You could be forgiven for kind of thinking that Pathfinder Online was dead in the water, but it turns out that there's still hope. A surprise announcement stated that the game is moving forward once more, that it's going to be finished, and that there's reason to be hopeful from here on out. So if you're a big fan of the game or what the designers originally promised, don't give up just yet!
Other beta news this week was... well, let's face it, it was weird. What do I mean? See for yourself.
See what I mean, though? It's been a weird week. Perhaps you can feel a bit better about the week by checking on the list just below, which has all sorts of games on it. Of course, some of them may have crept into a different test status without our notice, which is also weird, so please let us know in the comments if you spy that.
We've been speaking with NCsoft West off the record this week, agitating for publicly printable answers on the Master X Master decision to implement City of Heroes characters (to the loud outrage of disgruntled City of Heroes players). But apparently we won't have to, as some of the answers have been published today.
Lorehound quotes NCsoft MXM Brand Manager Sean Orlikowski as saying that adding Statesman to the MOBA was his personal "passion project for the last two years."
"I saw it as a way to incorporate a character from a beloved title into our universe. Myself and the producer for MXM were both big fans of City of Heroes (I was more on the CoV side, myself) and we worked together to make sure we got his skills, look, and even his VO right since he’d only ever been voiced for a single sentence of a single trailer in the past. The bottom line for me was that nearly all of NCSOFT’s properties were being represented in the game; Aion, Blade & Soul, Lineage II, WildStar, Guild Wars 2, even Death Knight from the original Lineage MMO are in the game. I wanted the West to have proper representation, so we started brainstorming ideas for Western characters to add to Rytlock and Mondo Zax who were already in development. I made the argument for Statesman because the MXM universe offered a way he could be prominent again, and the rest is history."
On Tuesday, NCsoft announced that it plans to introduce Statesman, from the long-sunsetted City of Heroes, as a playable character in its MOBA, Master x Master.
Complications ensued, as anyone familiar with the history of MMORPGs can probably imagine.
For this week's Overthinking, I asked our team of writers -- both those who loved CoH and those who never much played it -- what they think about the whole ordeal. Are gamers right to be angry? What exactly is NCsoft thinking? Have we seen the end of any hope of the game being resurrected or sold, or should we infer just the opposite?
Yesterday, NCsoft took the lid off a secret it's clearly been working on for a while: The company means to introduce a notorious and well-known City of Heroes NPC as one of the characters in its upcoming MOBA, Master x Master.
Here's the thing. Master x Master is actually pretty well-liked around here. The writers we've sent to test it out the past few years came away thinking it was an excellent hybrid PvE MOBA with a lot of MMO elements, a genuinely good entry to the market and something we're happy to cover. So I don't think anyone wishes it, specifically, harm.
But NCsoft? I don't know who told you this was a good idea. It's really not a good idea.
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.
Eager to know when everyone gets to play Master x Master? We can't tell you that, on account of not actually knowing. Still, the game is introducing us to two new heroes, so forward motion is still happening! This pair is Koom, an enormous stone juggernaut, and Vonak, a spindly guy with a popped collar and two guns. Care to guess which one is the defensive hero and which one is the assault?
That's not a trick question, by the way. It's pretty obvious. Koom is a huge dude made of stone, he's all about defense. That should not be a difficult evaluation.
As always, the videos for both characters show off their abilities and some of the customizations available for the characters to tweak abilities and attack. You can check out both videos down below, and presumably join the "eagerly waiting for a beta announcement" crowd.
On the surface, fourth quarter 2016 financials for MMORPG giant NCsoft look solid. Yesterday, the company released its investor report, highlighting hefty year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter growth in sales and operating profit, both setting records for the studio.
Among NCsoft's chief games, Lineage as always drives performance, significantly so this quarter, but Lineage II, Aion, Blade and Soul, and Guild Wars 2 held more or less steady over their previous quarters too, though Aion and GW2 are down year-over-year.
Of note, WildStar's performance is no longer being reported separately, so we can no longer track its downward trends; it's now bundled unceremoniously into "other sales" -- not a good sign, but presumably better than the alternative.
Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016, which was awarded to Square-Enix last year.
We asked our writers to consider major MMORPG studios in 2016, not just their pet favorites, and judge the studios on what they did within the MMORPG genre this year specifically. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Best MMORPG Studio of 2016 is...
Right now we are in a strange place in MMORPG history. Following the backlash of WoW clones and several high-profile titles that underperformed, major studios are becoming extremely risk-averse to creating big-budget titles the way that we saw not five years ago. Many former MMO teams are diversifying with shooters, MOBAs, and other safer and trendier titles.
Yet all is not lost! MMO features continue to ripple out into all types of game genres and new titles continue to be produced -- just not from the usual suspects. Instead, most of what is on our immediate horizon comes from either crowdfunded indie teams or eastern giants. The good news is that 2017 should see the culmination of many of these long-brewing projects and adaptations, hopefully resulting in a bumper crop of interesting online RPGs for us to play.
So let's run down the list of games that either are or possibly could be coming to you in 2017. We will provide an overview of each title, why you should care about it, and our best guess at the odds of its officially launching during the calendar year. If an upcoming MMO is not on the list, then it is our opinion that while we'll see it eventually, a 2017 release isn't happening.
Sometimes, stories are just so weird that you can't help but find them fascinating. Take the unexpected removal of Project Genom from the Steam store. The former lead programmer claimed that he was given no contracts and functionally scammed out of assets and work; the studio claimed he never signed a contract and turned out substandard work. It's one of those weird stories of conflicting hearsay that you know you'll never really know the truth about, even with the promise that the game will be getting back on Steam soon.
It's a quiet holiday week for most of us, but that doesn't mean other beta news didn't happen. For example:
- Wild Terra has opened up its testing to everyone for a few days, just so that people can see what the game is all about and give its test server a whirl. This coincides with some patches and improvements, as you like.
- Darkfall: New Dawn is also open to everyone for its stress test through the holidays. Whether or not that's a test of stress on the servers or a test of your stress is left as an exercise for the reader.
- The pre-alpha for Edengrad has started, which means that it's still light on some important features but also has the core of the game in place. At least, in theory. You'll have to test it to know if that's successful.
- Looking forward to Conan Exiles? It's arriving in early access on January 31st, 2017. That's a little ways away, but it's not that far.
- Why not try out some Master x Master Titan Ruins this weekend? The game's testing exactly that, so you can see how well it works out.
- Last but not least, Sea of Thieves is inviting people to become pirate insiders, which might be appealing if you have Windows 10 or an Xbox One. The rest of you can sit and stare in jealousy, or just wait for all of the information for insiders to be leaked. I mean, pirates.
While you're enjoying a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers, why not take the time to peruse our list of games just below? Lots of games are in testing, after all. Of course, some of them may have advanced to another testing stage without us noticing, so feel free to let us know about that down in the comments.
One thing Massively OP's MJ is thankful for is the ability to peek into new and developing games to see what they are up to. And with Master X Master's fourth alpha this weekend, she gets to do exactly that! The focus of this playtest is the 5v5, three-lane PvP mode called Titan Ruins. How will MJ do in this game mode? Tune in live at 8:00 p.m. as OPTV's infamous Stream Team brings you another look at...
What: Master X Master
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 24th, 2016
NCsoft's upcoming Master X Master is thankful for a chance to squeeze in another playtest this week. The MOBA is currently running an alpha test through November 28th in both North America and Europe.
The playtest is centered around the Titan Ruins, a 5v5, three-lane PvP mode. "None of the previous alpha data will be available for this test as we want to have a fresh look and feedback on Titan Ruins," NCsoft said. "We’ll be removing the level requirement for Titan Ruins and ranked mode for this test, as well as unlocking all masters for play immediately."
Speaking of masters, two new characters -- Nedien and Tulam -- are available to play in this test. If you didn't get in, don't fret: The beta and launch for Master X Master are coming in 2017.
After a week's delay, Revelation Online has arrived in closed beta. It even has a snazzy trailer to go along with it, which is cool. If you get tired of the content in the beta, you might be playing it a little too aggressively, but you can take heart in the fact that there's also more content just around the bend in its native home. So that's all good.
Oh, and there is indeed more news. Yes, this has been a busy time for betas. In no particular order:
- Crowfall has a plan and a schedule for its persistent world testing. It also has crafting and duelists to show you. In short, it wants your attention. Why not play along?
- Another Gigantic closed beta weekend is here. Technically, it started on Thursday, but let's not quibble; the important thing is you can play it and test the game as it moves along.
- As long as we're walking on the MOBA side, let's note that Master x Master is going to be kicking off PvP testing later this month. Yes, amidst all of that game's PvE content it is still technically a MOBA. It can be easy to forget sometimes.
- Hero's Song, on the other hand, is not even remotely a MOBA, but it has entered a backer alpha. So now you can jump in and play that instead of a MOBA. Assuming those were your only two options. It's not the best segue.
- Civilization Online is now closing down after never technically leaving beta. This is sad news, although it'd be sadder if it ever launched over here.
- There are big things coming to The Exiled's final alpha. How big? So big you can't even hear about them yet! But they're coming. Extensive revamps will arrive. Just you wait and see.
- Last but not least, the utterly bonkers Project Gorgon is seeking some additional funding after years of free, open testing. If you enjoy games which allow you to become a cow and then just stay one as long as you're happy being a cow, this might be one to back.
Was there anything else? Oh, right, the list! There's the list below with games that are currently in testing, and if some of those have slipped in a full cash shop without us noticing we'd appreciate you letting us know. That'd be cool of you.