Even an old dog can find itself a fresh young pup in the right circumstances. Battleground Europe, originally known as World War II Online, finally made the jump to Steam last week as one of the newest full-scale MMOFPS games on the platform. This, despite the title being over a decade and a half old at this point.
It looks as though the title has reverted back to the original World War II Online title for the Steam launch. As of September 22nd, the game saw an increase of 45,000 players sign up for new accounts, which is no doubt sorely needed for this aging MMO. The small indie team is using this momentum as an opportunity to push out more improvements, such as newer art models and a streamlined tutorial.
“Population levels remain substantially higher than we have seen in years, routinely around the clock,” the team posted. “We’re very happy to report this progress and these production items coming (more not listed here) are intended to help bolster that success even further.”
Just about 20 years ago, my boyfriend and I were wandering through Media Play (heh) when he picked up this box for some new online subscription video game with a cheesy Hildebrandt cover. I was skeptical. He bought it anyway. The next morning, after I’d played all night and totally bogarted his new game, we figured we should probably get a second account. And so we did, in spite of being clueless teenagers who could barely afford one sub, let alone two.
That game was Ultima Online, and it’s the game that birthed the term MMORPG and quite literally dragged me into the realm of virtual worlds. Without it, I wouldn’t be right here where I am talking to you today, having married that dude in the interim. And as of yesterday, that game is 20 years old.
Last autumn, when the game was turning 19, I did a fairly in-depth video on the coolest parts of UO, the parts you can still play today, as I do frequently dive back in and am playing this month too! It’s Massively OP’s best-performing video to date, proving that the game is very much not dead and done. Pretty much everything in the video is still accurate, except for the part on the business model (spoiler: UO is kinda going free-to-play), so I’m going to include it below, but then I’ll recap some of the important bits from the last year and answer a few questions anybody reading is sure to have.
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!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Lawbreakers, Hyper Universe, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, Pokemon Go, World of Tanks, DC Universe Online, Crossout, Monster Hunter World, Runes of Magic, Atlantica Online, Revelation Online, League of Legends, Crossfire, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Path of Exile, and Dungeon Fighter Online, all waiting for you after the break!
Players feeling the frustration and sting of random grouping in Overwatch and other e-sports games might have a new ally in the form of a permanent teaming service. Permateam, as the name implies, connects players with desired team roles to form teams that benefit all. The site has one of the longest and most peculiar manifestos that we have read in a while, mostly expressing the pitfalls that random teaming causes.
“[Overwatch’s] attempt to group people were met with failure,” the site argues. “Players understood quickly that the volatile nature of random teams did not have any direct consequences for them. They could be as toxic as their rage dictated because they would not see the other players again after the match ended. Those lucky enough to win a match, learned that those random teams were just passing by. Skillful players would leave the short-term team and move-on. Occasionally, some players would accept to stick together for a few matches and become ‘friends’. Only to discover the next day that those friends are not playing again or are not reachable again. Having no other choice, players would again click on the ‘Find match’ button with dread, and like flipping a coin, wonder if their next team would bring them luck or misery.”
Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Today we have four fresh titles to take a look at.
Gamigo announced Savage Hunt – Dragon’s Prophet this week, the successor to Dragon’s Prophet, which Gamigo is calling “one of the most successful MMORPGs ever launched.” MMORPG players will recall that Daybreak sunsetted the US version of the original game in 2015, though it continued on overseas. The company says the free-to-play title will launch on September 28th in English, German, and French, and yes, you can still “hunt, train, and fight with […] dragons.” Over 600 of them, in fact, though you’ll probably be distracted by “4000 exciting quests and events” and PvP battles. The official site doesn’t appear to be live just yet.
“Savage Hunt – Dragon’s Prophet is the newest release after the long-standing success of Dragon’s Prophet. Discover new and epic adventures and find your own path in Savage Hunt – Dragon’s Prophet. Explore a fantastic world that combines classical MMORPG elements with unique features. Search through forests and mountains for rare dragons, items and always be prepared for the fight. In the new Book of Dragons, you can collect your dragons and plan your journey. Find, hunt and tame over 600 dragons with individual strengths and skills. Only the best hunters and collectors can improve their dragons and items.”
What else have we got?
“It’s possible, pig, I might be bluffing. It’s conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I’m only lying here because I lack the strength to stand. But, then again… perhaps I have the strength after all. DROP… YOUR… SWORD!”
Can’t imagine why this screenshot of Secret World Legends from Winterskorn has me thinking of The Princess Bride. It’s inconceivable. Also, that sword doesn’t look like it can cut very well, just saying!
While you weren’t paying attention, the Cold War crept up on us all. Again. War Thunder
entered a new era — or E.R.A. — this week, introducing vehicles and technology from the 1960s and 1970s into its mixed vehicle environment.
Players can now secure Rank VI vehicles from the more recent past, which includes nearly three dozen new and revised tanks and planes. Some of these vehicles will enjoy the new composite and reactive armor to help them survive during battles. And while flying about over the battlefield, pilots can also hop into turrets and experience them from a first-person view.
The team also introduced a new maps with Update 1.71: the disputed German farmland of the Fulda Gap, picturesque Japenese Imperial Gardens, and an air battle above the Hürtgen Forest. Get a full overview of all of the features and changes below!
Overwatch’s next great character isn’t a product of Blizzard’s labs at all but the imagination of a masters student who whipped up a Thai hero named Tara as part of a school project. The result is a 40-page document with concept art and design specs for the hero, her abilities, her outfits, her weapons, and even a Thailand-themed map called Arun Town.
“I created a female character as a support hero,” the student posted on the forums. “Her name is Tara (meaning ‘water’ in Thai). The character’s theme is a fish, a Siamese fighting fish to be specific, and a plaited bamboo fish which is a local product in Thailand.”
In response, Game Director Jeff Kaplan said that the project was “amazing!”
This particular part of September is loaded with MMORPG and MMO birthdays. In addition to ArcheAge, whose corgipocalypse we’ve been covering already, and Ultima Online, doomed to ding 20 by Monday, there are a few more we’ve not mentioned yet. Let’s remedy that!
is turning eight today, and it’s putting on a pretty sweet party
, plus a different one in the EU
. US players can look forward to bonus experience, cake, and Kroemede’s Revenge; through the weekend in the EU, expect a Cake Hunt, in-game boots, gifts, and temporary mounts, plus an event about poppys. I don’t know, it’s Aion
, man, just go with it. We’ll be streaming some of the US festivities on Saturday, so stay tuned!
Fallen Earth also turns eight today, though you won’t find any hoopla on the official site, where there’s been no news since last year. MOP’s Justin judged it in maintenance mode as of at least this past summer. It’s OK, Fallen Earth. We’ll have a slice of cake in your honor.
During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.
“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”
Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.
Blizzard continues raking in the big bucks for its grand vision of Overwatch League, adding three new teams to its roster this week: one from Philly and two from Texas. They’ll bring the final total to 12, where it will stay for its “inaugural season.” The new teams are:
Comcast Spectacor (Philadelphia), leader in sports and entertainment and owner of the Philadelphia Flyers
Team Envy (Dallas), veteran esports organization with experience across multiple genres
OpTic Gaming (Houston), established esports organization known for its passionate global fan base
They’ll join venture capitalists from all over the world, including reps and owners of Cloud9, the LA Rams, New England Patriots, New York Mets, Immortals, Misfits Gaming, NRG Esports, Netease, and Kabam, which superficially secures the League’s future on three continents.
Blizzard has further announced that the season is “just a few short months away” — in fact, preseason play will begin on December 6th, with the season beginning January 10th and concluding with playoffs in July of 2018. This year, at least, all pre- and regular-season games will be held at Blizzard’s shiny new e-sports arena in LA.
Probably my greatest and most constant gripe about fantasy MMORPGs is that for all of the freedom and imagination that this genre supposedly boasts, game designers keep going to the same boring well of tropes and limit themselves instead of exploring possibilities.
Nowhere do you see this more than in races. Dwarves and Elves? We’ve got bushels and barrels of them, all on sale at discount prices. There are regular humans, of course, and Slightly Bigger Humans, and Half-Sized Humans, and Blue Humans. But what about getting outside of this been-there-played-that cookie cutter design to offer some interesting playable choices?
Like fairies, perhaps?
I could never understand why we don’t see fairies more in MMOs. They are widely recognized in the fantasy genre, they seem to have popularity, and they even share some cross-over with Elves. But the poor fae have been unrepresented, so much so that it took a lot of digging to come up with a mere 10 MMOs that allow you to play as one, whether it be as a race or class. Let’s take a look!
Apologies for being extensively absent from this column over the last few months! Every day the Massively OP offices are deluged with fan mail demanding, “Bring back Jukebox Heroes! Where is Jukebox Heroes? How can I survive without that epic MMO music to get me through the week?”
To which I can only mutter something about a classified mission to Paraguay, being adopted by a jaguar for six weeks, and subsequently finding myself co-starring with The Rock on his latest escapade. It’s all in the line of duty when you are an MMO reporter.
But I am back, and boy is there a lot of news to talk about this week! Let us catch up on the MMORPG music scene and see what is happening with Destiny 2, Lord of the Rings Online, Absolver, Black Desert, and Champions Online already!