When Massively OP’s MJ tried to settle on an ARK beach, she didn’t know it was going to be alpha central! And now there are two tamed raptors who need to be transported to a safer place so they can hunt and grow stronger. That means MJ has to live long enough to get back to the raptors, get them boarded onto a boat, and sail off to the new home — all without dying. And as she has come to know, dying is an everyday (every hour, even every minute) occurrence on this procedurally generated ARK. Tune in live at 4:00 p.m. to watch the endeavor unfold.
What: ARK: Survival Evolved
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 4:00 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 19th, 2016
With the release of Conan Exiles on Xbox One’s game preview program, there are plenty of questions from this new audience about the rollout of the survival sandbox. Funcom’s team was on hand yesterday for an AMA that ranged from crafting to crashes (“our number one priority”) to camel punching.
Funcom revealed that it is working on creating voice chat (in a similar fashion to ARK: Survival Evolved). It also hinted that PC and Xbox players may one day be able to share the same servers: “That is something we are still considering. Crossplay is complicated.”
The team also addressed the controversial omission of nudity on the console: “There is a nudity DLC for European territories (it’s free), but this DLC is currently unavailable due to a last minute issue with the Xbox Store. Microsoft is currently investigating a solution to this issue. In the meantime, all territories will be limited to partial nudity.”
On Tuesday, Daybreak formally announced that the neglected PvE half of H1Z1, Just Survive, would be shedding its H1Z1 branding once and for all. The reveal couldn’t help but remind me of the way Daybreak did the same thing for Landmark, deleting the “EverQuest Next” and then the EverQuest IP altogether from the title and marketing before ultimately scrapping the entire game not long after launch.
I don’t think Just Survive is necessarily doomed without the branding, however. In fact, I can think of several MMOs that I wish could have dumped their IPs or changed their names to rid themselves of the proverbial albatross ’round their necks. Star Wars Galaxies leaps immediately to mind.
What MMO would you like to see dump its branding or IP?
I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that everyone has at some point seen the xkcd called Isolation, but if not, there it is. No matter what the age and era, someone’s always preaching that people were more sociable in the long long ago. In this comic, however, Randall Munroe isn’t even contesting that. His point is basically no duh and so what. Yes, we become less sociable with random people in our immediate vicinity as we gain more and more access to ideas, entertainment, and people not in our immediate vicinity thanks to technology. Ultimately, replacing impromptu stranger interaction with the amusements of our choice appears to be what a lot of people wanted all along.
MMORPG players surely see where I’m going with this because we have the same eternal struggle when it comes to in-game socializing, grouping, community, and stickiness, the tug-of-war between the people who want to play alone together and the people who think that forced grouping is the only true path to enlightenment.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to reflect on the alone together vs. forced grouping spectrum, to talk about where they stand on it, whether that position’s changed through the years, which games are addressing the divide the best, and how the two sides can move forward in a dynamic MMO genre.
Daybreak is a whirlwind this week: First it broke up the H1Z1 party and got Just Survive its own apartment, and now it’s bringing PlanetSide 2 up to speed. The studio is unveiling what it’s calling Critical Mass, an update planned for later in August that overhauls the game’s victory point system.
“Previously, the VP system acted as a sort of checklist where factions would complete various objectives which then rewarded points to that faction,” Daybreak explains. “Earning these points was somewhat removed from the moment to moment experience, and would often reward factions for what they’ve done in the past, instead of painting a picture of the current state of a continent. This was especially noticeable toward the end of the process, where continents would lock abruptly, often interrupting high-intensity battles in a dissatisfying or anticlimactic way.”
To fix that, the team is removing random alerts, nuking the “checklist goals” from the system, changing how continent locking works, and providing scaling rewards. Expect it on the test server “soon” ahead of the PC/PS4 launch later in August.
Still skeptical about Wild West Online’s proposed PvP system? A brand-new video today may or may not help. PC Gamer spends 13 minutes narrating a dev-led demo of the game world showing off just how pretty and detailed it looks, though the publication notes it feels pretty empty in its current phase. The narrator reiterates the idea that you’re probably not going to want to “go buck wild” murdering in towns since you’re likely to be caught and bountied. You can fire warning shots, however, and of course you can be ambushed out in the wild, with much weaker penalties for banditry.
“I like the idea of playing a roadside bandit and attacking innocent gold miners while they try to go pan for gold and make do or pay rent or buy a small land deed,” PC Gamer’s rep says while a dev shoots (and misses) his target. “I do worry about player density and whether any time you go out into the world to look for treasure or pan for gold or whatever it is – I do worry about getting shot too often. I’m told that’s what the beta and alpha are gonna be before, testing what kind of player population they want and how often they want you to engage with other people in conflict. There’s gotta be a sweet spot, and they will need a live environment to test that in.” You don’t say!
Forget the parched desert, Massively OP’s MJ is ready to play in the snow! Conan Exiles has opened its new biome, and it is full of that cold powder. And trees! Of course MJ can’t resist running out to explore, even if she isn’t really prepared to survive there; there is much more than just the cold waiting to snuff out her life. Well, who needs to survive anyhow? It’s not like this is a survival game. Oh, wait. Tune in live at 2:00 p.m. for a glimpse into the The Frozen North expansion.
What: Conan Exiles
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, August 16th, 2017
It’s a two-for-one special on news for Conan Exiles today! First up, the game has officially released into “game preview” on Xbox One, bringing the survival sandbox to a console for the first time. Players will need to fork over $35 for the privilege of playing this alpha game, however.
Of interest to PC and Xbox players alike is today’s launch of The Frozen North biome expansion. The free expansion adds 70% more (snowy and rainy) landmass to Conan Exiles, introduces the avatar Ymir, and provides players with plenty of new armor, weapons, enemies, and building materials to keep them occupied. The team said that it made over 2,000 changes to the game with this build.
Ready to take your tribe north to see if you can hack it in the cold? Take a look at the trailer below to get a feel for the dangers that await!
Epic’s early access PvE-centric survival sandbox Fortnite has been heavily criticized for having a messy, micromanagey progression system that is inextricably linked to its pay-to-progress business model, but Epic says it’s listening to the feedback. “We’re in early access,” the studio’s Zak Phelps says in the game’s most recent dev video. “We want feedback. It’s a first version!”
Phelps, along with Epic’s Darren Sugg, say that the team is currently working on a “sort of hardcore survival version” of the game that’ll actually last up to an actual fortnight in-game (works out to about 3.5 hours real-time). Expect that big update coming later this summer.
The game’s latest teeny patch was intended to fix several crashes and memory leaks but appears to have introduced (or perhaps exacerbated) an XP display bug, so don’t freak out about that. Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie got some hands-on time with the game earlier this month; that’s down below, along with Epic’s latest dev chat.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree break down the big Guild Wars 2 news, celebrate FFXIV’s momentous milestone, muse about Dual Universe, and more! We also have a special interview with H1Z1: Just Survive Creative Director Ben Jones about the massive overhaul to this survival sandbox.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
The Division has this week patched up with Update 1.7, a whopper of a patch that introduces an epic new time-limited global event system, new commendations and patches, face masks, facial customization, new gear sets, account-wide sharing of bits and bobs like blueprints, a weapon rebalance, skill tweaks, the works. Oh, and new lockboxes dubbed “encrypted caches” from the Premium Vendor. Yes, they require dropped or cash-shop-bought keys, and yes, they “contain unique appearance items, emotes and skins.”
Ubisoft is opening up last winter’s Survival DLC to a free-play event starting this Friday and running through Sunday as part of its promotion of the patch. “Experience a completely new way to play The Division: cold, stripped of gear, and beset by a brutal snowstorm, you must survive until extracting safely in the Dark Zone,” Ubisoft teases newbies. “Finding warm clothes and survival equipment will be vital to your success.”
The trailers for both the update and the older DLC are down below!
Remember the survival version of H1Z1? If not, we can’t say that we blame you: Since Daybreak split the game in two, the bulk of development and attention has gone to the last-man standing tournament mode. Just check out how many patches and tournaments H1Z1: King of the Kill has seen! Those wanting to focus on the survival side of things were just out of luck as those servers seriously languished.
But all that changes today. No longer will H1Z1 Just Survive be lost in its sibling’s shadow; from here on out, Just Survive is its own game. And the name isn’t the only thing changing; beyond a rebranding, the entire game has gotten quite an overhaul.
I sat down with Creative Director Ben Jones for a tour of the many changes that go live today. We traveled the new map, investigated new POIs, visited the new safe zone respawn points (a few times!), met NPCs, checked out the new economy, and peeked at the new stronghold system. Jones also assured me that with its own development team, Just Survive will be receiving regular updates going forward. Will it be enough to bring players back? It worked for me. I had stopped playing the title quite a while ago (as I had no interest in KotK), but what I’ve seen now has me excited to give it another go.
Gosh, I had almost forgotten about Fragmented – it’s been a while! But it’s formally launched on Steam as of today for a discounted $5.99.
“Today we have moved Fragmented into a released state after 16 months and more than 30 patches in Early Access,” says Above and Beyond’s JC Smith, noting that launch “does not mean the end of updates” for the game; “tweaks and bug fixes” are still on the table.
Fragmented was originally created by A&B in the Great Repopulation Pause of 2015 as a survival sandbox spin-off of the The Repopulation, first Kickstarted in 2012. The MMORPG was crippled by a nasty public contract dispute between the dev team at A&B and its Hero Engine-lessor Idea Fabrik, driving The Repopulation offline and causing A&B to spend a year working on Fragmented instead. Earlier this year, the studio announced it had sold the game to Idea Fabrik instead, a move that A&B said was in the best interests of the game and the playerbase, while A&B kept Fragmented. Since then, Idea Fabrik has gotten The Repopulation back online in a limited alpha.