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Shroud of the Avatar: New outfits, new zones, and charity aid

Shroud of the Avatar's latest newsletter begins with a bang, at least if you're a fan of costumes. Portalarium is showing off both clockwork armor and Ardoris-themed robes and outfits expected in the next release.

The team further explores the North Drachvald Spur in a mountainous area of Novia that was heavily inspired by Mt Rainier in Washington State and is expected to debut with update 39. Zenos, an island encountered along the Path of Truth quest arc, is also profiled; it's due in R38. The darker images in the gallery come from K'rul, one of the game's open PvP zones and is likewise due in R39. Recently, SOTA has been accompanying its extensive (and most welcome!) image-dumps with videos of the in-progress zones too; we've included those below.

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One Shots: Healin' skellies in Shards Online

When the NDA is away, the cats will play -- and take screenshots! Bless our dear community for documenting upcoming MMOs as they venture into these virgin territories.

ZulikaMiNam had some fun in one game that I haven't seen much from readers yet: "Since there are no NDA restrictions imposed for this alpha weekend kickoff over at Shards Online I will post some pics from there. I accidentally healed a skeleton while trying to heal myself. So my name turns grey and anyone can kill me now. Time to lay low for a bit."

Are you still laying low? You can... probably come out now. That skeleton owes you a life debt for that heroic action.

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A peek at Camelot Unchained's trees, forests, and C.U.B.E.

"Today's update might be a little lighter on the tech side," Mark Jacobs tells Camelot Unchained backers in his latest update, "but we have lots of art to show you as well." Indeed, check out those trees. "Big trees. Like really big trees," in a dense forest with climbable foliage. There are also some WIP model shots from the studio's unfinished Place of Power (seen in the image above) and more work on the C.U.B.E. system that should have builder types excited.

"Over the last two years, we have talked about how C.U.B.E. and the building portion of Camelot Unchained was not going to simply be a Minecraft clone. One of the many ways we are fulfilling that promise is by allowing players to create and use round objects. This work-in-progress image shows our building morph technology being put through some tests. It is a cylinder morph around the Z (vertical) axis. Then another cylinder morph around the X axis was added, which combines all the changes of the original morph with itself. The result is that you get curvature around two axes. It’s definitely a WIP, but you can see how close we are getting to the point of bringing this to life inside the engine."

This weekend, testers will be on a "major new version of [the] patcher. Check out the new images and the video update below!

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Gigantic's Exile in the North patch and Pakko are live today

Live in Gigantic today is a patch PWE is calling the MOBA's "first major update": Exile in the North. Open beta players will get their hands on an adorable, slip-slidey new hero, Pakko, plus an array of winter gear and weapon skins.

"Exile in the North also features several gameplay and quality of life improvements, including more generous end-of-match Crown Boosts and the addition of Honor Bonuses for players who battle shorthanded to the bitter end despite teammate disconnections and drops. Hero Mastery Skins are also now available to unlock as you play and master each Hero."

Check out the patch notes, trailer, pics, infographic below!

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Global Chat: Elder Scrolls Online renaissance

As I peruse a hundred or so community blog posts every day, it's fascinating to me to see what games the MMO blogosphere as a whole is playing and discussing. We sometimes end up flocking to certain titles based on recent announcements or because others are talking them up pretty heavily.

One game that's been getting a lot of mentions on blogs lately is Elder Scrolls Online, with players generally enthusiastic about how it's shaped up into a pretty decent MMO. "It's a really solid game that’s much better than the game that launched," writes Occasional Hero. "Visually, I would probably rank it second behind Black Desert Online for the best-looking MMORPG out there," touts Endgame Variable.

Elder Scrolls Online not your thing? No worries; we have articles covering The Secret World, LOTRO, RIFT, and more in today's community blog roundup!

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Shroud of the Avatar explains changes to conversation window and lock system

If you've ever roleplayed in a story-driven MMORPG, you know that having a quality and immersive chat interaction system is absolutely critical -- without it, you're going to just tab through and never read a word. That's precisely why Shroud of the Avatar is overhauling the game's conversation window.

"In Release 38, we are updating the conversation window used for interacting with NPCs to make it both more immersive and easier to use," says Portalarium's latest newsletter.

"For immersion, we are hiding almost all of the other interface elements, including all other chat and the hotbar. We are also placing the chat in the very middle of the screen where you are looking at the NPC in order to keep you focused on the interaction. We have also tried to keep the interface itself to as minimal as possible with very few borders and as much transparency in the elements as we can. For ease of use, we are placing all the keywords in a toolbar at the bottom of the window. This toolbar will include every keyword you can use with the NPC including keywords relating to quests you are currently on and keywords learned from past conversations with that NPC. This saves you from having to scroll back to find keywords you might not remember. There will also be some hidden keywords to discover though, so exploration will still be rewarded. Above you can see the work in progress as of today."

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Funcom stresses the importance of lore and mystery in Conan Exiles

Conan lore is probably the most contentious thing about the franchise, and Funcom today has clarified the focus of that lore in Conan Exiles when it hits early access later this month. The game is set specifically between Xuthal of the Dusk (The Slithering Shadow) and A Witch Shall be Born, a pair of stories written in 1933 and 1934. You're not playing Conan himself, of course; you're playing a character rescued from certain death by Conan.

"An enigmatic serpent bracelet has been placed around your wrist. It will kill you if you try to escape by crossing the huge Cursewall surrounding the Exiled Lands. The Cursewall is a powerful magical barrier which cuts you off from the outside world. Who has placed the bracelet around your arm? Why have you been exiled to this place for your alleged crimes and not just executed on the spot by those who brought you here?"

Excellent questions! We don't know yet, but that's the point. Funcom is building out the lore and focusing on its strengths: ancient civilizations, thieves and pirates, relic hunters, hidden treasure, buried secrets, abandoned temples, statues imbued with glyphs, decaying shrines, mystical cities, ghosts of the past -- it's all in the synopsis Funcom is spinning, and if you want to whip out your favorite "ALIENS" gif, we say be our guest.

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One Shots: Tabula Rasa's 21-gun salute

Ralph the Wonder Llama kicks off today's community screenshot gallery with a salute to the late, great Tabula Rasa.

"Yes, Tabula Rasa ended up being rushed to market, and many of its features were pretty rough around the edges when the game first released, but this was 2008! Can you imagine what Tabula Rasa would have been like if it had survived and gotten a couple of expansions under its belt? The mind boggles. Here's a shot of my Grenadier at Foreas Base, taken just a few days before shutdown. You can't really tell with the helmet on, but I'm pretty sure my character is crying."

On that happy note, let's see what else you all have cooked up for us today!

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Blade & Soul teases big anniversary event update for January 18

Guess who's having a birthday this month? A lot of MMORPGs, actually, which is odd for a bleak month like January, but there it is. The one I'm talking about here is Blade & Soul, which turns one year old in the west on January 19. (It actually turns five in Korea in June, but who's counting? Oh right, we are.)

Anyway, NCsoft isn't going to let the big day slip on by without some pomp. In addition to a weapon and pet skin swapping system,

"You’ll be able to pick up a free anniversary present from the Hongmoon Store—which has lots of goodies inside, including an achievement and title only available during the event—and the 1st Anniversary Festival event begins. During the Festival you’ll be able to collect special coins throughout a wide range of content, and turn them in for unique rewards like rare consumables, and a new costume. In addition, several in-game buffs and bonuses, and a refresh of the 365-day Premium Membership—including an exclusive new costume—also join the anniversary festivities."

Reddit is aswirl with rumors of a new dungeon too. You can watch the unveiling tonight at 7 p.m. EST.

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Black Desert's ship-faring Margoria expansion sails westward January 25

You might have noticed that yesterday's wee Black Desert patch included a brief mention of Margoria preload content. That's because the naval-themed Margoria expansion is indeed on the way, sooner than you might think: It's launching in the west on January 25th.

"In addition to adding new treasure-filled sea areas and a new harbor that connects to a new territory. Furthermore, the Margoria Expansion will introduce underwater monster hunting, ship construction, over 100 new quests, guild-versus-guild naval combat―the best way to establish dominance on the new trade routes―and more. The Margoria Expansion will be made available to existing Black Desert Online players for free."

Arr, mateys, I predict some fancifully dressed vidya game pirates in yer futures.

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Final Fantasy XIV shows off new camera features coming with patch 3.5

You can do a lot with Final Fantasy XIV's /gpose feature. You have access to all sorts of camera options that you can use to create the ideal screenshot, something that really shows off your artistic side. And that's just with the feature as it stands now; when patch 3.5 releases next week, the feature is getting even more robust, allowing you to take even more elaborate shots and apply all sorts of filters.

Players will be able to position three separate light sources using the /gpose camera features, with each light source having variable position and hue. You can also loop certain emotes, use status expressions, add filters, adjust the roll angle of the camera... in short, you can do lots of things before you pick out just the right frame and take the screenshot. Just remember to at least complete some of the storyline quests before you spend an entire day getting ready for your close-up.

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Star Trek Online launches Season 12 on January 26

It's hard to believe that Star Trek Online is coming up on its seventh anniversary. But you should believe it; the game has been running for seven years, and it's kicking off its anniversary celebration with the launch of Season 12: Reckoning on January 26th. This patch sees the players facing off against the Tzenkethi with the help of the Lukari to prevent the race from utilizing wide-scale deployment of protomatter weaponry.

Players will have access to two new queues, a new featured episode with actor Tony Todd as General Rodek, and a new reputation to improve. The anniversary event will also include the new Lukari science ship and plenty of other festive rewards for all captains, whether you've been with the game since it first left drydock or only started playing recently. Check out a small gallery for the update just below, and get ready to kick off another year of boldly going in just a couple more weeks.

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DC Universe Online's sixth anniversary events have arrived

Daybreak's having a rough month, but the team working on DC Universe Online is indefatigable. Case in point: The game turns six years old today, and the devs have just rolled out a massive anniversary update, complete with the long-awaited Metropolis Antimatter Invasion Zone, the new 8-man Centennial Collapse raid, and new loot.

"The sixth anniversary of Daybreak Games’ DC Universe Online (DCUO) is here, and with it comes new limited-time in-game events that will unite Super Heroes and Super-Villains. Players must travel through time to a new version of Metropolis, where a Qwardian invasion from the Antimatter Universe threatens the Earth, and take on the Anti-Monitor to save the world from destruction. All participating characters will be scaled up to a high combat rating to allow players of nearly all levels to join this fight to save the world."

The anniversary Anti-Monitor events run through the end of January, so getcher capes on. We've got pics and a brief video down below. Happy birthday, DCUO!

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