If there’s one thing that EVE Online
does better than any other MMO on the market today, it’s persistent gameplay on massive scales. The now-famous Bloodbath of B-R5RB
in 2014 involved 7,548 players over the course of almost 24 hours, and the Siege of M-OEE8
at the end of 2016 peaked at 5,300 separate players all piled into the same star system at the same time. Hundreds of thousands of players live and fight in the same single-shard universe, and EVE
‘s largest corporations have more members than the total population on some other MMOs’ shards.
But what about the smaller end of the scale? MMOs aren’t just populated by monolithic organisations bent on galactic domination, and a growing proportion of today’s gamers play online games solo or in smaller groups. Features such as Upwell structures and the new PvE gameplay have clearly been designed with a wide range of gameplay scales in mind, but EVE has never really got past the problem that bigger groups are almost always better. Could the solution to this problem be found in small-scale asymmetric and asynchronous warfare opportunities?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at why EVE‘s massive scale makes it so compelling, the problem that massive scale introduces, and the case for more asymmetric and asynchronous warfare.
Though EVE Online
has a reputation as a cut-throat PvP sandbox where anything goes, the fuel that fires its conflict engine has always been PvE. Players collectively pump over 100 trillion ISK into the EVE
economy each month by hunting NPCs all across the game, and at the same time they mine around 40 trillion ISK’s worth of ore for ship and module production. Over 90% of NPC bounties predictably come from people farming in the player-owned nullsec regions where some of the largest PvE rewards can be found, but data released earlier this year showed that 7.2% of bounties actually come from high-security space
It’s unsurprising, then, that CCP chose high-security space as the test-bed for an entirely new casual PvE format with the release of Resource Wars in the recent Lifeblood expansion. The expansion also saw the return of the Crimson Harvest event and the release of a new tool named The Agency that helps players find nearby PvE content. I’ve been getting stuck into all three of these this week and seeing how it all ties together, and I’m now more convinced than ever that we could be heading for a full-scale PvE revolution.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss Resource Wars as a new model for PvE and consider how The Agency could be expanded to help promote casual pick-up PvE groups in EVE.
A Demon Hunter should be able to kill demons. That’s their one job description, and so it should be no surprise that World of Warcraft’s Demon Hunters are actually very good at killing demons. But most of them are not nearly as good as Mione, a name you’ll find in no lore compilations who still deserves a nod for soloing normal-mode Gul’dan.
Yes, solo. As in “big boss of the second full raid of the expansion taken out by a single dedicated player.”
Obviously, gear has improved somewhat since Gul’dan’s release, but the fight (which is watchable in sped-up form below) still took over an hour to complete. “Doesn’t Gul’dan hit enrage at 12 minutes?” you ask. And you’re right, he does. He enrages, and Mione deals with that mechanic. Go ahead and watch the video, then check out the video description to see how this was accomplished, including waiting out the enrage. The notes do mention that the “real” fight (after the enrage happens and falls off) “only” took 27 minutes, which is… still insanely impressive.
There’s a tendency for all of us to claim that it’s our teammates holding us back in online games. Any raid leader, for example, will probably opine at least once or twice that the rest
of the raid is what’s holding back progress. Atlas Reactor‘s new Fourlancer mode
lets you put your money where your mouth is, though; in this new mode you control the entire four-person team and face off against another player controlling a full team, with an extended decision timer and no one else to blame if you screw up. If you’ve ever said that your teammates are holding you back? Prove it.
The same patch also brings in Isadora, who is protected by a lot of shields but has very little health beneath that. She switches gameplay modes if her shields are destroyed, but she can also re-activate her shield as an ultimate ability, allowing her go charge back into the fray. Combine that with a double ISO weekend running from September 8th to the 10th and you have plenty of reason to get in there and play.
The western version of side-scrolly hack-‘n’-slasher Elsword is about to get a long-awaited feature from the Korean version: a challenging endgame dungeon known as Add’s Energy Fusion Theory Dungeon. Oh yeah, and it’s solo-only. Oh yeah, and it’s a way for players to get some of the best weapons in the game. Solo. Did you get the solo part? It caused a combination of concerns and cheering when it released in Korea last year, but the game didn’t burn down, so it turns out that soloers aren’t ruining everything after all and it’s not actually codified in MMORPG law that all the good stuff be reserved for raiders. Who knew?
Says KOG Games,
“Add’s Energy Fusion Theory Dungeon is Elsword’s ultimate, solo, end-game dungeon experience. This dungeon is not for the faint of heart! However, this solo-only (no co-op), hardcore dungeon may be brutal, but the battle is worth it. The loot is some of the best in the game. What are you willing to sacrifice to obtain the most powerful weapon in the game?”
Check out the exclusive video below!
Solo players in MMORPGs are a strange case, chiefly because they are treated like an outlier when they aren’t. The fact is that almost everyone solos at one time or another — yes, even in classic MMORPGs — and the vast majority of people apparently prefer to solo more than not solo, even if they also want to group. Or at least one might draw that conclusion from the last dozen years of MMOs!
I thought for today’s Leaderboard, we could drill down some of the reasons people solo. Pick as many as apply!
When Craglorn first arrived in The Elder Scrolls Online back in 2014, it had a robust selection of content for max-level grouped players and a constant radiating wave of death for anyone exploring solo. This was intentional; the area was meant as a max-level challenge zone, and the designers were adamant that you should be grouped when you went in or you should expect to die repeatedly and painfully. With the introduction of the One Tamriel update, however, solo and grouped players of all levels will be able to dive into Craglorn and explore what the area has to offer.
The video below shows off some of what you can expect when you return to Craglorn, with a story that all players can complete and a variety of puzzles and activities for all sorts of playstyles. Overland content, daily quests, and dungeons have also been thoroughly adjusted for new and returning adventurers, so even if you think you know all there is to know about the region, you’ll find something new to explore. Check out the video down below, and keep your eyes peeled for our interview about the redesign in the near future.
With the tenth chapter of Knights of the Fallen Empire
available to players of Star Wars: The Old Republic
, the question on every player’s mind is “when does the next part launch?” And the answer has already been given: March 10th, or March 8th for those subscribed by March 1st. It was one of the topics covered in yesterday’s producer stream, which also covered the other features coming along with Chapter XI and the plans in the further future.
The Eternal Championship will be coming along with the next chapter, offering players a rare mount and pet along with a weekly quest for taking on the challenge solo. A new Warzone and arena are both planned for testing within the next three weeks, with a planned launch alongside Chapter XII. Players can look forward to more details on the Eternal Championship coming this month and several quality-of-life improvements, including the ability to own all five Strongholds per legacy. Check out the archived stream footage just below.
Ready to enjoy some more chill time in WildStar? The game’s next update has been announced, and it should be really cool. Literally cool. Destination: Arcterra is sending players to the eponymous Arcterra, a frozen wasteland with a new reward track including new costume pieces, new mounts, new pets, and a new style of snowballing boss fights that pits players against ever-greater threats as the zone’s bosses get cleared away.
Arcterra is the new max-level area, but players will also be getting more adventuring in with the second chapter of the Nexus Saga in the form of the Vault of the Archon. This instance contains plenty of story as well as the option to play solo or in a group, so you can take it on yourself or bring your friends along for the ride. There’s a promise of more coming along with the update, but for now, get ready to stay frosty when the update hits the test servers soon.
As we belatedly covered yesterday, the developers of upcoming indie MMO Saga of Lucimia believe that group-centric play is the solution to a problem supposedly created by the deluge of “solo-friendly” MMOs that offer “the instant gratification that the entitled hipster generation of ADD players need in order to stay subscribed.” Yikes.
Without getting into whether soloing belongs in MMORPGs — an eternal debate of its own — I want to ask you which one you, personally, prefer to do.
I tend to favor games that support both and scale well between them; City of Heroes and classic Guild Wars spring immediately to mind as being games that scaled beautifully to accommodate whatever party size. Party when my mates are on; solo or LFG when they’re not!
I’ve now put a solid day of playtime into Heart of Thorns, so I decided that it was finally time for the first of my launch diaries. There’s so much to talk about and many features or elements deserve a separate post to fully discuss, but I wanted to get started with the immediate things noted during the first few hours of play. All in all, I think the Guild Wars 2 team should be very proud right now as they recover from the launch day madness. While there are certain big decisions in terms of direction that have upset both me and the bulk of the fanbase (cough cough the death of dungeons, which I’ll take a separate diary entry for), I’m most definitely enjoying the expansion so far.
See below for my short list of the good, the bad, and the janky that I’ve experienced during my first foray into the heart of the jungle, complete with a packed screenshot gallery at the end.
It’s been a huge week for online gaming, with GDC drawing to a close and PAX East being packed full of reveals. We heard from Diablo III game designer Josh Mosqueria on why the game’s launch was a failure and what’s been done in the intervening years to fix it. League of Legends revealed its new Party Rewards system to encourage people to bring their own friends into games rather than relying on a matchmaking algorithm to put their team together. DC Comics based MOBA Infinite Crisis announced its official free-to-play launch date of March 26th, and Hearthstone announced that its upcoming Blackrock Mountain expansion will start rolling out in April.
Popular Destiny streamer The HM05 was filmed this week soloing the Crota’s End group raid instance without firing a single bullet. Futuristic ninja FPS Warframe revealed a trailer for its upcoming Tombs of the Sentient expansion, and Heroes of the Storm coincidentally revealed its Tomb of the Spider Queen battleground. Star Citizen opened the floodgates with an invitation for everyone to try out its Arena Commander and Hangar Deck modules. Overwatch got a tentative closed beta release window of Q3 2015 and revealed its two powerful new heroes McCree and Zarya. And the Minecraft players who have been building a scale replica of the entire Game of Thrones continent of Westeros for the past three years are on their way to RTX 2015.
Read on for detailed news on all the above stories and more from the wider world of online games that aren’t MMOs.
You know, folks, I am all about getting my dungeon ride on in Final Fantasy XIV. I’m a roleplayer, to boot. I like being social in my games. And yet when I find myself playing World of Warcraft, I find myself actively preferring a bit of solitude far more often than I’d expect. This isn’t meant as a commentary on that game’s player culture or anything of the sort; I just like to have more stretches of not doing dungeons, just quietly doing my own thing and playing out the events in my character’s head.