What’s the most newbie-friendly MMO? According to Pete at Dragonchasers, it’s Final Fantasy XIV. He’s been pretty impressed by the support structure that the game has in place for new and returning players.
“I don’t usually interact with other players in MMOs (ironic, I know) but when I was randomly invited into the Novice Network I accepted,” he wrote. “It’s a pretty active channel and at least for the short time I’ve been in it, quite civil […] This experience drew me out of my shell a bit, and by Sunday afternoon I’d dug out a bluetooth keyboard so I could talk in the Novice Network more easily. Overall the way FFXIV welcomed me as a player kind of re-kindled my love of MMOs.”
In this week’s MMO blogger roundup, we have essays on LOTRO’s attention span, the thought behind soloing in online games, and first impressions of Black Desert. Read on!
This time last year, I polled the Massively OP writers for their opinions on which MMOs had had the best year, or half year, up to that point in 2016 — which games were the most influential and important specifically in that time period. I was pretty surprised at the spread of answers too. Since we’re nearing the midpoint of 2017, I thought we should renew that question and see whether anything’s changed. So as last time, I’m asking everyone to pick three games that represent the MMORPG zeitgeist, using whatever combination of criteria they wish – revenue, playerbase size, hype, anticipation, update cycle, and so forth. What should we be paying attention to? Which games are a sign of the times? And just who is dominating now in 2017?
So let’s say you’re somebody like MOP’s Justin — somebody who liked Guild Wars 2 way back in the day but didn’t consider picking up Heart of Thorns until recently when the price came tumbling down and the upcoming expansion leaks sent you hunting for your wallet. Where do you start with content that’s been out a long time and has undergone dramatic changes in its almost two years?
Friend of Massively OP Richie “Bog Otter” Procopio has a few ideas, and he’s chronicled them in a new video on his YouTube channel, one in a multi-part “boomerangs” series on returning to Guild Wars 2. He takes viewers through getting to the expansion maps, which masteries to work on first (gliding!), the Revenant class, class specs, fractals, raiding, guild halls, dailies, the living story episodes, PvP, and on and on. Even somebody who plays Heart of Thorns is probably going to learn something from the video, so it’s worth a watch!
NCsoft’s first quarter financials for 2017 have released, and… well, let’s get the bad news out of the way. While sales dropped only slightly since the preceding quarter and in line with last year, the company’s operating profits and incomes fell sharply, in the -60 to -77% range both quarter over quarter and year over year. The company says that’s “due to incentives paid on the back of record-high earnings last year.” In particular, Lineage 1’s sales were down significantly on the quarter and the year (“due to the early sales recognition in 4Q and weaker traffic from anticipated Lineage M demand”). Aion’s and Lineage II’s sales dropped ever so slightly, as did Guild Wars 2’s, which has fallen by more than half following the late 2015 launch of Heart of Thorns.
The good news? Blade and Soul saw a small boost.
During the conference call, NCsoft announced that it has overturned the development leadership working on Lineage Eternal, suggesting that the closed beta failed to “reflect NCsoft’s characteristics” and promising a retooled dev schedule in the months ahead.
Super Adventure Box departed Guild Wars 2 last week, so you had to expect we were on the brink of seeing another episode of the living story. Indeed, ArenaNet has just announced that very episode: It’s called Flashpoint, it’s apparently the next-to-last episode of season three, and it’s launching in just one week on May 2nd.
“Flashpoint finds the forces of good fighting a battle on two fronts. The fight against the now more powerful Elder Dragons seemingly has turned in their favor with news that Taimi’s research has resulted in a machine that can stop them with a single decisive blow. Meanwhile, the powerful mursaat Lazarus – who returned mysteriously purporting to be an ally – has been revealed to be an imposter. Marjory Delaqua attached herself to him to investigate and is now headed back to Rata Novus without discovering much about the truth of his identity. Both paths converge as Lazarus is on his way for a confrontation; in Flashpoint, players will uncover shocking secrets and come face-to-face with a threat unlike any they’ve seen before.”
ArenaNet is also permanently dropping the price of Heart of Thorns by 20 bucks, meaning that the cheapest buy-in for the game’s first expansion is now $29.99. (Maybe it’s another hint that the under-construction expansion isn’t that far away, eh?)
YouTuber WoodenPotatoes, whom you might remember from Tina’s top five Guild Wars 2 vloggers review earlier this week, has posted a lengthy review of Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns, now a year and a half on. It’s a critical look at the promises made for the expansion, the expectations we had for it, what was actually delivered, and how the game has progressed over time to now.
“I think you’d be crazy to say that Heart of Thorns didn’t disappoint at release,” he says in the first video. “It disappointed me. The story was too short, the content was too limited, and very importantly, it didn’t feel like much more had been added with the raw expansion than if they’d simply continued the previous living world season instead. And that would’ve been free.”
But since then, he argues, ArenaNet has fleshed out the game and made 2016 the game’s strongest year (though it wasn’t without its own content droughts). If you’re a fan or former fan of the game, it’s worth a look — it certainly resonates with me and echoes a lot of the complaints (and praise) we’ve seen over the last many months down in our own comment section.
Today we are sitting down with ArenaNet
Lead Composer Maclaine Diemer
, who players might best know from his work on Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns
and Living World Season 3. Diemer picked up the baton from Jeremy Soule
, the original composer for the base game, and has been pumping out terrific music for the MMORPG ever since.
Massively OP: At this point in your career at ArenaNet, how many pieces of music have you composed for Guild Wars 2?
Maclaine Diemer: I think about this from time to time, but I honestly don’t know. I’d say it’s in the “several dozen” range, between all the holiday festivals, Living World content, Heart of Thorns, and other miscellaneous stuff like cinematics and marketing videos. It’s exhausting just thinking about it!
A few weeks ago, we mentioned that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns music would be featured in concert in Seattle — not so useful for most of our readers, who do not in fact live in Seattle! Fortunately, ArenaNet has just released the entire concert for you video game music junkies who couldn’t hop to the Pacific Northwest for the real deal.
The concert was performed by the Evergreen Philharmonic Orchestra, a professional training orchestra made up of local high school students. Take a listen (and a look!) at the whole 48-minute, 14-piece show below.
Next week is shaping up to be a big one for multiple MMORPGs, Guild Wars 2
has made good on Mike O’Brien’s tease
for the fourth episode of Living World Season 3 with the announcement that it’s landing on February 7th.
The episode’s called The Head of the Snake and will see “the advancement of the story as Queen Jennah summons players to her side, where they’ll act as her personal witness in uncovering the nest of corruption in Divinity’s Reach,” the studio says. “Along with The Head of the Snake will come the brand-new raid wing Bastion of the Penitent. The destruction of the Maguuma Bloodstone has opened a mysterious portal in Bloodstone Fen, and beyond it lies a sinister and ancient place with little chance of escape. This raid will provide players with four bosses to overcome as they discover what mysteries are still chained behind its walls.”
As always, players can simply log in to the base game, even if they don’t own Heart of Thorns, to “bank” the episode for the future, though you’ll need to own the expansion and be level 80 to actually play it. That goes for the current episode as well.
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.
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.
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!
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!