pve

PvE stands for player-vs.-environment, where environment is generally taken to mean the world, NPCs, and AI.

Choose My Adventure: Wrapping up WildStar

Writing about WildStar at this point feels weird.

Obviously, I just finished up playing the game for this feature for four weeks. It feels fresh in my mind. And in many ways, it really has changed quite a bit from launch to its credit. In many other ways, it hasn’t changed much at all. And the ways in which it has changed would make a much bigger difference if those changes affected things that initially drove me away from the game.

So in many ways, when I write about WildStar now, I’m still writing about the launch version of the game. It’s just that we’re now several years out from that launch, and its potential to really be something no longer has the time to turn into reality. It’s still just a hope for what it could be, and there’s not much more to the game beyond what we see right now. So it’s the same state of the game, but it’s gone from promising opportunities to unrealized potential.

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Here's why everyone's pissed off about City of Heroes NPCs in NCsoft's MOBA

Yesterday, NCsoft took the lid off a secret it's clearly been working on for a while: The company means to introduce a notorious and well-known City of Heroes NPC as one of the characters in its upcoming MOBA, Master x Master.

Here's the thing. Master x Master is actually pretty well-liked around here. The writers we've sent to test it out the past few years came away thinking it was an excellent hybrid PvE MOBA with a lot of MMO elements, a genuinely good entry to the market and something we're happy to cover. So I don't think anyone wishes it, specifically, harm.

But NCsoft? I don't know who told you this was a good idea. It's really not a good idea.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Creating a better balance in Guild Wars 2 raiding

One of the major concerns aired by the Guild Wars 2 playerbase regarding raid content is the risk of juicy raid-only story details being gated away from the bulk of players. In comments found on part one of my breakdown of Bastion of the Penitent, the most recent raid wing, many of you again discussed this problem and brought up other issues with how ArenaNet presents raiding to players in the game. Although I had planned to run my second installment in the Bastion of the Penitent series to cover the lore found in the raid, after seeing the content of your comments, I thought that I should give space to some of these complaints to see if we can perhaps come up with some suggestions for improvement in future.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'll take a look at the most pressing gripes players have about how raiding has been implemented in GW2 while examining how this could be built upon to create larger appeal for the content that's being created without alienating diverse sects of the game's community.

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The Soapbox: What the Mass Effect Andromeda kerfuffle ought to teach us about games criticism

Today is the official release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was preceded by the frankly baffling decision to allow people access to an early build of the game ahead of time. Or perhaps the final build without everything enabled? The point is that you could play a bit of it if you were willing to drop some money. That seems like a bad idea that we've been dealing with in online-game-land for a long time, but regardless, it gave people the opportunity to see some of this RPG ahead of time.

This, in turn, allowed the typical internet trolls to find any and all animation flubs and then happily declare that it was all the result of one woman working on the game and handling all of the animations. Which, you know, is a conclusion that would be helped significantly if the woman in question actually worked in that role on the game, which she did not.

Obviously, the game under discussion is not an MMO. But it is symptomatic of two all-too-common problems in gaming culture that are worth noting to people who do not have balls of spiders in place of a soul. So let's talk about those.

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Blade & Soul switches to larger, slower updates with brand-new Secrets of the Stratus

Blade & Soul is rolling out a massive expansion next month, one NCsoft says "marks a shift in pace for the game."

Dubbed Secrets of the Stratus, it goes live on April 12th with the seventh act of the storyline, an overhauled skill system, a new solo/casual open-world area called Celestial Basin, floors 16 through 20 of Mushin's Tower, and Naryu Sanctum, "the most difficult 6-member heroic dungeon to date."

"Moving forward, NCSOFT will offer larger and more ambitious expansions on a slightly slower release schedule," the press release says this morning. "This means players will have more time to experience and master content without having to feel rushed by the next update."

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV's removed skills, Ranged/Caster edition

Well, folks, by all reasonable estimation we're going to have the final story patch of Heavensward next week. Why? Because there's no more March for it to exist in after that. So it seems like a reasonable prediction, and it also gives me just enough time to finish up with these Final Fantasy XIV skill predictions before I want to move on to reviewing the expansion in hindsight anyhow. So everybody wins, if I double up today.

The first installment is all about tanks, while the second installment is all about melee DPS. As always, the usual disclaimer applies that this is all speculation, not absolute fact; I don't have a clearer picture than you do about how abilities are actually being arranged. If you think I'm wrong? I might very well be wrong! All I can do is justify what I say and make my case. Let's move on.

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The MOP Up: Kali awakens in Dragon Nest (March 19, 2017)

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!

This week we have stories and videos from Pokemon GoConan ExilesWarframeCrash ForceHeroes of the StormArmored WarfareElder Scrolls OnlineTERAAvabel OnlineOverwatchAionGlory RidgeDragon Nest, all waiting for you after the break!

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Massively Overthinking: When social play in MMOs is predatory by design

Blogger Tobold recently wrote a provocative piece on social play in MMOs, as pointed out to us by our dear tipster Sally. In a piece cheekily titled "Why I can live without other players in my games," he writes that far from being the foundation or glue of MMOs, guilds are actually one of the worst bits of the genre, being platforms for selfishness and drama.

"Guilds were never designed for positive social interaction, they were always a means to an end of individual character progress. You needed those other people to get the most powerful gear in the game. And the way there wasn't exactly a constant stream of friendship and happiness. Look at what MMORPG blog posts have been mostly about when talking about their guilds: First people complain if others aren't investing as much as they do and become a hindrance to killing raid bosses, and then when the raid boss is finally dead they complain that somebody else got the loot."

"The people most loudly complaining about the lack of other players being forced to play with them," he finishes with a zinger that resonated most for me, "are the kind of people with the most predatory play styles."

I've presented Tobold's piece to our writers for this week's Overthinking. Do they -- and you -- agree with his thesis? Let's Overthink it.

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Dungeons and Dragons Online releases the Dragonborn race as Update 35 goes live

For some people, it's not enough to just exist in a virtual world with dragons and occasionally fight against them; they want to become the dragons and live out that dragonish fantasy. Dungeons and Dragons Online welcomes these players home this week with Update 35 and the new Dragonborn race.

Being a humanoid dragon is only the tip of Update 35's iceberg. Continuing with the dragon theme, there's a new Dragonblood Prophecy adventure pack with two dungeons and one raid to explore and conquer. This adventure pack is free for subscribers and available on the store for everyone else (you know your shame).

Other changes with Update 35 include the addition of past life racial feats for the reincarnation system (a "racial reincarnation") and tweaks to racial enhancement trees. Check out the Dragonborn race in action after the break!

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Aion's cities come under assault with this week's 5.3 patch

Fleets of enemy dredgion ships are fast approaching Aion's capitol cities, and players are being called to rally in defense of their homeland. As Patch 5.3 finally arrived on the servers earlier this week (after a short delay), new city defense PvE instances have become available. These won't be spammed, as there will only be one of each of the two instances made available per server per week.

Patch 5.3 has a lot of other goodies in store for content-starved players. There's the Arena of Tenacity, sporting 1v1 duels; new seasons for the Arena of Discipline; siege mechanics for the Abyss have been overhauled; and there are now custom skill chains. All in all, there are a whopping 40 pages of patch notes, so this one's a pretty significant update.

Get pumped for 5.3 with its trailer below!

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Albion Online AMA on pay-to-win, free trials, and global servers

Sandbox Interactive ran an AMA for its in-development indie MMO Albion Online on Reddit last night, covering everything from the game's business model to how players in far-flung locations fare on its global server. Here are the highlights!

  • There are no plans for a freebie weekend or trial as a result of fairness to founders and botting issues -- as well as performance issues. "The game is extremely well populated as it is, and we'd be worried that free trial could slow down the servers."
  • Likewise, SI will be sticking to its original plan to reward founders with early access, though players have expressed concern over the potential for an ArcheAge-like land-grab.
  • In response to players bringing up pay-to-win and the game's $30 buy-in, SI explained the game's business model is based on EVE Online's and that while players can essentially gain an advantage by buying and then exchanging real-money currency for in-game currency, it won't afford players a guaranteed win. As for the currency exchange, it should be possible to play the market.

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How Frostkeep's Rend compares to other MMOs and survival sandboxes

I was pretty well taken by multiplayer survival sandbox Rend as soon as I saw it at this year's PAX East 2017, as I wrote yesterday. The concept immediately spoke to me as taking a lot of the cool ideas from other survival games while making the game as a whole into something very different. But I also entirely understand that sometimes you can look at the game and wonder what makes it so different. After all, it's hardly the first time that we've had a game using a lot of the building blocks. So why am I over the moon about Rend but not its obvious inspirations and close cousins?

The answer is that in some cases, I am over the moon about its close cousins. But it's also important to understand the distinction and the fact that Rend is not, say, Crowfall or Conan Exiles or any other game. So what makes Rend different? Not necessarily better, but how does it stack up to the obvious points of comparison?

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