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:
Gamasutra is reporting this afternoon that Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet has picked up former Ubisoft Montreal Creative Director Jason VandenBerghe. His new title on the MMO? Director of Design. He explains the move in a Facebook post:
“The tl;dr version is that I went out [to Seattle] on a lark –and then fell head-over-heels in love. [ANet Lead Designer] Isaiah [Cartwright] did an amazing job of setting the table… but it was all the people that I met there there that sealed the deal. It’s a big step. I won’t be making games directly any more – I’ll be studio level, shepherding teams and growing people. I’m… sort of thrilled about how difficult that sounds. It’s exactly what I want to be doing right now.”
ArenaNet is currently working on the finale for Guild Wars 2’s current living season storyline as well as a heavily leaked expansion. It’s suffered a number of high-profile staff departures in the past couple of years, most of them moving to Amazon Game Studios.
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.
Pirates are, like, so so hot right now. At least if you look at the multiplayer gaming space, which now has two promising titles from major studios racing toward release. One of these is Skull and Bones, a recently announced Ubisoft title that we got to check out at E3.
For all of the talk of open world sailing and clashes between players, some have wondered if there is any room for the solo pirate who wants to sail the seven seas without others crowding around. Turns out that, yes, this will be a definite option, as Skull and Bones is going to feature a single-player narrative campaign in addition to its multiplayer component.
An Ubisoft representative confirmed this aspect of the game in a statement: “[Skull and Bones] will offer a narrative campaign which will be integrated into the game and will not be something aside of the multiplayer experience. In this campaign, players will encounter iconic characters and memorable rival pirates. More details will be shared at a later date.”
I like naval combat in my MMOs. That’s my weakness. Vehicle combat is great, but for some reason, I especially like boats. When I heard there was another pirate multiplayer game being revealed at E3 2017, I knew I’d have to check it out. Fortunately, I’d already been scheduled to check out Ubisoft’s press section of their booth, giving me a rare opportunity to see Skull and Bones behind closed doors.
The pirate’s code(s)
Let’s get this out of the way upfront: Skull and Bones is not nearly the same as Sea of Thieves. At all. Sea of Thieves is a good pirate simulator. You get drunk, you swing a sword, you dig for treasure.
In Skull and Bones, you’re a pirate ship, not a captain. Your ship is your class, like a tank or a sniper. It’s much more about boat play than character play. Don’t think of the triad though, as I didn’t see any “healer” type boat. And don’t think you’re just in a death match, as the pirate aspect was still there, even in my battleground-esque demo.
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.)
E3 is drawing to a close, with its reveals over and done with — all that’s left is processing our interviews and hands-on pieces. But in the meantime, we decided to take this week’s Overthinking to consider the field. MMORPGs haven’t shined brightly at E3 in a long time, so our expectations are usually low — the con is interesting to us more for what’s happening on the multiplayer front.
So that’s what we asked our staff: What’s the most interesting or grabby-hands MMO or MMO-ish thing from E3 this year? Which game would get your best in show and why? There’s also an extra bonus section on the con itself courtesy of our writer on the floor.
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.
Sea of Thieves, you have a new challenger in the realm of MMOsy pirate games: Ubisoft just announced Skull and Bones at E3. The game looks gorgeous and boasts a “shared open world” that reacts to players, seeming character customization (“choose your captain, recruit your crew, and build deadly ships”), PvP in the “disputed waters,” and fun piratey fluff like spyglasses and realistic wind navigation.
“It is the Golden Age of Piracy. Renegade captains command the most powerful weapons on Earth: warships. You are a pirate captain who has refused the king’s pardon and sailed from the Caribbean to the Indian Ocean, an untamed frontier full of lavish riches. However, these waters are also a battleground where far-reaching colonial empires, powerful trading corporations, and ruthless pirate gangs clash. In order to survive, you will have to build a lethal fleet, prey upon lucrative trade routes, and ally with other pirates in your endless struggle for supremacy.”
“We’re not making Black Flag 2.0,” Ubisoft says in the new trailer. “We’re making our own game. But we really went to school on what we’ve done in the past.” Check out the videos for the whole overview.
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.