Impressions & Previews Category

Hands-on, first impressions, and preview coverage. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

Exploring Pokemon Go’s real-life communities: MOP staffers revisit the game from opposite corners of the world

It’s year two of Pokemon Go. While there’s always room for improvement, enough has changed that I feel comfortable recommending the game to at least pre-World of Warcraft MMO fans. Why them and not the greater MMO community? Glad you (hopefully) asked! Unlike most true MMOs, POGO is still in its early infancy in terms of in-game community. Much as in early online games, players may be able to have a friend’s list, but not only is basic chat lacking but so is guild/clan support. There’s no party system, which means no group finder, let alone instanced content that lets you join in with little to no effort.

Like old school MMOs, POGO players have to use a lot of out of game tools for their communities, but there’s enough going on that fellow Massively OP reporters Brendan Drain and Tina Lauro Pollock have renewed their interest in the game. While Brendan had previously attempted some casual raids, both he and Tina had quit entirely. As the game just had not one but two events this weekend as part of its second year anniversary, we decided to try moving out of our comfort zone and looking at the game’s community from new perspectives. Brendan and Tina tried jumping in for the events for the first time, while I tried playing outside my usual community, with mixed results.

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TennoCon 2018: Deep-diving Warframe’s Fortuna and Railjack

Many fans, including me, are talking about still riding high after Warframe’s amazing TennoCon 2018 announcements this past weekend. That was some pretty epic stuff (I have to admit I  wonder how on earth they will manage to top themselves next year!). I was excited to share the news about Fortuna and Railjack with you as fast as I could; the only downside of that was it was too brief to add in many of the deeper details. I couldn’t include the insights and commentary that Game Director Steve Sinclair and Live Operations and Community Producer Rebecca Ford offered when I chatted with them. If only there were a way to impart that extra goodness to you and add in my own impressions. Oh wait!

While there’s certainly more to learn about the upcoming expansion/updates, here’s a bit more information about the underground all that cool stuff we can’t wait to experience for ourselves.

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TennoCon 2018: Warframe enhances sights and sounds with new skins, ‘Frames, pet skins, music, and more

What does a great game look like to you? More and more it looks like Warframe to me. Looks and sounds like I should say. Have you seen those reveals from this year’s TennoCon? I found them pretty amazing. And part of that amazingness comes from the look and the sound of it all; the gameplay content wouldn’t have half the impact without the integral contributions of the art and sound departments.

At TennoCon Live 2018 I got to learn a bit more about these aspects of Warframe. Of course, no panel would be complete without a reveal or two, and we were treated to a few fun ones, from the two new ‘Frames and skins to the introduction of pet skins to the discovery of Creative Director Steve Sinclair’s hidden voice role in game.

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Pokemon Go’s second anniversary report card sees high marks for content and innovation

Today is Pokemon Go’s second-year anniversary. Last year’s report card had to grapple with things like the game’s rapid rise and fall as a fad, its severe lack of promised content even with its first major update, crimes associated with the game, and being somewhat anti-social – and that was before the disaster known as Pokemon Go fest 2017. It was probably the worst way to start off a new year for your game, and it’s probably no surprise that our coverage of the game waned after the fallout.

But something happened. Whether it was because series Director/Producer Junichi Masuda was there to witness the horror or because some internal change in Niantic’s process changed, we’ll probably never know. But change came. Generation 3 became Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel. Suggestions I’d made previously happened and are still happening. The numbers are showing that the improvements are paying off, as the game’s playerbase is at the highest it’s been since its 2016 peak, after having gone through a brutal 80% dropoff. I thought I was being overly optimistic with my 2018 predictions for the game, but so far, so very good!
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The Soapbox: The western port of Bless Online feels like a curse

To say that the development of Neowiz’s high-fantasy MMO Bless has been somewhat beleaguered would be an understatement. Since the Korean import’s Western release was announced in 2011, it has weathered numerous delays; the loss of its would-be publisher, Aeria Games, which dropped out of the project in 2017 citing concerns about “quality standards”, and an ambitious “rebuild project” wherein Neowiz announced a massive overhaul of the game’s core systems and even considered “[abandoning] the current structure and [making] it from scratch.” Despite these obstacles, however, Bless made its Stateside debut last month when it hit Steam as an Early Access title.

Its launch, however, has been every bit as tumultuous as its development, if not more so: Alongside the standard slew of post-launch hiccups that tend to plague any major MMO release, such as login queues and server outages, Bless had to contend with constant balance issues, half-baked localization, community uproar over missing content, and at least a couple of potentially game-breaking exploits – and that’s just in the first week of launch.

But many a game has weathered a touch-and-go launch and hit its stride in the following weeks, so the question remains: How is Bless holding up nearly a month after its release?

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Interview: Worlds Adrift’s Bossa Studios on giving, griefing, and gittin’ gud

After the launch of Worlds Adrift but prior to E3, we sent off an interview to Bossa Studios and recently received our answers, complete with current news about how the studio is trying to address griefing, adding countermeasures, and yes, “gitting good.” Maybe the phrasing there could be better, especially given the brutality of the Steam launch, but Bossa Studios Co-Founder Henrique Olifiers and Game Designer Luke Williams were kind enough to talk to us about why they pursue the seemingly less profitable PvP crowd, building PvPvE experiences, and the road to release.

Let me be upfront with my biases for those unfamiliar with my coverage: I love open world PvP as a concept, not as a ganker but as the guy trying not to get ganked. I love the concept of virtual worlds, but as Bill Roper and I discussed, players aren’t developers and don’t always understand the tech that gives them the games they love.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Our preview of Guild Wars 2’s Long Live the Lich, now live

We’ve waited out the short delay, and today’s the day when we get our hands on the third episode of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season. Long Live the Lich promises to be an intense addition to the season: A deadly plague in the hands of an angry Palawa Joko is no laughing matter, after all. I am delighted that we have some new content to uncover and the new roller beetle mount certainly helps, so I’m ready to settle in today and explore the gorgeous new map, the domain of Kourna some more. I was able to get a guided tour with some of the dev team before the weekend and was very impressed with the new map and mount, so I can’t wait to uncover more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll start off with a short recap so we’re all up to speed before I discuss my first impressions. I played for around 45 minutes and we didn’t go into any key story details, so this article shouldn’t reveal any more lore spoilers than the episode trailer, but if you’d prefer to go in without any info about the patch at all, give this one a skip until you’ve played yourself.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Descent, the future of space mining

Fallout 76 wasn’t the only Interplay throwback at E3 2018: Descent, one of the games that defined the six degrees of freedom genre, is no longer underground. That is, the former title has changed because Interplay’s embraced the game and given the developers full support.

Descendent Studios team is hard at work on launch, Little Orbit CEO Matt Scott met with us to discuss what’s been going on in the past several years of development. Nostalgia aside, I went in expecting the worst: long-abandoned IP, Kickstarted game, indie team, extended public development, and fairly quiet presence on social media. However, I came out very pleased. While the game may not be an MMORPG, what I saw and heard makes me think that this may be the space experience I’ve been waiting for.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with ReEvolve, Perfect World’s new mobile sandbox MMORPG

Remember how we learned that Perfect World would be showing off some new games at E3? Well, things happen at conventions like this – they don’t always go to plan. My FarSide didn’t materialize, for example. However, ReEvolve did happen, just not without setbacks. Our PR contact, Michael Meyers, did his level best to help me understand what was up with the game, despite the realization that PWE’s Chinese branch hasn’t pushed much information westward just yet. All this could have ended with my not writing anything, but despite it all, enough of the game showed through, and I’m definitely intrigued.

If a sandbox version of something like Adventure Quest 3D exclusively on mobile sounds like your thing, read on.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with the superb (and hopefully Switch-bound) Black Desert Mobile

While I’ve had kind words to say about the potential for mobile in the past – particularly MMOARGs – I just haven’t been able to get into mobile MMORPGs. The point of view, the auto-follow, the lack of chat, and a generally cheap feeling leave me feeling a bit ill. However, I was fortunate enough to get my hands on Black Desert Online’s mobile port this year at E3, which might just change my mind.

Now, let me preface this by saying I am not an active player of the PC version of the game, and my brief time with the console version of the game only confirmed to me that Pearl Abyss has competently adapted controls and UI for console, but oddly enough, the work on the mobile client stood out to me as particularly superb. And as Pearl Abyss CEO Kyungin “Robin” Jung told me during our interview, the company is indeed considering porting the title to the Switch. While it sounded interesting (and a bit odd considering Nintendo’s general status as an online-outsider), it wasn’t until I personally played BDM that I seriously started to consider the possibility.

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Funcom’s upcoming Mutant Year Zero

Apparently, GDC was good to Funcom, The Bearded Ladies, and Mutant: Year Zero. The teams had originally thought to skip E3 this year, but after the reveal led to even one developer’s mail attendant in Sweden fanning out a bit, it became clear that an appearance at the Expo might be in order (and to maybe not wear developer t-shirts in public).

The Bearded Ladies developers said that they’ve received nothing but positive comments so far, and I can’t say I’ve been able to give them more critical feedback either. Part of that is because my tactical RPG experience is limited to super casual Fire Emblem outings that never end with my finishing the game. Admittedly, I also didn’t have a ton of questions to bring with me this time because the guys were just so open at GDC. It’s probably for the best, though, as I was finally able to get my hands on the game. Spoiler alert: Not only did I fail my mission, but so did almost everyone else!

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E3 2018: Hands-on with Ubisoft’s open-world pirate PvP game Skull & Bones

So, you want to be a pirate, but Sea of Thieves isn’t your cup of tea? If the issue was PvP, well, you’re probably out of luck, as Ubisoft Producer Karl von der Luhe emphasized at E3 this year that one of Skull and Bones chief strengths is that it lets you decide what kind of pirate you want to be: the kind who backstabs and murders his fellow buccaneer, or a wolf running with a pack. There’s no room for pacifists who just want to share Earl Grey and crumpets, alas.

While von der Luhe admits that Ubisoft admires what Rare’s done with SOT, it’s been clear for a long time that the two games are different enough to co-exist. They’re different takes on the pirate lifestyle. Even with the new hideout system for off-ship… um, town interaction, my demo of the open PvPvE area, the hunt grounds, further confirmed my feeling that Ubisoft’s game is more about the ship than it is about the pirate, something that surely has its own audience.

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