H1Z1's PvP side is finally getting some much-needed love (sorry, slight dig at Daybreak's preferential treatment of King of the Kill). The devs posted a new diary this week to talk about the three major projects that the team is tackling this month.
With 64% of players polled telling the studio that game optimization is "extremely important," Daybreak's engineers are working to improve framerates and overall performance. Another project is providing useful visual feedback from firearms so that players can easily tell if their shots are hitting body armor... or just bodies.
Vehicle destruction was the final topic for discussion: "We added several different vehicle degradation states that trigger at various damage thresholds. Take enough damage, and your car loses torque, handling, and eventually, turbo. The new vehicle UI helps to communicate these states with warning lights, and you can see the impact of each state on your overall mobility with the speedometer."
Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya'll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn't as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.
I'm not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller -- and oft times privately managed -- scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we're going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here's a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
I have long been of the opinion that there are few more terrifying animals on this planet than bears. Sure, there are sharks, the mighty kraken, and that little fish that may or may not swim up your urethra and summer home there, but as I live primarily on the land, I think that the odds are greater that a rampaging bear might ruin my day.
True story: When I lived in Colorado Springs, one morning I left home to drive to work and there was a black bear sitting in the middle of the road. I looked at it, nonplussed, and then sloooooowly backed up into my driveway and called in a sick day. Bear days should totally be a thing, however.
I have also been of the opinion that bears are consistently underestimated in MMORPGs. They're low level trash mobs or pets that finger players as complete noobs for not picking something more exotic. More exotic? Son, if you have a bear on your side, you have won the game. Period. One swipe of its paw and any raid boss' head should pop right off.
There is a plague of bears in MMOs. Today, let us delve into the ursine horror that curses our genre.
Were you scratching your head over last week's announcement that H1Z1 would be bringing its upcoming PvP tournament to the CW network? We were too, which is why this interview with Daybreak makes for fascinating reading. So how did that TV deal happen?
Apparently CW has prided itself on being the first broadcast network to take an interest in e-sports, joining ESPN and TBS in showing live video game matches to interested viewers. H1Z1: King of the Kill Executive Producer Chris Wynn said that the deal happened because of Daybreak's connections with the pro team Echo Fox and the interesting twist that this winner-takes-all tournament will provide.
"We have a unique opportunity to do something with King of the Kill that no one else can do," Wynn said, "and that’s putting on a tournament with 15 teams of five players each all competing at the same time. It’s not a ladder-style knockout like in traditional sports. All these guys will get into one game, in one match, and all compete simultaneously. This unique experience is what appealed to the different partners."
In April, you won't have to turn to Twitch to see professional teams beat the crap out of each other in H1Z1 -- you'll merely have to turn on the TV.
The next big H1Z1: King of the Kill tournament, Fight for the Crown, will be televised on The CW Network come Thursday, April 20th. Fifteen teams of pro players will engage in a single match in front of a live audience to win part of a $300,000 prize pool. There is no respawning or corpse running here; each player only will have one life to use.
Teams can go ahead and apply to be part of this tournament, although four teams have already been locked in and confirmed as participants. The TV event will actually be the finale of a five-episode docuseries that will air on CW Seed this spring.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from H1Z1, Gloria Victis, Diablo 3, Path of Exile, RiftStar Raiders, Gigantic, Lineage M, League of Legends, Fish Island 2, Wild Buster Online, Heroes of Incredible Tales, World of Tanks, God Eater Online, Closers Online, and Star Citizen, all waiting for you after the break!
I am no stranger to covering survival sandboxes for Massively OP. I wrestled with dinosaurs before ARK: Survival Evolved was a thing. I got kidnapped and tried to drown myself in a puddle, spent days building a glorified shack before hackers or server admins could destroy them, and got to better understanding of what it's like to be an Asian gamer thanks to Valve's social experiment. There have been some good memories for sure, but the cancelled games, broken promises, and fact that most of the genre is in an infinite non-launch state are just some of the reasons I've been losing faith in online, multiplayer survival games. I love the idea of PvP allowing for meaningful social gameplay, but in reality, I mostly experience only ganking. But without PvP, I generally get so bored of PvE that I run into the arms of a (J)RPG so I can get drama and permadeath in a finished product, often without kids screaming at me to stop moving and just die.
But here I am again: roped into another shot at the genre. I'm looking at pay-to-play Conan Exiles like a launch title, "early access" be damned!
As we say in MMO worlds, when one ship sinks, another one sets sail. On today's show, Larry and Justin tip their hats to Asheron's Call while struggling to keep on top of all of the news of other games and their upcoming content. From tactical operations to high seas expansions, it's a jam-packed show! Without the jam!
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.
The loss of City of Heroes brought motivated fans together to rebuild it, or at least to create a spiritual successor to the game. Three of those games showed off some nifty stuff this week. City of Titans gave us a look at some gorgeous hair, Heroes & Villains explained how it's handling seamless zoning, and Ship of Heroes brought out a full-on character creation video. Now if only they could team up to provide us characters with great hair and a seamless city. (We'll add in some combat later.)
Oh, is that not enough for you? Fine! Have some other beta news, then.
Meanwhile, there's an even lengthier list of games currently in testing just below. Did something skip to a new test phase without us noticing? Is there a game on there that has opened its cash shop and is letting everyone play without future data wipes? Should pigeons be allowed to eat chili? Let us know about any of the above or something else altogether down in the comments.
Daybreak has posted up an H1Z1: King of the Kill Q&A last night that sheds some light on the state of the game, in one of many planned for the future. "For now we are going to be doing them sometimes on Twitter and sometimes on Reddit, Tuesday mornings at 11am Pacific," the studio promises.
Of note, Daybreak says it has not given up on the console launch of the game, which was postponed indefinitely in September of 2016 along with the formal release of King of the Kill (which is still in early access), though the studio says it still has no ETA: "We are first and foremost committed to a quality release when we do decide to do it.
The team also says it's working on desync diagnosis, skirmishes, building a ranking system for small groups, new EU servers, and vehicle bailing. There are no plans for a new map, though the existing map is getting more love.
And as for spectator mode, the team says it's "working on improving it, but it is a pretty big undertaking to improve the jerkiness of the view of your teammates. In order to improve it we have to change code that is fairly fundamental. So that means we have to be really, really careful, which means it takes longer. We are committed to ensuring that it works well before pushing to live."
A little while back, I took a look at the healthiest games in the MMO space at this time. That was a nice, uplifting list, wasn't it? And all of those titles continue to do just fine, even if one or two might have had a few bits of shocking news along the way.
Unfortunately, this is not an industry in which health is assured. Games can be high-quality and beloved, but they can still be shut down by outside forces. And that's not counting games that just come out in the wrong time period or launch in an unrecoverable state.
That may sound grim, but we're already staring at the first two shutdowns of 2017 in the near future, and both of the titles being killed are surprises. One of them might have wound up on this list if it weren't being shut down, but at this point, it is. So let's look at the MMOs with the most unclear futures and start hoping for the best.
In February 2015, following the SOE/Daybreak transition and ensuing mass layoffs, we polled our readers on the security of the rest of the studio's games. Almost half of you voted that Dragon's Prophet was the studio's most vulnerable remaining game, with almost 20% pointing to EverQuest Next. And you were right; SOE's North American-run Dragon's Prophet was gone within the year, with EverQuest Next to follow just a few months later.
And now Landmark's headed off into the sunset.
The thing is, Daybreak doesn't really have much left. The company that once won "best studio" four years in a row and had a much-deserved reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going is now down to four MMORPGs, plus H1Z1 A and B, and one unannounced game, plus the games it's publishing for Standing Stone. Yesterday we counted up the casualties and found Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years -- more than most studios will ever launch.
Let's break out the poll for a revisit, two years on. Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?
Last night's startling news that Daybreak plans to sunset Landmark abruptly in February (while forbidding player emulators) sent the MMORPG community into... I'll call it "resigned and weary outrage." At Massively OP, we just spent the last month reliving last year's EverQuest Next cancellation thanks to the fact that it "won" so many awards -- Biggest Disappointment and Biggest Story, the reader vote for Biggest Blunder -- and was our most-commented-on article of the year. Landmark's sunset is sadly just a capstone to a year already dominated by Daybreak's decisions.
(The bummer is Landmark also narrowly took our serious award for Best Crafting, which it probably deserved, but most MMO gamers will never get to try it to understand why.)
Our comments last night were filled with concern for Daybreak's remaining games. We counted around 14 games canceled, most of them in the last few years, with DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and the two H1Z1 halves being the only games left under the DBG banner (plus the mystery game they've been hiring for -- and it's now publishing Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online but doesn't actually own or develop them, so they're probably safe). Do you think Landmark was the last remnant of a bad business decision finally getting cleaned up, or are you concerned for Daybreak's other MMORPGs?