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Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up WildStar

Writing about WildStar at this point feels weird.

Obviously, I just finished up playing the game for this feature for four weeks. It feels fresh in my mind. And in many ways, it really has changed quite a bit from launch to its credit. In many other ways, it hasn’t changed much at all. And the ways in which it has changed would make a much bigger difference if those changes affected things that initially drove me away from the game.

So in many ways, when I write about WildStar now, I’m still writing about the launch version of the game. It’s just that we’re now several years out from that launch, and its potential to really be something no longer has the time to turn into reality. It’s still just a hope for what it could be, and there’s not much more to the game beyond what we see right now. So it’s the same state of the game, but it’s gone from promising opportunities to unrealized potential.

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Elder Scrolls Online previews Morrowind's Foyada Quarry (pro tip: lava is hot)

ZeniMax has this morning released a deep-dive of one of the trio of battlegrounds due to launch in The Elder Scrolls Online when Morrowind arrives in June. The so-dubbed Foyada Quarry is quite different from the last battleground previewed, being wide-open with little cover.

"In this deserted granite quarry, you can view exactly where the action is right from the start. However, when navigating this map, you should watch your step; the entire site is now overflowing with lava, bathing the arena in a red glow and burning those unfortunate enough to fall in. Despite the environmental hazards provided by the looming Red Mountain, Foyada Quarry funnels the action right into the center of the map via a selection of granite pathways and seared wooden bridges. Because the majority of the map is so open, teams are able to quickly close and engage with each other, thrusting you into battle almost immediately upon leaving your base and making it an especially fast-paced Battleground."

ZOS notes that crowd control will be particularly useful on the map as you knock enemies into lava and away from the capture point in the center of the map, at least in domination mode. Ouch.

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TERA's EU branch claims player numbers have 'risen massively'

We see a lot of odd press releases around here, many of them loaded with vague commentary on how well a game is doing or how big it is. This one from TERA's EU branch today is definitely up there with those that make you wonder whether you're spying doublespeak or a funky translation that somehow lost the details.

"Gameforge and Bluehole, Publisher and Developer of TERA, proudly announce that players numbers of the MMO have risen massively since the game is available through the Steam platform as well as gameforge.com. Since the launch TERA has held a spot in the top 30 of F2P on Steam and received lots of positive user reviews."

Risen massively.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 109: We are all Dragonborn

Roll for initiative! Bree and Justin are getting all kinds of nerdy with this week's show, in which they talk about Dragon-people, the return of a long-abandoned sci-fi game, a momentous anniversary, and the viability of sandbox MMOs.

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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The Soapbox: What the Mass Effect Andromeda kerfuffle ought to teach us about games criticism

Today is the official release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was preceded by the frankly baffling decision to allow people access to an early build of the game ahead of time. Or perhaps the final build without everything enabled? The point is that you could play a bit of it if you were willing to drop some money. That seems like a bad idea that we've been dealing with in online-game-land for a long time, but regardless, it gave people the opportunity to see some of this RPG ahead of time.

This, in turn, allowed the typical internet trolls to find any and all animation flubs and then happily declare that it was all the result of one woman working on the game and handling all of the animations. Which, you know, is a conclusion that would be helped significantly if the woman in question actually worked in that role on the game, which she did not.

Obviously, the game under discussion is not an MMO. But it is symptomatic of two all-too-common problems in gaming culture that are worth noting to people who do not have balls of spiders in place of a soul. So let's talk about those.

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Master x Master announces closed beta, adds City of Heroes' Statesman

Today's good news for Master x Master fans is that the game has a closed beta coming up. The next test will be between April 6th and April 27th, ahead of the game's full launch in the summer. All of that is good news, but it kind of gets overshadowed by the game's other simultaneous announcement of a new hero in the game's lineup... Statesman.

Yes, from City of Heroes. Someone decided to add one of the most loathed characters from a dearly departed game that many fans are still upset about losing. It's one of those rare situations where you're not even sure what to be upset about first.

The bright side is probably that Statesman at least seems to play true to form, so he's got all sorts of melee abilities, moves around quickly, and can activate Heroism as his ultimate ability. And he's from a game that NCsoft shut down, we cannot stress that point enough. Just... check out some screenshots and a trailer down below; no one here is sure how to feel at the moment.

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Legends of Aria begins focused testing, delays Steam launch

Legends of Aria is shaking things up from the old Shards Online paradigm. In addition to the name change and broader focus, the fantasy title announced that it is going to adopt a "more conventional MMO testing platform" going forward.

"Future play-tests will now be conducted in phases of focused testing, geared towards specific areas of gameplay in preparation for final implementation," Citadel Studios said in this week's newsletter. "To accommodate the need for extra testing periods, our Steam launch will coincide with the release of the Legends of Aria Beta instead of Alpha 2."

The current Alpha 1 test will conclude on March 26th, to be followed by Alpha 2's start on April 28th. The team said that its taken a shine to the concept of a single large official server (in addition to the private ones) and that it will start to talk about all of the changes in store for Legends of Aria on March 31st in a new development blog.

Source: Newsletter

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Path of Exile on virtual reality, auto-sort, and offline play

Path of Exile's latest dev Q&A has a few nuggets of interest for followers of the MMOARPG. What caught our eye? Don't expect an auto-sort button in your inventory bins.

"I had a good conversation recently with David Brevik about how large items that require manipulation in the inventory help simulate the 'weight' that items have in other RPG systems," Grinding Gear Games' Chris Wilson says. "It may be inconvenient to have to organise items, but it makes them feel real. Simplifying this down to auto-sorting or single-slot-items is a road we don't want to take our game down."

The team does, however, have a plan to someday add an alternate skillbar and new skills, but not shapeshifting, extra zoom tools, virtual reality, or an offline version of the game. Why no offline? Not only would it be a waste of resources, but "the game will never be in a state where the servers have to be shut down for financial reasons."

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South Korea's Netmarble to launch ambitious IPO

South Korean Tencent affiliate Netmarble announced today that it will launch an initial public offering to the tune of $2.35 billion US. That works out to approximately 17 million newly issued shares.

As GI.biz explains, Netmarble is hoping to pay off debts and increase its holdings, building "towards a state goal of being in the top five global gaming companies by 2020."

Reuters calls the IPO the second-largest for the country, sandwiched between two Samsung IPOs.

In the west, the company is probably best known for games like Lineage 2: Revolution, Prius, and Uncharted Waters; its recent partnership with Disney came with a license for Marvel and Star Wars titles as well.

Source: Reuters via GI.biz

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The Daily Grind: Will World of Warcraft hold its 7.2 patch until June?

On October 24th, World of Warcraft launched patch 7.1, which contained a lot of not-quite-ready-for-launch Legion features and a bit of content. Since then, the game hasn't really launched any content. Sure, patch 7.1.5 launched in early January, but that just added the Brawler's Guild back to the game for content (which, admittedly, has a lot of new boss fights). We're looking at a content gap that's starting to spread out a fair bit already, and patch 7.2 is coming out... well, eventually?

Of course, MOP's Bree and I are in pretty close agreement about when it's coming out: June. Because that's when a new Final Fantasy XIV expansion and The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind both launch, so they're going to want to try to kneecap both of those launches.

At least from this side of the fence, that's a pretty dumb plan. It's the same plan that was in place for patch 6.2 of Warlords of Draenor, which wound up with lots of complaints about the delays, and it doesn't seem to have really crippled the launch it wanted to "intercept" there, either. Still, it's the sort of plan that Blizzard has used in the patch, and with two big competing releases in the same month it seems almost absurd to think it wouldn't be tried. So what do you think, dear readers? What do you think the odds are of WoW holding its next patch until June? And how much grousing do you expect if people are waiting that long for more content?

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LOTRO Legendarium: Heading into the Wastes as update 20 advances

If all goes well, within a few days the Lord of the Rings Online community will be getting its first glimpse of Mordor with the release of Update 20 (Standing Stone Games said that it is "tentatively planning" to roll out the patch next week). I don't know if I'm prepared, but after months of speed-leveling my Lore-master through the last few expansions, I'm in a place where I will be among the crowd that charges into the Wastes on launch day.

Update 20 is a big event for several reasons and should give us some insight into what the developers are thinking with their Mordor expansion later this year. Plus, with the 10th anniversary event right around the corner, the LOTRO community will have a bounty of content and activities to keep it busy during these spring months.

So as we saddle up our horses (and ponies and goats) for the trip north into the Wastes, let's mull over what we can expect when Update 20 lands.

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AdventureQuest 3D will launch this October after a mega-patch

Following a year of open beta testing, the cross-platform AdventureQuest 3D will launch on October 13th, 2017. Just prior to that launch, however, the team is planning on "one final massive round of interface, character, and art improvements" to go into the game.

Part of these improvements will be a revamp of character faces to make them more expressive and attractive than the current "alien-esque" mugs that have some players jeering. In a post this week, the team walked through the inspiration and process of creating more likable faces that respond to a variety of situations.

"I strongly feel that characters that are 'out of combat' should have a friendly yet determined look," AQ3D's creator wrote. "Some of the governing pillars of Artix Entertainment games is hope, friendliness, and giant vicious fanged man-eating monsters. We are still working on this... but getting closer."

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Conan Exiles contemplates official server wipes following massive duping exploit

Funcom says it's "weighing its options" following a series of rampant duping and apparent character hacking exploits in Conan Exiles.

Players on Reddit have begun recording the exploits and demanding full wipes of the early access survival sandbox.

"Just killed a player who had several True Names on him, then used one to wipe a vault that was full of them + another vault with thousands - literally thousands - of T3 materials and building pieces," writes one player. "As gamebreaking events go, this is pretty much as bad as it gets short of all character data becoming irrevocably corrupted. If you're not going to wipe after 2-3 days of rampant duping (which has apparently been going on since launch, in some cases) then what DO you wipe for? These servers are completely destroyed now. You're going to lose more people by refusing to wipe than you will by ripping the band-aid off. Please do the right thing, Funcom."

Funcom has responded to the community by saying it's still working out what to do:

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