Long ago when we were between MMOs, my guild went through several months of playing a new game every week thanks to the magic of free trials. But what if you wanted to do that and don’t already have a guild? In fact, what if you wanted to tour the best available MMORPGs in the modern era but didn’t want to have to find a new guild every time you switched?
That’s where the MMO Book Club can help. Like a real book club, this little Reddit community is selecting a new MMO every three months by popular vote and then heading in en masse, using the experience to discuss the game across Reddit and Discord
The first vote selected Lord of the Rings Online, and the whole thing kicks off on May 1st. The organizers have weekly events planned, including crafting and dungeoning nights.
May we recommend Justin’s recent LOTRO Legendarium: A guide to starting fresh in Lord of the Rings Online?
There was a lot of buzz swirling about Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen’s hour-and-a-half developer livestream yesterday, thanks to a truckload of information shared and gameplay that showed off the visual and animation improvements that the team has added.
Of particular note was the reveal of the Monk class and how this melee class handles, the new zone of South Saol Peninsula, and the acclimation system. Due to Pantheon’s hardcore design, even the environment will be a challenge to overcome due to debilitating effects (such as freezing winds, scorching fire, and deep sea pressure). To be able to survive in these areas, players will need to use “infusions” to acclimate their characters’ bodies.
While players will be able to eventually get their hands on all of the content shown in the stream, there is one aspect that will forever remain hands-off. Brad McQuaid apparently made his own class, a War Wizard, that can be played only by him. Because why not exercise your power and position if you’re making a new MMO?
The full developer livestream awaits you after the break.
Deep in the comments of the MMOs-vs.-survival-sandboxes thread from last week, reader miol_ produced a beautiful comment about how MMO players have become a minority in their own genre, which he then expounded upon for us in this provocative email.
“I’ve reached the opinion, that since the launch of WoW and its clones, the ‘original’ MMO-playerbase became a minority in their own genre. Before, we were but hundreds of thousands of MMO players, but then came Blizzard with WoW and its legions of fans in the dozen of millions at its peak, starting to dictate what the new success of MMOs should look like. Even if we others tried to vote with our wallet and feet, we became a minority, having only a fraction of our initial influence, while many devs tried desperately time and again to find ways to get at least a portion of the new Blizzard playerbase.
“Am I wrong with that perception of history? Am I totally missing something? Or are ‘we’ are slowly becoming a majority again, now that WoW and its clones are seeing steadily declining numbers (instead of us winning more players to ‘our side’)? How do we lobby better for ‘our cause’? Or can we only wait and see, until the genre is small enough again? Or is it too late? Have we ourselves grown too far apart into our even more niche corners of personal taste since SWG, while production costs and our demands for production value have skyrocketed at the same time? How could we come closer again?”
Let’s tackle miol_’s questions in this week’s Massively Overthinking.
This week’s Black Desert patch looks small on paper: the game’s been buffed with new crafted costumes, ship repair kits, and a modification tool called “sticker UI” that allows players to tweak their interfaces.
“Sticker UI that will allow users to drag some UI elements out of the game screen has been added. Upon clicking the Sticker UI icon on the top-right corner of the Inventory, the following windows can be dragged outside the game screen: Equipment, Marketplace, Quest, Guild, Trade, Tooltip, Manage Workers. When Sticker UI function is activated, it will keep running outside the game screen even if other windows are turned on. However, some of the functions cannot be performed in Sticker UI window. When the pop-up is released, the window will reopen. When a window is dragged out of the game screen, it cannot be closed with the ESC key. The window can only be turned off by clicking the X button or releasing pop-up status then turning it off. When minimizing the game screen to tray, the Sticker UI will disappear. Sticker UI will reset in /reloadui situations (server change, resurrecting in nodes after death, etc.). Screens without render modes cannot use the Sticker UI (Ex. If World Map is turned on when Inventory is open, Inventory pop-up window will black out and no action can be taken). Drag-and-drop function is allowed only in the Sticker UI and in-game screen (Not in Windows screen). Marketplace Sticker UI can only be applied in Marketplace Panel through Game Options.”
RuneScape’s been teasing its Menaphos: The Golden City update for what seems like months, but today, the expansion’s getting a hard date: June 5th. Jagex says it’s just the first in a series of free expansions on the way for the game, spaced out every three months. This one comes with a level cap bump, new raids, and new quests.
“Menaphos is full of untold riches and stories waiting to be unearthed by the game’s millions of players. However, players will arrive in the city as unknown outsiders and must build their reputation within the city to become both exalted and legendary among the inhabitants. As they explore the city, it won’t be long until they discover the dark secret of corruption spreading through the metropolis. In addition, there will be new quests, a constantly shifting network of tombs that can be raided for their ancient riches and a new Slayer Dungeon, which will see the Slayer Skill level cap raised from 99 to 120 for the very first time.”
The update announcement is getting a bit lost on Reddit, however, where players are still fuming over the newly released Spring Fayre, which apparently rolled out with rather hefty microtransactions (MTX). Jagex, however, posted this morning that it plans to change how the Fayre works, increasing rewards and making play periods fit a global audience.
Cancel your plans for Saturday, folks: You’re gonna want to be in Elite Dangerous. That’s because Frontier has a big event planned that day that ties into the upcoming Premonition novel. In fact, what players do during the event to hunt down (or defend!) accused assassin Salomé will actually affect the book — and the “NPCs” could be killed off permanently.
“I am inviting all of you to take part in an in-game event, the outcome of which will decide how this chapter in the Elite Dangerous storyline concludes,” writes author Drew Wagar. “The book will be written by your combined actions, for good, or for ill…”
In other Elite news, Frontier has recently announced it’ll release Elite as a boxed console-oriented “legendary edition” at brick-and-mortar stores.
In still other Elite news, players have finally discovered one of the original 70,000 Generation sub-light ships that are part of the game’s foundational lore. It’s floating near the Alaunus system, but I’m sad to report that it doesn’t look like any of the colonists escaped the epidemic that ravaged the ship all those years ago — but it’s still pretty cool.
Our latest glimpse at the reworked universe of Secret World Legends came yesterday courtesy of an hour-long livestream on Twitch. For those of us on the outside of the NDA-slathered beta, it’s pretty much the only glimpse we have into what’s going on as testing continues.
A post on Reddit contains a helpful summary of talking points from the stream. Funcom confirmed that it is still aiming for a spring launch, saying that the testing pool will be widened with more invites and that Egypt is coming soon to the beta. The team discussed the fluid nature of testing changes, including reticules (which can be adjusted), quality-of-life improvements, hints of a “clothing closet,” dungeon lockout timers, and the elimination of the least-used combat skills. Rewards for subscribers (patrons) are still being figured out, so no official word on that yet.
You can watch the stream after the break!
There’s a new patch on The Division’s public test server today, the star of which is surely the loadouts system first teased last month.
“Loadouts offer players the chance to save their equipped Weapons, Gear, Skills and Talents to Loadout slots, allowing for quick swapping of builds to be used for different activities,” the patch notes say. “Players will be able to create and save up to 6 Loadouts per character. Each Loadout can be directly equipped when out of combat.”
It’s mostly bug and balance and quality of life patch beyond that; expect tweaks for the PvP-centric Dark Zone, a few weapon nerfs, and minor talent and skill adjustments. When does it migrate to the real servers? That’s anybody’s guess.
Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind has a lot of casual players, former players, and future players excited for its launch in June. But what about existing hardcores? And in particular, what about people who’ve taken a peek into the beta and believe the existing classes, especially the Templar, will be totally overshadowed by the brand-new Warden class? The outcry has grown fierce. YouTuber Deltia even has a video where he straddles the line between funny and serious by hauling a shovel out to his yard to dig a grave and conduct a mock funeral for his Templar.
ZeniMax addressed the concerns in a forum post last night.
“[O]ne of the main concerns we want to address is the worry that we’re nerfing Templars in order to make the Warden a stronger healing class, particularly by nerfing Major Mending and giving it to Wardens. We’ve made it so all classes have to meet conditional requirements to gain Major Mending. DK’s need to have their damage shields up, Wardens have to heal low health targets, and Resto Staff users have to complete a fully charged heavy attack. It’s also worth noting that we’re planning on adjusting the Warden passive, Accelerated Growth, because it’s currently too easy to keep it active for long periods of time.
And lo, it did pass that a select group of players of Diablo III were invited to test the Necromancer in the beta version of the game’s next major patch. And those players did test, and they experimented, and there was much rejoicing. But then Blizzard did decree that the Necromancer would be removed from testing for an unspecified timeframe as of today, and Blizzard didst encourage its testers to continue testing, but without the new class.
Now there was time when those who had seen the message (and those who had not, for it could only be accessed by those in the test) didst debate why the Necromancer was removed. And one soul rose with a speculation, saying this: “Could it be that the Necromancer is going to undergo major changes and the developers don’t want us testing it until then?” And many did raise their voices in assent. But then one soul offered a different idea, saying this: “The developers want us to be testing the other parts of the patch and this is the only way to be sure that happens.” And many more did raise their voices in assent. And the speculation reigned, for all that was known for certain was that it would indeed be removed from testing for a time.
You can stop fidgeting about what might or might not arrive in Star Citizen this year: Cloud Imperium has released its promised development roadmap for the rest of 2017. The studio stresses that quality will trump everything, that estimates are merely estimates, and that the schedule isn’t all-encompassing, but the words “3.0” and “persistent universe” and “planetary tech” have been enough to send Reddit into a tizzy of excitement.
It’s also sent the community into a tizzy of concern, as it appears the original plans for 3.0 have been trimmed down to get it out the door this summer, with many of its features pushed off to later patches later in the year. According to the newsletter, this is partly the result of Behaviour Interactive ending its subcontract for Cloud Imperium (you MMO folks will know it as the studio behind Eternal Crusade).
Check out the whole shebang below.
A research team from the University of Wisconsin–Madison has a paper out this month purporting to show that Pokemon Go play essentially makes people happier, or more specifically, is associated with being happy. Having surveyed 399 US adults last summer, the team concludes that playing the game “was associated with various positive responses (increased positive affect, nostalgic reverie, friendship formation, friendship intensification, and walking), most of which predicted enhanced well-being” and that “two indirect effects of gameplay were moderated by social anxiety.”
According to the University, the researchers asked
“questions about [subjects’] emotional and social lives and levels of physical activity before segueing into Pokemon. More than 40 percent of their respondents turned out to be Pokemon Go players, and those people were more likely to be exercising — walking briskly, at least — and more likely to be experiencing positive emotions and nostalgia. […] They were also more social. Players were more likely than nonplayers to be making new friends and deepening old friendships.”
Let this post serve as another reminder that cheating is bad, and if the game is too hard or time-consuming for you to win at, the solution is to get good or walk away, not cheat your way to victory with sub-Tonya Harding levels of guile, as my dear colleague Eliot put it.
Apparently, Carbine has cracked down on WildStar players who took advantage of a pair of economy exploits that essentially let them zip through the Primal Matrix alternate advancement system introduced to the game earlier this year. Both permanent bans and suspensions have been reported.
While forumgoers are concerned that Carbine has banned too many endgame guilds and players for the game to remain healthy, Reddit is, shall we say, completely unsympathetic to the plight of the banned and is singing them right on off stage, though of course the thread is full of people claiming they’re innocent and were wrongly banned. A few folks who’ve copped to the exploit basically say they were sick of grinding and cheated to get it over with, knowingly taking on the risk of getting caught.