As the Battle Bards cruise into their second hundred episodes, it’s time to cover a very long-lived fantasy MMO from 2002, Ragnarok Online. The game has an… interesting soundtrack and a devoted following in some circles, but as the crew discovered on today’s show, the score is not without its criticisms. It’s time to kick summer vacation to the curb and trumpet another parade of MMO music!
Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, and Player.FM.
Listen to Episode 101: Ragnarok Online (or download it) now:
Massively OP’s MJ has been slowly streaming through all of EverQuest II’s Heritage Quests (slowly, because there are more than you can shake an Iksar at!). The group is finally finishing the level 50s, and that puts them smack dab in the middle of the fires of Lavastorm, and one of the ways to try and save time is by running multiple HQs concurrently. Currently the crew is Lavastorming, working to finish all three in that molten land. Can they finish one up tonight? Join us live at 8:00 p.m. for some hot adventures.
What: EverQuest II
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, June 27th, 2017
I’m a kart racer. Oh sure, I enjoyed Cruisin’ USA and San Fransisco Rush as a kid, and of course I played Gran Turismo a little, but in general, I prefer kart racing games. They’re easier for non-gamers to get into when played on a console and often have mechanics that make them games more forgiving. I can see the appeal of realistic racing games, though. I’m no good at them, but they can be fun.
Even when I first demoed the original The Crew, I felt this way. I didn’t play the game at release, nor have I played any non-kart, non-arcade racers, but I respected it for what it was: a racing game with an MMO lean. However, this year, I feel like I could handle my car better in The Crew 2, which alone made me feel a bit better about the genre, but the addition of both boats and planes actually made me like the game.
After some ups and downs this afternoon — everybody loves the “try again later” message, right? — Valve’s summer Steam sale is finally underway and stable. Here’s what we’re looking at in our corner of the gaming world.
So what’s it going to be like playing The Crew 2? If you said “a lot like playing The Crew,” well… all right, you’re cynical, but you have a point. If you said “drive car around,” you’re even more cynical, and this time you’re only partly right. You will also be driving boats and piloting planes, and you’ll be hopping between them freely while not racing. And you can even see the races unfold before you in the latest preview video.
The video is just below and shows the boat, car, and plane races all taking place, although the narration during the video makes it clear you won’t be limited to a race settings for these various vehicles. Check the whole thing out just below, and consider what you’ll want to do in the 2000 square miles of recreated America in the game. Including going on a cross-country joyride in a plane, if that’s your thing. (It’ll be harder in a boat.)
Ubisoft is undoubtedly pleased with the sales and performance of The Crew because as previously teased, the developer has invested in a full-fledged sequel that’s even bigger than the first cross-country racing game.
The Crew 2 will take multiplayer to a redesigned and larger America, with players jumping into the driver’s seat of all manner of cars, motorbikes, boats, helicopters, and even planes. The real star of the game is the open world setting, where players will be able to visit and traverse locations coast-to-coast, such as the Grand Canyon and New York City.
“Our ambition with The Crew 2 is to make the ultimate experience for all motorsports fans,” said the studio.
But what is there to do until the game comes out? Ubisoft launched a rewards program that allows players to earn and unlock up to 18 The Crew 2 vehicles by playing The Crew right now. An early 2018 release is planned on PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Players can following the development progress and sign up for the beta on the website.
The Dreamcast was a brief but shining aberration in the gaming world. Coming along years after Sega had fallen out of its position as a top-runner in the console market, it represented the company’s last-ditch attempt to reclaim its former glory. While it failed to succeed in that respect and ultimately closed up shop in 2001 (ending Sega’s interest in the console market), the Dreamcast became a gaming cult favorite responsible for some of the most innovative titles ever made. Games like Jet Grind Radio, Space Channel 5, and Shenmue have remained fan favorites long after the Dreamcast’s demise, which shows the legacy that these dev teams left behind.
But perhaps the Dreamcast’s greatest gift to the gaming world wasn’t crazy taxis or space dancing but a surprisingly forward-looking approach to online gaming. In 2000, the Dreamcast took the first steps to bringing an online console RPG to market, and while it wasn’t a true MMO, it certainly paved the way for titles like EverQuest Online Adventures and Final Fantasy XI.
It was bold, it was addictive, and it was gosh-darned gorgeous. Ladies and gentlemen: Phantasy Star Online.
After a week or so of teasing the different weapon specialties on Twitter for Secret World Legends, the crew at Funcom has finally released a “deep dive” into the different tools of destruction and their brand-new mechanics from which players can choose when they create a new character.
The weapon selection, from which each player can choose two at a time, is:
- Blades: Generate “chi” to trigger a time-limited spirit blade
- Hammer: Build up rage to spend on power attacks
- Fist: Build up fury to access primal wrath abilities
- Blood Magic: Move on a meter to either boost damage or healing
- Chaos Magic: Damage divisible by eight will trigger a special event
- Elementalism: Build up heat to boost damage but deny the use of some skills
- Shotgun: One of four random shell types will be reloaded every six shots
- Pistol: The RNG will determine if you do bonus damage on any given shot
- Assault Rifle: Generate and expend grenades over time
The headstart for Secret Worlds Legends begins on June 23rd and will accept anyone who either has a current Secret World account or has signed up for the beta.
Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.
That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.
During its quarterly investor call today, Ubisoft announced that its working on a sequel to racing MMO The Crew. “In 2017-18 we will see the exciting returns of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, The Crew and South Park,” the company said, following it up with a forum post confirming that The Crew 2 is indeed on the way.
If that startles you, consider Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad’s takeaway from the call:
We suspect the massive one-month-free-to-play push last September had something to do with it too.
After a few hiccups with voting (not to mention walking!), Massively OP’s MJ figured things out and made it through the first part of the Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series story relatively unscathed. Relatively. Now it’s time to move on to the next adventure — hopefully with Rocket Raccoon still a part of the crew. Of course, how things develop has everything to do with what you, the viewers, decide! Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. to continue our single-player-turned-multiplayer Choose My Adventure experiment.
What: Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, May 9th, 2017
Unlike some gamers, I actually like Star Wars: The Old Republic’s
Trooper storyline. In fact, one of the most meaningful choices in the whole game is made by the player in the Trooper’s arc. After spending several missions with an operative for the Republic, you are faced with a choice that will leave her dead or kill many Republic senators whom you have never met before. It’s a tough call for a character that is supposed to be loyal to the Republic and loyal to the crew. No other choice in any of the other class stories was as difficult for me.
Because of his proven ability to create meaningful moments like those in the Trooper story, I have been happy to see Charles Boyd at the helm of the creative side of the latest updates to the SWTOR experience. But I was disappointed by War for Iokath from a storytelling perspective. And I was especially disappointed by the less-than-meaningful choices players had to make in this update.
I’ve held off talking about Update 5.2 because I like to focus on the positive in the MMO genre, but I think it’s time to face what has to be one of worst updates I’ve seen for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Let’s examine why I felt so cheated, and let me know if you agree with my assessment in the comments.
Remember last June when Camelot Unchained startled everyone by announcing it was opening a second studio in Seattle? The team out west has been working on the game for many months now, but finally, it’s getting a home.
“The crew out in Washington now have an office space they will be moving into at the start of next week,” the game’s latest newsletter reveals. “After quite a journey, the lease is signed, the moving can begin, and maybe we’ll even convince them to appear on our streams a little more often.”
Also, may we say that this particular developer has impeccable taste in vintage 2015 t-shirts featuring a mascot rather near and dear to us: