Alphas & Betas Category

MMOs in various stages of testing and crowdfunding, playable and… not. Don’t forget to follow our Betawatch and Make My MMO columns for a weekly rundown. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Tree of Life sprouts up on Steam early access

The wait for the Tree of Life is over barely after it began! The survival sandbox is now available in early access form on Steam for either $19.99 for a settler pack or $24.99 for an adventurer pack. Those who spring for the adventurer pack (or buy it as an upgrade for $7.99) get an extra hairstyle each for male and female during character creation, eight additional item slots, and three helpful starting items: a matchstick, bread, and a bandage. Not sure if the game is for you? Check out what folks are saying on the Steam reviews.

Found out you can pick up livestock
Picked up a bull over my shoulder and walked down the coast
found some dudes learning to make a fire
they shouted “HEY LETS KILL IT AND EAT IT”
bulls are stronger than you’d think for a game
chase bull around for 5 minutes
die to a skeleton
cheery music starts playing and im a cute ghost
420/10 would carry bull into camp of strangers again
-Dudepile Meta Hype

Source: Steam Early Access. Thanks to Jasdemi for the tip!


Inon Zur to compose Sword Coast Legends’ soundtrack

Sword Coast Legends is getting a musical boost from legendary video game composer Inon Zur. The upcoming coop RPG announced yesterday that it had signed on Zur to create a fantasy score with the help of The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra.

Game Director Dan Tudge said that this match will benefit the title greatly: “It’s wonderful to see Inon return to Dungeons & Dragons and the Forgotten Realms setting, where I’m confident our deep story, compelling characters, and rich environments will inspire one of Inon’s most memorable works to date.”

Inon Zur has not only composed scores for MMOs such as EverQuest and RIFT, but was the key sound behind D&D classics like Baldur’s Gate II and Icewind Dale II.


Beta testing starts for Elite: Dangerous’ Powerplay update

The next major update for Elite: Dangerous is going to really shake up how the game is played. The Powerplay update previewed a month ago updates the bounty system and adds two new ships, but the centerpiece of the update is the new factional metagame that gives the update its name.

If you missed earlier previews, here’s the scoop: The core of it is a power struggle on the galactic scale, with players championing factions of their choice through various assignments. Take out enemies of your chosen faction, deliver valuable resources, and generally serve as a paragon of your chosen group. Beta players can download the update today to test it out.

Source: Official beta post; thanks to Phoenix_Dfire for the tip!


Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade puts the fifth Chaos Space Marine legion to a vote

Do you have strong feelings about the Chaos Space Marines in Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade? If you’re a fan, you probably do, seeing as how the entire Warhammer universe is full of strong feelings. But if your strong feelings are more of the “I want to play those guys” variety rather than the “cleanse and burn” variety, you’ll want to take part in the current poll about the fifth playable faction of these corrupted defenders.

Each of the different groups has a different bent. Red Corsairs serve as a pirate fleet, harassing Imperial shipping lanes with their cruisers. Alpha Legion was secretive even before it moved to the side of Chaos, and its current operates involve planting deep-cover agents and insidiously corrupting. Last but not least, the Crimson Slaughter wants nothing more than to wipe out worlds and spread Warp-tainted atrocity. If you’re a backer, check out your options and make your decision.


Villagers and Heroes gets a do-over with Reborn

Class-based sandbox Villagers and Heroes is looking to update its image in the coming weeks as the title reinvents itself as Villagers and Heroes: Reborn.

While Mad Otter Games is marketing this as an “expansion,” Reborn looks as though it’s a true reboot of the 2014 2010 title with an improved feature set. The studio released a new website for the event last week and has been doling out information about Reborn ever since, including character creation and the lands players will explore.

Villagers and Heroes is a free-to-play sandbox with a flexible gear system that allows players to live in a RuneScape-like world and build up a life for themselves. More information about Reborn, including in-game activities and a launch date, will be revealed in the coming days on the site.


Elder Scrolls Online announces console digital preorders

Getting pumped for The Elder Scrolls Online’s console launch in two weeks? Of course you’re not; you’re an MMO player, so you’ve been playing the darn game for a year already, right?

If not, then you’ll want to keep an eye on ZeniMax’s preorder offerings. The studio reminded gamers today that now, both the Xbox One and PS4 editions are available for digital preorder. Why would you hand over your hard-earned money early? For the Explorer’s Pack, of course; every console preorder comes with a Scuttler vanity pet, a bundle of treasure maps, and an account-wide faction unlock that’ll allow your characters to select any alliance to represent, not just the one to which his or her race is normally assigned.

You can also pay an additional $20 for the Imperial Edition of the game, which like the PC version of the same name will unlock the Imperial race for your account and set you up with a sweet white horse.


Star Citizen suffers huge asset leak, answers community questions

It’s not been the best week for Star Citizen. The upcoming space sim suffered a massive 48 GB data leak after a community manager accidentally left a partial URL attached to a posted screenshot. The culprits used this to go in and nab art assets for the Void Bomber and Bengal Carrier, as well as potential story spoilers.

To wash the bad taste of that incident out of your mouth, you might want to turn to the latest 10 for the Producers Q&A session. The devs confirmed the use of an in-game chat system for the FPS portion of the game, discussed the use of in-game currency, speculated on the direction that AI behavior could go, and even hinted that there could be romances between players and NPCs.

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Help Oceanic Blade & Soul fans by signing this petition

Some folks from fan site Blade & Soul Dojo have started a petition that asks NCsoft to consider an Oceanic server for its upcoming Blade & Soul MMORPG. Given that B&S is action-oriented and given “the way the game’s net code was designed,” petitioners are hoping for a local server in order to reduce latency and ping problems that “severely effect one’s attack speed/DPS/skill activation and mobility.”

According to petition author Nathan Conti, NCsoft has said that it might support additional servers if the company feels that there is enough demand in a particular region.

Source: The Petition Site; thanks Tawnea!


Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns testing begins today

Are you ready to enter the Heart of Thorns? Because Guild Wars 2 is opening the testing doors today, allowing players to step in and experience a small amount of the expansion’s leveling content with a Revenant or the eight extant professions. There are three play windows open today: 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. EDT, and 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. EDT. (That last one technically stretches testing to tomorrow in the Eastern time zone, but let’s not split hairs.)

We’ve seen a few of the expansion’s elite specs (Reaper, Dragonhunter, and Chronomancer), but you may not be able to play with those in depth. If you can, though, feel free to talk about them all over the place, as the beta test does not feature an NDA. If you were lucky enough to get a key (possibly through loot), feel free to let us know in the comments what you think of the expansion thus far!


Survival sandbox Novus Inceptio is now on Greenlight

Post-apocalyptic sci-fantasy MMO Novus Inceptio is now on Steam Greenlight. The indie title aims to diverge from current MMO norms and create an “integrated living world” featuring “hardcore suvival action, tactics, and strategy.”

The Greenlight description mentions character aging and permadeath, attributes that increase with use and decrease with neglect, and effects such as illnesses, injuries, and exhaustion. All of Novus Inceptio’s items are made by players, and the Steam description devotes quite a bit of verbiage to things like exploration, building, and freeform character advancement. Early access is planned for Q4 of 2015.

You can view the latest sample gameplay video below.

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EverQuesting: Learning about Landmark’s dungeons

I thought I saw a dev dungeon reference. I did! I did see a dev dungeon reference! And it’s about time.

I have to admit that as much as I have been looking forward to Landmark’s future features, dungeons totally slipped my mind. I’d like to think it was because the anticipation of utilizing gamemaster tools to control AI on my claims overshadowed them, but the truth is that devs let this feature fade into obscurity. It’s been a really long time since the original vision for the game was announced, and basically nothing has been said on the dungeon subject outside of claims since, which is a shame: Of all the various incoming features, dungeons are one that might finally be able to lay that lingering “It’s only a building game” misconception to rest once and for all.

So yes, dungeons are a thing! At least they will be. And they will be both player-made on claims and out in the wilds. If only it would all come sooner rather than later.

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Das Tal continues Kickstarter push with a megaton of new info

Have you been keeping up with Das Tal’s Kickstarter updates? The game’s crowdfunding drive has hit its midpoint, and Fairytale Distillery has posted everything from an overview of player buildings to “constantly changing worlds.” The indie PvP sandbox allows its developers to “create new and diverse servers with unique rule sets all the time,” and it allows for player input as well.

There’s also a siege system preview, a bit of MMO design philosophy, and a video history of Das Tal. Check out the videos below.

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Richard Garriott’s first CRPG playable in Shroud of the Avatar

In 1977, Richard Garriott designed his first computer RPG on a teletype at his high school in order to earn a computer of his own from his father. The game was called, simply enough, DND #1.

Garriott saved the printout code and challenged the Shroud of the Avatar fanbase a year ago to “reincarnate” it for the online game. Fast-forward to today, and DND #1 is finally playable in SotA on a teletype housing item that can be purchased from the in-game store.

The latest SotA newsletter mentions this addition, as well as the work that’s being done on a desert template for player cities. Shroud of the Avatar will be patching up to Release 18 on May 28th with a new tour challenge and a new hat (a bycocket, if you’re wondering).


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