It’s really hard for me to not to gush hard about Sea of Thieves. I know many out there won’t agree, and it’s easy to say why, especially for RPG and theme park fans. It also may be because I’m late to the party, as the game came out while I was at GDC. That being said, Massively OP doesn’t do ratings because we expect the games we cover to evolve, but we do post impressions and hands-on coverage, and as I’ve played the game before and after it’s latest patch, I figure it’s time to lay out some judgments. Don’t worry, we’ll run through the game’s grimy pockets before looking at its actual treasure!
It’s finally time for me talk about Project Gorgon as a released product. As you might have guessed, I was avoiding the game prior to launch. I’ve spoken out against early access a lot and have realized that, at this point in my gaming/career, playing games I’m passionate too early can be a threat to both work and play. I wanted a relationship with PG, but I didn’t want to rush into anything pre-release. I wanted it as complete as possible.
MJ’s streamed it a bunch of times, including the day before launch. Eliot’s comments from his pre-release CMA feel spot on still post-release. However, as the resident old-man Asheron’s Call fan with a review copy, I think I can add a few comments about how Project Gorgon compares to AC1&2, plus how developer Eric Heimburg’s infused PG in AC-esque ways.
By the time you read this dear reader, I’ll already be dead… dead tired, that is, from running around the Game Developer’s Conference talking to developers from such companies as Snail Games about upcoming games like ARK Park. Ahead of my meeting about the game, I was granted a review copy so I could get some time in with the real thing before my interview and end of the media embargo. As my Oculus Rift set-up isn’t exactly travel-friendly, and I can be prone to motion sickness, I only had enough time to jump into the game for a few scant hours. It was an interesting experience, since the game wasn’t simultaneously available to the public, and that meant I was probably missing out on the critical social factor for my impressions. Nevertheless, I think they’re worth hashing out. Let’s dig in.
Show of hands, readers: How many of you have had great fun dealing with corpse runs, trying to retrieve your gear from the spot where you died using substitute gear that’s less useful than the stuff that couldn’t keep you alive the first time? Those of you who raise your hands will be happy to know that Saga of Lucimia is going to feature all of the corpse runs you could hope for, sending you trundling into the dungeon in the desperate hopes of retrieving your body and your gear after you die. But since there are no levels, you won’t lose experience points.
Of course, you have chances to get picked up before then; hopefully one of your friends will revive you from where you fell (since you probably aren’t traveling along anyway) and you can always ask friends to help recover your body without forcing you to respawn. There’s also talk about having other stopgap solutions like in-game goblins willing to drag your body into more accessible areas for a hefty price. Still, the long and short of it is that you should expect to have death mean some pretty inconvenient runs back to your body.
We’re now about four months away from the five-year mark on that vision, and many parts of it have now been completed, but no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. We’ve seen some big feature drops such as the release of citadels, the industry overhaul, and the recent moon mining overhaul, but that deep space colonisation gameplay still seems far off. Some players feel as if EVE is currently in a holding pattern, with everyone waiting for the next big feature or overhauls to their favourite part of the game before deciding what to do next. So what does come next?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the progress toward Nordgren’s 5 year vision so far and talk about the possible next steps I think CCP could take to make it a reality.
Cast your mind back to 2015 and see if you can recall an odd MMO launching on PC and PlayStation 4 called Wander. It was notable for being a non-combat game that focused on exploration and had you roaming about as a giant tree (at least part of the time). It was also notable for being called the “worst PlayStation 4 game ever.”
It was pretty obvious that Wander wasn’t going to be even a mild success by that fall, and the studio stopped issuing patches and updates for the game in September 2015. The last Twitter message from the company was in late 2015, saying that there was another update in the works.
The deathknell for the game came in last month, when it was delisted from Steam, as Endgame Variable noticed: “Sorry to say we are now removing Wander from sale. We would have liked to switch it to be free, but alas our agreement with CryTek for use of the CryEngine will not allow that. Thanks to all Wanders and sorry.”
When September rolls around, island makers in Worlds Adrift will have more options for building a truly unique experience for players. The first island creator update has been previewed on the official site, and it includes things like turrets with various functions and surfaces which can’t be climbed, making navigation that much more difficult. You can even check out a gauntlet made with these new tools in the video just below.
Fortunately for those looking to explore your creations, you will also have more opportunities to test out the islands you make with a tester pistol that can be used to gun down turrets and the like. The game has also opened its doors to players around the world, with the caveat that its servers are still located in the EU and the USA and the game isn’t being localized for worldwide versions at this time. Still, if you speak the language and want to get in on the island-building action, you’ll have the option.
Last week, No Man’s Sky patched in the option to build rovers for quickly traversing the landscape. That’s just a good thing, right? After all, it means that you could hop from place to place without having to use up fuel on your ship. Except that for some reason, the geobays required for these rovers could only be built on your home planet, meaning that you couldn’t use them at all on any new world you discovered. In other words, a great new tool for exploring strange new worlds could not be used to explore strange new worlds.
Whether this was an accident or an oversight is unclear, but either way, it’s been changed now. Players can now build geobays on new worlds, meaning you can hop in and start exploring with faster movement wherever you wind up. Or you can just put on an appropriate soundtrack and start crushing the local wildlife underneath your exploratory vehicle’s wheels. It’s all up to you, it’s your playground.
The EVE Online community was a little surprised this week by what appeared to be the accidental early reveal of the feature list for this summer’s update. Someone noticed that the official EVE Updates page had a new “summer” section filled with details of upcoming features but with placeholder images attached. The page disappeared shortly thereafter, but not before someone snapped a screenshot of it and published it to Reddit. CCP Falcon tweeted that this wasn’t a leak but that “a few cards were published early without images” and they’ll be re-published properly on Monday. This hasn’t stopped the EVE community and bloggers from speculating heavily on the content of the early reveal, and I must admit that I can’t resist doing the same.
The summer update comes ahead of the Drilling Platforms discussed in my previous article, but it looks like part of the impending resource-gathering revolution is coming early in the form of a complete re-design of the mechanics behind asteroid belts. Strategic cruisers will also be getting a significant balance pass across the board, and the recently announced Exoplanet search minigame will be coming to Project Discovery. The update also includes graphical overhauls for several space station types, redesigns of the Vexor and Ishtar drone ships, new explosion graphics, and improvements to the new player experience. Outside the game, we’ll be getting all-new forums boasting new features for sharing and engagement, and a chat system that keeps going even when the server is offline.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into a few of these early reveals and speculate on what they might mean for EVE. Is a total mining overhaul coming earlier than expected, and could we get EVE chat on our phones?
So at the risk of being dinged for spoiling the current World of Warcraft expansion, let me say this: Azeroth is not going to be destroyed or completely overtaken by the Burning Legion. That’s a given. The threat certainly feels real, and I hope more than anything that when our victory comes it feels like a natural outgrowth of the story rather than an arbitrary “well, the story says you win right now so the Burning Legion just got dumb,” but it’s pretty much a given that we’re going to win out in the end. The basic premise of the game doesn’t work otherwise.
The question, of course, is where we go next.
A lot of people have been speculating whether Legion is meant to be the final expansion for the game for precisely that reason, and while I think that’s obviously wrong on the face of it (it’d be silly to turn down that money, after all), the point stands that from a narrative perspective, this is it. This is the big confrontation that has been built up since Warcraft III, and if you have no doubt that there will be a next expansion, it still raises the question of “where does it go?”
Let’s explore the possibilities.
No human being has ever flown to Saturn. The logistics of a manned mission out that far into space are just not realistic at this point; the closest we’ve gotten is the Cassini mission that arrived in 2004. But one NASA worker is gratified to have gotten a little closer to the experience with the help of Elite: Dangerous and its modeling of planetary rings around Saturn-like planets.
A post on Reddit details the observations made by the NASA player with an appreciative tone toward Frontier’s careful modeling of the ice within the ring and the satellites around the planets. If anyone knows what these things ought to look like, it’s someone whose job involved handling the probe exploring the reaches of our own solar system. So if you’ve ever been out in deep space and wondered how close it would be to the real thing, the answer is pretty darn close. Except for the part where you’re sealed in a tin can surrounded by hard vacuum, anyhow.
To quote Douglas Adams, space is big. Really big. How in the world are you going to explore all of it, even in a game like Elite: Dangerous? It turns out that a math error helps in that particular goal, as the game’s next update contains a number of plumes rising from white dwarf stars and neutron stars which boost player jump distance. The intent was a 25% increase in jump distance, but a slight error in math has resulted in… more. Closer to a 300% increase in jump distance.
The result has been players hitting the “ceiling” of the game world and enjoying the ability to travel far beyond the boundaries intended to be in place, resulting in some astonishing journeys to points more than a thousand light years removed from the Milky Way. While players are aware it’s an error, there have been many calls to keep the error in place for its sheer fun value, and it has remained unchanged on the test server for the time being. So… who wants to go for a trip?
The biggest difference is that No Man’s Sky is an almost isolating singleplayer experience while EVE thrives on grand social gameplay. EVE‘s core design philosophy is to put thousands of players in a small box with limited resources and see what happens, but No Man’s Sky has a box of practically infinite size and no real resource scarcity or multiplayer interaction. Despite these huge differences, there are definite lessons that each game can learn from the other: No Man’s Sky could learn from EVE‘s hardcore difficulty and security rating system, and No Man’s Sky can teach EVE about the potential of untethered deep space exploration.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I compare the procedural generation used in EVE Online and No Man’s Sky and look at some of the game design lessons each game can learn from its counterpart.