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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
I am no stranger to covering survival sandboxes for Massively OP. I wrestled with dinosaurs before ARK: Survival Evolved was a thing. I got kidnapped and tried to drown myself in a puddle, spent days building a glorified shack before hackers or server admins could destroy them, and got to better understanding of what it's like to be an Asian gamer thanks to Valve's social experiment. There have been some good memories for sure, but the cancelled games, broken promises, and fact that most of the genre is in an infinite non-launch state are just some of the reasons I've been losing faith in online, multiplayer survival games. I love the idea of PvP allowing for meaningful social gameplay, but in reality, I mostly experience only ganking. But without PvP, I generally get so bored of PvE that I run into the arms of a (J)RPG so I can get drama and permadeath in a finished product, often without kids screaming at me to stop moving and just die.
But here I am again: roped into another shot at the genre. I'm looking at pay-to-play Conan Exiles like a launch title, "early access" be damned!
With Elder Scrolls Online's new housing system coming early next month and LOTRO testing out some much-needed housing improvements, homemaking seems to be a subject on the mind of many players these days.
Contains Moderate Peril says that MMO housing has yet to live up to potential: "What you can do with housing is a far more interesting talking point. At present housing mainly offers in the MMO genre additional storage, an opportunity for aesthetic customisation, and convenient support services [...] What housing across most MMOs fails to do is offer any additional social facilities or unique group content."
Meanwhile, Dimension Gallery featured one house designer that came up with some impressive dimensions (my favorite is the Spongebob Squarepants!).
Housing not your thing? After the break we have blog essays on Final Fantasy XIV, welfare epics, and the true endgame activity of MMORPGs!
I can't think of the last time I've played through a patch of Final Fantasy XIV
as quickly as I played through patch 3.5. That's not a mark against it, mind you; it's just that usually I find myself drawing things out a bit more, but for patch 3.5 I dove in feet-first and wound up clearing all of the new stuff that I intended to clear by the end of the first day. Both dungeons? Down. Dun Scaith? Cleared. Zurvan? Defeated. The Scholisticate? Boring, but still finished.
Look, I needed that Spectacles emote.
This is not altogether a bad thing, though; it means that I was engaged enough in the moment-to-moment content that I wanted to get it cleared in short order. So, as I do every time we get a big new patch, let's go over what's there, starting with the most mechanical aspects of the content and moving on to lore later. Probably next week, if we're going to be totally honest. These things always run long.
Welcome to the next six months of Final Fantasy XIV
, folks. Yes, there are going to be more changes over time, adjustments and upgrades to be made, but by and large the state of the game after tomorrow's patch is what you're going to be dealing with for quite some time. It's time to buckle in, wrap things up, take care of sidequests, and otherwise get ready for the long wait until Stormblood
Fortunately, we're getting a meaty patch first, as you do. So while you might get a little bored with what's on display by the time June rolls around, at least you'll have something to do with reasonable consistency.
As is the tradition before each major patch, I'm taking a look at the patch notes and evaluating what we see therein before the actual patch goes live. It's possible that we might wind up with some other particularly cool additions or some neat stuff might be different when we're playing it, but... at this point, we'll just have to wait for Tuesday.
The cat is out of the bag. Or should I say Manticore? SMITE Rivals was announced at Hi-Rez Expo 2017 yesterday, giving players a third option for playing the gods in the SMITE IP. But the night before the world found out, I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of the folks who are creating the game and not only learn about it but play it for myself! (And no, I didn't break it!)
So what is SMITE Rivals? It's a game that blends the original MOBA with a collectible card game. Now, folks who have come to know me know that for the majority of my gaming life, MOBAs and CCGs both have terrified me. Maybe terrified is too strong of a word, but I definitely avoided them. I was both unfamiliar with them and unskilled. It's only been this past year that I have started dabbling into these realms. So what happens when you combine these two fears into a single game?
It turns out, I love it.
I've covered plenty of ground since my initial impressions piece
went live last week, and I'm hoping that you've had time to play Guild Wars 2's
most recent addition to the Living World's third season by now because I am bursting to share my thoughts with you all! A Crack in the Ice passed me by rather quickly, but I nevertheless greatly appreciated such a well-paced chunk of story landing on my lap on the shy side of the holidays. My preview pieces are always light on spoilers due to the lack of time I get to sink into the story in advance, especially since I never want to ruin the launch day suspense for myself prematurely.
In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll give you a blow by blow account of A Crack in the Ice and present the highlights and lowlights as I see them. There are no bones about it: This article will be jam-packed with spoilers for those who have not yet completed the episode. If you're behind in terms of story, I recommend skipping this one until you're ready to discuss the story!
Just under two weeks ago, EVE Online
launched its new free to play account option
with the introduction of clone states. Subscribers are now given the new Omega clone state that allows access to everything the game has to offer just as before, while free players get a new Alpha clone state with a limited set of skills available and reduced skill training speed. The people this helps the most are new players, who previously had to get a 14-day free trial to check the game out but can now just sign up and take their time with it. The Ascension
expansion also delivered a brand new fully voiced tutorial that developers hope will retain more players.
Thousands of new players have poured into EVE Online over the past two weeks, so many that last week's peak concurrent user numbers reached over 51,000 players for the first time since 2014. The Rookie Help channel is now regularly packed with 6,000 to 8,000 players every night, indicating that over 15% of the active playerbase is currently composed new players. I've been playing on a new alpha character this week to explore the new tutorial and see what I could do solo within the alpha clone restrictions, and it's been an extremely interesting experience.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what new free-to-play players will experience in EVE, give my impressions of the new tutorial and alpha clone limitations, and deliver some important tips that should help all new players make the most of their time in EVE.