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See: The Elder Scrolls Online

Xbox One X announces ‘select enhanced titles’ that include many online games

At its pre-Gamescom press conference this Sunday, Microsoft revealed more about its upcoming Xbox One X and its glorious 4K gaming capabilities. As part of the conference, the company listed several games that would benefit from the enhanced performance and power of the console when it arrives this November.

MMO players should take note, because this list contains many games in our sphere of interest. The select enhanced titles include BioWare’s Anthem, ARK: Survival Evolved, Astroneer, Black Desert, Conan Exiles, Dark and Light, Diablo III, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Portal Knights, Roblox, Sea of Thieves, SMITE, State of Decay 2, The Crew 2, Elder Scrolls Online, The Division, Warframe, and World of Tanks.

The Xbox One X boasts six teraflops of processing power, 4K Ultra Blu-Ray, and 12GB GDDR5 graphics memory, and will retail for $500. Interested players can pre-order the Project Scropio edition right now for as long as supplies last.

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Massively Overthinking: Alone together vs. forced grouping in MMORPGs

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone has at some point seen the xkcd called Isolation, but if not, there it is. No matter what the age and era, someone’s always preaching that people were more sociable in the long long ago. In this comic, however, Randall Munroe isn’t even contesting that. His point is basically no duh and so what. Yes, we become less sociable with random people in our immediate vicinity as we gain more and more access to ideas, entertainment, and people not in our immediate vicinity thanks to technology. Ultimately, replacing impromptu stranger interaction with the amusements of our choice appears to be what a lot of people wanted all along.

MMORPG players surely see where I’m going with this because we have the same eternal struggle when it comes to in-game socializing, grouping, community, and stickiness, the tug-of-war between the people who want to play alone together and the people who think that forced grouping is the only true path to enlightenment.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to reflect on the alone together vs. forced grouping spectrum, to talk about where they stand on it, whether that position’s changed through the years, which games are addressing the divide the best, and how the two sides can move forward in a dynamic MMO genre.

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The Stream Team: Exploring Bloodroot Forge in Elder Scrolls Online’s Horns of the Reach

What is lurking in Bloodroot Forge ? Massively OP’s MJ just got ESO’s latest DLC Horns of the Reach and she is eager to explore this new dungeons. She has no idea what she will find there, though. Will it be great glory and rewards, or death and destruction? What monsters will she face? Join us live at 3:00 p.m. as MJ delves into the new dungeon. Perhaps she will even make it out alive!

What: The Elder Scrolls Online
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 3:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 17th, 2017

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Perfect Ten: MMOs obsessed with the floating islands trope

One of the fun things about this hobby is that certain tropes repeat themselves constantly. And they’re usually weirdly specific tropes, too. Poop quests, for example. So many MMOs have one quest or another that make you dealing with poop. Someone has a fixation that is probably not entirely healthy, and that someone keeps getting hired to design quests.

But sometimes you try to come up with a trope that’s so specific that it has to be unique. Or at least rare. “MMOs that feature a zone full of floating islands requiring flight to travel around.” At least one zone, and it is traveled around via flight. That cannot be common, that has to be…

Wait. How did I not only get a full list but actually have to decline some entries? How the heck did this happen? There are this many MMOs using this astonishingly specific trope? How did this happen and why?

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The Elder Scrolls Online’s Horns of the Reach DLC is live

Horns of the Reach is live in The Elder Scrolls Online today as ZeniMax’s first major update since the Morrowind campaign/expansion rolled out in June. As planned, the paid DLC includes two new dungeons (Falkreath Hold and Bloodroot Forge) and plenty of new kit. And even if you don’t pay for the DLC, you’re getting Update 15 for free; it boasts the PvP battlegrounds mode Chaosball and the new Arcane University map.

“The Horns of the Reach two-dungeon pack is now available on PC and Mac, free for all ESO Plus Members, or for purchase via the in-game Crown Store for 1,500 Crowns. Update 15 general improvements are available free for all players, while Battlegrounds additions are free for owners of ESO: Morrowind (Battlegrounds requires ESO: Morrowind). Both will also release for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One adventurers on August 29.”

MOP’s Elder Scrolls columnist Larry Everett has posted his impressions of the Falkreath Hold dungeon following a streamed play session we ran alongside ZeniMax’s Rich Lambert; we’ve tucked that down below so you can decide whether to grab it. Stay tuned for more this week!

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Massively Overthinking: Is the popularity of small-scale co-op games hurting MMORPGs?

Gamasutra has an unusual piece from an Ubisoft developer this week arguing that co-op gameplay is the industry’s rising midcore trend, one that he believes will ultimately outstrip team competitive games. “It’s all about all the big data and stats that are finally available and can be mined,” author Andrii Goncharuk says, “and no surprise that it’s showing that players who played co-op mode have much more play hours, and players who played co-op with friends have even more play hours.”

He may be right, though first you’d have to believe co-op ever went anywhere to begin with (and console players would probably tell you nope!). But as I read the article, I couldn’t help but see MMOs in most of the arguments he’s making about what makes co-op games sticky, and yet MMOs are being edged out all the same. And while I don’t like to think of the MMO genre’s space in the industry as a zero-sum situation, the reality is that when people tire of MMORPG baggage but still want social play, co-op is exactly the sort of game they retreat to.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to reflect on the rise of co-op PvE games outside the MMO label. Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?

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Here’s what an Elder Scrolls Online LEGO set should look like

An official LEGO set for The Elder Scrolls Online will probably never happen — although never say never, because SWTOR totally got its line of products — but at least one fan is doing his best to envision what they would look like.

In a community spotlight piece, ZeniMax gives kudos to Thorsten, a player who took his love of the game and shaped it into LEGO sets. Boasting a large brick collection, an eye for detail, and a dedication to get each scene just right, Thorsten looks for inspiration in the game and then constructs a set around it.

“Over the years (I started playing shortly after the beta) ESO grew very close to me,” Thorsten said. “It was my first real MMO, and I instantly fell in love with the landscapes, clothing styles, and architecture in combination with the lore. It was this combination that made ESO so unique and interesting to me.”

You can check out his constructions — which also include many impressive Harry Potter set pieces — over at Flickr.

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The Elder Scrolls Online is improving quality of life with Update 15

So perhaps you aren’t interested in the newest DLC for The Elder Scrolls Online. Perhaps you suffered some sort of horns-related mishap in your younger days and have an ethical imperative to avoid anything with horns. Regardless, the good news is that there are still base game improvements coming along with Update 15, starting with the ability to improve gear you’re wearing as a crafter rather than unequipping it and crafting half-undressed.

Other improvements include the option to tweak warning indicator colors, the ability to cancel crafting research, an invite history and funding obfuscation for guilds, and similar upgrades. While this part of the patch won’t include all of the new DLC content, it will make going through the existing content that much more fun. You still should probably see someone about that horn phobia, though, that could be a problem.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMORPG for gamers who are sick of raiding?

In the middle of the conversation spawned by yesterday’s financial news that Guild Wars 2 had seen its worst revenue quarter since launch, several of our commenters sidetracked into discussion about raiding in Guild Wars 2 compared to the rest of the genre. One commenter suggested Guild Wars 2 treated non-raiders as second-class citizens (especially given that GW2 was originally sold as a game that eschewed traditional raiding). But the way I see it, pretty much every MMO with raiding treats non-raiders this way, and it’s a huge problem for that whole raid-centric segment of the genre. And Guild Wars 2 is no exception.

Some gamers suggested games without raiding (like Trove), older games with NPC aid (like classic Guild Wars), games with solo raiding (RIFT), and games with difficulty sliders (like City of Heroes). Several commenters offered up MMOs like World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV because they offer plenty of raiding (or raiding-adjacent) content for casuals, which is something GW2 still strangely doesn’t do.

So today’s Daily Grind is two-fold: What’s the best MMORPG for gamers who are sick of raiding period, and which MMORPG-that-has-raiding treats non-raiders the best?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?

A couple of weeks ago, we ran a story on ARK Park that included the image above, which just cracked me up. I mean, I get that VR games have an extra challenge when it comes to how they’re going to display your inventory in a believable and immersive way, but I was figuring that would manifest as a bag you can virtually rifle through, or store shelves at the merchant. I didn’t figure on a 3-D view on a panel within your field of view — it seems like a step backward for immersion.

That got me thinking about what I want out of MMO inventories in general. I’m playing Guild Wars 2 right now, and I have to say that the basic inventory right out of the box with even just a few option tweaks is one of the best in the genre, full stop, thanks to good color coding, a wallet, sorting bags, a “one bag” feature, the automatic compact option, and above all else, that “deposit all materials” clicky. I have to use several mods in top-end MMOs like World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online to get my character inventory to this level, and even then this is just slicker. And that’s before I get to the shared bank and crafting — for me, the ability to craft without hauling crap out of my bank or bag is the number one thing I look for when it comes to MMO inventories (and I’m so glad to see it becoming more and more common!).

How about you? What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?

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The MOP Up: SMITE’s bad news bears (August 6, 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!

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 Villagers and HeroesAionDark and LightPokemon GoGuild Wars 2DefianceWurm OnlineDC Universe OnlineChampions OnlineDark Age of CamelotElder Scrolls OnlineSMITE, and Dota 2, all waiting for you after the break!

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Choose My Adventure: Get out of here, DC Universe Online

So this is an unusual situation for me: I’ve never actually played a game for Choose My Adventure that I’ve disliked this much.

Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that I’ve played some games I didn’t much like before, but that’s different. Lord of the Rings Online and Black Desert, for example, are games that were not my cup of tea but still had obvious merits I could praise. I’ve played games that I dislike or ones that deserved more criticism than praise when I played them (Ryzom, TERA, the beta period of The Elder Scrolls Online), but still had positive sides. (And in the last case, ESO turned itself around quite well and earned plenty of kudos from me.) Heck, I played Scarlet Blade with as open a mind as I could possibly have.

But not so DC Universe Online. No, this game deserves a pretty thorough drubbing. I can understand why it has fans, but it’s still just not a good game. I can only hope it’s an outlier rather than the norm on Daybreak’s overall catalog, because… wow. This is not fun.

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The Elder Scrolls Online is adding a new PvP battleground and a new mode in Update 15

How would you like a new way to take on battlegrounds in The Elder Scrolls Online? The game’s next major update is giving you just that in the form of Chaosball. Despite what it sounds like, this isn’t a mode in which you’re playing some ball-related sport. Instead, you hold on to the eponymous Chaosball to earn points, with the first team to 500 points winning… but the ball also deals damage to you and your team, reduces your defenses and offenses, and can’t be shed once you pick it up. So it should be fun for everyone!

The update is also adding a brand-new battleground in the form of the Arcane University, a larger battleground with narrow streets and height differences to really make things play differently. So if you’ve grown a bit tired of the existing maps and modes, the next update will help you bring a new layer of interest into the game. You can run through academy streets while holding a ball of doom and desperately avoiding other players, for example. You could also check out Larry’s thoughts on the Falkreath’s Hold dungeon if you’re more into the PvE side of things.

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