Columns Category

Enjoy a run-down of our recent long-form pieces, both game-specific and more general. You might also be interested in our list of all of our columns and recurring articles. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s cross-class actions

This past week, I did what I needed to do before Final Fantasy XIV’s expansion Heavensward launches: I finished the main scenario questline on my second character. Considering that she needed to be Dark Knight more or less a month ago, I think this was very necessary and am glad to be done with it. For those of you wondering about the future, my Au Ra will be leveling and going through stuff after the expansion launch, in no small part to see how viable things are when trying to clear that big gap between level 50 and the first steps into Ishgard… but that’s another discussion altogether.

All of this talk and thought about new jobs naturally raises the question of what people should be leveling going into the new expansion, though, and that’s a tough question to ask. It’s almost impossible to know right now what the cross-class landscape is going to look like, if indeed it looks like anything. With three new jobs and enough levels for another cross-class action, it increasingly looks to me as if that cross-class landscape has eroded into nothing.

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MMO Mechanics: Three favourite action combat systems

Virtually every MMO contains dangerous places that are filled with other players or NPCs that will attack characters on site, and many also feature destructible terrain or objects that must be destroyed. With all that smashing, crashing, and bashing, it’s clear that the mechanics employed by our favourite genre must be as diverse as the array of titles that comprise the big bad world of MMOs.

I started my MMO journey in much the same way many players did, testing out the traditional combat offered in the classic MMORPG. Tank, DPS, and healer systems were the first I was exposed to, and standing still to cast was totally normal if more than a little bit frustrating. I really enjoy newer action combat mechanics that reiterate on the traditional MMO combat experience to make it that much more involved and intuitive. In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’ll talk about some of my favourite action combat MMOs, providing a little bit of insight into why each one made my mechanical roundup.

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The Daily Grind: Have you bought real-world memorabilia for an MMO?

I don’t think it’s going to surprise anyone that I’m a pretty big fan of Final Fantasy XIV. Despite that fact, it may surprise readers to know that my home is not only not covered in various FFXIV merchandise, but I don’t actually own much of what does exist in the first place. I just don’t feel the need to pay the money and buy more merch for the game.

Then again, maybe it wouldn’t surprise you. I know there are people out there who will happily have a logo from a favored game on every piece of clothing and/or furniture; I also know there are extremely dedicated fans out there who don’t own a single collector’s edition. So what about you? Have you bought real-world memorabilia for an MMO, either for associated in-game bonuses or just because you really like the game?

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Make My MMO: May 9, 2015

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, we learned everything we ever wanted to know about Star Citizen’s first person shooter module, plus a bit more. In addition to some deep dives into character and art design, we got a good look at SATA Ball, which is simultaneously an in-fiction sport and an attempt at FPS mechanics that haven’t really been done before, according to Cloud Imperium.

You can catch up on the rest of this week’s crowdfunding news after the cut.

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LOTRO Legendarium: The return of the dungeon

While I’ve been playing Lord of the Rings Online as one of my main MMOs for almost a decade now, it’s primarily been for the single-player experience through the majestic and detailed world. I suspect that a disproportionally large percentage of the playerbase approaches the game in a similar fashion compared to other fantasy MMOs.

There’s something about LOTRO’s group content that’s never been able to convince me that it’s worth doing in the same way that I would in other games. I’ve liked it well enough when circumstances conspired to throw me into a group experience, but I’ve never felt that doing dungeons was something I had to do to gear up. Quest rewards have been just fine to get me through the zones and epic story thus far, and I don’t think that will change.

And for a time, it looked as though Turbine had acknowledged that this was the case by taking instance clusters off the table in early 2014 in favor of lesser group content, like epic battles, roving warbands, and a handful of tougher areas. However, now that the game is under new leadership and well into a new year, we’re seeing the return of the dungeon at last. Why the change of direction and how might it benefit the community? That’s been on my mind a lot as of late.

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WRUP: Chroma Squad is a thing of joy edition

If you had told me when I was 17 that I wanted to play a pixelated turn-based strategy game in which I got to manage my own team of sentai characters, I would have responded with an eye-roll and a loud “duh.” Because of course I did. I still want that now! Only now I can actually play that, and it’s called Chroma Squad, and I literally care about nothing else except that it exists and it works and it’s beautiful.

Balance concerns? Difficulty curves? Options available? I do not care about any of that. All I wanted was to get me some turn-based custom sentai creation, and look, I have it.

So you can probably guess part of my entry for this week’s installment of What Are You Playing, but can you guess the rest of the staff? Oh, you can? Well, aren’t you smart. Why don’t you share what you’ll be playing down in the comments, smart guy? I mean that. Totally serious.

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Betawatch: May 8th, 2015

This week, Landmark was consumed in a fiery explosion, by which we of course mean that it had a big old wipe. But it’s all right, because we also saw the new island shapes and they’re pretty keen. You can also jump in on designing elf buildings, if you want to.

What other strange events took place in the beta testing world this week?

Oh, and we also have a huge list of several titles past the break that are in testing as last we knew of it, which could mean very little because some of them like to creep into what could be practically called launch without telling us. Those little scamps! The full list is below, and if you notice one of said scamps is hanging out, do let us know down in the comments.

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An aircraft spotter’s guide to GTA Online, part deux

I was going to talk about the best GTA V mods this week, but then I realized how bad an idea that was on multiple levels. For starters, you can’t shouldn’t use mods in GTA Online, which is what I should stick to covering on this website as opposed to the decidedly single-player GTA V campaign. Oh, and then the Rockstar modding brouhaha happened, though apparently it was all just a big misunderstanding. Either way, it’s a bit outside of our wheelhouse.

So let’s go for part deux of last week’s GTAO aircraft spotter’s guide.

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Massively Overthinking: The return of ‘consequences’ to MMOs

This week’s Massively Overthinking topic comes to us from Kickstarter donor Antonia “Toni” Phillips aka ToniLyran, who’s hit on a sore point with our writers, it seems:

In indie game development, we are seeing a resurgence of games with “real consequences.” With the coming of Crowfall, do you think that we will start to see a trend back to MMO’s with real consequences once again?

What exactly constitute real consequences? Are games like Crowfall actually creating real consequences? Are we trending that way in general? And if we are, should we be? I pitched these questions to the team and got an earful.

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Perfect Ten: Ten MMOs still going after ten years

It struck me, very recently, that a decade is a long time for MMOs.

If we’re going to count Ultima Online as the first proper MMO as we think of them – and I am – we’re almost 18 years out. Most games have not seen all of those years, and I’m not just talking about the games that launched more recently. It’s rare to find a game that’s been going for a decade, and even rarer to find one that’s been going for a decade and is still getting updates rather than just being stuck in maintenance mode.

So here’s a Perfect Ten celebrating 10 titles that have made it past that mark, even if they’ve just squeaked over the border. Sure, they’re no longer the fresh-faced darlings of the industry, but when you look at all of the great titles that have either shut down or slipped into quiet maintenance over the years, “still going” is often a pretty huge boost by itself.

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Chaos Theory: Reaping the Whirlwind in The Secret World’s Issue #11

To spoil or not to spoil; that is the question. When it comes to The Secret World, that’s a very serious question indeed! As much as I really, really hate spoilers, how could I ever decline a sneak-peek tour of much-anticipated Issue #11 with Funcom Lead Designer Romain Amiel and Communications Manager Tor Egil Andersen? The answer is, I couldn’t. After all, the secrets of the Orochi are finally at our fingertips! The chance to delve deeper into my favorite story earlier than expected is so worth the risk of a spoiler or two. And you get to reap the benefits of the experience as I share all the tantalizing tidbits with you just as the update officially launches and you can break into the Orochi Tower yourself.

Now before we go any further, you need to be aware that there are spoilers ahead. I’ll give you fair warning before anything major so you have the chance to skip that info, but the responsibility is on your shoulders. But even if you read this Chaos Theory in its entirety, there will be plenty still to discover on your own. As Amiel said, Reaping the Whirlwind has a lot of reveals, and there are some major things I simply won’t divulge at all (but I know you’ll love!). On top of that, the devs were gracious enough to end the tour before the conclusion, leaving the finale to me to discover it at my own pace.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Unpacking Guild Wars 2’s beta drop RNG

Never before have I seen Guild Wars 2’s Dry Top and the Silverwastes hive with such activity as we’ve seen this week. In case you’ve been living under a rock since the announcement, the bright sparks at ArenaNet decided to make gaining access to the next round of beta testing a little more interesting by introducing a rare portal item drop from enemies and event chests in both zones that guarantees beta access. The quirky level 80 zones mentioned above aren’t exactly my favourite spots in Tyria (read that with a high-pitched Irish lilt that’s dripping sarcasm, folks!), so high-tailing it through these areas most definitely feels like a grind to me.

In this issue of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’m going to talk about my views on the RNG method of assigning beta spots and a brief synopsis of my portal-hunting strategy. For full disclosure, I’ve put two days into scouring the area so far but have had no luck in looting a portal just yet; there’s nothing you can do to absolutely guarantee that you’ll find a portal, even if your methods are solid. If you’re still searching too, perhaps you’ll find my ramblings useful as you go! Good luck with your search, and happy hunting, everybody!

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Global Chat: What happens to original MMOs when they get sequels?

Telwyn at GamingSF asks a question that I’ve contemplated from time to time: When an MMO gets a sequel, what happens to the original game? After all, MMOs aren’t quite like the rest of the video game industry.

“It’s easier for gaming companies to control the playerbase,” he writes. “The bluntest instrument would be to shut down the old game forcing players to move to the new, although risking they’d abandon the franchise entirely.”

While you debate whether a quick death or a prolonged demise is preferrable, take a gander at some other notable articles from the gaming blogosphere. In this edition, writers question Guild Wars 2’s (second) trait revamp, celebrate internet dragons, and critique Neverwinter’s slot machine problem.

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