’s Call, were sunsetted before they got close. Consider the MMOs you’re playing now: Which of those MMORPGs have a hope of making it to 20 years?
Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)
Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!
But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.
Are you sad that the original EverQuest is so neglected? If so, you are wrong. It’s not neglected at all. Even if you have zero desire to go jump on one of the game’s progression servers, the game is launching its 24th expansion in December. EverQuest: Ring of Scale will be up for pre-order and beta testing in October, so you only have a little while left before you can start seeing the latest expansion for yourself.
This expansion sends players back to Kunark for new gear, new monsters, new skills, new AA, and more new stuff. Plenty of content for players to plow through as they finish off what was started in the 23rd expansion as the Combine faces its greatest challenge yet. It’s good to see that even years later, new expansions for EverQuest still come out on a regular basis. And that’s not counting plans for more updates to the game’s time-locked progression servers, to boot.
After a summer of dwelling in beginner region bliss, EverQuest II’s newest progression server is taking a step forward into expansions for the first time.
Fallen Gate, a time-locked progression shard that requires a membership to play, opens up Desert of Flames today for everyone to explore. In addition to raising the level cap to 60, the expansion opens up the Island of Ro and the city of Maj’Dul. Desert of Flames originally launched for the MMORPG back in September 2005, so it is fortuitous that this unlock happens on the expansion’s 12th anniversary.
Next up for the Fallen Gate server is the Kingdom of Sky expansion. Players on this server can run heritage quests to earn special items to share with their characters on regular servers. Back in July of this year, Massively OP’s MJ said that she was “falling for” this server and its structure.
Where is Batman? Who will win in the rivalry between the Joker and the Riddler? What’s going on at the Gotham Zoo? What’s really going on with all of these events? Who wants a pizza party? Why do drive-through ATMs have braille instructions? Why can you remember ad jingles from when you were five but not the reason you just walked into the kitchen? Answers to some of these questions can be found when DC Universe Online launches the Riddled With Crime update today.
Server maintenance started at 8:30 a.m. EDT and may run for up to eight hours, but once it’s finished players will have new content to enjoy, ranging from open-world missions all the way up to a new set of raids. So get ready to have the answers to several of these riddles revealed through play, although we can’t help you with the ad jingle one. We’re all wondering about that.
Probably my greatest and most constant gripe about fantasy MMORPGs is that for all of the freedom and imagination that this genre supposedly boasts, game designers keep going to the same boring well of tropes and limit themselves instead of exploring possibilities.
Nowhere do you see this more than in races. Dwarves and Elves? We’ve got bushels and barrels of them, all on sale at discount prices. There are regular humans, of course, and Slightly Bigger Humans, and Half-Sized Humans, and Blue Humans. But what about getting outside of this been-there-played-that cookie cutter design to offer some interesting playable choices?
Like fairies, perhaps?
I could never understand why we don’t see fairies more in MMOs. They are widely recognized in the fantasy genre, they seem to have popularity, and they even share some cross-over with Elves. But the poor fae have been unrepresented, so much so that it took a lot of digging to come up with a mere 10 MMOs that allow you to play as one, whether it be as a race or class. Let’s take a look!
Epic Games announced this morning that Fortnite’s upcoming PvP mode will essentially be free-to-play.
The game was originally touted by Epic as a PvE survival title without direct PvP and has taken heavy criticism over its punishing business model and progression system. Nevertheless, Epic announced earlier this month that its next patch will introduce PvP in the form of a battle royal-style mode, rather upsetting its early buyers. That update is due out on September 26th, and today, the studio’s issued an addendum: While the original “Save the World” PvE part of the game will remain in “paid early access,” the PvP-oriented, 100-man “Fortnite Battle Royale” map will instead be “free for everyone on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Mac.”
PvE players on Reddit, who bought the game in early access when it launched just a few months ago based on its PvE-centricity, are not pleased at all, arguing that it will split the playerbase as well as distract from the original PvE goals of the game. “It’s now a free PvP game with a $40 PvE mode,” one noted. “I continue to be concerned for the state of PvE in this game.” (They may not even be wrong. Just ask H1Z1: Just Survive players how this story goes.)
EverQuest II Producer Lauren “Mooncast” McLemore has penned the September producer’s letter for fans of the franchise. The chief announcement? The game is getting a new expansion called Planes of Prophecy:
“This year we’ll embark on exciting adventures to the planes… and more! You’ll explore the perils and mysteries of the Plane of Magic, the Plane of Innovation, Solusek Ro’s Tower, and the Plane of Disease, just to name a few. Are you ready? The planes await! As you cross to the planes, you’ll encounter many obstacles, not the least of which is the mechanical sentinel in the Plane of Innovation, the Manaetic Behemoth!”
She’s promising more news on the expansion next month, including preorder and beta details, while heralding a Kunark Ascending 50% off sale, a prelude storyline (which is live now), and in-game bonus hoopla.