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Choose My Adventure: Shroud of the Avatar in summation

All the time through playing Shroud of the Avatar, I found myself wanting to like the game a lot more than I did. And my brain kept turning back to Minecraft, which seems like a worthwhile comparison to make.

Much like SOTA, Minecraft is a game strongly based on the concept of making your own fun. You are definitely making your own adventure in the game. But at the same time, it seems very relevant to point out that the game starts by giving you a clear set of parameters to work within. Monsters will spawn at night, there are resources under ground, you break things to get better things, and then combine those things to make still better things. From there on out, much of the game is devoted to figuring out how these various elements play off of one another.

So they’re both sandbox-ish titles in which you make your own fun. Except that one of them starts by showing you the fun that you’re supposed to be having and giving you a goal, and it does so with absolutely no story to guide you along that route. It shows you exactly the sort of game it’s trying to be and lets you start working at meeting it halfway. But SOTA never quite got there, at least for me.

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Guild Wars 2 rolls out brand-new forums, grants amnesty to past ne’er-do-wells

Guild Wars 2’s forums have just gotten a massive facelift with all the standard bits and bobs you’d want from a forum in 2017: avatars, mobile responsiveness, badges, ranks, bookmarks, private messages, searching, and up- and down-voting, so you too can brigade whatever ArenaNet says!

Anybody can log in with a game account, and since it’s free, that means everyone can read, but you’ll need to have bought into the game to actually post – even if you’ve been banned before. “The forums will be visible to everyone, members and visitors alike,” says the studio. “Everyone with a paid Guild Wars 2 account in good standing can participate on the new forums. A game account holder whose forum privileges were terminated on the old forums will be granted one-time amnesty in order to rejoin the forum community.” Maybe try not to screw it up this time?

The downside is the studio isn’t importing anything but a handful of its own threads, so if there’s anything you need from the old forums, like guides or RP stories, grab ’em soon — they’ll be archived until the end of October before (we’re assuming) being retired to eternal sleep with the likes of Rurik and Scarlet.

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Destiny 2’s Curse of Osiris DLC confirmed, Bungie responds to shader controversy

Yesterday, we touched on the controversy brewing in Destiny 2, where Bungie has begun selling one-use consumables dubbed shaders (akin to dyes) – items that were free in the original game. Now the studio’s responded to the criticism.

“Shaders are earned through gameplay: leveling, chests, engrams, vendors. We expect you’ll be flush w/ Shaders as you continue to play,” Bungie’s Luke Smith tweeted. “When you reach level 20, Shaders will drop more often: vendor rewards, destination play and endgame activities. Shaders are now an ongoing reward for playing. Customization will inspire gameplay. Each planet has unique armor and Shader rewards. With D2, we want statements like ‘I want to run the Raid, Trials, or go back to Titan to get more of its Shader’ to be possible.”

There are worse responses, I suppose. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What else is going on in the world of Destiny since its launch? Oh, nothing much. Just a patch for the promised clan progression features and confirmation that the first DLC will indeed bear the “Curse of Osiris” title — that last last bit thanks to the Xbox Store:

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Choose My Adventure: Many kinds of lost in Shroud of the Avatar

One of the first things I did in Shroud of the Avatar was get kind of lost. The last week’s activities were largely similar. Only now, it was a different kind of lost.

It wasn’t just that I didn’t have much of anywhere to go; that was how the vote went, after all, and while it might not have been my first choice that’s kind of the purpose behind voting instead of just letting me decide everything. It wasn’t just that the areas afforded me little to no guidance about points of interest. It was that I kept asking myself “why?” as I worked, fought things, explored, and so forth.

No answers were forthcoming. And perhaps that’s missing the point, but it also struck me that this is part of the reason why a guild may have made a major difference here. Albeit not necessarily for the best, but let me get into that as I go.

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Leaderboard: Are you playing Destiny 2?

I was super worried about losing my whole guild to Destiny 2’s PC beta last week, but after the beta fling, they’re back to chattering about Guild Wars 2 and plotting adventures there. I’m not sure it’s a slam on Destiny 2, either, just that we’re chiefly PC fans, so the console launch isn’t much of a draw, and the PC launch is still almost two months off. Meanwhile, Guild Wars 2 is very much live, with an expansion just a few weeks away.

For today’s Leaderboard, let’s see whether you’re like my guildies — are you playing Destiny 2?

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PAX West 2017: Ship of Heroes on exploration, community, and recapturing the magic of City of Heroes

Sometimes MMORPG players might get the feeling that game companies will let just about anything slide in order to keep the most revenue streaming in, but that’s not the case with one particular hopeful City of Heroes successor: Ship of Heroes. Studio Heroic Games is predicating the game on a positive atmosphere, which starts from the ground up.

At this year’s PAX West, I sat down with CEO Casey McGeever to talk about the game: where it’s coming from, where it is now, and where it’s going. We discussed funding, rivalries, community, and the wild backstory about the massive ship that heroes will be living on. After that, I attended the CoH successor panel to hear about the three largest superhero MMORPG games currently in development. Let’s suit up and dig in.

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Paragon players rage over ‘pay-to-win’ monetization changes and loot crates

No exaggeration: The Paragon subreddit is in absolute uproar over the MOBA’s newest monetization tactic. The board is currently covered with dozens of threads angry over the game’s new buyable packs as dedicated players express rage over what they’re saying amounts to pay-to-win, mobile platform strategies – a moneygrab.

The most expensive pack, the Diamond pack at $150, does include a ton of stuff. But what it doesn’t include is a guarantee that the loot crates tucked inside it will actually grant all the unlocks, meaning you could shell out a ton of money and still be outta luck.

Redditors are also speculating on the decision-making process itself, pointing out that the game’s former director, Steve Superville, who left Epic after 15 years with the company last spring, was adamant that the studio would never sell cards and heroes, that they’d be earnable only through gameplay.

“Vote with your wallets,” one Redditor urges players. “This game cannot thrive with a P2W platform, and the best way to prove this is to NOT BUY THE PACKS.”

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Underage Overwatch player lands six-figure e-sports contract

He may not be old enough to vote, but 17-year-old Jay Won is already making more money than you. Probably.

Won, an Overwatch player who goes by the handle “sinatraa,” just landed an $150,000-per-year contract with NRG Esports. He will be playing for the e-sports firm on its Overwatch League team, enjoying revenue-sharing options and team bonuses above and beyond his annual salary. Which, again, is $150,000.

Apparently Won is such a good player and in such great demand that there was a bidding war between teams to grab him. He’s also part of the North American Overwatch World Cup team, which will be competing in early November at BlizzCon.

This is merely the latest drop of wild news to fall into the bucket of Overwatch League craziness. The fledgling league is expanding aggressively as it seeks to establish itself and the game as a legitimate e-sports outlet. Last month, the OWL expanded to include teams from London and L.A.

Source: ESPN. Thanks Sally!

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Choose My Adventure: The why behind Shroud of the Avatar

Finding the fun, I’m sorry to say, was a bit on the fleeting side.

The problem isn’t that Shroud of the Avatar suddenly stopped having any of the redeeming features I noted last week; no, the stuff I found there is still there this week, and it’s not as if I can’t find any of that fun. The problem is the one that shows up reasonably often in situations like this. Having found the fun and gotten the shape of how the game’s mechanics are going to go for a while, the game ran into the related but also different problem wherein there’s nothing to advance for.

It’s not that I lost the fun, then. It’s that the fun was in some ways contingent upon having a reason to level up, and once that tenuous connection of goals was lost it wound up leaving me with the question of why, exactly, I was doing this. I never found much of a solution to that, either, so that’s not a good sign.

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Choose My Adventure: Finding the fun in Shroud of the Avatar

One of the things that I believe is utterly vital to writing about games in general and MMOs in particular is finding the fun. It’s sometimes difficult, but I think finding the fun is the difference between saying that a game is hot garbage (which it may be) and saying that it’s not to your tastes. That’s not to say the fun is even always there to be found, but if you can understand why someone might enjoy the game, you can at least work from common grounding.

It was something I hadn’t managed the last time I played through Shroud of the Avatar. I wanted to find that this week, and I’m happy to say that I did… sort of. My suspicion is that I didn’t so much find the fun as I found some fun, but considering where I was starting from when going into this week, I’m more than willing to take that as an upward move.

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Leaderboard: Do the HTC Vive’s and Oculus Rift’s price cuts change your opinion on VR pricing?

When Oculus dropped the price of the Oculus Rift down to $400 earlier this summer, supposedly temporarily (but not its first drop), analysts were torn over the decision, suggesting that Facebook’s rumored cheaper wireless Pacific device might be the impetus.

Now this week, HTC joined in the price-slashing parade, reducing the price of the Vive from $799 to $599, a fee analysts said back in January was still too pricey for the Oculus. However, the president of the Viveport marketplace rejected the idea that the new price was a response to the Rift’s panic-mode. “I think we are the leader in the market, and the plan was always that high-end VR be available to everyone,” he told Polygon. “So of course there are a couple of components that need to fall into place … in order to reach the mass market, you need to have a lower price point. That’s been the plan all along. I think it’s good that other players in the market are making similar moves.”

For this edition of Leaderboard, I thought it would be fun to take stock of our core audience’s view of the price of VR here in 2017 to see whether it differs significantly from the 2014 vs. 2016 report, which suggested that while initial high prices had shifted many gamers’ expectations for a higher price, an even greater number still wouldn’t pay over $300 for a device. To the pollmobile!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2 Elite Specialization preview weekend impressions

Over the weekend Guild Wars 2 players had the chance to get to grips with the new Path of Fire elite specializations in a PvP setting, so I, of course, jumped in with both feet and tried out some of the specializations for myself.

You’ll know already if you’re familiar with my ramblings that PvP isn’t a massive love of mine, but I simply couldn’t resist giving it a go for the sake of the elite specializations. I didn’t get to sample each one for myself because I had some key family events that fell over the weekend too, but I’ve been sure to provide a brief as-I-saw-it summary of the elite specializations I didn’t get to spend time actively playing.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll share my thoughts on my preview time spent playing around with the Weaver, Holosmith, Mirage, Scourge, and Spellbreaker and watching the work of the other elite specializations. These are simply rapid-fire impressions — I had to be brief to fit them all into the span of one column — but they should nevertheless be helpful to those who didn’t get hands-on over the weekend.

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Guild Wars 2’s second Path of Fire preview weekend is about to begin

Update: It’s live!

Didn’t get a chance to jump into Guild Wars 2 during last weekend’s Path of Fire preview weekend? You’re getting another chance today, although this leg of the event will focus on the game’s elite specs as they play in PvP, not the on the first PvE map and mounts.

We anticipate that it’ll launch any minute now based on last week’s start time. The weekend event will be followed up by the launch of PvP season 8.

Massively OP Guild Wars 2 columnist Tina Lauro Pollock deep-dived the expansion last weekend and delivered her thoughts in a special Flameseeker Chronicles yesterday, so tune in to that while you wait, and check out the dev diaries on all the elite specs down below. Will you be testing any out?

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