free to play

‘Free-to-play’ is a term that refers to games that do not have box or download fees associated with them and do not incur a mandatory subscription. Some have optional subscriptions and are more properly referred to as hybrid F2P. Most have cash shops and microtransactions.

Wanna try new MMORPGs? Join the MMO Book Club

Long ago when we were between MMOs, my guild went through several months of playing a new game every week thanks to the magic of free trials. But what if you wanted to do that and don’t already have a guild? In fact, what if you wanted to tour the best available MMORPGs in the modern era but didn’t want to have to find a new guild every time you switched?

That’s where the MMO Book Club can help. Like a real book club, this little Reddit community is selecting a new MMO every three months by popular vote and then heading in en masse, using the experience to discuss the game across Reddit and Discord

The first vote selected Lord of the Rings Online, and the whole thing kicks off on May 1st. The organizers have weekly events planned, including crafting and dungeoning nights.

May we recommend Justin’s recent LOTRO Legendarium: A guide to starting fresh in Lord of the Rings Online?

Source: Reddit

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One Shots: Through the portal?

The other day, Bree was complaining about how so many screenshots from modern MMORPGs suffer from a bland and monochrome palette. Coming to the rescue, then, is our team of expert One Shotters, scouring online games for vibrant looks and colors!

Zulika Mi-Nam kicks us off with this delectable piece of Portal Knights scenery: “The last few days I have been playing Portal Knights. I guess it is like a Stargate/Minecraft combo? It scratches the same itch that EQ Next did for me, not that I was a builder. I just like exploring and some type of progression. This is more combat oriented though.”

How’s that doggy going to get down, Zulika? Throw that dog a bone already!

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LOTRO Legendarium: 10th anniversary interview with Standing Stone’s Rob Ciccolini

As Lord of the Rings Online players revel in the varied activities of this year’s 10th anniversary celebration, the crew at the newly formed Standing Stone Games has a huge task ahead of them: To capitalize upon this monumental milestone and prepare to shuttle players into the “endgame” of the books.

We had the opportunity to sit down with Executive Producer Rob Ciccolini to talk abut the anniversary, its hiccups, and upcoming Mordor expansion. As the page turns on a new chapter of both the game and its development team, it truly feels like we’re about to venture into the unknown in more ways than one.

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EverQuest II delays The Menagerie, grants 3X experience all weekend

EverQuest II players know the game suffered some unanticipated and lengthy downtime this week. Daybreak says it was dealing with “technical issues with [its] servers” and thinks it has those licked, but it’s delaying GU103: The Menagerie (as well as the planned level 100 boost promo) to May 9th all the same.

The good news is that today and tomorrow, the game is making up for all that with a massive experience buff.

“To thank you for your patience and support, we’ll be activating Triple XP (AA, Adventure, Tradeskill) for ALL players and ALL servers starting now. This will run until Sunday, April 30, 2017 at 11:59PM PDT (07:00 UTC),” Daybreak writes. “In addition, we’ll be activating Double Ascension Scrolls starting on Monday, May 1, 2017 at 12:01AM PDT (7:00 UTC). This will run through Sunday, May 7, 2017 at 11:59PM PDT (07:00 UTC).

Have fun!

Source: Official site. Cheers, Katriana and Bhagpuss!

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World of Tanks overhauls its matchmaking system

Calling Patch 9.18 “one of the most significant ever” for World of Tanks, Wargaming overhauled the game’s matchmaking system this week as part of a concerted effort to address some troublesome areas.

So how does this matchmaking overhaul make the game better? “The improved matchmaker assembles teams choosing from a set of server-based algorithms — templates — so that both camps always have the same number of vehicles at the top/middle/bottom of the list. It also limits the number of SPGs per side to 3 at the most and significantly reduces the instances of map duplications.”

In short, fewer unfair matches and more battles in which you’ll have an honest shot at victory. The update also changed SPGs to become long-range artillery support for teams and revised the light tank lines to spread them all of the way to Tier X.

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PSA: The Culling is free to try this weekend

Brutal deathmatch arena game The Culling has temporarily reduced the financial barrier to entry, allowing anyone to try it out for free this weekend.

From now through Sunday, The Culling can be accessed for free through Steam. Additionally, the early access title is 33% off through May 1st, bringing the price down to $16.74.

Changes and adjustments are still being rolled out on a rapid basis to the in-development game, such as the re-introduction of the stagger mechanic while blocking. “The nature of weakness and feeble created scenarios where it was nearly impossible to overcome a HP disadvantage because the weakened player was capable of forcing damage trades,” the devs said. “We want players to have the opportunity to overcome any HP deficit through skillful play — stagger creates that opportunity.”

Source: Steam

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Overwatch hits 30M players, makes Chinese free-to-play test plans

Blizzard has just announced that Overwatch has just counted 30 million players. That’s buyers, mind you, as the game is buy-to-play.

However, a limited free-to-play Overwatch is actually happening, albeit with two caveats: It’s only going to be for the month of May, and it’s only rolling out in China. Blizzard announced that all heroes and all maps will be available for free from May 1st through the 31st in China. The only exception is competitive mode, which will not be available for the F2P crowd. Players can take the game out for a spin and even keep their progress if they purchase the game after that month.

Meanwhile, Overwatch fans who are a little peeved at having to play Heroes of the Storm to earn special skins should be consoled by the word that these skins will eventually come to Overwatch’s lootboxes in the future. Anything else Blizzard can do for you? Fluff your pillow? Tell you a bedtime story? OK then.

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Massively Overthinking: Are MMORPG players a minority in their own genre?

Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.

“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.

“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”

Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Path of Exile issues Patch 3.0 manifesto

Does anyone not get a little excited and cynical when they hear the phrase “game manifesto” these days? It’s such a loaded term, fraught with seriousness and import. And yet sometimes, just sometimes, it can be used to discuss something as seemingly trivial as damage-over-time skills in MMOs.

The Path of Exile team published the first part of its Patch 3.0 “manifesto” series, talking about the design philosophy and changes that will come to the game with this fall’s expansion. And yes, this initial post has to do with the different types of DoT effects and how some will be buffed, some nerfed, and some both buffed and nerfed.

Another significant 3.0 change (now in testing on a server near you!) are some tweaks to the popular Cyclone skill. The improved skill will use pathfinding to move around obstructions so that you don’t have to stop being the Tazmanian Devil. See it below!

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PSA: Champions Online’s freeform slots are half-off

If you haven’t picked up Champions Online as a free player, you might not know that the game restricts unfettered character creation for F2P. Instead, freeloaders are restricted to pre-built archetypes that don’t allow for the fun of mix-and-matching your own vision.

That is, unless you either subscribe or purchase a “freeform” slot unlock for your account. A freeform slot grants the full privileges of slapping your own build together to see how it functions. And while these slots are usually pretty pricey (around $50), right now Champions Online is holding a half-off sale on freeform slots, bringing the tag down to 2,500 zen (around $25).

The sale is running from today through next Thursday. Also, conspiracy theory, is this sale capitalizing on City of Heroes’ anniversary this week? Hmm…

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Revelation Online invites you to visit the Immortal Annex

The Immortal Annex in Revelation Online is a place of boundless learning, a faction devoted simply to studying, researching, learning, and never actually going out to get a job. It’s an undeclared college major’s dream locale, and it’s also the latest spot being highlighted by the game as the place to go. Not just for Rush Week and the weekly keggers, but for huge amounts of untapped knowledge and the usual mechanics of raising your esteem with a faction.

Secret skills are available to those who take the time necessary to really study the lore lining its halls, while the area has attracted several merchants who happily sell powerful gewgaws to anyone with the Annex’s best interests at heart. It’s a neat place to be if you want to learn more, and so perhaps you’re overdue for a trip back to school. And hey, if you’re already in your seventh year of an undeclared major and still think pizza is the ultimate breakfast food, it’ll feel like coming home. Maybe.

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Enter to win a Marvel Heroes Omega founder pack with beta access from Gazillion and MOP

If you were curious about the Marvel Heroes Omega edition out on PlayStation 4 but didn’t want to shell out for a founder pack to buy beta access to what will eventually be a free-to-play title, today’s giveaway is for you! We’ve got five founder codes for our readers. The giveaway, like the ongoing closed beta, is restricted to North America. Read on to enter to win!

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Neverwinter claims 15M registered players across all platforms

Neverwinter has cause for celebration today: PWE has officially announced that the D&D MMORPG has counted over 15 million registered players on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. The game is playable in 110 countries (presumably excepting China, where it sunsetted earlier this year) and has seen 11 large expansiony updates since its formal release in 2013.

That’s up another three million since last autumn, when PWE reported 7 million on PC, 3 million on Xbox One, and 2 million PlayStation 4. It’s been live on PS4 only since July of last year. And yeah, it’s registrations, not actives, but still — that’s a big wide MMORPG audience. Celebratory trailer tucked down below!

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