world of warcraft

Official Site: World of Warcraft
Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
Launch Date: November 23, 2014
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Subscription (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Betawatch: The Division enters beta this month at last (January 15, 2016)

It seems like The Division was going to forever be the title that didn’t quite make its way to an actual beta test, but that’s finally changing. After rumors that its beta was coming this month, it was confirmed that the tests will start right around the end of January… and stop very soon thereafter. So it’s more of the “stress test” sort of beta. There’s some new gameplay footage for those among you who can’t wait until the end of the month.

And now for my next trick, yes, it’s more stuff going on over the past week in the beta field!

Is there a list down there? Silly question, of course there’s a list. You know to let us know if we missed something, yes? Awesome!

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WoW Factor: The importance of class fantasies

Here’s a fun thought exercise for you all: explain the differences between Fire Mages and Destruction Warlocks in World of Warcraft. But before you do so, let’s make things a little more interesting by saying that you cannot use abilities, rotations, or resources to differentiate between the two of them. In other words, you can’t differentiate them based upon what they do; you can only differentiate them based upon what they are.

In this case, it’s not very difficult. Fire Mages are masters of fire magic through careful study and practice. They’ve mastered the art of flame almost as a thought exercise, specializing in the most destructive form of arcane application but still primarily devoted to learning. Destruction Warlocks, meanwhile, have forged pacts with demons to borrow the intrinsic powers of the nether realms. It’s possible – even probable – that those pacts will eventually have an additional cost, but for the time being the Warlock may use demonic powers for personal gain.

This is the importance of class fantasies and why they’re important to the game moving forward. And it also demonstrates the problem with them, and it hints at why these fantasies have suddenly become more important with Legion.

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Massively Overthinking: Just how massive is massively multiplayer?

Recent tweaks to the taxonomy structure of Massively OP and coverage of what we formerly called “Not-So-Massive” games prompted a resurgence of internal discussion about the types of games we cover and just what the genres mean. MOBAs are easy to separate out, but the line between “multiplayer” and “massively multiplayer” is just as hard to define now as it was five or 10 years ago when we were first struggling with blurring lines. Are Marvel Heroes, Trove, and Devilian, for example, massive “enough” to make them more like EverQuest and World of Warcraft than they are like Diablo III and World of Tanks? Do we care whether a developer has adopted or shunned the word “MMO” when covering a game as one? What precisely makes a game massive — what’s the magic quantity or quality?

I posed these questions to the Massively OP writers for this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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Perfect Ten: Top 10 obscure MMORPGs

I’ve seen a lot of desperate requests in my day in which players are asking for games outside of the normal sphere of popularity and MMO mainstream (such as it is). We all know what the big games are, the ones that get the lion’s share of the publicity, press, and popularity. But all of that attention can easily blind us to those titles that are quite good if not as well-known, and I believe it’s those MMOs that many players are seeking when looking for an alternative to the games they’ve been playing for years.

So today we’re going to explore a list my top 10 recommendations for “obscure” MMOs. These are games that might not be on the tips of everyone’s tongues but have earned a solid reputation in some way and might offer a different experience than the same-old that you’re used to seeing. For this list I’m mostly sticking with released or playable titles that have good word-of-mouth behind them, are still in operation, and have generally run under the radar for most of their lifespan.

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EverQuesting: A 2016 franchise forecast for EverQuest Next, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and Landmark

We’ve looked back at 2015 for the launched games EverQuest and EverQuest II, the long-lasting beta of Landmark, and the MIA-and-presumed-dead (by some) EverQuest Next. Now it is time to look ahead at 2016. Instead of noting what we know, we get to speculate on what could be. What is on the horizon for this franchise? How will Norrath weather the next four seasons? Obviously a working crystal ball would be ideal right about now, but without one, we are left with trends, hopes, and outright wishful thinking. In 12 months we’ll see just how many of these were accurate predictions! Here’s what I see happening, what I want to happen, and what needs to happen in this next year for my favorite franchise.

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World of Warcraft’s design philosophy for tanks and healers in Legion

Good news, World of Warcraft tanks – you’ll be taking more damage in Legion! And that really could be the good news, depending upon how you look at a lengthy diatribe about the philosophy of tanking and healing in the next expansion. The designers note that there was a consistent issue in most content of tanks being almost completely self-sufficient in dungeons, with healers only needing to occasionally heal the tank and any damage needing to reach absurd levels to actually threaten the tank. This also meant that anything breaking away from the tank would usually kill a healer or DPS in one or two shots due to damage scaling.

The result is something of a paradigm overhaul, with tanks taking more damage and active mitigation being toned down while enemy damage is also toned down on a whole. So tanks will be taking more damage, but the end result will likely be an environment where healers have reason to heal more, tanks aren’t purely ironclad damage sponges, and everything undergoes a subtle paradigm shift until the next expansion shifts it again.

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


World of Warcraft: Legion’s alpha will be back online today

Good news to those of you testing World of Warcraft‘s next expansion – the alpha for Legion will be coming back online today! No word on exactly when, but it’s a known fact:

You may remember that it was not so long ago that fans and testers were told that the return would mean a new build with new issues, benefits, downsides, and so forth. No word yet on what’s in the new build, but then, we only just found out that it’s coming back up today. Keep your eyes peeled for more information once those test servers are back online and running.


WoW celebrates Diablo III’s latest patch with Demon Hunter tmog gear

In honor of Diablo III’s latest patch, Blizzard has something special in store… for World of Warcraft players who also play Diablo III:

We’ve added something new to the collection of goodies you get when you purchase the Digital Deluxe Edition of World of Warcraft: Legion. Take on the terrors of Diablo III in style with the Legion-inspired Demon Hunter helm transmog. Wear it with the Wings of the Betrayer, and you’ll truly look the part as you hunt demons across Sanctuary. Both of these items, along with everything else in the Digital Deluxe Edition, are available in-game now when you pre-purchase.

All Diablo III players can satisfy themselves with a ton of free patch content, which includes Greyhollow Island and the new season first previewed at BlizzCon. Check out the trailer below!

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The Daily Grind: Are you a one-MMO gamer?

A year ago, Kotaku published a piece called The People Who Only Play One Game. The author was talking about the rabid, cult followings that blockbuster games like League of Legends, World of Tanks, and World of Warcraft maintain, made up heavily of people who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves gamers but who do consider themselves a fan of that one game. They’re not really interested in a genre or a gaming culture; they just want to play One Game.

While I do remember the days of moving from MMORPG to MMORPG, lumberingly, every few years, one game at a time in order, I don’t think I ever really thought of myself as a one-game MMO player. But I knew people who were: We’d pick them up in our guild for a game, and they’d stay behind when we moved on. There are still people from our EverQuest group toiling away there, 15 years after we left. For them, it was always about the One Game.

How about you? Are you a one-game MMO gamer? Do you know anyone who is?

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The Daily Grind: Do you use Steam for MMOs?

Massively OP reader Damonvile recently sent us a link to a Medium piece on Steam declaring 2015 the best year for Steam — ever. Sales were up for Valve over the course of the year, peaking in December in spite of the Christmas day snafu. Intriguingly, the data suggest that over the last few months, the release pace of new games overall has slowed considerably and possibly even peaked, a trend we’ve suspected applies to our genre as well.

For MMORPG players, though, Steam isn’t quite the end-all, be-all of gaming. Many of the biggest MMOs — like World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2 — aren’t available on the service, and those studios that do place their games on Steam are often crowded out by hordes of F2P games or simply use Steam as a hook into their own service and client (something that drives me bonkers!).

How about you? Do you use Steam for MMOs? Do you use it at all?

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Check out what World of Warcraft looked like 17 years ago

In 1999, the year that EverQuest released, work was already underway for another fantasy MMO called World of Warcraft. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that gamers got their first look at the game, but screenshots do exist from this ancient era of WoW development.

Perhaps you’ve seen some of these pictures, perhaps not, but it’s always a fun trip to see the very early stages of a game that would come to dominate the industry. This gallery contains one of the first pictures of WoW from 1999, the character selection screen, some funky models for the Forsaken, and the very first Molten Core raid.

Take a trip down memory lane courtesy of exo316 (even if they aren’t your memories)!

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The Daily Grind: What is your favorite MMO mount?

Mounts might have once been a practical mode of transportation and a not-so-transparent speed buff for slow-moving MMO characters. Nowadays it’s more about personal expression and customization. What mount you use is an expression of status and preference, showing the world what you’ve attained and what you think is wicked awesome.

Do you have a favorite MMO mount? Sure you do. Probably my all-time favorite was the wacky engineering helicopter in World of Warcraft that I crafted on my own. I’m also oddly fond of the two-headed turtle mount in RIFT that came with my pre-order package.

What’s yours? Sound off in the comments and bonus points if you include a screenshot!

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Betawatch: Oculus Rift-bound EVE Valkyrie plans alpha (January 8, 2016)

The good news for eager VR fans is that EVE: Valkyrie‘s first alpha test will start up on January 18th for use with the Oculus Rift DK2 headset. This comes hot on the heels of the Oculus Rift price announcement, which is means that the headset (and EVE: Valkyrie) will run you a hefty $599 to pre-order. Which is great news for people who have that much money to drop on a specialized monitor that works with a small selection of games, but it’s not exactly the mainstream revolution.

Other beta news? Aw, sure, why not? It’s been a busy week.

Plus, you know, we’ve got that whole list down below. If there’s something we’ve missed despite our best efforts, let us know down in the comments!

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