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Tree of Life launches and goes ‘beyond the journey’

Last week, colorful sandbox MMO Tree of Life slipped the bonds of early access and launched itself into the wild blue yonder of live operation. If you played it a while back, you may be startled to see how much it’s changed in the meantime. In fact, the team has subtitled the game “Beyond the Journey” to indicate that this is almost a completely rebuilt game.

The release version of Tree of Life includes the warden tree building system, guilds, factions, the mastery system, a better UI, more mounts (ever want to ride a chicken for some reason?), more decorations, and the new Clay Engine 2 game client.

The team re-released an official launch trailer but also threw in a nice new wrap-up video of the early access period to thank the community for all of its help. You can view both of these after the jump.

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Global Chat: World of Warcraft’s wild frontier

How is World of Warcraft like the wild west of American history and legend? Something about Barrens chat might come to mind, but blog Coffee Cakes and Crits has another view on the connection between the two.

“One of the ‘codes’ of the Old West was that you did not have to tell where you came from or why you were in the West,” he writes. “This code is exactly the same in the World of Warcraft. You don’t have to say what you do for a living or your military background or level of education. You don’t even have to claim a gender. It is what you do in the game that matters and you can go as far as you dare to try and, hopefully, try again. This is a very good thing.”

Continuing on with our tour of the MMO blogosphere this week, we’ll see a gut reaction to  the Secret World TV series announcement, impressions from the Path of Fire preview weekend, and more!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 Elite Specialization preview weekend impressions

Over the weekend Guild Wars 2 players had the chance to get to grips with the new Path of Fire elite specializations in a PvP setting, so I, of course, jumped in with both feet and tried out some of the specializations for myself.

You’ll know already if you’re familiar with my ramblings that PvP isn’t a massive love of mine, but I simply couldn’t resist giving it a go for the sake of the elite specializations. I didn’t get to sample each one for myself because I had some key family events that fell over the weekend too, but I’ve been sure to provide a brief as-I-saw-it summary of the elite specializations I didn’t get to spend time actively playing.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll share my thoughts on my preview time spent playing around with the Weaver, Holosmith, Mirage, Scourge, and Spellbreaker and watching the work of the other elite specializations. These are simply rapid-fire impressions — I had to be brief to fit them all into the span of one column — but they should nevertheless be helpful to those who didn’t get hands-on over the weekend.

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The Daily Grind: Do you expect MMO expansions to include new classes, or is a new spec good enough?

Back when Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire was announced, a number of our commenters sparred over whether or not the game’s elite specs should more properly be considered and counted new classes. Some people argued that they were literally new classes; others maintained that the amount of class content in the specs, when taken together, surpassed merely adding a new class and a few new skills for existing classes. I tend to sit in the camp that says they’re not classes or the equivalent of classes, and while I’d personally rather have a new class and an excuse to roll a new toon, specs might be better anyway because they’re content for everybody.

It was a lively debate, one that suggested to me that an awful lot of us still expect new classes from MMORPG expansions. And now that we’ve had a weekend with Path of Fire’s elite specs, this seems a good time to ask: Is it true? Do you expect MMO expansion to include new classes? Where do you stand on things like “elite specs” in lieu of a new class to roll?

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One Shots: Hugs not drugs

This week’s edition of One Shots is brought to you by the National Hugs and Fistbumps Council, which recommends that everyone enjoy at least five full embraces every day, preferably without something creepy whispered in the ear. “I can feel your tummy gurgling against my tummy.” That sort of thing.

It’s also brought to you by Kawaii Five-O, who’s having some fun in Final Fantasy XIV. “I’m enjoying the Moonfire Faire festivities with a special someone,” she said. “While not an unplayable race, I do wish the Au Ra (females in particular) more closely resembled their early concept art that depicted them as being much more demonic and imposing looking and less of a cutesy human with horns and a spattering of scales.”

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Trove’s subclassing system launches with Eclipse next week

A total solar eclipse isn’t a common event — the continental US hasn’t seen one in almost 40 years. So it makes a lot of sense for games to take advantage of the occasion, and that’s exactly what Trion is doing with Trove next week with its Eclipse update.

The highlight of that update isn’t eclipse glasses, although perhaps it should be: It’s actually the subclassing system that we’ve been stoked about for months. It’s probably going to remind you more of Marvel Heroes than of Guild Wars, as each of the existing classes, when taken as a subclass on a character, will provide a specific passive bonus — but it’s based on your power level in that other class. So since my mains are a Tomb Raiser and Candy Barb, I could take Candy Barb as the subclass on my Tomb Raiser for this bonus:

“Provides extra Stability and has a chance to drop candy when damaging an enemy. The candy increases attack and either movement speed or healing.”

Which I will do because candy. But the exciting bit is that it provides people a reason to play multiple classes and benefits those with a deep bench on their account. Check out the whole list of bonuses on the official site — spot any obvious synergies?

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Guild Wars 2’s second Path of Fire preview weekend is about to begin

Update: It’s live!

Didn’t get a chance to jump into Guild Wars 2 during last weekend’s Path of Fire preview weekend? You’re getting another chance today, although this leg of the event will focus on the game’s elite specs as they play in PvP, not the on the first PvE map and mounts.

We anticipate that it’ll launch any minute now based on last week’s start time. The weekend event will be followed up by the launch of PvP season 8.

Massively OP Guild Wars 2 columnist Tina Lauro Pollock deep-dived the expansion last weekend and delivered her thoughts in a special Flameseeker Chronicles yesterday, so tune in to that while you wait, and check out the dev diaries on all the elite specs down below. Will you be testing any out?

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Massively Overthinking: Alone together vs. forced grouping in MMORPGs

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone has at some point seen the xkcd called Isolation, but if not, there it is. No matter what the age and era, someone’s always preaching that people were more sociable in the long long ago. In this comic, however, Randall Munroe isn’t even contesting that. His point is basically no duh and so what. Yes, we become less sociable with random people in our immediate vicinity as we gain more and more access to ideas, entertainment, and people not in our immediate vicinity thanks to technology. Ultimately, replacing impromptu stranger interaction with the amusements of our choice appears to be what a lot of people wanted all along.

MMORPG players surely see where I’m going with this because we have the same eternal struggle when it comes to in-game socializing, grouping, community, and stickiness, the tug-of-war between the people who want to play alone together and the people who think that forced grouping is the only true path to enlightenment.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to reflect on the alone together vs. forced grouping spectrum, to talk about where they stand on it, whether that position’s changed through the years, which games are addressing the divide the best, and how the two sides can move forward in a dynamic MMO genre.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Impressions of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire preview weekend experience

I’m delighted to have found a moment to bring you an extra edition of Flameseeker Chronicles that outlines my thoughts on the first Guild Wars 2Path of Fire preview weekend. From last Friday until Sunday, every player was invited along to take some tentative steps into the Crystal Desert and get to grips with the raptor mount. We were also treated to a little bit of introductory story that ties the new zone directly to the Living World Season 3 finale without missing a beat.

So today, I will break down my preview experience into the main points, including my highlights and unfortunately ending on a pretty crummy negative. I’m hoping that further development based on the feedback from this weekend will help to lessen or negate my issue though, so I won’t be frowning for very long! Note that this article will contain some spoilers regarding the introductory story, so it’s best avoided if you are waiting until September to find out more on that front.

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Global Chat: The MMO blogosphere’s reaction to Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire

It seems like the entire MMO blogosphere wanted to chip in thoughts on the Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire announcement, whether or not each writer was playing the game. So what did they all think?

“Finally, something other than dragons to fight!” enthused Occasional Hero. “I love mounts. And I love leaping and jumping mounts,” wrote Aywren Sojourner. “BUT. We all know what else a mount system introduces — cash shop opportunities!”

GamingSF ran down the features, saying that he’s on the fence as to whether or not to come back: “The best way to know that, I suspect, is to play some of the game in the time between now and the 22nd of September.”

Not everyone is on board with the expansion. “The announcement did not in any way overcome my healthy skepticism of the ‘horizontal progression’ philosophy of the game,” chimed in Endgame Viable. And In An Age seems like he’d wants to play, but admits that the business model puts him in a “mental bind” regarding both expansions.

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Wild Terra’s castle capture and auction systems are live

Indie sandbox MMO Wild Terra has a big update this week that’ll make guild-oriented players particularly happy, as the castle system has rolled out to the live servers. Guilds can build everything from cheapie wooden forts to brick-laid castles that can actually withstand a siege, taxing guild members for cash, spice, and resources to make it all happen.

But of course, first you have to capture a castle from somebody else or bid on an unclaimed (or contested) one in the castle auction system, also new to game this summer. Once you do win a castle? Yeah, make sure you build walls first if you want to stop everyone from just waltzing on in (and ensure that you can appropriate tribute from the surrounding regions). If it sounds like a lot of work to do for a video game, it is, but maybe you should just watch the video instead. It’s the thing to do these days.

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Today’s Black Desert patch buffs new characters with extra skills

It’s an every-other-Wednesday, so you know what that means: It’s patch day in Black Desert. Kakao says it’s launched another round of the Rulupee’s World Travel Event in addition two new summery “attendance” rewards, including one for medium- to large-sized guild members.

There’s also been an update for Termian Waterpark, which continues on through the season with new fishing, plus tweaks to the field HQ for conquest wars, a “complete now” button for worker missions, improved character customization history, and several interface updates. My favorite? “Fixed the issue where a skin-headed Ninja would suddenly get fully grown hair during combat.” Those dang bald ninjas.

It further appears that Kakao has reduced the level requirements for a number of skills and set many more to be automatically granted as soon as a character is rolled. The whole chart of changes is on the official site.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 131: Just surviving

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree break down the big Guild Wars 2 news, celebrate FFXIV’s momentous milestone, muse about Dual Universe, and more! We also have a special interview with H1Z1: Just Survive Creative Director Ben Jones about the massive overhaul to this survival sandbox.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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