early access

Kickstarted survival sandbox Planet Nomads hits early access on April 18

Planet Nomads is one of those gorgeous sci-fi multiplayer survival sandboxes that's been kicking around on our Make My MMO list for so long that I'd almost forgotten about it. Not anymore!

"After the 2+ years of caring, cuddling and upbringing, Planet Nomads has finally grown up tall enough to get out there and fight for its future," studio Craneballs (best name ever) says, as the actual "survival" update has this week arrived in the game's alpha, and the early access is now slated for April 18th.

The game originally pulled in $140,000 in Kickstarter funding in early 2016 -- no mean feat the past few years. Another game for our new survival sandbox column, eh?

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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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The Exiled launches Season 2 with a trial extension and a big patch

The second season of The Exiled is arriving, and while that sounds like the preamble to some critically acclaimed drama series starting up again, it's actually a major update for a video game. The Exiled has been in early access for about a month now, and so the second season is arriving to the game with some big shifts, including a new party system for players to group up together and support for the new role of healer. Now you won't just stub your toe and then wait to die!

The 1.1 patch also adds in the diplomacy system, several balance adjustments, and many quality-of-life improvements. New players can now get a free seven-day trial just for downloading the game from Steam, while returning players get two days of free trial status for jumping back in. If you're curious about the game's progress in early access, it seems like the right time to check.

Source: Fairytale Distillery press release, patch notes

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Skyforge soars over to the PS4 on March 28 ahead of formal April 11 launch

When MMO devs give windows like "spring" for launches, we usually figure it'll be the very tail end. Not this time: My.com announced today that when it said Skyforge's PlayStation 4 version was coming in the spring, it really meant soon!

"Developer Allods Team and global publisher My.com happily announce that action MMORPG Skyforge will launch its North American and European server support on March 28th, when the game will go into Early Access. Anyone obtaining one of the Early Adopter packs can get start discovering Immortality and become Legend. The servers open up for the full free to play experience for Playstation 4 players on April 11th."

Pre-registering seems to entitle you to a couple of cosmetic bits, while being a PlayStation Plus subber nets you wings and tats too. Anyone planning to give it a try?

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Eternal Crusade triples daily active users after free-to-play switch

Thanks to this past week's introduction of a free-to-play model, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade saw a massive jump in its player population. The team reports that concurrency doubled practically overnight while daily active users tripled to 44,619.

While this is certainly a cause for celebration among the team, the huge influx of players caused some technical issues that required a weekend of hard work to sort out. There's still more to be done, as some guild services and the world map are being reworked to accommodate the larger crowd.

The team also said that it's making a few adjustments to its Steam offerings, such as bundling together the four DLCs into a single purchasable package. Also: "Steam is working on the giftable version of the game for all players that bought the game before we launched the free version. Apparently, this is not straightforward but we'll figure out something, or an equivalent."

Source: Steam

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Three games you've never heard of: Lothgar Online, Little War Online, Age of Rivals

When I add news to our newsroom for our reporters to pick up, I often add links that just say "such-and-such a game exists" -- because just existing is what's new, or at least new to us. Today, we had three of those, and I'm combining them all for this quick look at three MMOs and orbiting games that you've probably never heard of: Age of Rivals, Lothgar Online, and Little War Online.

Lothgar Online

Lothgar Online (Asylumsoft) launched yesterday. Let me warn you upfront: If you aren't into retro pixel graphics and hardcore gameplay, you probably won't like this MMO. The devs, who are also the folks behind the similarly styled Elderlands, call it an "Online RPG built in a classic style, paying homage to 1980s RPGs," and yes, that means PvP, corpse looting, and attunement in addition to a giant world, guilds, skills, and questing. On the other hand? There's no cash shop either. Old school isn't always a bad thing! (via Reddit)
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Conan Exiles contemplates official server wipes following massive duping exploit

Funcom says it's "weighing its options" following a series of rampant duping and apparent character hacking exploits in Conan Exiles.

Players on Reddit have begun recording the exploits and demanding full wipes of the early access survival sandbox.

"Just killed a player who had several True Names on him, then used one to wipe a vault that was full of them + another vault with thousands - literally thousands - of T3 materials and building pieces," writes one player. "As gamebreaking events go, this is pretty much as bad as it gets short of all character data becoming irrevocably corrupted. If you're not going to wipe after 2-3 days of rampant duping (which has apparently been going on since launch, in some cases) then what DO you wipe for? These servers are completely destroyed now. You're going to lose more people by refusing to wipe than you will by ripping the band-aid off. Please do the right thing, Funcom."

Funcom has responded to the community by saying it's still working out what to do:

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Dark and Light hit with another delay, this time to summer 2017

Dark and Light has been delayed at least until summer -- so says the game's official Chinese website, anyway, which has a lengthy apology to players awaiting the game's release in the US and Europe. "Regrettably, we had to make an extension decision again," Snail writes, telling players to expect beta this summer.

This won't be the first time the game's been delayed, though the chronology is confusing.

In September 2016, the official ChinaJoy trailer declared -- in English -- that the game was "coming soon... this year," meaning fall 2016. The teaser website that same month also claimed the game was on track for 2016.

In November 2016, however, a studio rep admitted that a November release was "not likely."

In December 2016, Snail announced an 2017 early access for the game, with full launch planned for Q4 2017, as if those earlier dates had not been given; we reported it as a delay. (And apparently Snail's Chinese branch also considered that a delay -- note the word "again" in the apology.)

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Global Chat: Fare thee well, Landmark

Believe it or not, there were actually people who played and enjoyed Landmark -- and were saddened to see it taken offline. To kick off this week's roundup of interesting MMO blog posts, we turn to those who knew and remembered Landmark with their words.

"The game, once just a bullet point on the EverQuest Next announcement at SOE Live, has been shut down," The Ancient Gaming Noob said. "The web site and forums have been hidden away and the domain resolves to the Daybreak main page. The few remaining fans have had their final look at the lands of… erm… <does Google search>… Lumeria! That was the name of the place."

Superior Realities took a tour on its last day: "That, really, is what was special about Landmark. You could go to any map, walk in any direction, and in no time flat you’d be sure to find something beautiful, fascinating, or awe-inspiring. The traditional wisdom is that if you give players the tools to make their own content, the vast majority of it will be utter crap, but Landmark was stunning refutation of that notion."

Continue our roundup as bloggers dissect problems with The Secret World's combat system, share tips on how to grind LOTRO points, mull over why it's hard to go back to the "olden days," deliver an early access review of Revelation Online, and pontificate on why theme park MMOs simply work.

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Albion Online AMA on pay-to-win, free trials, and global servers

Sandbox Interactive ran an AMA for its in-development indie MMO Albion Online on Reddit last night, covering everything from the game's business model to how players in far-flung locations fare on its global server. Here are the highlights!

  • There are no plans for a freebie weekend or trial as a result of fairness to founders and botting issues -- as well as performance issues. "The game is extremely well populated as it is, and we'd be worried that free trial could slow down the servers."
  • Likewise, SI will be sticking to its original plan to reward founders with early access, though players have expressed concern over the potential for an ArcheAge-like land-grab.
  • In response to players bringing up pay-to-win and the game's $30 buy-in, SI explained the game's business model is based on EVE Online's and that while players can essentially gain an advantage by buying and then exchanging real-money currency for in-game currency, it won't afford players a guaranteed win. As for the currency exchange, it should be possible to play the market.

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Enter to win a copy of Wild Terra from Juvty and Massively OP

Indie sandbox MMORPG Wild Terra has been in early access since December, a nostalgia-driven medieval sim that allows players to build up settlements (and then tear them down!). Most recently, the game has focused on its Corrupted Lands and crafting.

Developer Juvty Worlds has issued Massively OP 50 keys for the game, worth $15 apiece on Steam, to distribute to our readers. The only caveat is that the game must be available to you on Steam for you to use the key. Read on to enter to win!

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Paragon celebrates a year of early access with a big patch

Has it really been a year since Paragon first went into early access? It certainly has according to the developers, and they would know. By way of celebration, players are being treated to a nice big patch containing all sort of fun toys, starting with a new hero named Yin. She whips things and reflects projectiles, so if that's your thing you should be happy to see her show up.

The game has also adjusted balance on 20 different existing heroes, as well as adjusting several cards and adding a large number of new ones. Players also have access to the new Banner feature, allowing you to show off your sign for kills and tower destruction. Last but not least, there are also a number of promotional giveaways to coincide with the anniversary. You can find out everything from the full patch notes, or you can check out the top-level overview with the video just below.

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The Repopulation is back up and running

It might not have been everyone's ideal scenario, but the fact is that The Repopulation has come back under new management -- and you can access the game once more. The new owners announced that the sci-fi sandbox is now back up and running for previous players (new ones will have to wait until later this month, when the early access will be made purchasable once more). It is also on Steam.

The studio said that there haven't been any significant changes to when we last saw the game in action: "It's important to note that this is still early access, the current server status is identical to how it was before the shut down and it is still in an alpha state. This is to allow all players to play the game again and submit up-to-date bug reports."

Even if the game hasn't changed, the website certainly has. The new owners are revamping the site and have already migrated the old forums as part of this. There is also a Discord channel for Repopulation fans to chat with one another.

Source: Newsletter. Thanks HolyAvengerOne!

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