expansions

World of Warcraft (briefly) shows off the 8.0 expansion in testing

Can we officially declare the next World of Warcraft expansion announced yet? Technically, no. But the game’s beta version testing very briefly turned to 8.0 yesterday, as screenshotted by a quick-moving Reddit user. For those of you unfamiliar with the game’s version numbers, each expansion winds up being another tick up of the main number, and thus Legion is currently 7.3. So seeing 8.0 on the beta test servers means the next expansion is likely already in the early test stages.

This all pans out to line up nicely with the planned expansion announcement at BlizzCon next month and a release in about a year (although whether or not there will be more patches for the current expansion through that year is more ambiguous). As for what the expansion will be about… well, there are tons of rumors and leaks already, but we’re going to go ahead and bet that it’s all about herding animals. Sure, it’s almost certainly wrong, but imagine how cool it would be if that’s correct.

Source: Reddit via MMORPG

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Yes, you can still use artifact appearances in future World of Warcraft expansions

The bankers in Stormwind have seen some stuff, man. You can just see them chilling on their lunch breaks talking about how the Ashbringer used to be whispered in legends, but now banks are just clogged with Ashbringers. That’s the way the World of Warcraft turns, though, and the good news is that you won’t have to stop looking like you’re swinging around Ashbringer or any other artifact weapon once the next expansion rolls around. Yes, you can transmog that slightly better green weapon to look like a mythical artifact, why not?

Of course, the flip side is whether or not you can even obtain the appearance, and the answer to that is also an affirmative… with two caveats. If you’re hoping to obtain the Mythic keystone appearance or the Mage Tower appearances, unlock those before the next expansion comes out; those will be going away once you can make the challenge trivial. If you’re hoping to just have the normal artifact appearance, though? Don’t fret, it’ll still be there with the next expansion, and on through the next one beyond that.

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World of Warcraft confirms a next expansion reveal at BlizzCon in new video

Let’s be fair, World of Warcraft’s recap of 2017 doesn’t outright say that the game’s next expansion will be revealed at BlizzCon. But if you don’t want to take a trip down memory lane, that’s the big takeaway from the very end of the video, that this year’s convention will discuss where the game can possibly go after facing off against the Burning Legion. So you can expect an expansion reveal.

Of course, if you would like to take a trip down memory lane, that’s what the whole video is all about. So go ahead and take a trip back from the opening of the Nighthold to the most recent patch depositing players on Argus and everything in-between, narrated by Ion Hazzikostas discussing each major milestone and what it meant for the game as a whole. And, obviously, keep your eyes peeled for that reveal next month.

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The Daily Grind: What would an old MMO have to do to win you back?

Something odd hit me recently. As I was sitting and planning my MMO play schedules, I realized that whatever announcements about expansions we get from World of Warcraft, I’m really not sure if I’ll go back. I only went back for Legion for very specific reasons after Warlords of Draenor really failed to impress, and looking at it now… boy, I don’t know what the developers could do to win me over.

Well, no, that’s not true; I know exactly what they could do. A full housing system in multiple locations, better character customization, no level cap bump, continued artifact weapons, reintroducing more esoteric systems… I’ve got a whole list. So the problem is less that I don’t know what could win me back and more that I don’t expect it will actually happen.

This is not, in and of itself, unique. I think we’ve all got a game or two on our lists that we still have fond memories of, but we’re not going to play it again unless something happens which, let’s face it, isn’t going to happen. So do share, dear readers. What would an old MMO have to do to win you back, and are you pretty certain that’s never going to happen?

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Here’s what’s changed since you last played Guild Wars 2, including Path of Fire’s spec changes

Hey, there’s a Guild Wars 2 expansion coming: Path of Fire. Maybe you’re coming back for that. Maybe you left the game only a few months back, or maybe you played the game at launch and then left a long time ago. Why not take advantage of a huge chart to catch up on all the features that have changed since the last time you logged in?

Redditor KyrgyzManas lays out everything that’s been added to the game along the way and everything you might have missed along the path, color coded and blocked by year. Some things, of course, you just can’t catch up on, but at least this way you’ll have some idea of what you missed and what you can still see in action. Even if you’ve played straight, there’s bound to be something you forgot and can re-appreciate given the format.

Meanwhile, if you last played Guild Wars 2 during the Path of Fire preview weekends, you’ll have some catching up to do too. That’s because ArenaNet posted notes for some balancing changes to all of the new specs right ahead of the launch tomorrow, sending Reddit into a bit of an uproar, particularly Necromancers.

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Classic EverQuest’s 24th expansion, Ring of Scale, is set to launch in December

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.

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Guild Wars 2 is running another Path of Fire stress test on Thursday

Quick show of hands, who in the audience would like to break the Guild Wars 2 servers? Well, that’s… that’s a lot of hands, and… is that someone with a hammer? That’s not what we meant! It’s a stress test, dude, a test designed to break the servers by overwhelming them and seeing how they perform under load. It’s ahead of the Path of Fire launch, get it?

Put the hammer away; I don’t care how much a hammer will put stress on a hard drive. Don’t be a jerk.

For those of you who know what a stress test is, unlike Smashy McBreakstuff over here, you can start in as long as you have a valid GW2 account at 3:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, September 7th. The test should run for about two hours, so if you’re not going to be available at the time, think of it less as a preview opportunity and more as… well, a stress test. Exactly what it is, in other words. Bug reports are welcome, but you should expect the servers to be a little stressed.

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Guild Wars 2 kicks off a week of mounts and a month of weapons

Are you ready to ride around in style when Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire rolls around? Of course you are; Tyria is filled with animals that are large enough to ride on, players have been waiting to ride on them for half of forever. So it seems only fitting that this week has been officially designated as Mount Week, with several mount-related streams and developer diaries planned to let you know all there is to know about riding things around. The alternative is walking everywhere on your own two legs. Like an animal.

Not really into the whole mounting scene? That’s all right; perhaps you’d be more interested in the designing a weapon scene with the new Design-a-Weapon contest. It’s exactly what it sounds like – you come up with a weapon design that you would love to see in the game, and the community votes on the finalist designs to add a new look to the existing set of weapon designs. Or perhaps you’d like both. Ride around in style with your own custom weapon at your hip! It’s the best of all worlds.

In other Guild Wars 2 news, the team is running an anniversary stream this afternoon at 3 p.m.; you can watch the whole shebang below.

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Wisdom of Nym: Four years since Final Fantasy XIV’s relaunch

I find it kind of wild to think that when I wrote my last Final Fantasy XIV anniversary column, we hadn’t yet actually heard of Stormblood yet. Obviously we did hear about it a couple of months later and it’s dominated the discussion cycle since then, but we were still just speculating about the game’s second expansion when we hit the three-year mark. Now it’s here and we’re all looking to its first major patch. So by most metrics anyone would care to use, things are going well.

What was once shocking or surprising has now become mundane, and what was unexpected is now the most expected thing in the world. Another expansion is going to come out in a little under two years, we’re going to get more reliably paced patches, the game is going to continue on as it has to this point. Is there nothing interesting to say about all of that?

Of course there is.

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Wisdom of Nym: Why does Final Fantasy XIV feel so much better now?

It took me a very long time to cap out everything in Final Fantasy XIV when Heavensward was current. Until the moogle questline was introduced, my crafting jobs languished pretty badly. I could have gotten more materials and worked on them, but some of that required leather, and since my options were farming that myself or sending out retainers on ventures… well, that meant leveling Warrior, I didn’t want to bother, it didn’t happen. It took a long time.

By contrast, right now with Stormblood, I’m already halfway done with the leveling of combat jobs. My overall goal of leveling everything to 70 plus all of my alts should be done by mid-November. I know that later today, I’m going to be getting at least two more levels, maybe more, and I’m well on my way to my goals. And I’m not bored or putting in the time, I’m excited.

I’ve seen this sentiment going around from other people, too. There’s a general sense that leveling and just playing is much more fun with Stormblood. So what’s the difference? Why is it that now leveling up seems like less of a chore, when the usual methods of leveling quickly (FATE trains) have basically dried up to nothing?

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Path of Exile thanks everyone for the Fall of Oriath

Fans of Path of Exile are enjoying The Fall of Oriath expansion now. Anecdotal evidence might not be admissible in court, but fans seem happy. And so the next step for the development team is… not to roll around in piles of money, but to thank people. To thank everyone involved with the game, in fact.

Did you work on the game’s customer support or development teams? You deserve thanks. Responsible for back-end server maintenance or external processing services? You also deserve thanks. Heck, even if you’re just a fan eagerly clamoring for the expansion and looking forward to playing it, you deserve thanks. It’s a nice message to see, a hearty “thank you” to everyone who’s made this expansion successful in their own ways. Feel free to check out MJ’s stream below if you’d like to see how it plays before jumping in yourself.

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Mike O’Brien announces Mike Zadorojny as lead designer for the second Guild Wars 2 expansion

We’ve reached the end of the third season of Guild Wars 2’s story, and now… what comes next? A new expansion, we all know that. If you’ve forgotten, that’s being announced on August 1st, so you have a bit longer until you find out about it; until then, you can rest with some assurance knowing that Mike Zadorojny is the lead designer on the second expansion. This was announced as part of a lengthy letter from current director Mike O’Brien recapping the game up to this point and where the studio sees it heading in the future.

O’Brien’s letter is largely positive, expressing a sentiment that the game has hit a good balance with this season of the Living World and its content releases. Others are slightly less positive, pointing to Heart of Thorns as something of a blunder and the game subsequently struggling to find its footing and deliver the sort of content players were expecting. So it remains to be seen what sort of reveal will be coming on August 1st, but we can bet money that it’ll be significant. (And will probably line up perfectly with the mountain of leaks about masteries, areas, titles, and everything else, but we’ll just pretend those don’t exist.)

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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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