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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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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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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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Guild Wars 2 deep-dives Path of Fire’s elite specs for every class

ArenaNet has a new dev vlog out today focusing on the development of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire elite specs. Some of the class specs were born from a great name and concept, the studio says, like the Mesmer’s Mirage, whereas others were put together via a systematic review of game mechanics and consideration for what each class is currently lacking, like the Necromancer’s new support skills.

ArenaNet announced yesterday that it’ll be announcing even more (heh) about the elite specs throughout the week; expect the team’s livestream on Thursday ahead of the PvP preview weekend this Friday, then mount details on August 28th and story info coming at the beginning of September. In the meantime, the dev diary and the older elite spec videos roundup are down below.

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The PAX West City of Heroes and Ashes of Creation panels are a go

A few weeks back, we reported on the City of Heroes-themed panel coming to PAX West in Seattle at the beginning of September. With the release of the PAX schedule on Friday, we can confirm that it is indeed happening on Sunday, September 3rd, at 8 p.m. in the Cat theater, with reps from City of Titans and Ship of Heroes [update: and Valiance Online] in attendance.

“When the venerable MMORPG City of Heroes shut down in 2012, it gave rise to several projects often called spiritual successors. Each of these efforts took the same inspiration, yet have developed very different titles. Join Casey McGeever of Heroic Games, Chad Dulac of Silver Helm and Nathaniel Downes of Missing Worlds Media for a conversation a conversation about the challenges in making the game, the progress so far, and how these games will build on and stand apart from City of Heroes as something different and new while serving the great gameplay and positive gaming community that has been looking for a home.”

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Leaderboard: Did Guild Wars 2’s preview weekend convince you to buy Path of Fire?

This past weekend, the gaming segment of my Twitter feed was positively dominated by chatter about Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion free preview weekend. I even saw a few of my guildies dip back in, which shouldn’t have surprised me — quite a lot of our readers and friends told us in last week’s Leaderboard poll that they had plans to try the free weekend, many of them no doubt trying to decide whether to buy it and return to the game or even play it for the first time.

The question is, did it work? Did Guild Wars 2’s preview weekend convince you to buy Path of Fire? Let’s hit the polls and find out.

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The Daily Grind: Are you a fan of Guild Wars 2’s non-traditional mounts?

Mounts are the big new thing in Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion, and as I’ve previously mentioned, I was initially concerned about their inclusion, given that traditional mounts would seem to necessitate a major revision of the game’s foundation. But of course, the new mounts aren’t traditional mounts; they seem more like toys to help players navigate parts of the world, not a second set of legs with a speed buff. I was OK with that; I was expecting, welcoming, something mundane and non-game-breaking.

But then my experience with the raptor mount in this weekend’s preview event actually impressed me: The raptor is astonishingly well-animated and genuinely fun (at least for those who don’t get motion sick), way better than a dumb toy or gimmick. While originally I rolled my eyes at the idea of romping around Elona on a dino, I surprised myself by enjoying whipping out rapty.

That said, I saw a lot of commentary this weekend from people who weren’t impressed — indeed, who talked themselves out of preorders specifically because of the mounts. The things I loved — the animations, the non-mandatory “toy” feel — seem to be huge turnoffs for other folks who want something more like, well, WoW. Is that you? Are you disappointed in the way the mount system works, or are you a fan of Guild Wars 2’s non-traditional mounts?

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PSA: Guild Wars 2’s mounts may be causing motion sickness issues

Longtime readers will know that we take motion sickness from games pretty darn seriously around here, given that we have a writer who’s been severely affected by some of the VR demos we’ve sent him to. So don’t read any judgment into this PSA: Multiple Guild Wars 2 testers participating in the Path of Fire preview weekend are reporting that they’re experiencing motion sickness, sometimes severe, while dealing with the game’s brand-new mount system, specifically because of the camera.

ArenaNet has apologized and said that the mounts team recommends lowering visual blur in the short-term as “they feel it may help with this problem.” Another user prone to motion sickness suggested a whole range of settings that are making mounts (or at least the demo raptor mount) usable for him.

“We’d love to hear from you if this adjustment is effective,” ANet’s Gaile Gray wrote. “Team members who have worked/are working on the mounts will be tracking this feedback!”

Source: Official forums. With thanks to CapnLan!

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Guild Wars 2’s free-play Path of Fire preview weekend is live

Update: It’s up, go go go!

Ahead of its September 22nd launch, Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion will be on public display this very weekend — likely starting early this afternoon, if past patches and tweets are any guide. ArenaNet has previously said we’ll be playing only the first chunk of the storyline and tripping to the Crystal Desert, where we can explore the Crystal Oasis map and test out the mount system with the raptor.

As a reminder, anyone can play this weekend, even if you’ve never purchased the base game (which has since gone free-to-play) or the Heart of Thorns expansion (which is not and will not be free-to-play), and yes, even if you have not yet preordered Path of Fire. That makes this weekend the perfect opportunity to decide whether it’s something you want to buy or skip. Are you giving it a go?

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