updates

Final Fantasy XI previews its April version update

The monthly update cadence of Final Fantasy XI is continuing into April, but this time around the game is actually moving backwards a little bit. Just a little bit, though; it's bringing back one of the more popular Ambuscade foes for players to face once more, complete with new rewards available. If you couldn't get enough of fighting the Gigas, you'll have another opportunity.

Players can also see another old foe with a long history of being fought as another Ark Angel joins the list of Trust companions, this time the Ark Angel MR. There's also new log messages in the chat window for crafting gains to facilitate the Escutcheon line, new Records of Eminence objectives, and a few other quality of life features. Just because some of the monthly update content is glancing backwards doesn't mean the game as a whole isn't moving forward just the same.

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Final Fantasy XIV launches patch 3.56 and removes free trial time restrictions

Patch 3.56 has arrived for Final Fantasy XIV, bringing with it the end of the Heavensward main story quests, Season 4 of the competitive Feast rankings, and an increase to the weekly Allagan Tomestone cap, which you're probably not going to hit on a regular basis. (900 tomestones a week is a lot.) It's enough stuff to give you good reason to keep working your way across Eorzea until the game's second expansion comes out in June.

But maybe you haven't actually bought the game yet. Does the patch still hold something of interest for you? The answer is yes; this patch marks the abolition of the 14-day free trial's time limitations. So the free trial is now unlimited, although you can't get higher than level 35 and you're limited to the base game without Heavensward content. You can check out some screenshots for the patch just below if that's what you need as an eventual motivator, at that.

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WoW Factor: The good and the bad of World of Warcraft's patch 7.2 date

Boy, this is a time I am glad to be wrong. I was outright worried that Blizzard was going to hold patch 7.2 for a much longer span of time, but no, it's hitting World of Warcraft on March 28th. That's good! It's still squarely aimed at trying to kneecap something else going on that same day, arguably, but at least it isn't being held for months. I'm going to count that as a good thing.

In fact, there's something very good baked into the announcement, something that's easy to miss. Of course, there's also something very bad baked in as well, or at least the hint of something bad, a thought I've stated before in passing but I haven't really elaborated on before. So today I want to examine both sides of this. Why this patch date makes me very happy and very worried at the same time. (Mostly the former, if you're wondering, but the latter is relevant.)

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Final Fantasy XIV wraps up the Heavensward story on March 28th

In less than a week, the first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV is coming to an end. The final story patch for Heavensward, 3.56, is arriving on March 28th, with accompanying maintenance starting at midnight EDT. The first half of the story already had a fair amount of death and revelation, but this is where we find out exactly what happens leading into our journey toward Ala Mhigo and Doma in Stormblood.

Of course, there's a main scenario preview available right now, but be fairly warned that it's a pretty notable spoiler for anyone who hasn't already done the first half of the 3.5 story. Suffice it to say that the solution to the major problem at the end of that first half was not nearly as final as may have been surmised, and more is coming right along the path. Feel free to speculate about what happens next; you've only got a few days left until you find out one way or the other.

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The Exiled launches Season 2 with a trial extension and a big patch

The second season of The Exiled is arriving, and while that sounds like the preamble to some critically acclaimed drama series starting up again, it's actually a major update for a video game. The Exiled has been in early access for about a month now, and so the second season is arriving to the game with some big shifts, including a new party system for players to group up together and support for the new role of healer. Now you won't just stub your toe and then wait to die!

The 1.1 patch also adds in the diplomacy system, several balance adjustments, and many quality-of-life improvements. New players can now get a free seven-day trial just for downloading the game from Steam, while returning players get two days of free trial status for jumping back in. If you're curious about the game's progress in early access, it seems like the right time to check.

Source: Fairytale Distillery press release, patch notes

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Lord of the Rings Online sends players to the Black Gate with today's Update 20

The path of Lord of the Rings Online has always pointed, inevitably, toward Mordor. Update 20, live today in the epic MMORPG, brings players within striking distance by adding three new zones (Dagorlad, the Slag-hills, and the Noman-lands) with quests and storytelling bringing players to the Battle of the Black Gate. It's about leading the charge to Sauron's very doorstep, and you're going to be taking part in it. And it's probably not going to end with chuckles over drinks as Sauron reveals this was all a big misunderstanding.

Players will also be able to help supply the Host of the West for battle and explore two new resource dungeons in both solo and group mode while moving through volume IV, book 8 of the game's epic story. There are also plenty of quality-of-life improvements and UI improvements to make your trek to the very doorstop of evil that much more pleasant.

Massively OP's Justin Olivetti trekked into LOTRO this past weekend and produced a guide on what to expect from the update -- get caught up before you log in!

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Skyforge explains tweaks to the Cathedral and the Tower of Knowledge

There are few feelings as negative as being unable to catch up. That's been a major problem with Skyforge's Tower of Knowledge for a long time. Players who were already well advanced had no problem upgrading the tower rapidly, which in turn unlocked new benefits; by contrast, new players would struggle to earn enough resources to upgrade the tower, thus falling further behind the people who were already ahead. It was one of the problems that the developers aimed to fix with the adjustments to the building last week, as explained in depth in the most recent post on the official site.

The Tower of Knowledge no longer requires credits, but instead is upgraded based on enemies defeated with a maximum cap on daily upgrades. You can also unlock powerful Prototypes from research within the tower. The Cathedral has also been improved by making it far cheaper and much more potent in its effects which avoids its previous status as the least desirable building to upgrade. So these changes are all good, unless perhaps you prided yourself on being a god of good urban planning.

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Eternal Crusade prepares for its free-to-play shift

It is important to note that the official Eternal Crusade line is that the upcoming free-to-play option is not a full conversion to free-to-play, and that's largely accurate. Free players will still be limited in what they can access. But it does mean that you will be able to play the game for free, while those who already have bought the game and are playing not for free get some fun stuff. For example, you get a bunch of in-store credit for the game, all four factional DLC packs, unique Venerable items, and something else as-yet-undisclosed to offer another little bonus.

Free players, of course, will have access to all of these things for purchase separately (aside from Venerable items) and can jump in to fill out the game's queues, so they win as well. This also coincides with another patch to the game trimming up balance issues and outstanding bugs, so whether or not you're already a player or just look to jump in when the game goes free, you can know you're playing the most polished version of the game possible.

Source: Steam

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Star Trek Online offers a broad overview of upcoming space combat balance changes

The space combat of Star Trek Online is pretty much the crown jewel of the game. It's intriguing, diverse, engaging, and pretty much everyone who plays the game is all but contractually obligated to praise it. But it's certainly not perfect, which is why the game is rebalancing the space combat. A new post on the official site details the core philosophy behind the changes to keep the gameplay fun and vital while adding more choices, and the barest skeleton of the changes are also outlined.

Beam Overload is becoming slightly less powerful, while targetable kinetic weapons like torpedoes will be harder (but not impossible) to shoot down and no longer will be affected by abilities like Tyken's Rift. Several profession abilities are also being buffed up significantly to have a greater impact on combat, like a big boost to Miracle Worker's effects and a new Science ability to improve healing and exotic damage. The full list of changes will be detailed point-by-point in an upcoming test patch, so players can look forward to the full set of shifts with the upcoming change for feedback.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Michael for the tip!

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No Man's Sky patches in a fix to allow faster movement on every planet

Last week, No Man's Sky patched in the option to build rovers for quickly traversing the landscape. That's just a good thing, right? After all, it means that you could hop from place to place without having to use up fuel on your ship. Except that for some reason, the geobays required for these rovers could only be built on your home planet, meaning that you couldn't use them at all on any new world you discovered. In other words, a great new tool for exploring strange new worlds could not be used to explore strange new worlds.

Whether this was an accident or an oversight is unclear, but either way, it's been changed now. Players can now build geobays on new worlds, meaning you can hop in and start exploring with faster movement wherever you wind up. Or you can just put on an appropriate soundtrack and start crushing the local wildlife underneath your exploratory vehicle's wheels. It's all up to you, it's your playground.

Source: Steam via Polygon

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Paragon celebrates a year of early access with a big patch

Has it really been a year since Paragon first went into early access? It certainly has according to the developers, and they would know. By way of celebration, players are being treated to a nice big patch containing all sort of fun toys, starting with a new hero named Yin. She whips things and reflects projectiles, so if that's your thing you should be happy to see her show up.

The game has also adjusted balance on 20 different existing heroes, as well as adjusting several cards and adding a large number of new ones. Players also have access to the new Banner feature, allowing you to show off your sign for kills and tower destruction. Last but not least, there are also a number of promotional giveaways to coincide with the anniversary. You can find out everything from the full patch notes, or you can check out the top-level overview with the video just below.

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WildStar player analyzes the Primal Matrix and finds it wanting

The most recent WildStar patch hit just yesterday. You would think it would take a little bit longer for people to get really upset about it. But a player has already extensively analyzed the impact for the game and the players and come to a number of conclusions. Spoiler warning, pretty much none of them is positive, and most point to a system that makes most content in the game less rewarding rather than more.

One of the big sticking points, for example, is the fact that the system requires both rare and common essences for advancement. While common essences become easier to acquire over time with a catch-up mechanism, rare essences are firmly gated behind dailies, which means the catch-up mechanism doesn't actually allow you to catch up much faster (if at all). You just hit the sticking points faster.

There's also issues with the impact the stats have on the current game balance, as the effects ripple down through all content in both making characters with Matrix nodes extraordinarily more powerful (even in lower-level content) and in invalidating content which doesn't drop needed essences (essentially, everything that isn't Prime-difficulty dungeons and expeditions). It's a worthwhile analysis to read, even if it will take a little time to see if the most doom-and-gloom predictions are borne out over the long term.

Source: Reddit; thanks to Pepperzine for the tip!

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WildStar launches the Power of the Primal Matrix

You can log in to WildStar today and get yourself a free level 50 character to celebrate the Power of the Primal Matrix update. Will that mean you're done with leveling? Not even a little bit! No, the whole centerpiece of this update is the eponymous Primal Matrix, and that means getting in and leveling your max-level character with more levels and nodes and all that comes with it. So you get a free level 50, but it's more like another step on the same path.

Lucky for you, you'll have plenty to do at 50, since you'll also have two new dungeons to explore, the new Primal difficulty, quality of life improvements, bug fixes, ability adjustments... you get the idea. Peruse the patch notes to get a sense of what you're jumping in to, just for your own edification. And if you already have a level 50 character, so much the better.

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