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Betawatch: Dark and Light enters closed testing (June 23, 2017)

One game enters the list and another leaves. Dark and Light has started its closed testing, although there’s a very small number of people currently invited to test the game, so you’re probably not on the list. Meanwhile, Master x Master has entered the shark-infested waters of launch, so it’s now as real as it gets. Hooray for changes on the list!

Boy, I’m so excited I’m just going to launch into several more list items. Come with me, will you?

And there’s still a whole list down below! What fun. Let us know if something in there slipped phases without us noticing, all right? We really like lists, if you haven’t noticed.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is everything you expect (and that’s outstanding)

In my mind, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is all about sticking the landing. After a few years of FFXIV being out, the game has consistently earned high praise from people who play it. Heavensward was recognized as a definite high point for the game, improving more or less everything in the game and adding more besides. So the question was whether or not Stormblood would continue down the same road or try to dramatically upend things, break down what once worked well and lose sight of what people enjoy.

The good news, then, is that it sticks the landing.

Everything that worked well in Heavensward has been brought forward and refined, and the parts that hadn’t worked so well have been trimmed away, repurposed, or outright removed. It feels very much like an expansion to the same core game, but in the process it manages to address almost every complaint I had over Heavensward almost incidentally. And it continues on in the high standards the game has set for itself over the years, resulting in an expansion which I’m already in love with after finishing the main storyline.

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The Daily Grind: How much realism is too much in an MMORPG?

In yesterday’s comments on the Shroud of the Avatar AMA article, MOP reader squidgod2000 drew everyone’s attention to an overlooked bit in the Q&A that discusses nutrition in the game. I knew that food was intended to be a big deal in SOTA, but I had no concept of how far the game might eventually go — apparently a complicated system of calories, fat, and salt that affects a player’s stats. Richard Garriott says it’s all still a work in progress and only slowly being addressed (that goes for barfing up your food if you eat too much too!).

I love playing cooks in MMORPGs — let’s be honest, games are the only place I’ll ever be a great chef — so I most definitely want to see game mechanics in my sandboxes that make such consumables matter. I didn’t mind the various versions of “stomach capacity” Star Wars Galaxies implemented, for example. But I’m going to have to draw my personal line at counting calories in a freakin’ video game. Sorry, SOTA, but most of us have to do that and worry about our health or our relatives’ health in the real world.

And that leads me to today’s Daily Grind. How much realism is too much in an MMORPG?

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The Daily Grind: Are there MMOs you play on different platforms from your normal gaming?

When I’m playing an MMO, I’m playing it on my computer. My PC may be getting a bit older, but it’s still a very good machine, and there’s the benefit of familiarity and hardware. Heck, these days I do most of my gaming on my PC; console exclusives often just wind up being things I straight-up don’t play, so games like Destiny wind up in the ralm of vague curiosity.

But I don’t know if I’m the usual or the outlier. Sure, for a long time MMOs were pretty firmly limited to PC players, but these days you can get a number of games on console as well; part of me thinks that games like SMITE would actually work better on console than on PC anyhow. And that’s not counting games which you might play on the PC even when you play most of your games on other platforms, which is how I started with Final Fantasy XI. So what about you, dear readers? Are there MMOs you play on different platforms from your normal gaming? And if so, why?

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The Daily Grind: Does an MMO’s reputation keep you from playing it?

If I could shed a lot of cynicism and years, I think I could’ve been an EVE Online player. I’ve always loved sci-fi more than fantasy, and the thought of exploring a galaxy in a ship that I customized is a powerful one. Yet every so often when the urge comes over me to install the game and play it — the other week, in fact — I am checked by the game’s reputation.

Maybe it’s completely unfair, as some EVE players adamantly tell me, but I can’t get past the seeming gankbox culture that exudes from every story I hear about this title and the notable personalities that are promoted in it. From the studio on down, there’s this attitude, this reputation that is anathema to me. And that’s regrettable, because I think there’s a part of me that would’ve liked to play it, even casually.

Does an MMO’s reputation ever keep you from playing it? Have you ever pushed past that to give a game a try on its own merits?

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Enter to win a SMITE Cu Chulainn or Camazotz skin from Hi-Rez and MOP

Live in SMITE today are both the previously revealed mana-based god Cu Chulainn and the unique Code of Chivalry event, which introduces a morality bar to the MOBA and allows players to complete quests — for good and for evil — to become either a Noble Knight or a Black one.

To celebrate the update, Hi-Rez has granted us a bundle of keys for Cu Chulainn and his Hound of Ulster skin as well as Camazotz and his Xibalba’s Shadow skin. As always, skin codes can be redeemed in-game across all platforms and in all regions as long as you’re playing on Hi-Rez SMITE servers (Tencent runs the Chinese servers, and LevelUp runs the Latin American and Brazilian servers, so the codes won’t work there).

Read on to enter to win!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the ideal group size for an MMORPG?

During this week’s Massively OP podcast (live this afternoon!), Justin and I tackled a detailed question about MMO group makeup, the trinity, and combat, and we took the opportunity to tangent a bit into praising City of Heroes, which not only managed to smash the trinity but did so in a way that increased the number of combat roles in a group over the standard, provided flexible difficulty modes at a time when that was unheard of, and scaled content to group size, meaning that you didn’t really need to take a full group of eight into most of the instanced content. You took what you had and that was enough. It was brilliant.

And while I’m not much of a fan of huge, methodical raids anymore, that’s more because I dislike them as the Only Thing To Do At Endgame. I do love massive group sizes, however, which is why I lamented the loss of the 20-man group in Star Wars Galaxies and adore the casual swarms of Guild Wars 2. On the other hand, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the formal group size is four or five or six; my guildies always seem to be one body short of what we need, and I constantly find myself wishing for City of Heroes’ ruleset.

What do you think is the ideal group size in an MMORPG? And do you base that on social balance or typical class configurations or something else entirely?

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG developer would you most like to meet in person?

Be you press or player, one of the advantages of going in person to a convention (or any other gaming event!) is surely the chance to actually meet and talk to individual developers. You can get a partial read on developers from their written words and even their speech on streams, but nothing beats actually talking one-on-one with a dev, looking him or her in the eye, asking tough questions out of PR handlers’ hearing, and chasing a conversation down unexpected paths. I’ve been wowed by devs and community leader whom I didn’t expect to be so amazing — and similarly, I’ve been let down by veteran designers I thought were much more impressive on paper than in person. Sometimes both at the same event!

Which MMORPG developer would you most like to meet in person?

(That’d be Camelot Unchained’s Ben Pielstick in the header working on polearm animations, by the way!)

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MMO Week in Review: FFXIV Stormblood and E3 2017 (June 18, 2017)

Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!

Botched MMORPG expansion launches are nothing new to veteran MMO gamers, so the roadblock issues of Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood this weekend won’t surprise anyone, though I can think of at least one MOP writer frustrated out of his mind! The good news is that Square-Enix is working on the congestion problems. The bad news is that headstart for preorder players is only the beginning.

Meanwhile, E3 drew to a close, and while its traditional MMORPG offerings — Black Desert, Elder Scrolls Online, and Final Fantasy XIV — were slim, there was plenty on display for multiplayer online gamers, including Sea of Thieves, Skull and Bones, and Destiny 2. We’ve got a bit more E3 to publish this week, but in the meantime, read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.

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The MOP Up: Destiny 2’s class roster (June 18, 2017)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

This week we have stories and videos from Twilight SpiritsThe Black DeathConqueror’s BladeWorlds AdriftRagnarok JourneyTERA, WakfuARKGuild Wars 2, and Destiny 2, all waiting for you after the break!

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One Shots: Summer camp

I ask for “camp” from all of you — and camp is what I got, although not necessarily what I envisioned. Sometimes it’s better than that! So what did Rees Racer immediately go to when I requested pictures of summer camp?

“There’s no pretending TERA is an open-world sandbox,” he said. “It is straight-up themepark. This means there are plenty of towns (large and small) along with various and sundry other quest hubs cleverly disguised as camps. I’m having good fun leveling the newest Valkyrie class, and here she is during a brief respite at the Desert Research Station in Val Aureum.”

May I float the suggestion that saddling a lion and pulling on its mane while shouting “GIDDYUP!” only has one logical and unfortunate conclusion?

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The Daily Grind: Have you ever had free-to-play buyer’s remorse in an MMO?

A friend of mine who doesn’t really play MMOs asked me recently about buyer’s remorse for free-to-play games. It’s a good question, I think; with subscription games, failing to make use of something is mostly the equivalent of not going to the gym despite having a membership. Awkward and unpleasant, but not really outright remorse. But dropping $10 on something and later wishing you hadn’t is another story altogether.

I do, in fact, have my own story of that; I bought some cartel coins on Star Wars: The Old Republic and was using them to unlock parts of a stronghold, but one part deducted several coins repeatedly without actually unlocking until I relogged. (The customer service staff, I’m sorry to say, was entirely unhelpful in resolving the issue.) It’s not a major problem, and it certainly wasn’t enough for me to make an undying issue out of it, but I did wish in hindsight that I hadn’t bothered.

So what about you, dear readers? Have you ever had free-to-play buyer’s remorse in an MMO? If so, what did you buy and why do you wish you hadn’t? And even if you don’t have such a story, do you think it’s probably more common than we hear?

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