king of the kill

See: H1Z1

H1Z1’s three-day $500K prize pool Invitational tourneys kick off right now

We may roll our eyes at H1Z1’s flip-flopping on names, gameplay splits, and apparent inability to actually launch, but there’s no doubt Daybreak is still putting money and effort into the game’s competitive community. This weekend’s H1Z1 Invitational, whose challenger qualifiers kick off at TwitchCon just as this piece goes live, will be followed by three more legs of the multi-part tourney all weekend. The kicker is the $500,000 prize pool, split over three tiers of play.

“The most watched event at TwitchCon since its debut in 2015 has returned bigger than ever with an overall prize pool of $500,000 and three action-packed tournaments. In anticipation of one of competitive gaming’s biggest showdowns, Daybreak has updated H1Z1’s look, simplifying both the in-game menus and the name. Moving forward, the game will be simply referred to as H1Z1.

We’re including the trailer (which is actually not as lame as you’d think) and the embed if you wanna watch along at home!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 140: Dubious drops in LOTRO, FFXIV, and SWTOR

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree navigate the dubious updates that dropped in several major MMOs (as well as a few other ones that seem to have gone off OK). It’s practically an all-patch, all-the-time show with the addition of a couple of interesting listener emails regarding accessibility and crafting!

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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H1Z1 has defeated its ‘King of the Kill’ branding in a last-man-standing battle royale

Looks like at least some of the rumors last week have proven true, as Daybreak is indeed removing the “King of the Kill” branding from H1Z1, meaning the battle royale half of the zombie survival sandbox is now getting the unified game’s original name free and clear.

You’ll recall that in 2016, Daybreak split H1Z1 into two separate games, H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive; this past summer, the company dropped the “H1Z1” from Just Survive’s branding, cutting loose the survival sandbox half of the original split-apart game, and then it announced a pro league for H1Z1 just last week.

“Throughout development we’ve continued to define the vision for H1Z1, which is competitive at its core with fast-paced and action-packed combat,” Daybreak explains. “Over the past year, the game has grown by leaps and bounds in terms of both player base and development, so we thought it was time to evolve the game’s look to something that better represented the spirit of H1Z1 and the level of quality we aspire to. H1Z1 is also the name that our players connect with most, so it was just natural evolution for us to transition back. We’re also working to ensure that H1Z1 can be enjoyed by players around the world, and having the word ‘Kill’ in the name of the game can be limiting with some global audiences.”

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Rumor: H1Z1 is about to drop King of the Kill branding (and maybe it’s really launching)

Remember in 2016 when Daybreak split H1Z1 into two separate games, H1Z1: King of the Kill and H1Z1: Just Survive?

Remember back in August when Daybreak dropped the “H1Z1” from Just Survive’s branding, cutting loose the survival sandbox half of the original split-apart game?

And remember earlier this week when Daybreak announced a pro league for H1Z1 – without using the words King of the Kill?

Put that all together and you may be figuring that King of the Kill is about to get its own rebrand. Indeed, while it hasn’t been officially announced or confirmed, it seems backed up by a video pulled of a new splash screen on King of the Kill’s test server, which shows just the term H1Z1 by itself. Redditors are further speculating the game will finally go free-to-play, which was SOE’s original plan, though that was chucked overboard pretty early on.

Hey, while we’re making crazy predictions, maybe we can predict that the game will finally launch. Because it still hasn’t. That was slated for a year ago, but it (and its console port) was indefinitely delayed.

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Daybreak is launching a pro league for H1Z1 e-sports

If you were wondering what Daybreak is up to as we have been, wonder no more: It’s been putting together a pro league for H1Z1, which it is now characterizing as a “groundbreaking survival battle royale game.”

“Daybreak Games has partnered with Twin Galaxies, whose new Pro League Division will establish the H1Z1 Pro League for Daybreak’s fast-paced, last-man-standing game, H1Z1. The goal of the league is to create a sustainable esports ecosystem in partnership with teams for the benefit of H1Z1 players, viewers, and League partners. Focused on a ‘player-first’ approach, the H1Z1 Pro League will include a guaranteed player minimum salary, team owner and player representation on the governance committee, along with a comprehensive Player Bill of Rights and a well-defined revenue sharing model. The H1Z1 Pro League will launch its inaugural season in early 2018.”

The studio says it’ll form the league around 15 teams of 5 players that will come together in live 75-person matches over two 10-week splits next year. “There will be no fees or buy-in costs for teams to take part in the league,” Daybreak notes, “and teams will be selected through an application process that will begin this fall.”

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Leaderboard: Are you one of the 2M people playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds today?

PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds just keeps on growing globally: It’s completely outstripped every other game on Steam in terms of concurrency, having now set a new record of 2M concurrent this weekend. As GIbiz points out, its closest competitor now is Valve’s own Dota 2, which saw 700K concurrency over the same period. That’s up a million for PUBG just since last month, with 13M copies sold to date. Oh, and did I mention it’s still in early access?

We’ve previously noted that the game is primarily pulling from the CSGO audience, but now it looks to be hitting the other top games too – H1Z1 especially, whose peak concurrency has dropped a full third since August – and I have a few guildies playing who normally play MMOs. How about you? Are you one of the 2M people playing PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds today? Let’s take it to a Leaderboard poll.

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H1Z1: King of the Kill tunes weapons and loot while introducing a new skirmish

Weapons in H1Z1: King of the Kill are pretty important. Without weapons, how will you ventilate other players (and enemies on the off chance you choose to do so)? So it’s probably for the best that they’ve received a tuning update with the latest patch, although you’ll note that most of the tuning in question means that bullets are more affected by recoil and fall off faster. That means you’ll have to get closer to your targets, and it also means you’ll want to take advantage of more loot-filled regions in hopes of getting onto the new leaderboards.

Of course, if you don’t feel like bothering with the difficult part of shooting people at shorter ranges, you could always take on the new Swagnum Opus skirmish. In that mode, you spawn with the powerful Swagnum gun and a single round for it. The good news is that one shot with the Swagnum kills whatever you hit; the bad news is, well, everyone else has one and you just have one bullet. Better get looting more ammo quickly if you want to take part and unlock the Air Guitar emote.

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Battle Bards Episode 106: Early access themes

Instead of looking back at MMORPGs this week, the crew of Battle Bards launches forward into early access! What would a show about music from MMOs that aren’t even officially out yet be like? We’re going to find out in this wild and woolly episode!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 106: Early access themes (or download it) now:

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EverQuesting: Is EverQuest II in a downward spiral?

Are we witnessing the death throes of EverQuest II? Of the whole EverQuest franchise? These questions have been at the forefront of my mind lately. Today’s EverQuesting started as a guide to EQII’s expansion prelude event, but I kept coming back to these questions. (The guide will come next week!)

Yes, I know that there are folks who have cried that EQ and EQII have been dying or all-but dead for years — and Next and Online Adventures are already deceased and buried. Yet during those years we’ve still seen some life in the first two games. They have persevered!

But now, I feel like I am witnessing the franchise’s final breaths. Me, the eternal optimist; me, who subsists on hope. And I started losing that hope because Daybreak’s actions lately appear to indicate that there’s no love left for one of my all-time favorite games, EQII. Between less dev interaction, less content, less communication, and just less enthusiasm for these two titles — yet a preponderance of attention on others — it’s hard to hold onto hope. At no other time has it felt as if Daybreak was turning its back on and all but abandoning the IP that gave it life more than it does right now. The IP that still has many fervent fans. My final two straws? The lack of any exposure at PAX West and the lack of enthusiasm for this year’s expansions.

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PvE-centric Fortnite’s new battle royal PvP mode will be free-to-play

Epic Games announced this morning that Fortnite’s upcoming PvP mode will essentially be free-to-play.

The game was originally touted by Epic as a PvE survival title without direct PvP and has taken heavy criticism over its punishing business model and progression system. Nevertheless, Epic announced earlier this month that its next patch will introduce PvP in the form of a battle royal-style mode, rather upsetting its early buyers. That update is due out on September 26th, and today, the studio’s issued an addendum: While the original “Save the World” PvE part of the game will remain in “paid early access,” the PvP-oriented, 100-man “Fortnite Battle Royale” map will instead be “free for everyone on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Mac.”

PvE players on Reddit, who bought the game in early access when it launched just a few months ago based on its PvE-centricity, are not pleased at all, arguing that it will split the playerbase as well as distract from the original PvE goals of the game. “It’s now a free PvP game with a $40 PvE mode,” one noted. “I continue to be concerned for the state of PvE in this game.” (They may not even be wrong. Just ask H1Z1: Just Survive players how this story goes.)

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PAX West 2017: A closer look at H1Z1 King of the Kill’s combat practice

If you’ve been away from H1Z1 for a long time, you need to known that Daybreak’s been making it easier to get back into the game, both for former players and for newbies.

I spoke with Daybreak Lead Systems Designer Tony Morton at PAX West about the recent combat update, and he showed off the upcoming combat practice feature.

“What we’re doing is system by system and segment by segment,” he told me. “We’re kind of gutting it; we’re starting over from scratch in a more systematic standpoint.”

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO studio’s finances worry you the most right now?

During this week’s MOP podcast, Justin and I remarked on Funcom’s spectacular 2017 financial showing, particularly in light of the fact that its numbers were so poor back in 2015 that it was asking creditors to defer its debts. Most of us didn’t really think the company would make it through way back then, but here we are — it came up with some hits just in time.

That got me thinking about other MMO companies and how they’ve fared. Trion, for example, just faced down a seemingly malicious and misleading rumor that it was in financial trouble. Daybreak was once in such dire straits that it was sold to an investment company and downsized considerably in terms of staffing and new game production, though now it seems H1Z1 is keeping it all afloat.

Consider the whole field of studios we watch around here: Which MMO studio’s finances worry you the most right now?

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Perfect Ten: MMOs that changed their names

Names and titles fascinate me. While sometimes they have no deeper meaning than to sound pleasant and be memorable, a label can indicate purpose, history, and connection. MMORPG names are, of course, as varied as the stars in the sky, with many of them slapping “online” or “age of” somewhere in there to designate their category. But every so often, we witness a game that changes its name as part of its development and business evolution.

Today I wanted to run down 10 MMOs (well, nine MMOs and one expansion) that received notable name changes over the years. I’m not going to talk about games that created a weird rebrand for a business model shift but mostly stuck with the original title afterward (such as DDO Unlimited or WildStar Reloaded), but instead games that had vastly different names than what they ended up using.
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