zenimax

The Bethesda Softworks sub-studio responsible for The Elder Scrolls Online.

PlayStation 4 heads into the end of its life cycle, making console MMOs nervous

No console lives forever, although it seems like the more recent generations have enjoyed lengthy runs. Sony delivered some disconcerting news to fans this week as it said that the PlayStation 4, which debuted back in 2013, is now heading into the end of its life cycle as hardware sales decrease.

This doesn’t mean that the console is going to be abandoned any time soon, just that Sony is shifting its hardware priorities elsewhere. Software sales are still expected to continue strong for the time being, and the company reported that the online PlayStation Network now has 80 million users. Sony told The Wall Street Journal that the next iteration of the popular platform is at least three years off.

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Tamriel Infinium: Eight things you need to know before jumping into Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset

Monday, the Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset chapter went live for early access accounts. For the first time since 1994, players can visit the island of Summerset. And needless to say, 24 years makes quite a difference in the world of gaming. I’m not going to pretend that I ever played Arena, but think its safe to say that things look a lot different and the mechanics of the game have changed, too.

I don’t think that Summerset is as highly anticipated as Morrowind was, but that’s can be a positive for ZeniMax Online Studios because there is scrutiny when it comes to the lay of the land and the storyline. On the other hand, it means less hype for the expansion.

As an MMORPG enthusiast, I’m excited to see MMOs continuing to grow the way ESO has. And I know that you might not be as familiar with Summerset, so I would like to give you my list of what you should probably look out for when you jump into the next chapter.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 171: Bless you, my subscriber

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin delve into the future of Lord of the Rings Online, debate when a sub isn’t a sub, head on into Summerset, fly high with Worlds Adrift, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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The Elder Scrolls Online shares Summerset patch notes, trailer ahead of PC launch

You’ve heard all about the many, many features arriving in The Elder Scrolls Online when Summerset arrives, and it’s arriving in force today. (For early access on the PC, anyway. We’re sorry, console players, you will have to wait until next month.) But why read up on partial bits and bobs? Why not take a look at the full set of patch notes which are now available ahead of this evening’s early access launch? They’re lengthy, they’re glorious, and they’re far less focused on vague details than preview articles.

The patch notes cover both Update 18 and Summerset content, including the 10 new armor sets added to the game, the details of Jewelry Crafting, and the mechanics of the new Psijic Portals visible only to those who explore that eponymous skill line. It’ll take you a while to move through all of the notes here, though, so be prepared to take your time and really go through the details; there’s a lot to read.

We’ve got all the trailers, plus a recap of our top news about and hands-on impressions of the chapter while it baked on the test server, down below!

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Massively Overthinking: On slavery mechanics in MMOs

Polygon recently had an interview with Conan Exiles creative director Joel Bylos focused on the game’s slavery mechanics, a “feature” I had entirely forgotten about, probably because the game calls such NPCs – whom you are encouraged to capture and enslave – “thralls.” Bylos likens thralls to the ‘bots of Westworld: They serve multiple purposes, from dancing for entertainment to manning base defenses as “intelligent turrets.” Essentially, he argues, they’re a mechanic that allows a single human player to build out and staff a mini empire.

I thought it would be interesting to explore the subject of slavery in Massively Overthinking now that Conan is back in the headlines (and getting good reviews). Should slavery exist in MMOs and other online games? Does it get a pass because it’s NPCs, or does it make you uncomfortable to see your player potentially cast as a heroic slaveholder?

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Elder Scrolls Online rolls out special Twitch drops and crates

Twitch and Elder Scrolls Online have decided to hold hands and go skipping along in a park together. ZeniMax announced that new Twitch drops for ESO are now a thing, provided that players have linked their accounts.

Starting on May 21st, players will get a free Twitch crate every time they make an ESO purchase through the Twitch store. These crates have a variety of consumables and a chance at a very rare mount and pet.

If you want a crate without paying money, you’ll have your opportunity by watching supported Twitch streams (coming soon). View all the way to the end of these special streams, and poof, you’ll get a free crate. Cool, eh?

Source: Elder Scrolls Online. Thanks Jason!

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A quick look at all the non-main-quest stuff to do in Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset

Much ink has already been spilled over the headline experience in The Elder Scrolls Online’s upcoming chapter: Most folks will head to Summerset Isle and plunge straight into the main questline because this is an Elder Scrolls game and that’s just what most people do. But it’s not the only thing to do, and to illustrate that, ZeniMax posted a new dev blog all about the stuff that will occupy your playtime that isn’t just cleaving to the core plot.

Among other bits and bobs, there are six new world bosses to challenge, public event spawns in the form of Abyssal Geysers, six new minidungeons (delves), a classic Elder Scrolls “museum quest” that’ll send you on a hunt for piles of relics, new achievements for extreme crafters, and of course, the two new public dungeons.

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Elder Scrolls Online is giving away a free minipet to Morrowind players

Pssst. Like free stuff? Me too. The Elder Scrolls Online is giving some free stuff away. It’s a free pet called the Dozen-Banded Vvardvark. “Vvardvarks might be the ill-advised result of Telvanni experiments, but they sure do make adorable pets,” ZeniMax quips. It is so ugly it is cute, and it’s a pun.

There’s a catch, of course; you have to own Morrowind to claim the freebie.

“To ensure you receive your free pet, you must log into the game while owning ESO: Morrowind at any point from now until Monday, May 21 at 2:59AM EDT (Sunday May 20 at 11:59PM PDT). If you logged in during the event period, you’ll receive this spiny-tonged little monster by May 29!”

As the studio reminds us, preordering Summerset, which launches in just a few weeks, will automagically unlock Morrowind, so if you were doing that anyway and really like aardvark minipets, now is the time. If you’re still on the fence, make sure you check out our Tamriel Infinium column, where our ESO columnist Larry Everett has been chronicling his hands-on time with the chapter on the PTS.

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The Daily Grind: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win?

Last week, in the comments under the Bless optional subscription brouhaha article, I made an offhand comment that apparently got MOP commenter Sally’s gears grinding. I was trying to sort through why Bless fans are mad, and I wrote, “Neowiz has been promising no P2W for months, but it’s really hard to have an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win.”

Sally didn’t disagree but said it was a “shock” to see it spelled out on Massively OP of all places: “In the current free-to-play climate, I see [the MOP] community as one of the last bastions for subscriptions. So a shot at subs from here struck me as ‘et tu, Brute?'” And Sally’s right! A lot of MMORPG vets enjoy F2P and B2P games but also hate double-dipping, and the subscription, or at least a mandatory sub without the usual gamblebox and pay-to-win trappings, is one way to guarantee healthy game design for the players.

On the other hand, if I’m honest, I truly cannot think of an MMORPG with an optional subscription that isn’t pay-to-win in some way. They’re trying to incentivize you to sub, after all, so they have to make the perks worthwhile, and very rarely do they stop at cosmetics. My Trove sub makes experience and drops fall from the sky. My Ultima Online sub lets me own a house and run vendors and hoard most everything. I’d say that games like Elder Scrolls Online, which hands out generous amounts of cash-shop credit for subbing, are on the better end of this argument, but then there’s that pesky crafting bag to contend with.

What do you think: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win in some way? Got a contender in mind?

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The MOP Up: Diablo levels up in Heroes of the Storm (May 13, 2018)

The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!

Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Heroes of the StormElder Scrolls Online, DayZEVE Online, Pokemon Go, Dota 2City of HeroesFinal Fantasy XIVPortal KnightsLineage 2 RevolutionWizard101Ingress, and Reign of Guilds, all waiting for you after the break!

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Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset’s 12-player trial includes choices and divisions

Just because Summerset looks like a vacation paradise doesn’t mean that it’s free from worries and troubles. For starters, the city of Cloudrest is under siege and its flying knight protectors are missing. That’s when players will jump into Elder Scrolls Online’s newest 12-person trial to see if they can free the town from a sinister force trying to control it.

This past weekend, ZeniMax talked about the latest raid coming to the game with this month’s expansion. Cloudrest includes a lot of choices, such as allowing teams to choose which order to fight the sub-bosses and main boss (a choice, the studio said, which will have ramifications in the storyline). Additionally, players will have to split up in boss fights between the regular and shadow realities and fight the enemy in both simultaneously.

“We’ve received a lot of feedback from our players that they really love bosses like the Maw of Lorkhaj’s Rakkhat, where some players in your group have compartmentalized roles,” said Dungeon Lead Mike Finnigan. “With Cloudrest, we wanted to take that idea and expand it to give everybody in the group unique roles that they need to perform in order to succeed.”

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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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Tamriel Infinium: Deep-diving the mechanics of Elder Scrolls Online Summerset’s Psijic Order skill line

Many MMO gamers – including me – are a bit underwhelmed by the next chapter of the Elder Scrolls Online. Although Summerset is not a bad bit of content, I have concerns about the amount of content that is coming with this expansion compared to the last expansion, Morrowind. The island of Summerset is a nice size, probably bigger than Vvardenfell, but there seem to be fewer things to keep people interested for longer than maybe a couple of weeks.

That being said, what it does, it does very well.

I’ve already mentioned in a previous article how gorgeous the island is, especially the extra zone of Artaeum. I was blown away by that. But I didn’t go into depth about Psijic Order skill line. At the time I wrote that article, I really hadn’t had a chance to play around with it. But now I have, and although I can’t say that everything about that skill tree is perfect, there are more than a couple of skills that I will be considering for my live character when the expansion launches.

I’ve broken up the Psijic skill line into three categories: utilities, healing, and passives. Keep reading and I will break it down further. And I would like to caveat before I get into the details, that if I give specific numbers, that those might change before launch, and that my character was Champion Level 750 Sorcerer without any CP spent.

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