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]

Jukebox Heroes: Six more groovy tunes from MMOs you’ve never played

As an MMO music collector, I’ve gathered some really obscure soundtracks over the years, including ones from games that people don’t even remember existing, nevermind having actually played. I won’t lie: Some of these soundtracks are downright forgettable. They might have one or two halfway decent tunes tucked among them, but they certainly do not have enough good tracks to justify a whole column on them. Once in a while there might even be a gem that can be sifted from the pile, but these end up being anomalies.

Back in 2016 I posted a quick list of six great tunes from MMOs that most people had never played, and today, I’m going to do another. Sure, maybe there are a few of you out there who did log into these games back in the day, but chances are that a majority of readers on the site did not. In some cases, the music is all that remains of a long-lost experience.

So let’s see what gems we might uncover today!

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One Shots: My name is Captain Vanity

As I’m off on vacation this week, I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to cull through the previous One Shots comment section for great pics like I usually do. So I’m going to have to beg your forgiveness for a little indulgence here, because in this edition, I’ll be sharing nothing but my own screenshots. Feels like a cheat, because I do that all the time in normal news articles and columns, but why not?

First up is my tribute to the late, great Marvel Heroes. However sad it went out, I had some great times in that MMO and loved the crazy superhero encounters. Such as, in this instance, Captain Marvel giving Carnage a little something to think about before he swings that hand-axe around.

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LOTRO Legendarium: Are the new seasonal instances a win or a whimper?

Let us travel back to 2009, when Lord of the Rings Online released its second expansion pack, Siege of Mirkwood. This pint-sized expansion seemed underwhelming with its options (although it did give us one of my favorite zones in the game), especially after the grandeur that was Moria. However, Mirkwood did factor in a new feature that made a pretty big splash with players: skirmishes.

Skirmishes were a new type of instanced content that could be scaled in both difficulty and group size, both of which felt revolutionary at the time. They threw players into either an offensive or defensive quest, challenging the group to conquer piles of foes and continue to press onward by claiming flags, defending areas, and defeating optional side objectives. To make matters even more interesting, players got to bring along a soldier companion to assist, and this soldier could be modified and trained to become more effective.

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Betawatch: Camelot Unchained has to delay that beta (July 6, 2018)

It’s important to note that however frustrated you might be about the fact that Camelot Unchained had to delay its long-awaited beta, the developers are probably even more frustrated. The whole thing was scheduled to go off on July 4th, but when the time came it turned out that the client crash rate, like the rent, was too damn high. We’re told it should only be a short delay, so keep your eyes peeled for further bulletins as events warrant.

Other beta news? During a holiday week? There was a little, yes.

A lot of things were also probably blown up over the past week, but that was the holiday and not beta testing, so we’re not covering that. We make up for a lack of listed explosions with a list of games currently in testing, and you should feel free to let us know if something in that list is incorrect. Heck, you should even feel encouraged to do so!

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Choose My Adventure: Final Fantasy XI in review and choosing our next MMO

Here’s the weird part about this week’s column: I’m going to tell you, in short, that Final Fantasy XI is still a good game once you get past the initial hurdles involved. I am also going to tell you that it is a game which has not aged well, in part because of those facts. Which no doubt is going to sound kind of weird, but that’s the situation we find ourselves in.

There are really two things you have to look at with this particular game. The first is whether or not the game is approachable by someone who hasn’t played the game in years or ever, whether or not you can make reasonable progress when you start playing. The other is whether or not the game gives you slightest idea about how to do so, or indeed about how to do anything in the game. Because all of the systems in the world don’t help if you don’t know what they are.

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The Survivalist: Yes, ARK Survival Evolved actually does have a story

Survival — or more? You might be surprised. When I first started playing ARK: Survival Evolved at the launch of its early access, it was an all-out dinoriffic survival game. And those of us who played in the beginning knew it just as that. As development moved on, more futuristic additions joined the primitive survival aspects. Some folks rebelled against this, balking at the inclusion of Tek. (Hey, some didn’t even want electricity and stayed playing on Primitive+ servers.) But the point of it all was not to rain on people’s dino survival parade, but because ARK has an actual story to discover. Yes, there is an ARK story. And after experiencing the conclusion of the first act this past weekend, I am way more stoked about it! Warning, there are some spoilers in pictures, so ogle them at your own risk!

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Tamriel Infinium: All the lore you need to know for Elder Scrolls Online’s Wolfhunter DLC

Lycanthropy has been a part of the Elder Scrolls lore since Daggerfall, even if it did kind of skip Oblivion. Elder Scrolls Online introduces lycanthropy as its own skill line with both passive and active skills. It was this fun skill line that helped me want to jump back into the game a couple of years ago. It’s not the most useful skill tree in the game, and it certainly isn’t as good as Vampirism when it comes to PvP, but I found it to be a lot of fun and would recommend it to players looking to explore some of the lore and interesting mechanics of ESO.

In the next DLC for ESO, players take to opposite stance and actually hunt werewolves with the Order of the Silver Dawn. Although we don’t have many details about this next DLC, we know that one of the dungeons take place in the Order’s headquarters as its infested with werewolves, and the other takes place in Hircine’s Hunting Grounds.

This Friday at 6 p.m. EDT, Dungeon Lead Mike Finnigan and Writer-Designer Tori Dougherty will give us a more in-depth look at these two dungeons, but before that, we should probably learn all we can about werewolves in ESO. That’s why I’ve broken down how to become a werewolf in ESO and where they come from according to the Elder Scrolls.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO have you bought and barely played?

There was a time when any new MMO was only open to you if you bought it, and that made for an interesting situation. I bought a copy of Lineage II with every intent of playing it, and within a week, I found myself… logging into Final Fantasy XI, because for all its faults it was closer to what I wanted. I think my total play time in the game was something like 15 hours, tops.

At this point, you rarely need to buy an MMO, but you still might wind up having a game you bought a limited edition pack for and barely used. Or you might have an old title you bought and barely played, even though it’s free now. So how about it, dear readers? Which MMO have you bought and barely played? Is it an old game you expected to love but didn’t, a recent game you had high hopes for, or just a title that somehow kept getting pushed back on your schedule?

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Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV’s beast tribes ranked, the middle rankings

We’re continuing our tour through the beast tribes of Final Fantasy XIV, and as I move through these rankings I can’t help but notice certain themes. There are some sorts of tribe that I just find more interesting than others, obviously; this whole exercise wouldn’t work if that weren’t the case. Last week’s tribes had various reasons for earning my non-affection, but there was a fairly consistent thread of the tribes not having super distinctive hooks and also not having much done with them.

Most of the tribes this week, by contrast, have one or the other but not both. Either there’s not much compelling about a tribe but plenty of stuff done with that foundation, or there’s really interesting material there that just isn’t explored. So let’s start unpacking this middle of the pack, which are generally tribes that I feel are just shy of being really compelling and interesting for one reason or another.

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One Shots: Better virtual homes and gardens

Lately I’ve been overdosing on some serious Sims 4 time (blame the Seasons expansion announcement for this!) and indulging in my long-standing passion for player housing. I don’t always get that fix in every MMO I play — looking sideways at you, Blizzard — but I do enjoy expressing myself and seeing what other players have come up in their own living spaces.

Let’s take a tour of some excellent virtual abodes today! We’ll start with Rees Racer: “I’ve been a Elder Scrolls Online plus player for… a long time. I don’t buy much, so I had some crowns to spend. I eventually purchased the Alinor Crest Townhouse in Summerset. I’m a Bosmer, and it’s technically Altmer architecture, but I really like the colours and the courtyard fountain, and I’m fairly certain I saved the rule of Queen Ayrenn a few years ago. It’s more extravagant (like all High Elf accoutrements) than I need (or like), but I earned it.”

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The Daily Grind: Are MMO collector’s editions worth it?

The allure of the collector’s edition has always been a strange one. I remember when it started, of course, when you could get the occasional little gewgaw for pre-ordering a title (I have a cloth map for Final Fantasy VIII that I later defaced due to not liking the game, for example). But then it got a bit out of control with some things, like the collector’s edition for Star Wars: The Old Republic that I couldn’t afford at the time and literally will never be able to get the stuff from. (The fact that I no longer play is, in this case, not the point.)

Usually I wind up with the collector’s edition of Final Fantasy XIV expansions simply because I have every single CE and it’s a collection thing, but I acknowledge at this point that I am paying for tradition rather than for the worth of what is contained therein. And when so many “collector’s editions” now contain nothing physical, it’s easy to feel like you’re just throwing more money at pets and mounts you might not want. So are MMO collector’s editions worth it? Or do you think they’re an outdated relic not worth the money?

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The Game Archaeologist: Raph Koster on MUDs and Privateer Online

The release of Raph Koster’s monster book of game essays, Postmortems, was of high interest to Bree and me for different reasons. For her, it was because Koster was a creative driving force behind two of her favorite games, Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies. For me, it’d because Koster shares my passion for MMO history and has some unique stories touching on topics that no one has heard before.

So I combed through his collection of essays to see what I could find out on two topics of interest to me: MUDs and the elusive Privateer Online. Chances are that many of you reading have never touched a text-based multi-user dungeon, and none of us save Koster and his coworkers, ever got to even peek at Privateer Online.

Here’s a few quotes that popped out at me, and if you’re interested and have $35 to drop on a Kindle version, you can read Koster’s full collection of essays in Postmortems.

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Betawatch: Saga of Lucimia’s combat is updated for pre-alpha (June 29, 2018)

The nice thing about early testing is that big things can change and it’s really all part of the experience. Sure, Saga of Lucimia fans may have gotten used to the game’s combat before, but now it’s been completely updated and everyone has to get used to it again. This includes the first iteration of Masteries that are actually meant to be in the game instead of random throwaway ones, so that’s a good thing.

Meanwhile, we eagerly await news about Camelot Unchained’s beta next week. It’s supposed to happen! We’re close!

Other beta news? Sure! Let’s go for it.

  • If you want to make more headway in OrbusVR thanks to various sales, the early access title is hosting a bonus XP weekend this weekend. So you get to make more progress in the same time!
  • MapleStory 2 fans and hopefuls can sign up now to take part in the game’s beta testing. You can’t get in if you don’t sign up. You might not be able to get in even if you do sign up, of course, but roll with the chances.
  • A great big graphical update is due for Legends of Aria as the game heads toward another closed beta phase. The key word here is “drastic.” But a good sort of drastic.
  • Rend has a roadmap, which is not a map of roads but a set of plans for future development. You can check it out now. That’s like roads.
  • Last but not least, Citadel: Forged with Fire is testing out a major game overhaul. You might think that the game is already in early access and thus by definition is getting major overhauls, but our more cynical readers probably will point out that “early access” can really mean anything. And they’re right. Have fun!

In short, it was a quiet week, and next week is a holiday so that’s likely to continue the trend. Ah, well; why not enjoy some of the items down on the list below? Or perhaps enjoy letting us know if something skipped test phases without us noticing. There’s enjoyment to be found in many things.

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