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The Game Archaeologist: Warhammer Online

When it comes to notable years in the MMORPG genre’s history, 2008 stands out as one of the most significant. World of Warcraft’s debut onto the scene in 2004 caused an upheaval in ways far too numerous to go into detail here. Suffice to say that its overwhelming popularity drew the attention of game designers who looked at the staggering numbers of players and found themselves envious of the potential to grab a slice of that money pie.

Many projects went into high gear following WoW’s launch, with plenty of them trying to copy the formula and structure that Blizzard established in the hopes of making it at least partially as big as that game. So-called WoW clones began to pepper the market and there was a sense that gamers were ready to move on from World of Warcraft to the next generation of MMOs. In many players’ minds, this would be either 2008’s Age of Conan or Warhammer Online, two big-budget MMOs with strong IPs that carried a lot of the weight of expectation.

Little did anyone realize that 2008 represented a bubble that was about to burst on the industry and the WoW clones that followed — including Warhammer Online. Today, we’re going to take a look at “bears, bears, bears,” the high hopes of Mythic Entertainment, and how WAR became a casaulty on its own battlefield.

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Final Fantasy XI promises more reunions for its 16-year anniversary

It’s been 16 years since Final Fantasy XI initially launched in Japan, which is a really long time. If the game were a person, it could learn to drive a car now. Producer Akihiko Matsui took the opportunity to thank players with an open letter as well as hinting about the plans for the next year; there’s a promise of more content to explore the theme of “playing with friends” and reunions, noting how many players truly enjoyed being able to interact with friends in-game historically.

Of course, the game is also celebrating with some anniversary goodies; players who log in during the game’s seven-week course starting on May 20th will be able to pick up an Echad Ring, a Red Crab mount, a special clock, and a Kupofried cipher. Players who already have any of the above will get vouchers usable for other items, so even veterans will get something worthwhile out of the event.

If you’re curious to see how the game actually plays 16 years in… keep your eyes peeled as we kick off Choose My Adventure in Vana’diel.

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Destiny 2 will be letting players in on experimental PvP modes at the end of May

The release of Warmind means that Destiny 2 players are due for another roadmap on the game’s development, and guess what’s shown up? Exactly that. That… was sort of obvious. The developers are looking forward to the end of May, July, and September, with plans for new seasonal events, more adjustments to exotic armor, new gameplay modes, and various other plans that have yet to be revealed.

Of particular note are the Crucible Labs slated for release on May 29th, which promise to be part of an effort to bring players into a more active development process for PvP. Players will get to try out experimental forms of PvP before they become a regular part of the game, with feedback playing an important role in determining what gets upgraded to be a regular part of the game. We don’t yet know exactly what those experimental forms will be yet, of course, but the new content should offer some interesting previews of the future.

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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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The Crew 2 posts new trailers for its May 31st closed beta run

Just ahead of this year’s E3, Ubisoft is rolling out The Crew 2’s closed beta – that’s May 31st through June 4th, and yep, it’s on PC, Xbox One, and PS4, with preload beginning on the 29th. What sort of vroom-vroom content will you be testing?

“During the Closed Beta, players will experience the first level of the progression system as they compete in races across the first four disciplines – Street Race, Rally Raid, Powerboat and Aerobatics – against the backdrop of a fully redesigned U.S.A via land, water and air. To create more adrenaline-fueled experiences, players can use the Fast-Fav feature and instantly switch their vehicle type depending on the type of terrain they will encounter: an airplane flying underneath San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge can turn into a boat with the touch of a button.”

The game was originally announced a year ago with a launch date of March 2018, but it was delayed, first to a vague summer window and then to June 29th, a date that apparently will hold firm. We played at at E3 last year when it was still pretty far away, and we actually liked it even then, which is a great sign. Preorders and closed beta signups are on the official site, and the new trailers are below!

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Defiance 2050 records over 3 million dead hellbugs from its closed beta

If you were taking part in the closed beta for Defiance 2050, you were probably killing Hellbugs. Just from a statistical standpoint. There are over 3 million dead hellbugs thanks to beta testing; that is a lot of hellbugs. Or was a lot of hellbugs, we should say. Now they’re piles of mush and chitin. An important distinction, to be sure, but one that we feel obliged to make in light of the statistics from the game’s closed beta.

Of course, players apparently liked shooting Mutants even more, racking up nearly 5 million kills there; along the way, testers gained more than 200,000 levels and 420 people hit the level cap. All of this provides useful feedback for the developers as the game moves close to its proper launch over the summer, which is good news for fans who had a fun time during the testing. And awful news for hellbugs.

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Check out one determined modder’s Final Fantasy XI retexturing project

For what amounts to a PlayStation 2 game from 16 years ago, Final Fantasy XI looks really good, even now. But… well, that’s the caveat right there, isn’t it? The game was designed for a PlayStation 2 in 2002. It has aged very well, but it’s still an older title with older models and animations and textures. What a good thing, then, that one fan has decided to overhaul all of the textures in the game with an HD texture pack to draw out all of the game’s potential.

You can check out a trailer for the pack just below; the modder, Amelila, had worked on an adaptation of Ronfaure into Skyrim before he realized that the same skills could be used to make FFXI more attractive. Modding the game has always been something that enterprising fans have engaged with, but it’s good to see that even as time has marched onward, fans have continued to find ways to make the game that much prettier.

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Destiny 2 community goes on a real-world hunt for a hidden spear

Are you familiar with Geocaching? It’s a popular activity in which players hide and discover treasure caches all over the world (and is a favorite of Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott, who hid one on the International Space Station).

It turns out that Bungie is a fan of the game as well, as the studio team created its own special geocache hunt for fans to discover. Destiny 2 players discovered clues in the latest patch that eventually led to a secret message. This message contained GPS coordinates to a real-world location, which turned out to be a hidden cache on Sleeping Beauty Mountain in New York state.

The contents? A huge Valkyrie spear modeled after one of Destiny 2’s weapons and a note from the developers encouraging the finder to share his or her discovery with the community at large. The note was from Design Lead Rob Gallerani that thanked the community for its passion and hinted that more geocaches may be coming. Additionally, the team left a second, smaller container with gold coins for future hunters to take if they traveled to these coordinates.

Source: Kotaku

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Nexon posts strong Q1 2018 results, Final Fantasy XI mobile screens leaked

Nexon posted a strong first quarter in 2018, with its earnings call reporting that the game publisher raked in $827M in revenue (a 21% year-over-year increase). The company did most of its business on PC (84%), although mobile (16%) continues to be a significant factor in its success.

Most of Nexon’s focus continues to remain in the east, as both China (67%) and Korea (22%) pull in a vast majority of its earnings. The company singled out the the performance of Dungeon and Fighter, MapleStory, and Durango: Wild Lands for praise.

Coming down the pipeline in North America this year and beyond is MapleStory 2, Durango, MapleStory M, and Final Fantasy XI Mobile. Speaking of the mobile version of FFXI, purported screens were leaked on Reddit that showed this still-beautiful game in action.

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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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Perfect Ten: You got your MMORPG in my tabletop RPG

Tabletop games and MMORPGs seem like they would go well together, but remarkably they often don’t. That’s true for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that we have a lot more games adapting different source material separately. You can certainly run a Star Wars: The Old Republic-themed game with a Star Wars tabletop system, but neither one is based on the other. (Technically there was a supplement published for it, but that was covering the first two single-player games, which themselves were based on that tabletop system.)

But there have still been incursions from MMOs into the tabletop space, and MMOs which pluck that fertile ground for the seeds of inspiration. So let’s spend today looking at these games, when you can log off of your favorite MMO, gather around a table with your friends, and keep playing your favorite MMO. More or less.

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Destiny 2’s Warmind expansion is live today – here’s the launch trailer

Will Warmind be enough to help Destiny 2 recapture the hearts and minds of Bungie fans? We don’t know the answer to that yet. But we do know Warmind is rolling out today all the same. As previously explained, the game’s second expansion includes the Mars polar ice cap locale, new armor and weapons including the new Valkrie relic weapon, the new Escalation Protocol endgame content, multiple new Strikes, and new story missions. The Spire of Stars raid lair will go live on Friday, so you’ll have something to keep you occupied this weekend.

“The team at Vicarious Visions have been fans of Destiny long before we started working with Bungie on this amazing franchise,” Creative Director Brent Gibson wrote last week. “We are fortunate enough to not only add to the gameplay experience, but the franchise as a whole by bringing the legendary Hunter, Ana Bray, to life! She has carried our banner through this entire journey and we can’t wait for you to meet her on this adventure. See you on Mars on May 8!”

Requisite trailer with lots of guns and percussion and orange fire and zooming text.

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Global Chat: MMOs need to do ‘difficulty’ right

A thinkpiece that we had back in April about the difficulty levels (or lack thereof) in MMORPGs sparked some interesting discussion among gaming bloggers as they grappled with the concept of challenge levels and how MMOs should improve in presenting them.

GamingSF thinks that there is much room for improvement in offering players varied challenges: “I also want to see more MMORPGs introducing non-combat challenges through puzzles and quests that require thinking to complete (e.g. following lore clues).”

And Inventory Full chimes in with this distinction: “I also strongly agree with whoever it was who said that gamers these days equate difficulty with time spent. Indeed, more often than not when someone complains that something is ‘too difficult’ what they really mean is it takes longer than they want to spend doing it.”

Continue on for this week’s Global Chat, as we look at Lord of the Rings Online’s Mordor, feelings concerning Defiance 2050, the whole Daybreak mess, and more!

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