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A major Chinese publisher with a large branch in the US, known here primarily for its stewardship of Cryptic Games’ MMORPGs, including Star Trek Online, Neverwinter, and Champions Online.

Star Trek Online brings back TNG shuttle and Discovery uniform giveaway

If you’re kicking yourself that you missed out on some of the more recent giveaways over at Star Trek Online, then kick yourself into gear instead. Cryptic announced that it is reprising its shuttle and uniform giveaway through the end of the month to anyone who logs in to claim them.

The free shuttle in question is the Type 7, most commonly seen in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It is a nice upgrade over the default shuttle that the game gives you for small craft missions, sporting a device slot and two forward weapon slots. And if you don’t mind mixing up the eras, you can pilot this shuttle wearing the new Star Trek Discovery uniform, which is the first piece of content from the current TV series to make its way into the game.

Star Trek Online also changed up its featured mission rewards for Melting Pot with a “Preeminent Deflector” that apparently synergizes well with shield output. Could be useful!

Curious about STO? One brilliant Massively OP writer called it one of the “most underrated MMORPGs” currently on the market — and gave 10 reasons why.

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Gigantic launches necro hero and new map in today’s Season of Souls Halloween update

PWE’s MOBA Gigantic is going all out for Halloween with a full-scale update, Season of Souls, launching today for PC and Xbox One. You’re getting way more than some wimpy pumpkin patch is what I’m saying.

“With today’s update, players can control Ezren Ghal, a caster hero wielding necromantic powers to damage his opponents, collect souls and trade them for powerful abilities. The new hero twists the very being of his foes by draining souls in combat, which can be turned against enemies as devastating ability attacks. The brand-new map, Ember Grove, sets the stage for this fiendish update, bringing a dense and mysterious battleground to Gigantic’s map rotation. Ancient and home to bugwitches, this new map offers verticality, as well as nooks and crannies to outmaneuver other players.”

In addition to the new hero and new map, players can expect expanded chat, new skins for Ezren Ghal, player icons, better bot matches, UI updates, and new hero interactions. Check out the cute new screenies and the new update trailer down below!

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Perfect Ten: Why Star Trek Online is an underrated MMORPG

I’m the type of player who has a stable of games that I return to from time to time, particularly when I’m looking for a dependable, enjoyable experience. I’ll stay with these games for a while until I can feel the fringe of burnout approaching and then let them go until they are needed once more.

Among these titles is a long-running favorite of mine — and an MMO that I feel is somewhat underappreciated by the larger community. The game is, of course, Star Trek Online. I was there at launch with my Del Taco cup in hand (there was a silly promotion that involved shuttles you could get from buying a soda), I’ve popped in for most of the anniversaries, and I’ve generally had a great time going through all of the featured episodes again and again while nerding out in my starship.

While I won’t argue that it is a perfect MMO or that it’s free from cash shop shenanigans, Star Trek Online does have a lot going for it that can get overlooked when players are hunting around for a reliable and slightly different gaming experience. Here’s why.

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Champions Online’s Blood Moon rises once more this Halloween

Hang in there folks: The relentless onslaught of MMO Halloween events still has another couple of weeks to go before we emerge with our treat bags full and a desire to never see another Jack-O-Lantern again.

For now, let it suffice to say that Champions Online has activated its annual Blood Moon event, flooding the game world with zombies who need a good walloping. While there’s no new activities this year, Champions does have a few cool rewards to chase, such as the bat mask, neck bolts, spooky aura, or a machete costume.

Need a refresher course on what Blood Moon entails? Take a trip back in time to watch a 2009 developer diary on the event after the break!

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Enter to win a Star Trek Online T6 Tzenkethi Shuk-din Escort or Accelerated Officer Training Pack from PWE and MOP

In honor of the launch of Star Trek Online Season 14: Emergence on PC last week, PWE has granted Massively OP a bunch of goodies to raffle to our PC readers (console folks, you can sit this one out)!

A hundred winners will be taking home a code for the Accelerated Officer Training Pack, which contains a Retrofitted 23rd Century Constitution-class Cruiser (T1), one Large Experience Booster, and free gear requisitions from Level 10 through 50.

And five winners will also score a T6 Tzenkethi Shuk-din Escort:

“As expected with Tzenkethi design, the Shuk-din Escort [T6] is highly maneuverable with immense shielding capabilities for its size. It comes equipped with the latest in Tzenkethi shield technology, which allows the starship to massively increase defensive capabilities along all non-Forward shield facings. The forward array is tuned to offense, increasing the damage dealt by the ships’ weaponry against any foe within their forward-facing 90-degree arc.”

Read on to enter to win!

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Neverwinter details the latest skirmish in the Swords of Chult module

So there’s a merchant prince in Port Nyanzaru in Neverwinter, and wouldn’t you know it, he’s greedy. He’s so greedy, in fact, that he decided to take a coveted artifact that’s wanted by everyone from the Batiri to the yuan-ti. And is he going to give it back? Of course not, even when the enemy factions are literally breaking down the walls of the port to come get it. And because your character is a soft touch, you’re going to have to fight back against the invading forces in the new skirmish to make sure that everyone else doesn’t get destroyed while the invaders seek to offer said merchant prince an entirely justified beatdown.

Players will have to fight off three waves of increasingly difficult enemies to save the city (and the merchant prince, we guess) along with setting up barricades and deploying additional forces. Success brings rewards, of course, including some valuable items from the merchant prince himself, who is very grateful that you decided to save him instead of just throwing him to the invaders and letting them sort things out. (That isn’t actually an option, by the way. We’ve checked.)

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Neverwinter details more items to be found in the lands of Chult

When you’re in a rush to leave somewhere, you forget things. Totally normal and natural, right? But Neverwinter presents a unique case for adventurers defending Port Nyanzaru from incoming raiders. See, once adventurers successfully push back yuan-ti or batiri attacks, they’ll find that the attackers have left things behind. Like weapons, and mounts, and even some batiri members who were just a little bit too slow to get away.

If they hadn’t forgotten their mounts, they might not have been too slow, though. It’s a circular problem.

Of course, among the weapons that might be left behind are the powerful Skull Lord Staves, which were long thought lost. And players can also pick up new styles of weapons, new Stronghold decorations, and new PvP gear. In short, there’s lots of good stuff to be found in Chult, and sometimes attackers just leave it lying around after the fact before explaining that they “forgot” to bring it back.

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The Daily Grind: Do you have a hard time connecting with isometric MMOs?

Let’s talk perspective today. No, not your general outlook on life — which I’m sure is cheery and as non-cynical as can be — but the camera vantage point in MMORPGs. By and large, cameras trail our characters either behind them or over the shoulder, with the occasional first-person perspective thrown in to keep us on our toes.

But that wasn’t the default prior to EverQuest. No, graphical MMOs in the 1990s were all about 2-D isometric layouts, from Neverwinter Nights to Ultima Online. While the isometric perspective has been largely shoved aside in modern MMOs, we do see them persist in MMOARPGs like Path of Exile and the recently released Albion Online. Even RuneScape in its older incarnations drew the camera up and back during its gameplay.

So here is my question for you today: Do you have a hard time connecting with the world and your character in MMOs featuring isometric perspectives (or other similar camera setups)? Does the distance keep you from being as invested in what’s going on, or does it lend a unique charm to your gaming experience?

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Massively Overthinking: Epic Tavern-style player-generated content in MMORPGs

Ever played Epic Tavern? Massively OP reader Uli though it would make an interesting point of comparison for MMO content. “Epic Tavern is a single player game where you run a fantasy tavern frequented by heroes for a drink, food, bed for the night, and you can try to persuade those NPC heroes to go on a quest for you, sharing the spoils,” he explains.

“A comment I read suggested that would be great for MMO taverns: player running a tavern being able to give quests in the game to players frequenting the tavern. I know there are options for player run quests, but this would be different: pre-existing or otherwise player-made and engine-supported quests that are bestowed on player to match their group or skill level. And of course it would mean that visiting a tavern and meeting other players would finally have a point beyond mere chatting/RP. Ensuring people spent time in taverns to interact with would really help the socializing/third-space-in-virtual-rooms issue. But could it work in a MMO? Would that be abused for loot/rewards, biased quest assignment/withholding based on favors? Or what other problems could that cause?”

A lot of our writers and readers have experience with player-generated content, so I thought it would be fun to build on the ideas of Epic Tavern for Uli in this week’s Overthinking. Which MMOs have (or desperately need) great PGC, and when have you seen it go wrong? Could a formal, mechanical system for quest-giving like Epic Tavern’s work in an MMO, or is it something best left to the roleplayers?

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Connect with other online gamers via MMO Book Club’s Guild Wars 2 romp and MMOCircles

Feeling a little isolated? Having a hard time making friends? Does your mother have to validate how special you are? Here are a couple of ways that you can plug into the wider MMO community this week!

After a furious round of voting, the MMO Book Club has voted on Guild Wars 2 for its next grand adventure. Jump in and join this nomadic community as it learns the ropes in Tyria during the month of October. The fastest way to hook up with this group? Head over to Discord and see what’s up.

Another option is a brand-new social network designed specifically for MMORPG players. MMOCircles is designed to connect players to others who are interested in the same games. The platform says that it has 500 people signed up already and features titles such as Neverwinter and Vindictus.

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Hyperspace Beacon: The pros and cons of SWTOR’s United Forces server merges

First, if you’re hoping this is going to be an article hating on server merges and declaring them the ruination of an MMO community, then prepare for disappointment. I believe that server merges when done correctly are more beneficial to the health of a game than attempting to over segregate the playerbase. In fact, if I haven’t written about it here, I have mentioned multiple times in other forums that I think a single-server is probably one of the best things to happen to MMOs. EVE Online and Champions Online were a couple of the first MMOs to embrace this idea, and I know I’ve applauded them for it.

Although Star Wars: The Old Republic isn’t going down to one single server for its whole game, it is greatly reducing the number of servers. On November 8th, BioWare will reduce the servers to one server for each of the major English-speaking regions: US West Coast, US East Coast, and Europe. Then one server for each of the other languages represented in the game: French and German.

Surprisingly, most of the community is reacting positively to the idea of combining the servers. While the studio hasn’t actually used the term “server merge,” it’s been clear that everyone’s being moved into combined servers once again. However, there is one hold-out community that takes issue with how the merges are being handled. There are pros and cons, and there is really no way to combine servers without someone losing something, but the hope is that the overall gain will outweigh the losses.

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Perfect Ten: The 10 live MMORPGs everybody should try

If you have ever visited the MMORPG subreddit, you probably know that one of the most frequent posts that pop up are ones asking the community for recommendations. These are players who have left a full-time game and are now fishing around for a substitute, or those who have “played them all” and are hoping that some undiscovered gem exists, or are having a difficult time finding a good game match for their preferred playstyle.

I am often leery about tossing out blanket recommendations because it’s far better to get to know a player, his or her game history, and the type of game sought before giving my opinion. But if you were to put a fish cannon to my head and threatened me with rapid-codding, I think I would be generally OK promoting the following 10 MMORPGs to most players, sight unseen.

These are MMOs that have earned my personal recommendation and are the titles that I tend to promote the most. Here we go!

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The Daily Grind: Do dinosaurs help or hurt your immersion in MMOs?

My kids, being of a younger age, tend to find dinosaurs pretty darn awesome. They went bananas the other day when they saw a dino mount in Neverwinter and screamed at me for not getting it (“cash shop ploy” does not mean much to them).

Not every MMORPG tosses in dinosaurs, but they get slipped into fantasy worlds more often than you would think. From World of Warcraft’s Un’goro Crater to Trove’s Jurassic biome, there seems to be this thought that dinosaurs can punch up a title and pander to that young, impressionable kid in all of us (and I won’t even get started on the whole ARK phenomenon).

It might be a frivolous topic, but do you think dinos help or hurt MMOs? Are they just too immersion-breaking and bizarre to toss into most fantasy worlds? Does their scale hamper their inclusion? What do you say?

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