first impressions

Otherland formally announces new expansion, Fire Isle, coming this summer

Otherland’s promised summer expansion is definitely happening, according to a press release from Drago this morning. It’s called Fire Isle, it’s themed around Chinese mythology, and it’s launching is summer.

“Fire Isle introduces a brand-new storyline about the legendary Fire Army including a broken nation that focuses on a large scale civil war. Players will meet up with their old friend SweetieCheng to follow her and the true leader of the isle in their quest to bring an end to the war and getting back on track with the ultimate goal – battling the Celestial Dragon. On their upcoming adventure players will cross the unique landscape of Fire Isle seamed by streams of lava and igneous rocks to face many new challenges. With a total of ten new areas and 60 new story-driven quests, Drago Entertainment is extending the storyline by six new chapters, promising hours of exciting entertainment and exploration coming this summer.”

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First impressions of RIFT’s Prime progression server

The best word to describe what was happening on the launch day of RIFT Prime was “surreal.” It was absolutely surreal to see crowds of players running around in the low-level zones, and more than one person made the observation that it felt like the original launch day all over again.

I had to concur. With guilds forming left and right on the new progression server, players scrambling over each other to try to grab quest objectives, and fishing lines as far as the eye could see, it was a sight not seen in the beginning zones of RIFT since March 2011. And also as in 2011, everyone here on this progression server was paying a subscription to be a part of this new, tailored experience.

It’s a weird bird, too. RIFT Prime isn’t exactly vanilla, but it does offer a way to go back to the core game without some of the “fast lane” features (like instant adventures) to zip up through the levels. It strips all players of their extra starting bonuses, save for the special cash shop packs that kind of ruined this pristine level starting field.

It was a good, strong start, at least as far as my limited observations perceived, but what was playing RIFT Prime really like? After a couple of days on this new server ruleset, I have a few thoughts about both the good and bad of RIFT’s stab at a progression shard.

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Otherland will add 15 new quest hubs and 130 quests in May

Drago Entertainment continues to pepper players with plans for Otherland. Today, it’s told Facebook followers that more than 130 new quests are inbound in May, a direct result of player feedback. “While there have always been some side quests in the game, there just weren’t enough to counter the ‘linear quest progression’ argument,” the studio says. “We will be adding 15 areas (quest hubs) with about 6 quests per hub to 8Squared, 4 hubs with 6 quests each for Wood Isle, 3 hubs with 16 quests in total for Water Isle and one hub for Bug World with 5 quests.”

If that lede sounds familiar, it might be because devs were touting adding 120 new quests a few years ago.

Since our first impressions piece of the beta back in 2015, the game has popped up and down on Steam multiple times, emerged from early access, gone free-to-play, died and was resurrected by its original dev studio (with indirect shade thrown at Gamigo), and made it onto our list of the worst-squandered IPs in online gaming. Most recently, Drago has talked up its UI redesign, zone revamps, and “large content expansion” on the way.

We took a relook at the game last summer after its overhaul:

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Flameseeker Chronicles: First impressions of Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for: After a short delay, episode 2 of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season, A Bug in the System, is finally ready to release. It feels as though Daybreak was a lifetime ago after being spoiled for so long with super-fast episodic content drops throughout the Path of Fire story, so I’m delighted to finally get to grips with some new story now. I had a little glimpse at the action two weeks ago in a dev-guided preview and was honestly left jaw-dropped, so it’s been exceptionally difficult waiting for its release to talk about my impressions. The episode is dangerous, political, and impactful, and I am just about hanging onto my seat as I get to see more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll recap on Daybreak’s content for those who haven’t quite caught up before launching into my first impressions of A Bug in the System. I played for around 45 minutes with some key developers and have only had a glimpse at the content, so this article will be a nice teaser for today without spoiling too much more than the trailer does. Having said that, if you would prefer to go in fresh, give this one a skip to avoid potential spoilers until you’ve played yourself.

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First impressions of ‘wizarding world’ MMOARG Maguss

If it weren’t for my promise to write this article, I would have given up on Maguss in less than 15 minutes had I been a consumer.

I understand the game’s in open beta, but from the start it was repeating issues I’ve seen too many times: bad tutorial, terrible UI, and aggressive monetization the likes of which I’ve only heard of in terrible games and dating apps. Like many of you, I grow defensive when seeing industry terms used as shields against bad design when developers (actually) need funding to continue. I’m jaded, I’m suspicious, and I don’t want to be nice or patient about it, especially when my money is on the line. What sounded like a great Pokemon GO challenger left me once again questioning why I bother with video games as a hobby at all.

But then I got past it. I found some things I genuinely liked that were in and functioning (mostly) as advertised. No, I’m not a convert, but I’ve dug through the dirt and found a bit of gold, and if the developer, Mawa, is able to make some changes to the game before really trying to attract a launch playerbase, Niantic may actually have a rival in the location-based alternate reality game genre.

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Taking a tour of the global Monster Hunter World community on PS4

While I’m not nearly the hardcore veteran our illustrious hunter Matt Daniel is, I can at least admit to physically living among the Japanese hunting community. While we both can speak a bit of Japanese, I enjoyed a solid chunk of time playing Monster Hunterface-to-face with Japanese players, plus a smidge of some other MH games being demoed at Japanese game conventions. International communities are certainly different, but what western players (and especially those watching from the sidelines) may not realize is how different the series is in Japan, as it’s largely a portable title that can be played anywhere. Japan’s console market is vastly different and the PC gaming scene is probably as niche as our VR scene.

Monster Hunter World’s Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC announcement was huge since it sent the message that this would be a title aimed at western players, who enjoy the series but not nearly at the same levels as Asian players, who already have two MMO entries in the series. While MHW certainly makes the game feel more accessible for a western audience that doesn’t even have an arcade culture to make public gaming feel normal, I sadly feel like something isn’t clicking with the western Monster Hunter community in the same way the Japanese have taken it.

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Monster Hunter World offers $70K for proof of real-world monsters

Not too shabby there, Capcom: Monster Hunter World has already sold five million copies of the console edition of the game. (The PC version, you’ll recall, won’t launch until later this year.)

In conjunction with the launch, Capcom has apparently partnered with a “real-life monster hunter and Cryptozoologist,” which for some reason merits capitalization, to offer a £50,000 reward (about $70K US) to anyone who can submit “clear new evidence” of specific “monsters.” Sorry, you can’t just submit a particularly monstrous politician; your choices are Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Mongolian death worms, mermaids, the flying snake of Namibia, chupacabras, yeti, earth hounds, Yowie, and the Cornish owlman.

The good news for Capcom is that at least it won’t have to pay out that chunk of change. Let this serve as another reminder of the sort of cognitive deficiencies with which gaming studios believe gamers are saddled.

We delivered a guide to the game as well as our first impressions last week, so don’t miss those if you’re still considering trying the game on console!

Source: Press release, GIbiz


Monster Hunter World hands-on: Our first impressions of the PS4 launch

Hey fellow hunter! Did you also enjoy the Monster Hunter World weekend betas as I did? Wondering if the full version is the same? Well here’s the short answer: Nope! Article finished, time to go back to hunting.

Just kidding! While the release version of the game isn’t the same as what you played, it’s still recognizably a Monster Hunter game. We’ll talk more about the online experience once the game’s been released to the masses for awhile, but a few hours in with a review copy of the launch product have answered some questions and concerns that came up during my beta experience.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2’s Hall of Chains raid wing first impressions

I promised you at the end of last week’s rundown of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season’s launch episode that I’d return this week with a first look at the new raid Hall of Chains and I never want to disappoint! While I haven’t stood toe to toe with each of the raid bosses yet, I’ve been glued to boss kill videos and have been gaining a feel for the fights I’m due to face. I’m delighted to explain my take on the new endgame content and I’m hoping that some of you are joining me in trying it out!

In this week’s Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll discuss each of the new raid bosses briefly and will outline the premise of the encounter mechanics. I won’t spend long outlining very detailed tips and tactics at this stage since I haven’t been hands-on with everything myself yet, though I will furnish you with some tactics guides as I get more experience post-holidays if there’s demand for them. Note that there will be spoilers for those who haven’t tried the content themselves yet, so bear that in mind before reading on. I’ll avoid totally spoilerific images and will hide big lore points behind tags.

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Hands-on with Monster Hunter World’s weekend beta – and how it compares to Dauntless

I won’t lie: The Monster Hunter World beta on console last weekend isn’t going to give you the best sense of the full monster hunting experience. It won’t let you explore the world like Link in Breath of the Wild. And it won’t scratch the full MMO-experience itch.

That being said, as someone who’s played multiple iterations of the series and deeply exploring the gaming genre as a whole, I found that MHW still surprised me with its freshness.

Old dog, new tricks

When I first heard about Dauntless, MH’s closest cognate, I was impressed. Simplifying certain parts of the MH experience for a broader audience sounded like a great idea. The game’s execution experienced at E3 and on my own made me feel like it has a potential audience. However, post-E3 MHW leaks had me geeking out hard. While Dauntless has its own weapon combos, art style, and direction, a lot of the more palatable and streamlined design is going into MHW instead – and it’s launching sooner.

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EverQuesting: First impressions of EverQuest II’s Planes of Prophecy

November: A month of colorful, falling leaves, Thanksgiving… and an EverQuest II expansion! That’s right, the 11th month isn’t allowed to finish up until we have our next serving of Norrathian goodness, and Daybreak delivered it to us on the 28th. Regardless of not yet finishing up the content in previous expansions, I couldn’t not immediately dive in and explore this new piece of EQII! I mean, me, not explore a favorite world? That’s crazy talk! With only two days (and interrupted ones at that!) to peek into and poke around, what did I find in Planes of Prophecy? Here are my first impressions.

Hop on the Plane

Luckily for me, you don’t need to complete the Signature Quest line (or in my case, even start it) in Kunark Ascending to be able to access the new zone, the Plane of Magic. If you are level 100 and own the expansion, all you need to now is how to get there. For that, you could do like I first did and hop from world bell to druid portal to wizard spire to find the way. Alternately, you could read the in-game mail that is delivered to every level 100 that tells you to visit any wizard spire. It makes sense: Travel to a Plane of Magic through a magical wizard portal! Obviously, I immediately jumped in a portal.

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Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR’s Chiss flashpoint

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched update 5.6, which gave us many new quality-of-life changes to the game as well as our first trip into the Chiss Ascendency via the “A traitor among us” storyline. I am in love with many of the additions like the legacy credit storage and the activities window. But I think the casual player would be most interested in the story on Copero. It’s also the part that I’m most unopinionated about. It’s all right and a good addition to the game, but it’s also just kind of average. It’s better than bad – but it’s not excellent BioWare storytelling.

Let’s take a few moments to talk about SWTOR Update 5.6 and all the things in it, then dive into why I think the Copero flashpoint could have used a little bit more polish.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Wrapping up Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire story ahead of season 4

The launch of Guild Wars 2‘s Living World Season 4 will be upon us today, so it’s all the more pressing that I wrap up my Path of Fire story analysis so we can jump into some new impressions as we delve into new story content. I haven’t had hands-on time with the new season prior to launch this time, so we’ll be going straight into a deep dive of the new content next time, but until then I can’t wait to share my closing thoughts on PoF‘s story with you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll wrap up my PoF story impressions and will conclude with some hopes for today’s season launch. This will be a lengthy one, fair reader, so get comfortable for a bumper read! As ever, there will be significant spoilers throughout for anyone who has been living under a rock not finished the PoF story and has missed the new season hype.

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