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Wild West Online pivots away from faction system PvP, plans free trial

Another week, another huge plan change for Wild West Online. Newly installed studio (or maybe the old studio with a new name) DJ2 Entertainment says it’s completely deleting the faction system from the game. “There’ll be no Mcfarlanes vs Steele,” the devs say on Steam. “We loved it internally, but effectively it did added some unnecessary complexity to the gameplay mechanics and affected player’s experience in a negative way.”

“Instead we’re bringing back Sheriffs vs Outlaws mechanics, and they’ll become our two main factions in a game. While we don’t think that first release will check all boxes for all players, we will continue tweak and fine tuning it until we’ll get system that all players will be happy about.”

The company is also working on a town capture redesign, weapons adjustments, fluff loot, barricades, event rewards, and a new tutorial. A free trial version of the game will soon appear on Steam and on the official site; it’ll allow folks to play to 20 without achievements and awards.

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Tamriel Infinium: With Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset, more of the same is a good thing

Today is the formal launch day for Summerset! My goal during the PC early access was to finish the main storyline, and I’m happy to say that I did it and some of the side quests as well. And I was also able to do a bit of exploring around the island just to see what was there. As an Elder Scrolls Online fan, I have to say that I’m satisfied with what ZeniMax delivered. If you are a fan of the game and really enjoy what the team has given so far in the game, then you will also like the Summerset chapter.

I strongly believe that ZeniMax over-delivered with Morrowind, so when making a direct comparison between the two different chapters, I will, unfortunately, have to admit that Morrowind was the stronger chapter. But that’s not to say that Summerset was a bad expansion to the game. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are some very strong characters, glorious set pieces, and fun Easter eggs.

As I talk about the story of the next chapter, it will be impossible not to talk about spoilers, but I will keep them as light and vague as I can. And I promise that anything that I reveal is not a major plot point. With that in mind, let’s talk about this story!

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Hands-on: The Jurassic World Alive ARG shows promise, but not for MMO fans

Ludia’s Jurassic World Alive isn’t being marketed as an MMO, but it is an augmented reality game that involves roaming in the real world for virtual dinosaurs so you can battle them against other players. Online. But not near you.

It’s not exactly perfect, kind of like the series, in several ways. It’s not as promising as Maguss seemed in some ways, and suffers from similar design issues, but it also does things differently from Pokemon Go that, with some tweaks, could potentially attract a playerbase, even among our readers.

Just maybe not right now. Let me explain.
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The Repopulation is still plugging away at bug-fixing and the new starter island

The current owners of The Repopulation have a brand-new dev update, but maybe don’t expect it to move mountains, literally or figuratively. Idea Fabrik spends most of its words explaining why there’s no patch: essentially, that there are just too many problems in the code that need to be fixed first. The team does note it’s been working on the new starter island and repurposing the original tutorial NPCs, dialogue, and missions, as well as revamping the inventory system.

“Despite the difficulties we face as developers and as players, development is still continuing,” the studio concludes. “So this means that once we do have the patches coming out, we will have a large amount of changes coming your way over the course of a few updates. We decided it was only fair to give you additional information of what we are doing and working on since it was taking so long to get this update out. We are going to give you a snapshot of some of what is going on behind the scenes and what you can expect to see coming your way. Please do note that there might be changes, additions or removal of some of this information based on the feedback from both the testers and players. […] Our primary work has been focused on a) optimizing (art, terrain, world, environments and the time of day), b) review of all dialogue and missions and c) designing the new systems.”

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Choose My Adventure: Two milestones at the start in Final Fantasy XI

If I have to summarize, in brief, how much Final Fantasy XI has changed since its launch in the United States? In half an hour before leaving the house I made a character, started the first nation mission, and reached level 6 in the process of smacking six bees. Most of the way to 7, at that.

This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but if you played the game before your remember it primarily for being insanely brutal and slow. The idea of reaching the limit breaks in the course of a month would require hardcore play and persistence along with lots of high-end help, which is why I specifically stated I’d be getting none of that. My playtime with this characters sits at around 9 hours right now, which is a fair chunk of time, but it’s not much when spread over the course of four days.

But yes, I am now ready to pick up my advanced jobs helped significantly by the fact that my adventure started in Windurst. So let’s start talking about the mechanics of the game, how you can end-run so many parts of the system now, and how bad the game still is about telling you these things.

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Tamriel Infinium: Eight things you need to know before jumping into Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset

Monday, the Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset chapter went live for early access accounts. For the first time since 1994, players can visit the island of Summerset. And needless to say, 24 years makes quite a difference in the world of gaming. I’m not going to pretend that I ever played Arena, but think its safe to say that things look a lot different and the mechanics of the game have changed, too.

I don’t think that Summerset is as highly anticipated as Morrowind was, but that’s can be a positive for ZeniMax Online Studios because there is scrutiny when it comes to the lay of the land and the storyline. On the other hand, it means less hype for the expansion.

As an MMORPG enthusiast, I’m excited to see MMOs continuing to grow the way ESO has. And I know that you might not be as familiar with Summerset, so I would like to give you my list of what you should probably look out for when you jump into the next chapter.

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Shroud of the Avatar’s upcoming R54 includes new house deco, heraldry items, and lots of polish

MMOs dressing us as murderhobos wouldn’t be so bad if we were super stylish murderhobos, right? Shroud of the Avatar plainly agrees, which is why the headline item in its latest newsletter is dye-able peasant gear that actually looks pretty decent. For peasant gear. I spy demure barmaid gowns too! There’s more to the dev update than dresses, of course. Portalarium includes new images from its do-over for Shaminian Hills, new heraldry items that you can stick your own sigil on, and a list of to-dos for NPCs in Central Brittany.

The studio says R54 is currently on the test server undergoing tweaks; it’s still expected to roll out on May 31st, with performance improvements, the rebuilt and polished zones and scenes (including Shaminian Hills), virtue effects for gear, more hints during the newbie tutorial, polish on companions, new side quests, new recipes, new housing and deco, and a polishing patch for the container UI.

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Choose My Adventure: Starting fresh-ish in Final Fantasy XI

This is actually a Choose My Adventure that I was somewhat reluctant to do for a long time, simply because… well, in some ways, it goes against the entire spirit of Choose My Adventure. Or at least the spirit that I’ve always used as a guiding principle for these columns, for however much it matters.

The goal of Choose My Adventure has always been to take someone who is either wholly unfamiliar with a game or at least not an expert at it and throw them into a game with as little support as possible. There’s no way that I can realistically hit the level cap and make major headway into the endgame, of course, but I can at least try a game with fresh eyes and see how it plays, while presenting those thoughts in a non-tedious fashion.

And then we have Final Fantasy XI, which I cannot possibly look at with new eyes because I know this game very well. If I had to list the MMOs I know best, FFXI would probably be third or fourth on the list. Which is why for a long time I didn’t bring it up, because… I know all of this stuff, right?

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Perfect Ten: How MMOs can become more accessible

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was remarkably reluctant to enter into the field of MMORPGs despite being a perfect candidate (a gaming geek who loved fantasy and sci-fi RPGs). All of the reasons that I had at the time for stalling really could have been boiled down to a single word: accessibility.

MMOs back then looked — and probably were — very inaccessible. They had a payment barrier. They required a lot of setup and hardware. Their interfaces were cluttered and their gameplay interactions were obtuse. Frankly, I got the impression that a lot of them were a mess that was only understandable to those who had put in hundreds of hours to decipher the format.

When MMOs started to become more accessible, particularly with City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars, I eagerly jumped in. Those three titles in particular made giant leaps forward in opening up these games to the first-time player. But that doesn’t mean that MMORPGs have arrived at universal accessibility just yet. Here are ten areas that studios could be improving in order to make their titles more appealing and understandable to outsiders.

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EVE Evolved: Getting new players to stick with EVE Online

EVE Online has the odd distinction of being one of the most impenetrable MMOs on the market today and yet also one of the stickiest. Few new players make it past their first week or month in EVE, but more of those who do scale that infamous learning cliff tend to stay for several years and become part of the community. Many of the most active veteran players have even admitted that EVE didn’t really click for them the first time, and for some it took them several attempts before they finally got hooked.

This anecdotal evidence seems to mesh quite well with CCP’s own brutal retention statistics, as we heard back in 2016 that over 1.5 million people had signed up new accounts that year but just over 50% of them quit within the first two hours. Even after the free-to-play option was added to eliminate the biggest barrier of entry for new and returning players, retaining more of those players in the long term is still proving difficult. So what is it that prevents new players from really clicking with EVE even if they want to, and what can be done about it?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the factors that make EVE difficult to penetrate, the importance of joining a corporation, and a few things CCP could do to help with player retention.

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The MOP Up: Diablo levels up in Heroes of the Storm (May 13, 2018)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Heroes of the StormElder Scrolls Online, DayZEVE Online, Pokemon Go, Dota 2City of HeroesFinal Fantasy XIVPortal KnightsLineage 2 RevolutionWizard101Ingress, and Reign of Guilds, all waiting for you after the break!

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Choose My Adventure: Ultima Online, we didn’t need to do this

Yes, this is going to come in as the shortest Choose My Adventure series, but I feel it’s got a good reason to be so. I went into Ultima Online with a very simple question: Is the game worth playing now as a free-to-play title for the curious? I very quickly got the answer to that question: No. Definitely not. And writing a whole lot more on it is just going to continue to harp on that point.

That’s not to say that there aren’t at least a few more words to be spared on the subject, of course. There are a lot of games with a free-to-play option that players have said don’t feel like free-to-play titles; you can technically play without paying, yes, but the game doesn’t seem to want you there and keeps hitting you with paywalls. That wasn’t the problem I ran into with Ultima Online, though. If anything, it seemed like the game didn’t want me there at all. Not as a free player, but as a new player.

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Generation 3 is basically Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel: How Niantic has actually improved POGO

A lot of critical things have been said about Pokemon Go and Niantic in the past. Professionals that tried to defend certain UI elements still had plenty of suggestions a non-professional could have made. Same goes for players and professionals that noted the need for quests. In fact, Niantic’s insistence on doing local events instead of global events created some huge PR problems, and that’s without noting that, for a social game, the game actually lacked a lot of social features.

But there’s a weird thing: Niantic’s addressed many of those issues. Several are ones I’ve previously suggested. There’ve been several UI improvements, new quests, at least two events per month since February 2018 that aren’t just cash shop sales, and a push towards community building. It’s far from perfect, like the glaring omission of in-game communication or a social media connection, but we’ll ignore that for now. What I want to focus on is how Niantic’s taken feedback and enhanced Pokemon Go.

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