H1Z1's PvP side is finally getting some much-needed love (sorry, slight dig at Daybreak's preferential treatment of King of the Kill). The devs posted a new diary this week to talk about the three major projects that the team is tackling this month.
With 64% of players polled telling the studio that game optimization is "extremely important," Daybreak's engineers are working to improve framerates and overall performance. Another project is providing useful visual feedback from firearms so that players can easily tell if their shots are hitting body armor... or just bodies.
Vehicle destruction was the final topic for discussion: "We added several different vehicle degradation states that trigger at various damage thresholds. Take enough damage, and your car loses torque, handling, and eventually, turbo. The new vehicle UI helps to communicate these states with warning lights, and you can see the impact of each state on your overall mobility with the speedometer."
Welcome to The Survivalist! Ya'll might have noticed that I have gravitated a bit from my happy home of deep, immersive virtual worlds (possible due to the lack of them!) and have been tinkering about and enjoying time in various survival games. This isn't as odd as you might think! One thing I love about sandbox worlds is the ability for your actions to matter in terms of shaping the world and carving out your place in it. Survival games have been allowing me just that with opportunities to build the world, from the society on it to structures in it to the even the physical world itself. And decisions definitely matter, bringing satisfaction and reward or disappointment and destruction.
I'm not alone in this appreciation of the survival genre, either. Many MMO gamers have joined mainstreamers by flocking to it lately as seen by the explosion of the available games. Those of you not on board yet might be wonder just what is so alluring about a genre that has many elements of MMOs but on smaller -- and oft times privately managed -- scale. As the weeks and months wear on, The Survivalist is going to explore all the nooks and crannies of the survival sandbox genre (and likely die many, many times in the process!), but today, we're going to look at what players can jump into to test their survival skills. So here's a guide to many options in the newest genre to take over our gaming sphere.
It's pretty much a rule of nature that at least one game is going to be far better and more fun to play than I expected on the PAX East show floor. This has been true every year, and while the past couple of years have involved my spending a bit less time on the show floor overall, I've still walked away with some surprises. This year, it was Kritika Online.
What I expected from Kritika Online was... well, nothing particularly impressive. I didn't expect it to be bad, but that was because I didn't expect much from it at all. It was a game that En Masse was bringing over that sounded, at a glance, like the sort of game which fades from memory shortly after you play it. What I actually got was a game that has a clean purpose and remarkably fun mechanics, like the pure product of an MMO marrying a Dynasty Warriors clone.
I have long been of the opinion that there are few more terrifying animals on this planet than bears. Sure, there are sharks, the mighty kraken, and that little fish that may or may not swim up your urethra and summer home there, but as I live primarily on the land, I think that the odds are greater that a rampaging bear might ruin my day.
True story: When I lived in Colorado Springs, one morning I left home to drive to work and there was a black bear sitting in the middle of the road. I looked at it, nonplussed, and then sloooooowly backed up into my driveway and called in a sick day. Bear days should totally be a thing, however.
I have also been of the opinion that bears are consistently underestimated in MMORPGs. They're low level trash mobs or pets that finger players as complete noobs for not picking something more exotic. More exotic? Son, if you have a bear on your side, you have won the game. Period. One swipe of its paw and any raid boss' head should pop right off.
There is a plague of bears in MMOs. Today, let us delve into the ursine horror that curses our genre.
Massively OP reader Arsin Halfmoon pitched the team a great question this week, poached straight from the podcast list:
"As someone deeply invested in the MMO genre, I find our reputation as a playerbase just as important as the games we play. I've heard people say MMORPG stands for 'Many Men Online Role Playing Girls' or something derogatory. And the mainstream media loves news story about players dying from excessive MMO playing. I've even watched a documentary about people addicted to our genre -- let's just say that didn't really put a good spin on us either. Overall, the media doesn't shine a positive light on us. But I know we're more than that. If the staff could dispel any misunderstandings about the MMO community to the mainstream, what would they be?"
I posed Arsin's question to the staff for Overthinking this week. How does mainstream news -- and mainstream gaming -- get our genre wrong?
Were you scratching your head over last week's announcement that H1Z1 would be bringing its upcoming PvP tournament to the CW network? We were too, which is why this interview with Daybreak makes for fascinating reading. So how did that TV deal happen?
Apparently CW has prided itself on being the first broadcast network to take an interest in e-sports, joining ESPN and TBS in showing live video game matches to interested viewers. H1Z1: King of the Kill Executive Producer Chris Wynn said that the deal happened because of Daybreak's connections with the pro team Echo Fox and the interesting twist that this winner-takes-all tournament will provide.
"We have a unique opportunity to do something with King of the Kill that no one else can do," Wynn said, "and that’s putting on a tournament with 15 teams of five players each all competing at the same time. It’s not a ladder-style knockout like in traditional sports. All these guys will get into one game, in one match, and all compete simultaneously. This unique experience is what appealed to the different partners."
I have played a lot of MMOs. It's inevitable, given enough years in this job and hobby. And the sad thing is that I wind up seeing the same things over and over again. There's always a class called the Warrior, for example, and if your game doesn't have classes, you still have a "recommended path" that makes you a dude with a big two-handed weapon that smacks things. There's always an opening questgiver. You always need to collect animal parts.
Yes, even in games where there's no wildlife. Don't ask me what street thugs in Champions Online are doing with bear hearts; I just need the experience.
Of course, there are always bears. In fact, there are always pretty predictable enemies roaming around. Every MMO has at least some of the same things from the same bestiary, so it'd be nice if we could just accept these features of the omnipresent lineup and term them as such.
In April, you won't have to turn to Twitch to see professional teams beat the crap out of each other in H1Z1 -- you'll merely have to turn on the TV.
The next big H1Z1: King of the Kill tournament, Fight for the Crown, will be televised on The CW Network come Thursday, April 20th. Fifteen teams of pro players will engage in a single match in front of a live audience to win part of a $300,000 prize pool. There is no respawning or corpse running here; each player only will have one life to use.
Teams can go ahead and apply to be part of this tournament, although four teams have already been locked in and confirmed as participants. The TV event will actually be the finale of a five-episode docuseries that will air on CW Seed this spring.
It's an objectively known fact that Warhammer Online's squigs were the peak of MMORPG pet design and functionality. Giant balls of attitude and appetite with a mouth to match, squigs made me proud to be a gamer. Before and since, there have been no better combat pets in existence, which is why it is a tragedy that they went down with that particular sinking ship.
Yet as an MMO pet expert and the best-selling author of "For the fiftieth time, turn off your pet's taunt, Kevin!" I am here to share my wisdom about the rest of the companions that may trot, fly, or slither alongside your character in games. Which are best? Which are worst? Why are you picking on Kevin? These are the questions that I will answer today as I rank common MMO combat pets from best to worst.
I am no stranger to covering survival sandboxes for Massively OP. I wrestled with dinosaurs before ARK: Survival Evolved was a thing. I got kidnapped and tried to drown myself in a puddle, spent days building a glorified shack before hackers or server admins could destroy them, and got to better understanding of what it's like to be an Asian gamer thanks to Valve's social experiment. There have been some good memories for sure, but the cancelled games, broken promises, and fact that most of the genre is in an infinite non-launch state are just some of the reasons I've been losing faith in online, multiplayer survival games. I love the idea of PvP allowing for meaningful social gameplay, but in reality, I mostly experience only ganking. But without PvP, I generally get so bored of PvE that I run into the arms of a (J)RPG so I can get drama and permadeath in a finished product, often without kids screaming at me to stop moving and just die.
But here I am again: roped into another shot at the genre. I'm looking at pay-to-play Conan Exiles like a launch title, "early access" be damned!
As we say in MMO worlds, when one ship sinks, another one sets sail. On today's show, Larry and Justin tip their hats to Asheron's Call while struggling to keep on top of all of the news of other games and their upcoming content. From tactical operations to high seas expansions, it's a jam-packed show! Without the jam!
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.
Daybreak has posted up an H1Z1: King of the Kill Q&A last night that sheds some light on the state of the game, in one of many planned for the future. "For now we are going to be doing them sometimes on Twitter and sometimes on Reddit, Tuesday mornings at 11am Pacific," the studio promises.
Of note, Daybreak says it has not given up on the console launch of the game, which was postponed indefinitely in September of 2016 along with the formal release of King of the Kill (which is still in early access), though the studio says it still has no ETA: "We are first and foremost committed to a quality release when we do decide to do it.
The team also says it's working on desync diagnosis, skirmishes, building a ranking system for small groups, new EU servers, and vehicle bailing. There are no plans for a new map, though the existing map is getting more love.
And as for spectator mode, the team says it's "working on improving it, but it is a pretty big undertaking to improve the jerkiness of the view of your teammates. In order to improve it we have to change code that is fairly fundamental. So that means we have to be really, really careful, which means it takes longer. We are committed to ensuring that it works well before pushing to live."
Slow or fast, zombies never stop coming at you, and zombie games are much the same. Snail Games is making an attempt to join the growing league of online zombie survival titles with its own upcoming Moonlights.
Moonlights is a PC survival sandbox that takes place in China following a zombie apocalypse. Chinese landmarks will dot the background as players scavenge supplies, assemble weapons, and try to make it to the next day.
The name refers to how the zombies in this game come out at night but get all bashful and reclusive by day, similar to the film I Am Legend or most lethargic superheroes. Nocturnal zombies are an interesting twist for the game genre and could go a long way to making the day/night cycle feel more impactful. But we have to ask: what about solar eclipses?