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EVE Evolved: Calling time on EVE Online’s five-year vision

When Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren walked onto the stage at EVE Fanfest 2013 and delivered her long-term vision for the future of EVE Online, the excitement in the room was palpable. EVE was riding its highest peak concurrent player numbers in the game’s history following the overhauls of the Crucible, Inferno, and Retribution expansions, and players were ready for a new blockbuster feature to fire their imaginations. CCP delivered its ambitious five year vision to hand the reigns of EVE‘s living universe over to its players, with player-built stargates and deep space exploration in completely uncharted star systems.

We’re now about four months away from the five-year mark on that vision, and many parts of it have now been completed, but no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. We’ve seen some big feature drops such as the release of citadels, the industry overhaul, and the recent moon mining overhaul, but that deep space colonisation gameplay still seems far off. Some players feel as if EVE is currently in a holding pattern, with everyone waiting for the next big feature or overhauls to their favourite part of the game before deciding what to do next. So what does come next?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the progress toward Nordgren’s 5 year vision so far and talk about the possible next steps I think CCP could take to make it a reality.

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LOTRO Legendarium: Fixing Lord of the Rings Online’s grouping problem

One of the quirks — and frustrations — of MMORPGs is that there never seems to be one game that truly has it all. Even some of my favorites are missing what I consider key features or design elements that are present elsewhere, and it’s maddening to think about how much better the game could be with those features transplanted.

For Lord of the Rings Online, I have to say that my biggest frustration with the game design is that dungeons might as well be non-existent. Oh, they’re in the game (and raids and skirmishes too), but LOTRO has never cultivated a dungeon-running community of the sort that you see in contemporary MMOs.

In other games, I enjoy changing up the routine by grouping up with others for a run through detailed setpieces as we battle our way to the final boss. I enjoy the rewards that those runs bring and learn a lot more about how to play my character. This has almost never been the case for me and LOTRO, and it’s not for a lack of trying. This MMO has a grouping problem that undercuts participation and interest in the dungeon scene, making such runs an anomaly instead of part of the mainstream. I have some observations from my point of view and some thoughts about how it could be fixed.

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Dragon of Legends starts Steam early access testing next week

It has been a long, long while in the coming, but gorgeous pixelart RPG Dragon of Legends is finally coming to the public stage next week. Thrive Games announced that the title will launch on Steam early access next Friday, December 15th.

Dragon of Legends is a Norse-themed 2-D action RPG with a retro style that ran a successful Kickstarter last year. It offers a lot of character customization, seven classes, and lots of hand-designed pixel art.

While the early access version will be single-player only, the team will be working on getting multiplayer functionality ready for the full launch version. Also planned between now and release are additional classes, Steam Workshop integration, and cross-platform play with mobile devices.

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Dauntless launches the Sharpen Your Skills update

After several weeks of previews, the latest update for Dauntless has arrived, and it’s aiming at making a better hunter out of you. Sharpen Your Skills will allow you to do just that with the new hunt progression system and the addition of cells, both of which augment your progress through the game and allow you to become far more lethal as you play. There are also new combat enhancements and damage types, so you’ll have even more reason to make your skills as sharp as they can be.

You’ll need sharper skills to take on new challenges, though, including two new behemoths to hunt. Perhaps you can do so with the game’s first ranged attack weapon, the war pike. Check out trailers for the update just below, and get ready to leap in and start getting better at slaying huge monsters. Or turning into a smear on the rocks for a few rounds before you actually sharpen your skills a bit, it’s a fine line.

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Choose My Adventure: Wrapping things up in Secret World Legends

One of the things that I promised way back when I started writing this series about Secret World Legends was to mention the way in which this game seems to tie into The X-Files. There’s an obvious superficial connection (both take place in the real world with added supernatural stuff, for example), but that’s not actually the connection that sticks out to me. It has more to do with the nature of the story both are telling.

While I’m not on board with the game’s character vignettes (which are much more “portrait of this person you don’t really interact with” than anything), there is an underlying story running through every part of the game. I clocked out midway through Egypt when I played the original The Secret World, and there were an assortment of reasons, but part of it was that connection I mentioned above. To wit: the game really likes having mysteries, but it doesn’t really like having answers for a lot of them.

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WoW Factor: Reconsidering the next few months of World of Warcraft

There’s a lot of information coming out about patch 7.3.5 at this point. Not everything, of course, and a lot of it is based more on datamining than actual stuff that has been announced. But it seems fair to say that World of Warcraft’s immediate future for the next lengthy expansion gap is on the test servers right now, and some of it is obvious while some pieces are… less so. And, if I might be so bold, it even gives us a pretty clear picture of the next few months right out of the gate.

Right now the live game is, obviously, focused on Antorus. That’s the focus for the actual gameplay, and the slow trickle of wings into the group finder are the big thing to do and look forward to until the whole of the content is available by January. For that matter, I think that part of the goal of the next month or so is to give people all the reason in the world to run and explore Antorus and see the story for themselves if they’re interested in having a personal stake in what happens next.

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Path of Exile’s War for the Atlas expansion is live today

Path of Exile’s free-to-play War for the Atlas expansion is slated to go live this afternoon on PC, expanding the gameworld for diehard MMOARPG fans. As we’ve previously reported, the expansion adds a crapton of new random maps – 32 to be exact – to bolster the endgame. You’re also getting the requisite new gear, new bosses, new character customization options (chiefly new support gems and necro skill gems), and of course a new plotline focused around The Elder va. The Shaper battle.

The Abyss Challenge League also begins today. “Coinciding with the launch of Path of Exile: War for the Atlas, we’re introducing the Abyss Challenge League,” says Grinding Gear Games. “Fight ancient foes that spill forth from the cracks beneath your feet as you journey across Wraeclast, and claim valuable new Abyss Jewels to customise your characters and items in new ways.” The Xbox One launch is scheduled for later this month, so you won’t have too long to wait, though you can check out our detailed preview of the expansion while you do so!

Massively OP will be streaming the expansion today at 3 p.m. EST, assuming the servers come up right at the scheduled time, so join in the fun on OPTV!

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Sea of Thieves announces March launch date for PC and Xbox One

Well this is a bit of welcome news before the year rounds out! Rare finally announced a launch date for Sea of Thieves: March 20th, 2018. That’s for both PC and Xbox One.

The announcement came in the form of a new trailer that gives a quick overview of the general gameplay and quirkiness that comes with this pirate title. We are especially excited about the quick bit where they showed a rapid succession of cosmetic outfits — because a buccaneer has to look fashionable, after all!

Pre-orders will get into a January five-day closed beta and secure a Black Dog pack for the live game. Get pumped up with the launch trailer below (and say hello to the chicken when you do so)!

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The Daily Grind: How do you feel about Destiny 2 six weeks post-launch?

Destiny 2’s Curse of Osiris has already been out a few days and… it’s not exactly lighting the world on fire. Core fanboys aren’t happy and are advising folks to just hold their wallets until Bungie gets its house in order. I’m down to just one guildie obsessively playing. And the hype? The hype for Destiny 1 was a surge that carried for months. D2 hype seems to have fizzled out.

All of that was in my mind already with MOP Patron Roger dropped the perfect topic in my inbox. “I’ve been more in pen and paper games recently than MMOs, but I have been playing something that gives me that MMO feel: Destiny 2.” he writes. “Have any of you guys played it yet? If so, how do you feel if MMOs and massive-coop-online games met closer in the middle?”

For starters, I am digging “massively co-op”! So let’s tackle Roger’s query and mine together. How do you feel about Destiny 2 six weeks post-launch? Were you one of those folks who said, “PC or bust,” and are you still PCing? What happened to the hype? Where did Bungie go wrong? And above all else, do you think Destiny 2 is that perfect midpoint between MMORPG and co-op shooter? Will it have an impact on the way the genre is developed moving forward, or will that be left to future games like Anthem?

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Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMO developer quotes of 2017

Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.

Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.

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Escape from Tarkov preps massive New Year’s stress test ahead of 2018 open beta

Did you think Christmas came too early this year? One of my hobbies was already rolling out Valentine’s Day hoopla in August, so I feel you. Escape from Tarkov, however, has already moved on to New Year’s. We’ll let this one slide, however, since the game is focused on its open beta launch, so the New Year’s event is really a stress test that kicks off on December 28th and is intended to attract people who’ve never tested before. “Seven-day access to the game will be granted to a part of the players, who will be picked randomly among the total number of subscribers, with bias for those who have been registered earlier,” says the team.

Previous beta testers (and preorder purchasers, of course) will also pick up a pair of week-long access keys to hand out to their mates.

So what’s on the horizon for the game?

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Chaos Theory: Exploring Secret World Legend’s anima allocation and other QoL improvements

Remember that big quality-of-life update that Secret World Legends launched mid-November? Chances are your quality of SWL life did indeed improve with a number of those changes. Mine did. Some you may have been enjoying are the new summoned vendor that visits you in the field, or the teleports that allow you to pop instantly back to the three hubs to do your business. Perhaps you’ve gotten one of the new weapon-specific belt talismans (one of the 10 actually works for all weapons) that are mob loot drops. You might even have been having some fun in the Seoul Fight Club with its equal-footing PvP matches. Surely you’ve appreciated the new loot added to dungeons, scenarios, or lairs.

While I certainly benefit from all these other improvements, two of the biggest changes for me have been the anima allocation system and the XP transfer on empowerment. The two are actually tied together, along with the reduced cost to recover glyphs and signets. I wanted to give it some time working with the new system before talking about it. And I’ve concluded that more than just quality of life improvements, these tread a bit into the game-changer category.

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Crowfall’s crafting looks more and more like Star Wars Galaxies’

Hey crafters. Let’s talk Crowfall for a minute. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today in a new dev blog that crafting in the PvP-centric MMORPG is due for a pretty hefty update. “These changes will add some significant aspects to gameplay as we’re shifting game development from building many standalone systems to adding features that will mesh the systems together,” he says.

For starters, crafters are getting recipe tiering that just screams Star Wars Galaxies; some recipes can be made while you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, while others require experimentation and different levels of crafting stations, the higher-quality versions of which will be located in increasingly challenging or remote locations, further adding to the purpose of places like forts and keeps. I’m giddy just thinking about it. The crafting UI is getting an overhaul as well. And that’s not all!

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