impressions

Frontier Expo 2017: Science, history, and gaming make for a great first con

This past weekend was not the first time I have attended a developer’s convention, but Frontier Expo 2017 was one of only a very few times when I have been able to attend the first one of its kind. Last weekend, I got to witness the birth of Frontier Developments’ fan convention, held in London, UK. At 1500 attendees, it may have been a relatively small gathering compared to conventions like PAX or other more established cons, but it was still great. In fact, it offered fans a few firsts of their own! Besides your classic meeting-and-greeting, game announcements with reveals, and after parties (including live entertainment by Jim Guthrie, the musician who created the Planet Coaster music), folks got to try their hand at the studio’s really old games on their original equipment in the Frontier Developments museum.

Even more than that, attendees got to meet and listen to world-renowned experts in the fields of paleontology and astrobiology. Not because these would sell the game, but just because they are subjects of interest to fans. How many studios have offered that?

Now there were understandably a few bumps and learning experiences in this first endeavor, but in all, I say the inaugural FX2017 was a resounding success! It was easily the most chill convention experience I have ever had, and I look forward to next year’s show (and hanging out with the space loach more!). Let’s dig in!

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC arrives October 23

Elder Scrolls Online has just put a date on the launch of the much-anticipated Clockwork City DLC bundle, which is taking players deep into the heart of Sotha Sil’s mechanical labyrinth.

“We’re excited to announce that the Clockwork City DLC game pack will be released on October 23 for PC/Mac and November 7 for PlayStation®4 and Xbox One. This DLC game pack will be free to ESO Plus members and available for purchase for 2000 crowns in the in-game Crown Store. In addition to the base version, the Clockwork City Collector’s Bundle will be also available for 4000 crowns in the in-game Crown Store and will include the DLC game pack, the Clockwork Skeevaton pet, the Kagouti Fabricant mount, and Five Crown Experience Scrolls.”

The downside is that’s gonna clash hard with the Destiny 2 PC release date. The upside is that the prologue quest is already live in the game, so you can get started right now and pick up a new collection memento.

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Global Chat: The MMO community’s Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire impressions

It is kind of impossible to stroll around the MMO blogging community as of late and not trip and fall into a pool of Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire impressions and opinions. So why not dive in and see what lies under the surface of these experiences?

GamingSF suffered from technical issues that kept him from getting into the expansion initially, but when he did, he recognized that it had some “really nice features.” Why I Game concurs with this sentiment, noting that there are “a lot more nods to exploration this time around.”

“Story is okay, nothing amazing, some funny bits help, and I find it gets better as it progresses onward,” ECTmmo.com wrote. “The actual places you get to travel to and explore in this expansion are what makes it shine, well, that and the mounts.”

We’ve got even more Path of Fire impressions after the break, as well as a look at Star Trek Online, Elite Dangerous, and Ultima Online!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: One week into Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire

I’ve had my hands on Guild Wars 2‘s second expansion for a week and some change now and have built up a more solid picture of Path of Fire in that time. I have to say that I’m still just as impressed as I was when I wrote my first launch diary entry: I’ve completed the main story at this point (though I’m getting ready to rerun it again to bank achievements I missed on the first run-through), and aside from my launch weekend issues and some niggly mechanics along the way, I’ve been blown away by the quality offered in terms of story content, mount mechanics, and the new elite specialisations.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll continue my launch coverage by discussing some more in-depth points that I’ve noted now that I’ve had a full week of play time (although it’s been over a week, the EU connection issues largely killed the first few days for me), and I’ll also look at some not-too-surprising but still greatly appreciated benefits the expansion has had on Central Tyria and Heart of Thorns zones. Please note that there will be some spoilers below, both through images used and inferences to story encounters, even though I’ll make an effort to avoid them for main story arcs.
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Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire launch diary: Initial impressions

My initial impressions on Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire launch are rather late to the table, owing to some fairly significant connection issues since launch that ran up until yesterday, but I’m delighted to share my first thoughts on the second Guild Wars 2 expansion with you at long last. I really count yesterday as my first day of play since the instance creation issues prevented me from progressing my Path of Fire story chain until then, so although I’ve had all weekend, this first launch diary entry will simply detail the things that I noted within the first day of play.

Don’t worry about story spoilers being contained below: I’m not ready to share story details with you yet and wouldn’t even if I could! Expansions are a long time in the making and fans deserve to enjoy all that entails first-hand without it being spoiled. Anything at all problematic will be marked with spoiler tags just in case. Enjoy my list of the good, the bad, and the janky, and check out my screenshot gallery at the end of the article too (though skip this if you don’t want location spoilers).

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC is aimed at explorers and mystery buffs

ZeniMax has a new dev blog up on The Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC today, teasing the update and explaining just why it was chosen as the narrative followup to this summer’s Morrowind expansion. The DLC, as we’ve preciously covered, takes players into the realm of Sotha Sil, one of the three living gods of Morrowind and a machine-obsessed genius whose motivations and sanity are constantly in question. What struck me is how the designers interviewed stress that the DLC is aimed at mystery fans and explorers; indeed, variants of the word “explore” are used seven times in the brief doc.

“The Clockwork City is the most mysterious zone we’ve ever done. […] This is partly because there wasn’t a tremendous amount of pre-existing lore to begin with, but it’s also by virtue of the fact that it’s Sotha Sil’s realm, and no one truly knows the intentions of his strange experiments, or what their results will be.”

Massively OP ESO columnist Larry Everett dived into the PTS last week to produce impressions on the in-testing DLC, declaring that while it wasn’t as personally compelling to him as as the Thieves Guild DLC or as complex as the Dark Brotherhood DLC, it tops the game’s core storyline all by itself.

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Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire has launched; get caught up on the expansion here!

Update: It’s live now! Have fun!

Guild Wars 2 officially launches its second B2P expansion, Path of Fire, today. In just two hours in fact. And if our polls are any judge, quite a lot of our audience is hyped for the release!

We’ll be streaming the fun later today (with special guests if we can pull it off), but in the meantime, ArenaNet has a pre-show on Twitch beginning at 10 a.m. EDT this morning, leading up to the noon launch when we all go charging into the desert.

Personally, I’m aiming to finish chapter one and then head straight for drinks on the Lily of the Elon. Who’s with me?

We’ve also rounded up all of our Path of Fire coverage to date, including our columnist’s impressions of the preview weekend, our look at mounts, our deep-dive into the new elite specs, and our team’s thoughts on the expansion as a whole. Happy expansion day!

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Tamriel Infinium: First impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Clockwork City DLC

It’s hard to know where to start with these impressions because the upcoming DLC for Elder Scrolls Online is significantly more complex, more extensive, and more fun than I originally anticipated. Clockwork City has surprised me on multiple levels. Those who were fans of the Tribunal expansion for Elder Scrolls III will find nostalgia everywhere, and those who are new to this part of the lore will find a world that is similar yet very different from the rest of ESO.

Over the last couple of days, I have been spending my time on the public test server for Elder Scrolls Online where ZeniMax Online Studios has dropped its latest DLC: Clockwork City. This isn’t the first time we’ve been to the Clockwork City, but this DLC will be the first time that we are allowed to freely explore this creation of the god Sotha Sil.

There is no way that I am going to be able to sum up the hours of gameplay that Clockwork City has to offer in just a few hundred words, but let me hit on a few things that were the most important to me: aesthetics, storytelling, exploration, and gameplay.

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Choose My Adventure: The return to Guild Wars 2

Many moons ago, when I was first hired on Massively-that-was, my fellow hire at the time was a lady by the name of Rubi Bayer. We hit it off pretty well and became friends. She was also very excited about a title that had yet to come out at the time, a game by the name of Guild Wars 2. For those of you coming to this story without knowledge of names, she’s now working for ArenaNet on that exact same game, along with two other former writers from our staff, all of whom are people I consider friends of mine.

So perhaps it’s a bit odd that I’ve not played Guild Wars 2 since well before Heart of Thorns launched. I have some history with the game, but it’s never been one of my main titles. And now that I’m heading back into it for its second major expansion, I think it’s a fine time to walk back through my experiences there, what I hope to find, and also ask a few reader questions along the way. Because that’s how polls work, after all.

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Dark and Light vows to squash early access bugs

Early access or no, players expect their games to work right when they’re shelling out money for them. The developers of the reworked Dark and Light are cognizant of this fact, and as such are working hard on a build to eliminate some of the more serious bugs that have been dragging down the game experience in its testing phase.

One of the more notorious issues is the “black screen bug” that continues to keep some players from entering the game itself. Other bug fixes include help with taming Nidhogs and Goblins, preserving data for soul stones, and retaining donation totals for vendors.

“As an early access game, we’re expecting to face a number of bugs ranging from minor to severe — with new content, new bugs are bound to show up as well,” the team said. “Our main focus is to try and make Dark and Light the best experience possible, both in terms of content and stability. We’re working to tweak existing content, like the exceedingly-difficult Ice Cave, while fixing bugs and creating new, exciting content to keep Archos’s Adventurers busy for a long time.”

Curious whether Dark and Light is worth playing (and paying)? Check out one player’s impressions after the break!

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Hyperspace Beacon: A happy accident in Star Wars The Old Republic gives us hope for the future of CXP

The last couple of weeks have been really rough week for Star Wars: The Old Republic from a technical standpoint. The Umbara update itself gave us a handful of bugs, including some that were very difficult to bypass. Then players also noticed a couple of extreme bugs that were deemed exploits. Community Manager Eric Musco acknowledged the exploits, and for one of them, he emphatically said do not do it. “Following the bug being fixed we will begin to investigate the impact of the exploit and what action is required,” he said on the forum. In the past, those actions have ranged from a slap on the wrist to a three-day suspension to revoking future access to that account. I don’t think things will get that harsh for this exploit, but I do foresee players losing the items gained. I’ll get to the specifics of that later.

What was most interesting was BioWare‘s handling of the second major bug. Under normal circumstances, if players circumvented the normal rate of character progression, the MMO developers would stop everything they were doing and fix the bug immediately, or at very least, they would tell players to stop lest they be punished. Instead, Musco said on the forum, “Until they are fixed next week, enjoy them. We tried to fix the bug, the bug didn’t want to be fixed.” He actually encouraged people to take advantage of the bug.

Let’s talk about that, why it happened, and why this happy accident is one of the best things that’s happened to SWTOR in a long time.

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PAX West 2017: Hands-on with Amazon’s Breakaway

When I first went for my hands-on appointment to try out Amazon Game Studios‘ upcoming mythological sports brawler Breakaway at PAX West, I didn’t realize I would break Amazon! All I did was touch the B key as instructed, and everything went dark: The circuits blew. But once all the computers were back online, I was able to jump in and give the game a test run, and I am glad I did.

Unlike brawlers or arena shooters that are just, you know, shooting other people, this game focuses on the aspect of a sports game. While you can win the round by wiping all of your opponents at the same time, the two other win conditions involve the ball; either you score a goal or you keep the ball on the opponent’s side of the field when the four-minute timer runs out. Perhaps because of this sport team aspect, I got more interested in Breakaway and look forward to playing it more.

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PAX West 2017: Dual Universe demos its persistent, seamless, sandbox universe

If you were hoping that another title would pick up the idea of a voxel world and run with it, you’re getting your wish. I met with Jean-Christophe Baillie, the president and founder of NovaQuark, at PAX West. He showed off the pre-alpha build of his company’s voxel sandbox, Dual Universe. After zooming across the planet, building a ship, terraforming, and then blasting off to the moon to do it all again, I believe this subscription-based game (which begins its pre-alpha for backers on September 30th) may very well be the home that players who’ve been wishing for a voxel-based world have waited for.

Baillie defines Dual Universe: “We give more creativity freedom to the players: They can build the ships they want, the environment they want, the houses they want. It’s about freedon to create anything you like.”

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