heart of thorns

Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion.

Massively Overthinking: Hopes and wishes for MMORPGs in the new year

One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It's way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.

But all the same, for tonight's Massively Overthinking, we'd like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2017 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.

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Perfect Ten: The best MMORPG updates and expansions of 2016 (that aren't Legion)

Sometimes you have to exclude something from a list. I could, for example, praise World of Warcraft: Legion for being a really good expansion yet again... but I already did that. Heck, we already did that. It won an award and everything. And it deserves that award, but let's be real, we did not suffer at all from a paucity of updates over the past year. So it's time to honor some of the other updates that were great this past year that haven't gotten enough recognition.

Of course, this is my own curated list, so if you're looking for objectivity combined with a subjective rating like "best," you may be looking for love in all of the wrong places. Let's take one last look through 2016 at all of the really cool game updates that made the onslaught of deaths and tragedy at least slightly more pleasant.

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Here are all of the online gaming deals from Amazon's Digital Day sale

Wake up! Are you awake? Good, because you've got less than 24 hours to take advantage of Amazon's first ever "Digital Day" sales event. Until midnight today, a whole bunch of digital content (movies, ebooks, and yes, games) are on sale.

We've rounded up some of the best deals on online games for you so that you can spend those Amazon gift cards you just got for Christmas... which may have been Amazon's plan all along. Sinister!

Want even more deals? We've got a few more after the break!

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Jukebox Heroes: The 2016 Online VGM Awards

With all of the award madness going on at Massively OP this month, it's the perfect time to unveil the 2016 Online VGM Awards! It's been a great year of soundtracks from our favorite MMOs, and since I have the opportunity to singlehandedly dish out any awards I like in this column, I wanted to give some honor to terrific composers and tunes that we got to listen to this year.

As with last year's awards, I'll be fashioning each category and selecting a winner. Some of the categories are 2016-specific, while others have more flexibility to stretch beyond this calendar year. Unlike last year's awards, this round will have categories that are more universal and can be carried forward in future years.

So who won? We've got six categories to go through, including best MMO soundtrack of 2016 and composer of the year, so let's get started!

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Ask Mo: Scoring last year's Massively OP MMORPG predictions

As we do every year, today we're going to squint back a year, into the depths of a Massively Overthinking from the tail end of 2015 when we issued our predictions for 2016. Sure, sure, it's a little unfair since we usually egg each other on to make wild and bold assertions for the fun of it -- plus that makes the hits all the sweeter -- but all the same: Did we nail it or fail it?

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Perfect Ten: The healthiest live MMORPGs at the end of 2016

About a year and a half ago, my colleague, co-worker, and friend to man and beast alike Justin compiled a list of the healthiest live MMOs at the time. Since then, every single one of those games has shut down, except for... you know, all of them. They're all still doing just fine. So as we wrap up 2016, it seems prudent to look at which games are looking hale and healthy before we head into 2017 and beyond.

As before, this is based on a combination of several factors including news trends, news stories, Steam charts, Reddit, and our own experience in the news room. It should not be taken as an ironclad promise, but it does mean that if any of these games were banished to the land of wind and ghosts, we would be quite surprised. So if you're looking to see what games seem to be doing well and are worth counting on still running in another year? Yeah, here's the way to bet.

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Jukebox Heroes: Massively OP's guide to grabbing 120+ MMO soundtracks

One of the most common questions that I'm asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, "Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?" OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.

The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.

So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I'm going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles -- some of which are free and legal for the taking. You're welcome; don't mention it!

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Massively OP's 2016 gift guide for the Guild Wars 2 fanatic

The best holiday of the year is almost here! I'm talking about Black Friday, of course, that magical day when everything is on sale! I'm not even being sarcastic: I save up for Black Friday for months. (And then I shop the sales on my PC in my PJs. I'm not going out in the shopping mess. Those people are bonkers.)

This year, we're rolling out a guide a day all week in the lead up to the Black Friday hoopla, all MMO-related, all useful for gamers who read Massively OP -- and useful for us, too, because anything you buy through Amazon through us kicks some monies our way and helps us stay online, all for stuff you were going to buy anyway. In fact, even if you don't like any of our suggestions, clicking through us to get to Amazon and buying whatever you want helps us out. We love those of you who already do that!

Today's edition is all about Guild Wars 2, since even though I tease its foibles from time to time, it is my favorite modern MMORPG. Enjoy!

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Massively Overthinking: The many 'NGE' moments across MMORPG history

Eleven years ago this week, the New Game Enhancements patch descended on Star Wars Galaxies, forever changing the trajectory of the game, SOE, and maybe even sandbox MMORPGs in general by completely uprooting the character development process of the MMO and gutting beloved professions, not to mention breaking essential pieces of the game's crafting economy. The ensuing fallout caused a mass-exodus from the game, tarnished gamer trust in SOE, and guaranteed that we'd still be talking about it more than a decade later. And though I've long argued that the game that sunsetted in 2011 was as far removed from the NGE as the NGE was from the game that launched in 2003, I'm first in line to declare that the NGE implemented in 2005 was an unmitigated disaster.

For this edition of Massively Overthinking, I don't want to talk about Star Wars Galaxies' NGE. I want to talk about all the other NGEs in MMORPG history -- all those other massive patches and updates and expansions that shattered or altered an MMO so fundamentally that gamers never looked at it the same way again and indeed considered it irreparably ruined. What's the most brutal NGE (that wasn't that NGE) that you can think of? That's the question I posed to our writers this week.

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Guild Wars 2's next episode, A Crack in the Ice, drops November 21

Guild Wars 2 has just released the first trailer for A Crack in The Ice, the third episode of the third season of living story content, which is due out just in time for Thanksgiving -- on November 21st, in fact.

"The next episode of Living World Season 3, A Crack in the Ice, is coming next Monday, November 21. The season follows the aftermath of Heart of Thorns – a flood of unbound magic, the rise of two Elder Dragons, and the birth of the dragon Glint’s child, Aurene. In "A Crack in the Ice," players will follow that story into the Northern Shiverpeaks, territory of the Elder Dragon Jormag. Along with “A Crack in the Ice” comes the brand-new Nightmare fractal. This five-person, instanced dungeon takes players on an upward climb through a massive tower, which is heavily guarded by powerful abominations and their toxic experiments."

The game's first expansion, Heart of Thorns, is currently on sale for half off through ArenaNet itself, so it's a good time to jump in if you'd like access to all the new content (and you'll need it to play through the living story episodes!). Massively OP's Guild Wars 2 columnist Tina Lauro has a piece out this today to convince you why upgrading to Heart of Thorns is worth it. (And not every reason is Taimi. Promise.) Don't miss that or the new video below.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Five reasons to buy Guild Wars 2's Heart of Thorns while it's on sale

Ever since Guild Wars 2's first expansion released, retired players or MMO hoppers have been insisting in comments across the internet that they would only consider buying Heart of Thorns if it went on sale. I understand the sentiment, particularly with the MMO market being as saturated as it is and there being a sizeable strain on our MMO budgets to keep up with the latest developments in the genre. This week, the expansion is 50% off and still includes the max level boost and base game, so I thought it was a great time to talk about why those who haven't already should take the plunge and step into the Heart of Maguuma.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll list some lighthearted yet nevertheless compelling reasons for those who haven't already to get on board with the HoT train. Hopefully, some of my reasoning will help tip you over the edge if you were considering purchasing the expansion and just needed a good excuse.

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Guild Wars 2 resumes development of legendary weapons

Guild Wars 2 players might recall that back in March, ArenaNet President and Game Director Mike O'Brien announced that he was instructing the team to indefinitely suspend development on new legendary weapons in favor of shifting efforts to living world-style content. The shortbow Chuka and Champawat was the last to roll out, upsetting players who believed that ANet had stiffed them on what had been promised content purchased with Heart of Thorns.

Coinciding with the rollout of Rising Flames today, O'Brien and Game Design Lead Matt Pennebaker have tackled the legendaries problem head on in a new dev blog that declares legendaries are back on the table -- indeed, were never really off the table at all.

"Some players viewed 'suspended indefinitely' as code words for 'canceled,' but for us, it was more of a time-out while we worked to find a different solution," they write. "We wanted to find a way to deliver legendaries without hurting content development to do it. And that led us to this new method of obtaining legendary weapons going forward."

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