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Shroud of the Avatar creates the quintessential cozy inn, changes up free trial offerings

When travelers wander in to Shroud of the Avatar’s Release 49 later this week, they’ll find that one watering hole looks much improved than before. The team has been busy remodeling the Soltown inn to make it “cozier and more pleasant” for visitors.

Release 49 has a lot more than just a better-looking rumpus room; players will experience improved framerate, revamped wetlands, the new Elysium Mines, more ore nodes, UI polish, and winter recipes.

The team also notes that it is improving and experimenting with the free trial system (the next of which starts on December 20th). Free players will be marked as visitors, be moved over to the Path of Courage, have a level 50 skill cap, and restrict trade with others.

“Making these changes will allow us to leave the free trial up almost continually therefore maximizing the ability for players to try the game before they buy,” Portalarium said. “We feel firmly that giving players this no obligation opportunity is great for the health of the game and a fair business practice that we wish to pursue.”

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Elder Scrolls Online’s winter festival quests send you party-hopping on December 14

So, that Orc… this seems safe, right? Right? Guys?

The Elder Scrolls Online is bringing back the New Life Festival again this Christmas, beginning on Thursday. “In order to join the festivities, acquire the free New Life Festival Scroll from the Crown Store. Use the scroll to find the New Life Herald Breda in a tent just south of Windhelm, Eastmarch,” ZeniMax says. “She will give you the initial quest, ‘The New Life Festival,’ which will unlock a series of nine uniquely festive daily quests.”

Those quests will ask you to travel around the provinces of Tamriel, taking part in the local wintertime festivities for each of the gameworld’s races. BYO trick swallowing-swords for the Orcish race’s Stonetooth Bash, party with the Nords in the totally-safe-sounding Snow Bear Plunge, and enjoy the Altmeri’s cheerful War Orphan’s Sojourn. Your reward for doing them all? Breda’s Bottomless Mead Mug collectible, which grants a nice experience bonus during the festival. It stacks with other experience bonuses, too.

And what Christmas event would be complete without lockboxes? The good news is you can get some themed ones for free by completing the quests. There are some new goodies for direct-sale too, like the 10K-gold New Life Bonfire.

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OrbusVR starts early access on December 15th with no more wipes

That headline is a bit of a misnomer; everyone who hasn’t already purchased OrbusVR will have to wait until December 15th for early access, but people who have already bought the game will be able to get even earlier access on December 13th. And it’s all still for keeps regardless, as the official announcement is quick to point out that this is the point of no more wipes and no more resets. Everything that happens from this point onward is going to stick with your character.

Director Riley Dutton stresses that the game is still in early access and there’s still much more to be done, but it’s also in a place where you can play and enjoy everything the game has to offer from low levels on upward, which means that it’s a prime time for an early launch. Check out screenshots and the already released early access trailer below, and mark your calendar for the full not-quite-technically-launch on Friday.

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Guild Wars 2’s Wintersday celebrations are live along with the condition and balance patch

Ahhhhh! What’s that thing up in the sky over Divinity’s Reach, the second-best video game city ever? Oh, don’t worry, it’s just Toymaster Tixx’s enormous golem airship, back to celebrate Wintersday. Nothing to concern yourself with!

Yes, Wintersday has returned to Guild Wars 2 today, bringing with it Tixx’s Infinarium, the Winter Wonderland jumping puzzle, Toypocalypse, the most epic snowball fight ever, and all the other shenanigans ArenaNet has on offer. Expect a revamp to winter achievements and awards clutter (like the old snowflakes) as well.

Today’s patch has more than just holiday hijinks, however, including modifications to the way conditions work in the game.

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Gunjack 2 is still alive, lands on Gear VR

Don’t despair thinking that the entire EVE universe is collapsing into a single title just yet; the black hole theory has yet to be proven, and CCP’s virtual reality offshoots are still flying. In fact, Gunjack 2: End of Shift just made the jump to a new platform, announcing its arrival on Samsung Gear VR this week.

The virtual reality shooter, which puts the player inside a capital ship gun turret to blast EVE universe ships, now is available for $9 for Gear VR players. It’s also still available through Google Play.

Fly — and shoot — on, CCP!

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Savage Hunt’s website brings Dragon’s Prophet sequel online

With Gamigo’s near-stealth launch of Savage Hunt, a sequel to the now-defunct (at least in NA) Dragon’s Prophet, a new website is born.

The official site for Savage Hunt is now live following the game’s launch on December 6th. Players can check out the news, read through the Book of Dragons, check out some media, and connect with the community. There’s also an event going on right now to kill a special dragon in the game and be entered into a chance to win a gaming PC.

Savage Hunt is an action combat MMO with more than 600 types of dragons to tame and collect. These dragons lend players their skills as a sort of mix-and-match class system. There’s also housing, because your 600 dragons need a place to crash after a day of forced servitude.

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One Shots: Boy band cover art

It’s one thing to strike a pose and get a good-looking selfie in there, it’s another to coordinate a whole group of twitchy gamers and get them to take a group photo without someone jumping or facing the wrong way or forgetting to emote.

Vincent Clark has mastered this group pose in the formation of his new Final Fantasy XIV boy band album called “Ears over Eorzea.” We anticipate great things from this mostly shirtless crew of well-manicured rebels, as long as they don’t fall into that hot tub and drown.

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Camelot Unchained fleshes out books, clothes, and the new Dragonfang scenario

They aren’t dressing it up with “burndown” hoopla, but City State Entertainment’s devs are in just that kind of check-it-off testing mode with Camelot Unchained’s development as they push their way to the long-delayed beta one. In this week’s dev update, Tyler Rockwell explains that the team continues work on its template component system, the Dragonfang scenario and Place of Power maps, scenario automation, NPC tech, the world space UI, combat effects, lady clothes, armor animations, the patcher art, and skill buttons – although really they could’ve saved themselves a lot of trouble and just made a single I-win button, am I right?

Books are also on the agenda! “Jon began work sculpting out different Realm variations of books, the magic tomes a caster might use as a type of focus,” Rockwell says. “These, like our other weapons, are being designed to include interchangeable pieces that can be used in crafting.”

“We continue to push forward on the needs for Beta 1, while making improvements to not only combat, but also gameplay. This is part of our commitment, through the Dragon Circle concept, to provide our patient Backers with a more fun experience during testing, up to and into Beta 1.”

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Dauntless launches the Sharpen Your Skills update

After several weeks of previews, the latest update for Dauntless has arrived, and it’s aiming at making a better hunter out of you. Sharpen Your Skills will allow you to do just that with the new hunt progression system and the addition of cells, both of which augment your progress through the game and allow you to become far more lethal as you play. There are also new combat enhancements and damage types, so you’ll have even more reason to make your skills as sharp as they can be.

You’ll need sharper skills to take on new challenges, though, including two new behemoths to hunt. Perhaps you can do so with the game’s first ranged attack weapon, the war pike. Check out trailers for the update just below, and get ready to leap in and start getting better at slaying huge monsters. Or turning into a smear on the rocks for a few rounds before you actually sharpen your skills a bit, it’s a fine line.

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Perfect World Entertainment sprinkles holiday events across its library

With so many Christmas events popping up this month, there’s no time nor space to spread them out. Perfect World Entertainment seems to think so, too, because it sent out a press blast with a list of what’s going on in all of its MMORPGs. Let’s run down all six live games:

Neverwinter: The Winter Festival of Simril is running from December 14th through January 4th, with free Starlight vouchers, sled racing, ice fishing, bonuses, and the possibility of earning sled mounts.

Star Trek Online: Q’s Winter Wonderland is back through January 18th, giving players plenty of time to compete in crazy activities to earn a free T6 starship and Wesley Crusher’s ski outfit (seriously).

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Crowfall’s crafting looks more and more like Star Wars Galaxies’

Hey crafters. Let’s talk Crowfall for a minute. ArtCraft Design Lead Thomas “Blixtev” Blair explains today in a new dev blog that crafting in the PvP-centric MMORPG is due for a pretty hefty update. “These changes will add some significant aspects to gameplay as we’re shifting game development from building many standalone systems to adding features that will mesh the systems together,” he says.

For starters, crafters are getting recipe tiering that just screams Star Wars Galaxies; some recipes can be made while you’re standing in the middle of nowhere, while others require experimentation and different levels of crafting stations, the higher-quality versions of which will be located in increasingly challenging or remote locations, further adding to the purpose of places like forts and keeps. I’m giddy just thinking about it. The crafting UI is getting an overhaul as well. And that’s not all!

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Portal Knights arrives on mobile today

The nice thing about mobile MMOs is that you can still enjoy a video game when you’re out on the road. Portal Knights already let you take it on walkabout with the launch of the game on Nintendo Switch, but now you can also get it on iOS and Android devices via the App Store or Google Play, which means that you never actually need to be apart from it.

At least, not due to hardware limitations. Your boss will probably be a little annoyed if you can’t focus on work because of video games. (Seriously, that’s true even here.)

Players can pick up the title for an entry price of $4.99 before diving into the same sort of multi-faceted gameplay available on the game’s existing versions. Work together with friends, family members, or strangers who also play the game to build, fight monsters, and do all of that fun stuff. Check out screenshots and a trailer just below if you can’t wait to turn your tablet into “Portal Knights platform no. 3″ in your household.

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Tree of Life’s winter festival blows in holiday cheer

Even newer MMOs like Tree of Life are getting in on the holiday spirit this Christmas season. The team recently kicked off its winter festival starring Santa Booboo. Just roll with it.

The festival has plenty of rewards to chase, such as a winter tree outfit and a red-nosed deer mount. Players should find the world more holly and jolly, thanks to the transformation of carts into sleds and an epidemic of Christmas trees and elves across the land.

The December 1st update also integrated Google’s translation services for player chat, added a whisper command, and improved the Warden Tree system.

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