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The Survivalist: Massively OP's guide to multiplayer survival sandboxes

Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya'll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn't as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.

I'm not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller -- and oft times privately managed -- scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we're going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here's a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
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Leaderboard: The Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind 'chapter vs. DLC' fee debate

In the comments of a Daily Grind last week, a few commenters tangeted into debate about The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind pricing.

See, the original "ESO Plus" deal for ESO subscription holders granted them full access to all future downloadable content (DLC) forever and ever, as long as they were subscribed to the game. Morrowind, however, has been marketed not as DLC but as a "chapter," meaning it will not be subject to the Plus promises, and so everyone will have to pay for it. Grumbling ensued.

"Suppose I paid BMW a monthly fee to drive [BMW] cars," commenter Odin wrote. "I could drive whatever I want as long as I paid. They announce a great new car I want to drive. I cant wait, but they tell me, "This isnt a car; it's an automobile. You have to pay extra.'"

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Eternal Crusade prepares for its free-to-play shift

It is important to note that the official Eternal Crusade line is that the upcoming free-to-play option is not a full conversion to free-to-play, and that's largely accurate. Free players will still be limited in what they can access. But it does mean that you will be able to play the game for free, while those who already have bought the game and are playing not for free get some fun stuff. For example, you get a bunch of in-store credit for the game, all four factional DLC packs, unique Venerable items, and something else as-yet-undisclosed to offer another little bonus.

Free players, of course, will have access to all of these things for purchase separately (aside from Venerable items) and can jump in to fill out the game's queues, so they win as well. This also coincides with another patch to the game trimming up balance issues and outstanding bugs, so whether or not you're already a player or just look to jump in when the game goes free, you can know you're playing the most polished version of the game possible.

Source: Steam

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The Elder Scrolls Online is celebrating the Thieves Guild anniversary (discreetly)

Throwing a party for a guild of thieves generally seems like poor planning for the thieves. So while The Elder Scrolls Online is throwing a one-year anniversary party for the Thieves Guild, it's doing so discreetly. Everything is very hush-hush. (This is different from celebrating it discretely, in which case the party would be very clearly separate from any other parties taking place, making it a worse idea.) If you still haven't gotten in to the Thieves Guild content, for example, you can do so with a 25% discount in the Crown Store for the DLC or you can purchase the CE package at a discount as well.

But what should you do if you're already in the guild? Steal things, duh. Get double the items from crafting nodes in Hew's Bane, more rewards from Heists, double the whiskers from killing bosses in the Maw of Lorkhaj, and doubled rewards from world bosses and delve bosses in the region. It's twice the reward for the same amount of effort! Any good thief would be interested, and you've got until March 20th to enjoy the spoils.

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Mass Effect: Andromeda will have free DLC expansions

Worried about getting bored with Mass Effect: Andromeda's multiplayer component? If it's anything like the previous game in the series, it should be robust, but eventually the maps and abilities will get a bit stale... but much like its predecessor, you can count on getting free DLC periodically to keep the multiplayer feeling fresh. There will be no multiplayer season pass or anything of the sort, either, so you can just jump in and enjoy each new multiplayer update as it happens.

There's no firm announcements on how many multiplayer DLC releases will happen, although Mass Effect 3 had a total of five large multiplayer updates. Players will be able to pick up lockboxes through play or by dropping a couple of dollars, but it won't be mandatory to progress through the game. The game launches on March 21st, with an early trial version available on March 16th including both multiplayer and single-player gameplay.

Source: Gamepsot

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Conan Exiles previews 2017 plans, throws shade on early access abusers

Though it's fun for the broader industry, GDC has been a bit of a dud for our genre for years now. If you're willing to expand your horizons past pure MMORPGs, however, there's plenty of juice. Exhibit A: Funcom's Conan Exiles presence at the show. PC Gamer has a report out today on Funcom's plans for the game, including the clothing and armor dye system (coming this month), mounts and taming, PvE purge events stuffed with iconic Conan NPCs, better thrall micro-management, a lush foresty biome (bring your warmer clothes!), trebuchets that hurl rocks and dead bodies, and a new sewer dungeon.

Funcom's Joel Bylos even sneaked in a dig on unspecified games that launch early access and linger there indefinitely while charging for DLC. Conan, of course, has vowed to launch by this time next year and has promised to avoid paid DLC during early access.

Massively OP will be meeting with Funcom at this weekend's PAX East, so stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, check out the videos below.

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The Division launches free trial with Last Stand DLC

Time to get over your apprehension about dropping money on The Division to see what this apocalyptic shooter is all about. With today's Last Stand DLC pack, Ubisoft is instituting a free trial for anyone curious about the title.

The trial allows you to do anything in the game, but there are a couple of limits: You can't go higher than level 8, and you can't play longer than six hours. Progress in the trial will be carried over into the full game if you wish to purchase it.

There's a lot more going on with the Last Stand expansion than a trial, of course. There's the titular PvP game mode, a new incursion, three additional Dark Zone areas, Dark Zone leaderboards, and legendary difficulty. Check out the DLC and trial trailers below!

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The MOP Up: FFXIV's triple world records (February 26, 2017)

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!

This week we have stories and videos from Dragon Nest 2VaingloryWild TerraHeroes and GeneralsOverwatchArmored WarfareBlade and SoulCloud PiratesPokemon GoEternal CrusadeFinal Fantasy XIV, and Elswordall waiting for you after the break!

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EverQuesting: What I'll do in EverQuest II, 2017 edition

A long time ago, in a spring far, far away (2016 feels that way already), I noted that there is simply too much to do in EverQuest II. So much so, in fact, that it took more than one EverQuesting to try and list them! It's mind-blowing the amount of stuff you can get involved in, from collections to crafting, decorating to dungeoning. And that fact is exactly what has placed me in my current conundrum.

You see, there are many things I still want to do in EQII. So many things. Normally I just play whatever I feel like playing in games, but that doesn't seem to work in this case. I have to admit that when I log into Norrath I sometimes shut down when faced with the sheer volume of what I want to/can delve into. It is honestly too much for me at times. For that reason, I've decided to break with my usual traditions and try a new one: goals. Like with The Secret World, I think that setting some concrete goals will actually help me negate if not avoid the paralysis I often feel when I log in. And by writing them down, I have a handy place to reference them! I think that will be extra useful when I sit staring at my screen unsure of where to start. Even better, I can hopefully finally cross some accomplishments off my to-do list. As the clock ticks down 2017, I'll be working on these goals.

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Elder Scrolls Online: Setting up the Morrowind story

Last week, I trekked out to Baltimore to visit ZeniMax Online Studios and get a first glimpse at Elder Scrolls Online's upcoming chapter/expansion, Morrowind. After all, it's been fifteen years since anyone explored the island of Vvardenfell; it would have been extraordinarily dumb of me to turn down the offer. The press event also afforded me the opportunity to speak personally to the ESO developers, including Game Director Matt Firor and Creative Director Richard Lambert, so believe me, I took advantage of every opportunity that I had to get our readers questions and concerns addressed.

During my visit, Lambert and Firor gave a presentation about Morrowind story, the new Warden class, and battlegrounds. Later this morning, I'll have articles about the Warden and battlegrounds, but in this piece, we're tackling the Morrowind story and what's happening on Vvardenfell some 700 years before The Elder Scrolls III.

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Check out Grim Dawn's new cosmetic system

Online ARPG Grim Dawn has a new NPC on the way this year that'll change how players interact with gear, specifically cosmetic gear: The Illusionist NPC.

"For a modest fee, the Illusionist will transform your gear to look like any other item of the same category," says Crate. "Using proprietary Illusionist mind-meld technology, any item you discover will automatically have its appearance stored. In fact, the first time you launch the expansion, every item you have in your inventory and stash will be automatically added to start your collection. That’s a lot of different looks! To facilitate your soon to be growing collection, we have created a brand new UI that stores and previews all of your appearances, accessible at any Illusionist."

The rules are pretty similar to rules in other MMOs and ARPGs, including the fact that the Illusionst doesn't work for free, and you can't turn a greatsword into a dirk.

The game formally emerged from early access a year ago, having been deemed "feature complete" at the end of 2015, having been successfully Kickstarted to the tune of a half a million bucks back in 2012. Since then, it's pumped out seven content updates, including the Crucible DLC, and has plans for its first big expansion -- including the Illusionist -- by this coming summer.

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ARK: Survival Evolved's Jeremy Stieglitz on Scorched Earth and console launch

ARK: Survival Evolved Co-Founder Jeremy Stieglitz has posted to Reddit an unreleased interview he did for Eurogamer, which apparently won't be published there. In it, he addresses some of the criticisms the game has received, specifically the Scorched Earth expansion -- paid DLC for a game that hasn't technically launched yet.

"We should have messaged it sooner and explained our goals with it before launch, rather than at the last-minute of release. In the long-run though, it’s been good for ARK’s gameplay: the new metagame-expanding feature called 'Cross-ARK Travel' which allows players to dynamically travel their characters, items, & creatures between servers is entirely due to the technical work done for the launch of Scorched Earth, which was the intent: to get our key technical & design systems to support expansion ARKs down the road."

He also says that he was surprised the game ever made back its original $2M budget and that the console launch is a necessity.

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Elder Scrolls Online keeps the hype train going with its producer's letter

Are there any other online games this week than Elder Scrolls Online? It almost doesn't seem like it, what with the title getting ready to unleash its player housing update and the announcement of the Morrowind expansion. And just when you thought you'd have a moment to catch your breath, here comes along ESO's 2017 producer's letter.

In addition to Homestead and Morrowind, ZeniMax promised two more content updates for later this year. One of these will be a dungeon-based DLC while the other will focus more on "content" (non-dungeony content, we presume). The studio said that it will stick to this quarterly update schedule in coming years and that Cyrodiil's performance issues were on the docket to address before the year is up.

While not giving any hard numbers, ZeniMax said that the playerbase is still growing: "Our user base is larger than it was at this point last year, and is thriving."

Source: Elder Scrolls Online. Thanks Don!

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