impressions

Hands-on with En Masse action MMO Kritika Online ahead of closed beta

If you are a fan of action and anime, you might want to keep your eye on Kritika Online. Although this game has been out for years in Korea, it is just now making its way to the western market. En Masse, best known to MMO fans for its shepherding of the western version of TERA, is localizing and publishing this anime title, which will start letting players in to play the closed beta starting tomorrow, May 24th. In preparation of this closed beta launch, I had the opportunity to sit down and talk shop with Senior Product Manager Brian Knox. In between slicing and dicing bosses in a couple of dungeons, Knocks shared some tidbits of what players can expect in this new game. Along with that hands-on time with a mid-level character during the interview, I was able to log in and experience the game as a brand-new adventurer. Here’s how it all went down.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s Flashpoint

I’ve managed to calm myself enough after finishing my Guild Wars 2 Flashpoint initial impressions piece two weeks ago to bring you a much more detailed look at the action-packed episode that is the penultimate instalment in the Living World’s eventful third season. The story contains so many twists and turns that you’ll be dizzy by the end, and in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last few months and missed all the hype about this content drop, you’ll want to know that Lazarus’ true identity is revealed within Flashpoint.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll unpack the reveals and angles taken by the penultimate episode of Season 3 and will share my most and least favourite aspects of the episode while I’m at it. This article will contain significant spoilers and is not safe to read for those who haven’t completed Flashpoint and have managed to avoid the spoilers so far. You can always bookmark this one to come back to whenever you have managed to find time to enjoy the content for yourself.

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Global Chat: Happy 10th birthday, LOTRO!

With Lord of the Rings Online hitting its 10th anniversary this past week, plenty of bloggers are enjoying the festivities and recalling some of their favorite memories of this beloved MMO.

Lina looked back at her earliest beta impressions of LOTRO and laughed at how she saw the game as “rather stiff, lifeless, and drab” (she since changed her mind). Wilhelm went through the game’s history and noted that the MMO was “a leader in the conversion to a free-to-play model, citing a huge boost in players and revenue to accompany the change.” And Roger recalls the changes: “Looking back now at these early days of LOTRO, the most pronounced difference was the fact that much of the game was designed to be completed in a group or fellowship.”

Is it still a game worth playing? Syl recently returned to LOTRO after a long absence and found it welcoming: “I’ve only been back a few days and already had more friendly encounters and met more silly helpful people on Laurelin than I otherwise would in years.”

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Flameseeker Chronicles: First impressions of Guild Wars 2’s Flashpoint

I can’t quite believe that we are already on the penultimate chapter of Guild Wars 2‘s third Living World season, but if I were under any illusion that the story is rolling quickly toward its climax, then it was shattered upon watching the fabulous trailer for this story instalment. The fifth episode of Living World Season 3 is available to experience for yourselves right now and I know so many of you will be thrilled with its shocking reveals and fast-building action. The episode in question, dubbed Flashpoint, takes us into the thick of the action in yet another lore-rich zone that’s bursting with intrigue. Logging on any time from now until the release of the final episode of Season 3 will bank Flashpoint in your story journal for later play, so don’t forget to relog if you aren’t actively playing right now.

I was invited to another super-quick playthrough with the developers on the stage client in preparation for today’s launch so that I could throw out some quick first impressions to coincide with release day for this week’s Flameseeker Chronicles. I had a 30-minute guided session with the devs followed by free rein over the last weekend, but large chunks of what I experienced is information I’m not allowed to divulge just yet. I played through a little over a chapter during my playtesting and my jaw was on the floor for most of that time, so I do urge you to check out the content for yourself if you’re at all invested in the lore. Although my coverage will be as spoiler-free as possible, proceed with caution until you have played through for yourselves if you’re worried.

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EVE Fanfest 2017: Hands-on with competitive VR sports game Sparc

At the end of February, CCP Games announced a new game that has nothing to do with EVE Online or even the EVE IP. Named Sparc, the new VR game is being pitched as a virtual sport environment with competitive online gameplay and an online social space. It has the aesthetic of the Tron-style cyberspace world that movies promised us throughout the 80s, and uses motion controls to deliver full-body VR gameplay. Even the social space will have a bit of an 80s arcade vibe, with players able to gather around and watch others compete and challenge the reigning champion to a match.

Anyone who’s been to EVE Fanfest in recent years will recognise Sparc immediately. The game made its public debut as Disc Arena in Fanfest 2015’s VR Labs demo section alongside three other VR experiments, and made a re-appearance the following year with motion controls as Project Arena. Just as Project Nemesis became the release title Gunjack, this game has now graduated into a full production title with its own development team and budget. Sparc is due for release at some point in 2017 on Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, and we managed to get some hands-on time with an early version at this year’s Fanfest.

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Hands-on with TERA’s new Valkyrie class

Last month, TERA’s community chose the name of its new class, and next week players will get to not only see that Valkyrie in action but play her when Honorbound launches on April 11th. Ahead of the launch, I got to get my hands on the class while joining the devs for a run through if the dungeon Vault of Kaprima. Michael Santora, product manager, acted as tour guide and shared interesting tidbits about the class as we warmed up for our run on the BAMS in the dungeon. With Scott Magner (writer) as tank and Robin MacPherson (associate product manager) as healer, what could go wrong?

One should really never ask that question and tempt fate! I might have suffered a death or three in the dungeon as I played this melee class for the very first time, but it was still fun to do — and I am not even a fan of melee. Here are my first impressions of the class, and don’t forget to tune in later today and tomorrow for official livestreams showing her off.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic reveals its first raid in two years

When the developers of Star Wars: The Old Republic told us they were going to focus on more group content for Knights of the Eternal Throne, many players suspected new raids (or operations) were coming. They were right! Yesterday, BioWare allowed its cadre of “influencers” to reveal what the first boss in the upcoming Gods of War operation looks like.

We have already dived deep into some of the other aspects of the upcoming update, including the return of a couple of companions and being able to switch factions in the new daily area. However, the important details of the operation have been absent until now.

Fan sites released a handful of videos practically giving everything away. Although they did shy away from speaking about the exact details of the fight with the first god of Iokath called Tyth, we can see the whole veteran-mode fight in Dulfy‘s video. Likewise, SWTOR Central and Kid Lee give their impressions of the battle and Corellian Run, and Bad Feeling Podcast give us a couple of fun trailers. Check out what’s public down below!

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Tamriel Infinium: Battlegrounds will change Elder Scrolls Online PvP forever

I’ve read all the impressions from the PAX East show that I could find, and they were all overwhelmingly mild — including ours. As you hopefully know by now, Elder Scrolls Online showed off its instanced PvP battlegrounds, and the media consensus is that they are… coming. And that’s it. This really surprised me. It’s superficially hard to tell whether people have come to expect one thing from battlegrounds (because so many other games already have them) and ESO really isn’t changing the formula — or the battlegrounds really aren’t anything to write home about.

If you were to take Lead PvP Designer Brian Wheeler’s word for it, battlegrounds will change PvP in ESO forever because they’re a type of PvP that ESO has never had before, which is true. Personally, I do believe not only that battlegrounds will bring something special to Elder Scrolls Online but that other games should pay attention to ESO because it’s actually doing something innovative without drawing too much attention to it.

Battlegrounds aren’t perfect; there will be some drawbacks, but let’s take an honest look at what this new PvP type means for Elder Scrolls Online and maybe other MMOs in the future.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s The Head of the Snake

Now that I’ve had a little time to sink my hours into completing the episode after my initial impressions piece two weeks ago, I’m ready to bring you a more detailed breakdown of Guild Wars 2‘s most recent addition to the Living World’s third season. The Head of the Snake was battle-heavy and pacey, leaving us with yet more questions that we hope shall be answered before the season is over. I was left wanting to know more and hoping that the episode would also feature some story asides from outside of the Kryta and White Mantle arc, so I was very eager to get playing so I could share my thoughts here for you.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll unpack the story presented in The Head of the Snake and present you with my favourite elements and disappointments as well. The article will contain spoilers throughout and is not safe reading for those who have not yet completed this episode. Feel free to bookmark this one and revisit it when you’re all caught up should you not have had a chance to play for yourself yet.

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Choose My Adventure: Reconsidering WildStar, from pre-launch to now

In order to talk about WildStar, we kind of have to talk about Firefly. And no, not in the obvious way where we talk about how dearly the game wants to be able to claim the heritage of Firefly for its own.

There’s a thing dubbed the Firefly Effect (I’m not linking TV Tropes here; y’all know where it is, look it up if you want to) that describes a kind of vicious cycle. You see something new and interesting previewed. However, you also see that it’s on a network that is unlikely to allow that interesting thing enough run time to really finish working itself out. So, to spare yourself any heartache when it gets cancelled, you don’t watch it. Later, it gets cancelled… because no one was watching it because everyone expected it would be cancelled.

The reason I bring that up is that WildStar is currently waist-deep in the Firefly Effect. Sure, it’s not a show, but the same operating principles are at work. People are afraid to commit for fear that it’ll be canned, and that makes any forward momentum for the game incredibly difficult.

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PSA: Eternal Crusade is available via Humble Bundle for $10

It’s possible that you were very excited for Eternal Crusade, but the launch impressions turned you off of the game’s asking price. That happens, it’s even normal. However, if you’re still curious to see what the game looks like, you can now pick the game up on the cheap. Heck, you can pick the game up with other games on the cheap, meaning that you’re going to be getting several games and the title you’re looking at. That’s a good deal.

Of course, most of the other games on the list are a bit outside of our usual catalog on this site (though Tales of Zestiria and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West are both excellent options on their own), but like any bundle, it’s well worth the discount even if there’s just one title on there you want. Having multiple titles on there just makes it a bonus.

Source: Humble Bundle; thanks to Crow for the tip!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: First impressions of Guild Wars 2’s The Head of the Snake

If you’re reading this, then the poor ArenaNet team has finally managed to battle the crazy weather and pressed the big red button: The Living World season 3’s fourth installment will be playable right now should you log in. Minor delay aside, I am absolutely thrilled to see another episode of gripping story is already with us, especially since the episode in question focuses on the stunning surroundings of Divinity’s Reach and wider Kryta. The Head of the Snake can be unlocked on each player’s Guild Wars 2 account simply by logging in any time from now until the next episode releases, so don’t forget to dust off your account if you’re not actively playing right now but wish to bank the story for later.

I was invited along to have a quick playthrough with the devs on the stage client before the launch today so that my first impressions would be with you as soon as the episode dropped in this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles. While I can’t say that the small glimpse at the episode’s content ranked as highly in my estimations as episode 2 did, I very much enjoyed the freeform skirmishes and political subterfuge that I experienced in the one chapter I played in its entirety during my guided run-through and short excursion on my own over the weekend. As ever, I’ll attempt to keep this piece as spoiler-free as I can, so anything questionable will be placed behind spoiler tags to make your reading experience better.

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Square-Enix saw MMO profits from FFXIV and FFXI dip in 2016

Now is the time for all good companies to report profits and losses for the previous year, and at first glance Square-Enix’s report looks pretty rosy. What looks less happy for readers who are heavily invested in the company’s online titles such as Final Fantasy XIV is the fact that operating revenue and net sales have seen a sharp decline year-over-year. That’s enough to bring a raised eyebrow or two, possibly even some panicked posting about the future of the futures of the titles.

It’s probably not worth the panic, however, as the same report also notes that revenues from operation have held very steady.

“In the area of massively multiplayer online role playing games, revenues from operation has been showing steady performance while net sales and operating income declined significantly compared to the same period of the prior fiscal year mainly due to the absence of expansion disk releases during the nine-month period ended December 31, 2016.”

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