valve

Steam company known primarily to MMO players for the Dota franchise.

Legends of Aria faces down closed beta testing

Ultima Online spiritual successor Legends of Aria is preparing to go through a major transition over the new year as it winds down its crowdfunding campaign and gears up for closed beta testing.

The team announced that it will stop selling founder’s packs on December 29th and transition to selling pre-orders instead. Fans are advised to buy into the packs now if they want any of the crowdfunding tier rewards, especially physical items.

Far more exciting is Legends of Aria’s 2018 development roadmap, which kicks off with Closed Beta 1 on January 15th. This first test will add a new adventure area, two cities, re-open the catacombs, and add in a notoriety system.

Past that is March and Closed Beta 2, which will focus on the new player experience and a whole lot of polish. Then, if all goes well, Steam early access will follow in April 2018. Exciting times we live in for sure!

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MMOs you’ve never heard of: Rogalia, Lazarus, Dead Maze, We Ride, and SOS

Welcome back to our intermittent series on MMOs and other multiplayer games you you’ve never heard of! Let’s run down five more floating to the top of the pile this month.

Rogalia

First up is a Russian indie MMO called Rogalia that I first heard of thanks to former Massively columnist Jeremy Stratton (heya Jeremy!). It’s cute and cartoony and will definitely appeal to old-school isometric sandbox players with its crisp cartoon graphics and detailed UI. Combine all that with the gameplay and it’ll remind you more of Ultima Online than most games that namedrop it! It’s currently $12 on Steam, though it’s set to launch out of early access at some point this month, when the price will likely increase.

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Mabinogi doles out chain slash weapons while Hyper Universe offers free play weekend

You know how your parents told you never to play with knives? Well, they never said anything about long whips with razor blades on them, and Mabinogi is here to help you out with that.

The fantasy sandbox added chain blades to the game and the talent to wield them. Players have to generate “dark energy” to use chain slash skills, which include recovery abilities and team buffs. There’s also a new Baltane challenge mission to tackle after you get used to whipping the universe to shreds.

Over in another one of Nexon’s titles, Hyper Universe is hosting a free play “weekend” from December 15th through the 20th prior to the game’s upcoming launch. The 2-D MOBA, which includes many pop culture homages, will be half-off on Steam through January 4th to help. And because that’s not enough, the game’s also activating some holiday-themed maps and skins over the break.

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Duke Nukem and Serious Sam headline Wild Buster’s early access

Hack-and-slash Wild Buster is here to kick butt and chew gum — and it’s all out of gum.

InselGames’ MMOARPG entered Steam early access today, allowing players in after a $20 entrance fee. To draw attention to this game, two action stars have been hauled out of retirement for another tour of duty. Both Serious Sam and Duke Nukem are among the roster of playable characters for launch.

Wild Buster touts “full-fledged MMO systems” such as guilds, an auction house, crafting, fishing, and raids. So now you can live out your greatest fantasy of seeing Duke Nukem fish and drink beer. Probably more of the latter.

Take a look at the launch trailer after the break and see if this game might be right for you!

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Gaming industry roundup: SWBG2’s poor sales, Gambling Commission, slot machines, and parody games

Don’t agree that lockboxes, lootboxes, and gambleboxes were the biggest story of the year? We’ve collected so many news tidbits just on that over the last few days that we’re resorting to rounding them up rather than spamming. To wit:

First, Merrill Lynch analysts have now lowered their expectations and profit estimates for EA thanks to the performance of Star Wars Battlefront 2, which the analysts believe will fall short of the 14M sales estimate by 2.5M. At least in big box stores, the game also performed relatively poorly on Black Friday.

On point: I Can’t Believe It’s Not Gambling is under $1 on Steam. “Do you love opening loot crates, but hate the tedious gameplay sessions in between? Our marketing department has the game for you! Unbox random items! Get stuff, but not what you really want! Skate legal and ethical lines! Remember kids, it’s only a video game, so grab your parents’ credit card!”

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Titan Quest lives on in current-gen consoles

To be completely honest with you, I never really thought that we would be reporting in 2017 about a Diablo clone that released in 2006, but here we are. Perhaps it’s Titan Quest’s willingness to adapt to new platforms that has kept this ARPG alive and kicking over the past decade or so.

The next stage of adaptation is coming soon, as Titan Quest announced that it is coming to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in 2018, with a Nintendo Switch version in the works for an unspecified future release. The console edition will contain the base game and Immortal Throne expansion.

Console players can check out this mythology-steeped title either online or off, with the online version sporting a two- to six-player coop mode. Titan Quest will be released in both Standard ($30) and Collector’s Editions ($120), with the latter containing a Greek war helmet replica and (drumroll) a notepad. Hm. Probably should have ended with the helmet thing.

Titan Quest recently released a Ragnarok expansion on Steam and was ported over to mobile last year.

Source: Press release

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Wild Terra announces launch for December 18th

‘Tis the season for surprise launches, fa la la la and so on. Wild Terra is officially launching on December 18th, bringing the game out of its test state and into the wild and woolly world of just being live. It’s a process starting on December 15th, with the game shutting down its current servers and forcing you to pick which of your characters you most urgently want transferred to the new live server.

Veteran supporters of the title will get a bit of a headstart, though; they’ll be able to play on the new servers over the weekend, with the first wave of players being admitted on December 16th. But December 18th remains the for-real big-time actual launch, and it will be difficult if not impossible for it to be more launched. So start thinking about who you want to save among your characters now, and prepare for the transition this weekend.

Source: Steam page

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ARK Survival Evolved’s paid Aberration expansion has launched

The delays are in the past: Aberration truly launches for ARK Survival Evolved today on both PC and console, marking the game’s second expansion pack and the first since ARK officially launched. Merry Christmas, here’s your “irradiated hellscape” to play in!

“Waking up on ‘Aberration’ – a derelict, malfunctioning ARK featuring an elaborate underground biome system filled with new challenges unlike those found on prior ARK maps. Extreme radioactive sunlight, earthquakes, and environmental hazards, ziplines, wingsuits, climbing gear, fantastical creatures like the Rock Drake and Basilisk, and more await survivors throughout these vast caverns. Beware the ‘Nameless’: unrelenting, Element-infused humanoids, which have evolved into vicious light-hating creatures, and the Reapers, massive alien monstrosities which can impregnate foes to spawn their offspring!”

As we’ve previously previewed, the expansion includes new genetically mutated creatures to tame and slay, 50 new craftable items (who doesn’t need her very own custom hazmat suit?), and new environmental hazards, like earthquakes, gas leaks, and radiation exposure (ah, a use for that suit!).

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Life is Feudal: MMO counts ‘tens of thousands’ of players in open beta

So how’s the Life is Feudal MMO doing since it hit open beta a few weeks ago? The login issues and emergency game wipe aside, it’s apparently attracted a decent number of players. In a press release just before the weekend, developer Bitbox implies the game has “tens of thousands of players” romping through its “massive open playground in a huge medieval world.” Indeed, it’s also released a new trailer demoing what “thousands” of gamers have built since the start of the open beta. Stone keeps and thatched-roof huts for days. I even spied a snowman in there.

The game is still marked with a January 2018 launch date on Steam. Starter packs on the official site begin at $29.99.

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SuperData says the e-sports industry grew to $1.5B this year alone

SuperData has a new report out this week that suggests e-sports haters will not be getting what they want for Christmas.

“The esports market has finally hit the mainstream,” the gaming analysis firm declares, echoing the argument it made in October. “Once only large in core Asian markets like Korea, esports have expanded worldwide and are now top of mind of every publisher, platform, and brand. As recognition of the importance of esports grows, the data and insights needed for strategizing become vital.”

The report estimates that the e-sports industry is on track to grow by almost a billion dollars per year by 2022, driven in part by a huge increase in investment and advertising revenue. It also recognizes the big four games: League of Legends, with its huge viewerbase; Dota 2, with its mega prize pools; Overwatch, which is laying the foundation with city-based teams; and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has drawn over 200M monthly viewers in just half a year during early access.

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Sword Coast Legends ends development – grab it from Steam while you can

Better buy Sword Coast Legends while you still can: It appears that Wizards of the Coast and Digital Extremes will be ending the publishing contract for the Dungeons and Dragons-based co-op game at the end of 2017. The good news that the servers will stay up for those who already own it (or who purchase it before December 31st).

“Purchase Sword Coast Legends now at 67% off and receive the Rage of Demons DLC for free,” the devs posted to the official forums. “Our publishing contracting is ending, but although Sword Coast Legends will no longer be available to purchase after December, its multiplayer servers will remain live indefinitely.” (It looks to be $14.99 on Steam as I type this, so the sale doesn’t appear to be live yet.)

We’ve been following the game since 2015 when we first heard about this odd multiplayer-slash-single-player game, which allowed one player to step into the gamemaster’s shoes to run campaigns for a team. It officially launched in October of that year after an initial delay, then rolled out an expansion in May of 2016, followed by a double console launch in July of 2016, but it’s been relatively quiet since then. In the middle of it all, the original developer, n-Space, was shuttered, leaving further development to Digital Extremes.

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LOTRO delays raid rollout while Middle-earth card game is announced for PC

It’s a not-so-happy patch day for Lord of the Rings Online. The studio said that it won’t be activating the new raid with the rollout of today’s Patch 21.3.

“As we took a look at the Abyss of Mordath over the weekend on Bullroarer and read your feedback, we uncovered a couple of issues that we do not want present when the raid opens to the public,” SSG said. “We have decided to temporarily make the Abyss of Mordath raid inaccessible when Update 21.3 goes live on Monday, to give us time to correct these issues.”

Meanwhile, a Lord of the Rings digital card game was announced over the weekend for the PC. Fantasy Flight Games is adapting its own physical trading card game to the online realm as an initially single-player experience, although co-op play is planned for the future. The team touts the game’s “non-randomized approach” to card purchasing as one of its strengths.

The Lord of the Rings Living Card Game is coming to early access soon and will be launched as a free-to-play title in 2018. Check out the teaser trailer after the break!

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One Shots: Boy band cover art

It’s one thing to strike a pose and get a good-looking selfie in there, it’s another to coordinate a whole group of twitchy gamers and get them to take a group photo without someone jumping or facing the wrong way or forgetting to emote.

Vincent Clark has mastered this group pose in the formation of his new Final Fantasy XIV boy band album called “Ears over Eorzea.” We anticipate great things from this mostly shirtless crew of well-manicured rebels, as long as they don’t fall into that hot tub and drown.

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