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Shroud of the Avatar previews clockwork critters and virtue shrine system

Hope you like clockwork critters because Shroud of the Avatar is about to get a slew of them. The game's latest newsletter shows off such beasties as the clockwork attack cat, clockwork attack raven, and the assassin automaton, all part of the clockwork menagerie that'll be inflicted on players in K'rul thanks to those craft kobolds.

Of note to fans of Old Britannia and the original Ultima games is the upcoming town blessing system, which is basically a clone of Richard Garriott's classic virtue shrine system. Each shrine -- I mean, devotional -- is based on one of the core virtues and principles and grants a buff accordingly. For example, the Justice devotional reduces your fizzle chance and buffs your cooking skill. Good food is justice.

There's much more to the newsletter, including another look at the gloriously crumbly and moss-drenched Rhun ruins and some gorgeous screenshots, which we've tucked below.

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One Shots: I am no man!

The big screenshot challenge last week was to capture action, not just still shots, in MMORPGs. This is tricker than it sounds, because you have to be quick with the screenshot key and manipulate the camera just right to get the perfect picture. It is easier to do this with other characters, obviously, including those in cutscenes.

Borghive gets headlining honors with his "final showdown" between the Witch King and Éowyn from Lord of the Rings Online. She looks a little outmatched, what with being smaller and having an actual head, but I think she's going to come out just fine. After all, she is no man.

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Edengrad starts players down the Lost Highway

When you first step into the wasteland of Edengrad, you'll be treated to the classic post-apocalyptic experience of trekking through a dry and mostly abandoned American southwest desert. That isn't to say that it will be devoid of interesting sights and locales, however.

The devs shared some pictures from the Lost Highway and talked about how they worked to make this beginner zone more interesting than dull: "The Lost Highway is the first location seen by players after leaving the vaults. The desert, mostly based on Arizona’s Monument Valley, is in many places interlaced with rock formations [...] On the one hand, we did our best to present Arizona’s climate as realistically as possible. On the other hand, we wanted to fill the world with interesting locations so the player wouldn’t get bored while wandering through endless grasslands."

Check out some of the vistas you'll be seeing on the Lost Highway below:

Source: Edengrad. Thanks Kinya!

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Here's what's in Neverwinter's Cloaked Ascendancy lockboxes

One of the many content chunks and upgrades landing in Neverwinter when Cloaked Ascendancy launches next week is... lockboxes. In fact, PWE put out a new dev blog today on the Many-Starred Lockbox landing on February 21st, taking a page out of Star Wars: The Old Republic's dog-eared playbook.

Potentially in the lockbox for those who buy keys? The Arcane Whirlwinds legendary mount, the multi-spell Tome of Ascendance, and a number of packs tailored to mounts, artifact equipment, artifacts, companions, enchantments, and costumes, some of which are shown in the gallery below.

But whom are we kidding -- you're never gonna get these.

Further reading: Andrew's piece on gambling vs. gaming, Larry's ideas for making lockboxes suck less, and this article telling us to get over them.

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Chaos Theory: The Secret World predictions 2016 vs 2017

It's no secret that The Secret World had a rough year in 2016. I just really wish I could say differently. And it's especially sad because I had such hopes for my favorite game. Granted, I knew it wasn't going to miraculously get the funding and staff to give me all the story and things my heart so desired, but I did anticipate a bit more than what we actually got. When 2016 dawned, I pieced together our available clues to try and draw a map of where the year was going. A cartographer I apparently am not, and Google maps won't be hiring me anytime soon. Perhaps for this year I shall consult with the Magic Eight ball? Here's a look at the scorecard for my 2016 predictions, and a modest list of 2017 hopes, dreams, and predicted happenings. (We'll just have to wait to see how those ultimately pan out!).

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Kuzenbo, King of the Kappa, joins SMITE's roster today

Live in SMITE this very day is... OK, you know what, before we do this, let me just head off all Kappa jokes. Get it out of your system. OK. Kuzenbo, King of the Kappa -- the kappa of Japanese folklore, darnit, this is a real thing! Well not a real thing, but you know what I mean! -- is rolling out to SMITE PC players today. Kuzenbo's mechanics revolve around his head-bound water bowl, shell spikes, slams, and an epic ult called Watery Grave, which is as creepy as it sounds: "Kuzenbo pulls himself inwards under his shell and spins, summoning fierce currents that knock Enemies back, increase his Movement Speed, and allow him to move freely in all directions."

There's much more to the 4.2 patch, including Valentine's Day sales, the Clash map overhaul, and new skins, so check out the vids and pics below!

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Star Trek Online brings Agents of Yesterday to consoles

The original Star Trek series has come to consoles with the latest update to Star Trek Online. Sure, you could always stream the original series with Netflix, but why not jump into Agents of Yesterday? The expansion goes live today, giving players who prefer to play from the couch the option of creating a captain from the old-school Federation and trek along in the warp signature of Captain James T. Kirk.

PC players have already gotten to experience this expansion and everything it has to offer, so if you've already been playing on your desktop, the experience will be rather familiar. If not, however, you've got new missions, a new specialization, new ships, and all sorts of other fun things to explore bridging the past (our future) and the present (also our future, just further in the future). Check out some screenshots down below and get your consoles patching.

Of course, do note that the maintenance is currently being extended for some time, so... don't be in too much of a rush to get that patching started.

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Shroud of the Avatar's Kobolds are high-tech marvels

Kobolds don't have the best reputation in most RPGs, usually taking the role of a low-level, non-threatening mob that you vaguely feel sorry for when you kill and pillage its corpse. In Shroud of the Avatar, however, the City Kobolds actually have an advantage in technological development.

The team gave these Kobolds the spotlight in last weekend's newsletter: "They are much more advanced than anyone else in Novia and the source of almost all of the technology that you see in the game, including clockwork creatures and aether vibration amplifiers. City Kobolds use advanced armor and weaponry including chainswords, electric axes, gas guns, electric blunderbusses, grenades, etc."

In other news, SotA will be introducing item "patterns" in Release 39 that will allow players to change the appearance of items while retaining the stats associated with (yes, it's transmog). The team also showed the development of several regions: Upper Fortus, Rhun Ruins, and K'rawl.

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Neverwinter's Cloaked Ascendancy introduces new randomized skirmish, weapon sets

When Neverwinter's Cloaked Ascendancy expansion launches on February 21st, players are heading into the city itself to defend it from onslaught. And one of the chunks of content infesting the River District is the Illusionist's Gambit skirmish, a randomized sewer dungeon.

"Our goal with this skirmish was to deliver an experience that was fun both on the first play through and on the twentieth. We’ve put in lots of random obstacles that can be combined together to create new experiences each time," explains Content Designer Sean McCann (yes, that Sean McCann). "Sometimes the floor will become ice, other times enemies will explode, and sometimes you’ll be randomly turned into a chicken, and that could all happen at once! We have several hazards and modifiers that can be combined together in different ways on each play through to help keep runs feeling fresh and exciting."

And what will you be getting in return for risking your life in the River District? Loot, and lots of it. According to a second dev blog, PWE is rolling out four new weapon sets that won't invalidate Relic weapons from the previous expansion.

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Em8er steps gingerly across its fire and ice tiles

Virtual landsapes are made up of thousands of tiles that are shaped and forged into landmarks and obstacles. The first steps to making Em8er's alien world are complete, as the art team has produced some ground tiles to use in the making of the zones.

"Em-8ER is a icy/volcanic world. Volcanoes with lava flows exist next to freezing snow and ice. The idea was inspired by the moon Io, which orbits Jupiter, and the fire and ice terrain of Iceland and part of Russia," the team posted. "To create the look, we first had to create some terrain textures that would let us have snow, ice, volcanic rock, lava and snow/rock combinations."

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One Shots: The power of pink hair

Wherever there is trouble, Manastu Utakata will be there to fight it with her lightning-fast screenshot button and trademark pink hair. Villains, start running right now! The pink is coming for you and it will never, ever give up until you are six feet under the ground (in your hidey hole, shaking in your boots because you never saw it coming).

Pink: It's what's for winners.

As we rebuild our One Shots catalogue from the ruins of Livefyre, let us be blinded by the neon colors of WildStar and dye all of our hair pink in honor of a certain famous pig-tailed commenter.

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Nexon Q4 2016 financials down slightly QoQ and YoY, 2017 LawBreakers launch planned

Nexon released its Q4 2016 and full-year 2016 financial results today, painting a mixed picture for the quarter and year: Revenues are down slightly year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter, but the company's portfolio performed better than expected all the same thanks to "robust performance of key titles primarily in China and Korea" and depreciation of the Yen.

Of note for the western market is plenty more content on the way for 2003 MMO MapleStory, a 2017 launch for LawBreakers, and of course, production on Titanfall Online. HIT is also apparently doing better than expected. Just 11% of Nexon's revenue is generated by countries other than China, Japan, and Korea.

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EVE Valkyrie's upcoming patch introduces fresh mechanics and maps via Wormholes

EVE Valkyrie is getting an enormous patch next week on February 15th. Dubbed Wormholes, it's got wormholes. Story over. Just kidding. Wormholes are familiar entities to EVE universe players; in Valkyrie, they will open for a few days and allow players to jump in and play something totally new, be it "a modified game mode, unusual environments, special upgrades, [or] new visuals." As a nice perk for taking part in these side missions, players will be assigned pre-determined ship loadouts, so even newbies can give wormhole content a go.

The patch also introduces competitive play via a new league system, PS4 flight stick support, improved com alerts, tweaks to the newbie experience, help for folks who suffer from dizziness during certain encounters, progression experience balancing, and a whole bunch of other stuff you can scope out on the official site and in the new video below.

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