Epic Games announced this morning that Fortnite’s upcoming PvP mode will essentially be free-to-play.
The game was originally touted by Epic as a PvE survival title without direct PvP and has taken heavy criticism over its punishing business model and progression system. Nevertheless, Epic announced earlier this month that its next patch will introduce PvP in the form of a battle royal-style mode, rather upsetting its early buyers. That update is due out on September 26th, and today, the studio’s issued an addendum: While the original “Save the World” PvE part of the game will remain in “paid early access,” the PvP-oriented, 100-man “Fortnite Battle Royale” map will instead be “free for everyone on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Mac.”
PvE players on Reddit, who bought the game in early access when it launched just a few months ago based on its PvE-centricity, are not pleased at all, arguing that it will split the playerbase as well as distract from the original PvE goals of the game. “It’s now a free PvP game with a $40 PvE mode,” one noted. “I continue to be concerned for the state of PvE in this game.” (They may not even be wrong. Just ask H1Z1: Just Survive players how this story goes.)
If you’ve been away from H1Z1 for a long time, you need to known that Daybreak’s been making it easier to get back into the game, both for former players and for newbies.
I spoke with Daybreak Lead Systems Designer Tony Morton at PAX West about the recent combat update, and he showed off the upcoming combat practice feature.
“What we’re doing is system by system and segment by segment,” he told me. “We’re kind of gutting it; we’re starting over from scratch in a more systematic standpoint.”
I admit that before PAX West 2017, I hadn’t logged into Defiance in a long, long time. I couldn’t even say how long. Even so, I still have very fond memories of the hellbugs (isn’t it just so cute the way they try to eat off your face?), so I was intrigued to see where the game was nowadays. How is it doing? Where is it going?
I met with Executive Producer Matthew Pettit, who hooked me up with a character in-game for some high-level Arkfall hunting while we talked about recent updates and future plans for the open-world MMO shooter.
“I can tell you it’s going to be a very exciting year for Defiance,” Pettit told me. And after listening and playing, I think the game is definitely worth keeping an eye on — or maybe even jumping in right now.
During this week’s MOP podcast, Justin and I remarked on Funcom’s spectacular 2017 financial showing, particularly in light of the fact that its numbers were so poor back in 2015 that it was asking creditors to defer its debts. Most of us didn’t really think the company would make it through way back then, but here we are — it came up with some hits just in time.
That got me thinking about other MMO companies and how they’ve fared. Trion, for example, just faced down a seemingly malicious and misleading rumor that it was in financial trouble. Daybreak was once in such dire straits that it was sold to an investment company and downsized considerably in terms of staffing and new game production, though now it seems H1Z1 is keeping it all afloat.
Consider the whole field of studios we watch around here: Which MMO studio’s finances worry you the most right now?
Names and titles fascinate me. While sometimes they have no deeper meaning than to sound pleasant and be memorable, a label can indicate purpose, history, and connection. MMORPG names are, of course, as varied as the stars in the sky, with many of them slapping “online” or “age of” somewhere in there to designate their category. But every so often, we witness a game that changes its name as part of its development and business evolution.
Today I wanted to run down 10 MMOs (well, nine MMOs and one expansion) that received notable name changes over the years. I’m not going to talk about games that created a weird rebrand for a business model shift but mostly stuck with the original title afterward (such as DDO Unlimited or WildStar Reloaded), but instead games that had vastly different names than what they ended up using.
This year’s online juggernaut is not, surprisingly enough, anything made by Valve, Blizzard, or Riot, but instead one stemmed from the mind of a modder. Of course, we are speaking of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, the multiplayer battle royal that’s started to edge out contemporaries like H1Z1.
For proof of just how big and massively popular this title is, consider that since its launch on Steam early access in late May this year, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds sold an astounding 10 million units to trigger-happy gamers. And those games are being put to good use, with a peak concurrency of 970,000 set during Gamescom last month.
PUBG is set to launch on PC and arrive on Xbox One game preview later this year. Curious what this game is about and why it’s sweeping the PC landscape? We’ve got an informative video to share with you about that after the break.
Matches in H1Z1: King of the Kill are about to get faster, according to Daybreak’s latest roadmap for the game. “Our vision is for H1Z1 to be the dominant fast-paced, action packed game in the genre,” writes the studio. “This is what sets H1Z1 apart from its competition. PUBG is very clearly a slow paced, tactical experience. And they have certainly delivered on that vision. But ours has always been and will continue to be based on fast paced & action packed moment to moment gameplay.”
To make that happen, Daybreak aims to “keep players on the move” by removing emphasis from “tedious” things like looting and putting more focus on power progression and vehicles.
“Here’s how we envision a typical match of H1Z1 would play out: As the match starts to ramp up, multiple supply crates are airdropped into the arena at the same time. These airdropped crates are loaded with upgraded variants of the weapons found around the arena to give you an edge over the competition. You’ve got a choice: Get aggressive and hit these airdrops before your opponents, or try to outmaneuver your opponents and let them make the first move. Supplies will airdrop in waves with more powerful weapons coming in as the game goes on. Action in the end-game is intense, so you’ll build up your arsenal from airdrops and downed players if you want to be the last one standing.”
During the Ashes of Creation panel at PAX West, Founder and Creative Director Steven Sharif announced the exact date of the upcoming Alpha 0: Come December 15th, 2017, some players will be able to dive in and begin testing the gameplay. Con attendees have been able to get a tiny taste of both the PvE and PvP content in the game.
Sharif also offered more reveals. Although his appearance as a special guest did not work out, Bear McCreary will compose the game’s score. McCreary is known for work on a number of movies, shows like Battlestar Galactica, Agents of Shield, 10 Clover Lane, Defiance, Caprica, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Also, in response to an audience member question, the name of the world was finally made public: Players will live their AoC lives on Verra.
And lo, as the Battle Bards walk through the zone of the shadow of death, they will fear no evil, but they will listen to evil’s soundtrack because that is what they do! In today’s episode, the crew looks at the darker side of MMORPG soundtracks, dwelling in the wicked, the profane, and the deliciously macabre. Also, Syp does his Cookie Monster voice.
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 104: Something wicked this way comes (or download it) now:
We’re not going to argue that MMORPGs are the dominant form of media entertainment these days, but they do have endurance and a devoted following among gamers. And whenever a crowd of players have been paying into a game for a long time, it will attract the attention and interest of marketers who start wondering what else they could do to siphon off a few more bucks.
Enter “transmedia synergy,” a stupidly awesome term that represents links between two or more forms of media that are connected through the same IP. The thinking here is that fans of one of these forms of entertainment will cross over into the related media and vice-versa, growing an audience together.
Today we’re going to look at 10 experiments in transmedia synergy, for better or for worse, that have attempted to cross over from MMORPG to something else entirely. To make things more challenging, we’re not going to include novels, since we’ve already done that.
On Tuesday, Daybreak formally announced that the neglected PvE half of H1Z1, Just Survive, would be shedding its H1Z1 branding once and for all. The reveal couldn’t help but remind me of the way Daybreak did the same thing for Landmark, deleting the “EverQuest Next” and then the EverQuest IP altogether from the title and marketing before ultimately scrapping the entire game not long after launch.
I don’t think Just Survive is necessarily doomed without the branding, however. In fact, I can think of several MMOs that I wish could have dumped their IPs or changed their names to rid themselves of the proverbial albatross ’round their necks. Star Wars Galaxies leaps immediately to mind.
What MMO would you like to see dump its branding or IP?
Daybreak is a whirlwind this week: First it broke up the H1Z1 party and got Just Survive its own apartment, and now it’s bringing PlanetSide 2 up to speed. The studio is unveiling what it’s calling Critical Mass, an update planned for later in August that overhauls the game’s victory point system.
“Previously, the VP system acted as a sort of checklist where factions would complete various objectives which then rewarded points to that faction,” Daybreak explains. “Earning these points was somewhat removed from the moment to moment experience, and would often reward factions for what they’ve done in the past, instead of painting a picture of the current state of a continent. This was especially noticeable toward the end of the process, where continents would lock abruptly, often interrupting high-intensity battles in a dissatisfying or anticlimactic way.”
To fix that, the team is removing random alerts, nuking the “checklist goals” from the system, changing how continent locking works, and providing scaling rewards. Expect it on the test server “soon” ahead of the PC/PS4 launch later in August.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree break down the big Guild Wars 2 news, celebrate FFXIV’s momentous milestone, muse about Dual Universe, and more! We also have a special interview with H1Z1: Just Survive Creative Director Ben Jones about the massive overhaul to this survival sandbox.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
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