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The Soapbox: Getting to the heart of toxicity in MMOs

So we’ve gotten another post from a developer saying that they’re going to really 100% be better about rooting out toxic players from their games. Seriously, we mean it this time. The latest one is from Blizzard, but let’s be real, this is something that’s always happened. We always get periodic statements from companies that this time they’re really going to address toxic behavior, someone links that inevitable Penny Arcade strip, nothing really changes, play laugh track, roll curtains.

I’d like to be happy about this, I really would, but it’s so much empty posturing, and it came out only shortly before the announcement that everyone who plays the game can now be signed to the Overwatch League. I think the two are pretty closely connected. And I think we need to actually start talking about this because this sort of darkly toxic problem is at the core of the designs of these games, even though on some level it’s entirely separate. The problem isn’t that these games are designed to be toxic; it’s that they’re designed to encourage toxicity.

Getting rid of individual toxic players, as Blizzard purports to do, is merely treating the symptom. We need to discuss the disease.

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Tamriel Infinium: The problem with Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind plot is the twist

I played the Morrowind expansion for Elder Scrolls Online to death when it was sitting on the test server. But oddly, it was a bit more of a struggle to compete on the live servers. Despite this, I believe that Morrowind is a wonderful addition to ESO, and I am looking forward to seeing future content like the Horns of the Reach.

Now that we have all had a couple of months to get through the Morrowind content, I believe that it’s safe to talk about some of the spoilers, especially since the thing that bothered me the most about Morrowind was the main story twist.

This is your warning: Beyond this point, I will probably spoil everything for you. Turn back now and finish the main story for Morrowind or risk being spoiled!

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DC Universe Online launches its far-reaching stats revamp

How do stats work in DC Universe Online? Before you answer, know that your answer is probably wrong if it doesn’t take into account today’s large-scale stats revamp patch. Yes, the patch that’s been in testing for half of forever is finally here, changing up every aspect of the game’s stats and powers to enable more diverse builds and make things simpler to understand while offering more options.

Power points are gone, new skill trees exist, and players can now more effectively differentiate between a power-focused build, a weapon-focused build, or a hybrid of the two. There are also new and changed powers across the board, ensuring that everyone has new toys and options to play with. Check out the full notes for all of the details, and log in to start learning how to value points all over again. Or, more accurately, log in once the maintenance downtime is over (it may be a while). Members can also grab a free respec token to go along with the change, since… well, under the circumstances, you’ll probably need it.

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Take Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind great house quiz

Stop what you’re doing: There’s an INTERNET QUIZ you haven’t taken yet!

OK, this one is pretty cheesy, but that’s the whole point, right? Elder Scrolls Online has a up an internet quiz that’s supposed to help you determine which of Morrowind’s great houses you’re meant to belong to.

If you don’t know anything about Elder Scrolls, you can do what Eliot did and just blunder along until you’re a Telvanni. Justin somehow ended up with the Ashlanders, that heretic. And I naturally cheated because I knew how to get the only real acceptable result: Hlaalu, of course.

ZeniMax posted a graphic showing the split so far, and it’s actually pretty even, though the Ashlanders are leading the pack. It’s almost like you guys don’t trust the Tribunal or the lying liars of the great houses. Now why would that be.

To the quiz!

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The Stream Team: Celebrating Warframe’s Chains of Harrow release on console

Massively OP’s MJ may not play Warframe on console, but doesn’t mean she can’t celebrate the release of Chains of Harrow on Xbox and PS4! Of course, she doesn’t need a reason to enjoy practicing her headshots and blasting everything to bits! Join us live at 9:00 p.m. as MJ has way too much fun exterminating the Grineer and Corpus on her newest Warframe.

What: Warframe
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 24th, 2017

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RuneScape is a massive hit on Twitch

Time and again, we here at Massively OP have noted how RuneScape seems to be incredibly underestimated by the larger MMO community. For how popular it is, it never seems to get the respect and attention from the core MMORPG community that its online contemporaries do.

That is, until you head over to Twitch. According to the June viewing charts over on NewZoo, the fantasy MMORPG drew in an astounding 6.7 million hours of viewership over that month alone. This is enough to put it in 11th place, well ahead of titles like Destiny, Minecraft, Black Desert, and H1Z1: King of the Kill. It’s RuneScape’s world — we only watch it from afar.

The top 10 of the viewership chart is filled with the usual suspects, including much of Blizzard’s roster (World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Heroes of the Storm) and the dominant MOBAs of our time (League of Legends and Dota 2).

Source: NewZoo. Thanks Sally!

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Wisdom of Nym: What happens next in Final Fantasy XIV?

It’s pretty clear that the Final Fantasy XIV team (and the localization team specifically) are pretty huge fans of Hamilton, to the point that I’m surprised that the Emperor didn’t specifically burst into a song from the musical in the ending sequence. Especially because it’s… kind of a relevant question at this point, once you’ve seen the end of the MSQ.

So what does come next?

Obviously, this column will feature spoilers, so consider yourself fairly tagged. But I think this is a relevant question to ask because this expansion is, in its own way, a very different animal from its two predecessors right out of the gate. The relaunch ended its story in a place so open that it could really go wherever without a problem, while Heavensward ended the 3.0 MSQ with obvious points for continuation. (It helped that the obvious thrust of the expansion took a sharp left turn around level 55.) In the case of Stormblood, though…

Yes, I’m avoiding saying more before the cut. Spoilers down below, people.

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Final Fantasy XIV sees a price hike for Brazilian and Russian players

Shock! Dismay! The prices for Brazilian and Russian players have risen for Final Fantasy XIV! But to confuse the issue a little further, they’ve risen to… just about the same level as everyone else pays worldwide. According to the official statement on the forums, this was simply a result of adjusting the pricing exchanges for different currencies, making sure that everyone worldwide is paying about the same amount.

Player outrage over the issue is unsurprisingly at peak volume, with the two main points of contention being that the adjustments were not announced ahead of time in any format (and indeed, even Square-Enix’s own staff seems to have been somewhat surprised) and that the price adjustment fails to take into account different incomes in different regions. It’s not the first time in recent days that we’ve seen some dispute over localized pricing for different regions, which if nothing else goes to show the difficulty in operating a global game with servers open to all regions.

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DC Universe Online looks forward to a new powerset and two new stories

Ah, summer, the time of year when everyone inevitably starts thinking about the fall. It is what comes next, after all. So DC Universe Online is teasing its plans for content through September and November, including the upcoming new Water powerset to replicate Aquaman. Stop laughing, it’s a legitimate powerset; it can heal or do damage, focusing on manipulating the water in and around allies and enemies. It’s scheduled to roll out on August 30th, so you’ll be ale to get all wet just before the summer ends.

Meanwhile, the two new story arcs for the game will be coming out in September and November. The first one, Riddled with Crime, sees Batman going missing and Gotham City’s underworld rising up to take control of the streets; the second brings in the Crime Society of America from Earth-3, requiring heroes to team up with Alexander Luthor in a world where all of the morality of characters is reversed. It’s a little ways away, but you know with all of this that you won’t want for entertainment for the next few months.

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Choose My Adventure: Two approaches to whining about DC Universe Online

Dear readers, today I am going to try something different for all of you. And it’s predicated on the fact that I’m not just fond of video games; I’m also fond of comic books. This means that when I sat down for my most recent play session in DC Universe Online, I found myself of two minds about why I wasn’t super-duper happy with the content I was experiencing… and both of them could easily fill in a good chunk of words by themselves.

So this week, you get to choose the column you want to read. There are two spoiler warnings below: one covering my thoughts of playing the game from a strictly game-based perspective, the other one being my thoughts of playing the game from a comic book fan’s perspective. Read one! Read the other! Read both! Theoretically you could read neither, I suppose, but then you would have clocked out before you were done with this introduction.

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Battle Bards Episode 101: Ragnarok Online

As the Battle Bards cruise into their second hundred episodes, it’s time to cover a very long-lived fantasy MMO from 2002, Ragnarok Online. The game has an… interesting soundtrack and a devoted following in some circles, but as the crew discovered on today’s show, the score is not without its criticisms. It’s time to kick summer vacation to the curb and trumpet another parade of MMO music!

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 iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 101: Ragnarok Online (or download it) now:

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Perfect Ten: 10 little things I love about Final Fantasy XIV

A reader recently sent in a letter asking Justin to explain why he (Justin) had never really connected with Final Fantasy XIV despite giving the game the ol’ college try. I can’t answer that question, obviously; I’m not Justin and don’t presume to know how his mind works, and given his pathological hatred of elves, I’m not sure I’d want to. But I can point out some of the little things that make me fall in love with the game all over again on a regular basis, something that’s hitting me hard as Stormblood ups the bar significantly from the level established in the game so far.

I make no secret of the fact that I’m a fan of the game, and I have been for years. But there are a lot of reasons for that, and some of them are just reasons like these. Every time I duck back into the game (on a daily basis, yes), I notice something I missed before, and half of the time it makes me smile. So let’s look at the little things that make me adore this game.

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Beat Elder Scrolls Online’s Falkreath Hold, buy a Nord manor

When the Horns of the Reach DLC launches for The Elder Scrolls Online next month, one of the dungeons wrapped up in the bundle is located in Falkreath. If that’s sounding familiar, it’s probably because you toured the city in Skyrim, only this is a millennium earlier.

“The Falkreath in The Elder Scrolls Online is much larger than you will recall, and it is well protected by giant stone walls,” ZeniMax says. “When you arrive, you’ll witness a city under siege. Of course, Falkreath is not without its protectors, as Jarl Skjoralmor’s daughter, Eerika, has mounted a spirited defense, but the city’s tall walls cannot hold back the invaders forever, and without help, it’ll soon fall.”

You, of course, are that help; you’ll be defending the city and diving into the Falkreath Hold dungeon specifically in exchange for ridiculous piles of gear upgrades and loot. In fact, once you’ve beaten the dungeon, you’re in for a special treat:

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