Opinion Category

Opinion pieces are by definition neither neutral nor subjective. Massively Overpowered’s writers’ editorials reflect their own opinions, not necessarily the opinions of the site or company. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

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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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 Daily Grind: How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin?

GIbiz put out an interesting piece this week looking 10 years into the past to see where the buzz was in the game industry back in 2008. It’s worth a read overall (that was the year some rando company called “Riot Games” snagged $7M in funding for something called “League of Legends” – pff, that’ll never go anywhere, amirite), but the segment I want to highlight this morning is the one about the industry hype cycle.

The long-ago author wonders just when the hype cycle for video games should begin, at least in terms of maximizing profits (and presumably not annoying consumers). He compares the Assassin’s Creed franchise to Prince of Persia, noting that the former’s hype cycle was twice as long as the latter’s – and performed significantly better. After all, we’re still talking about AC here in 2018!

It seems a fair topic for MMORPGs as well; for example, World of Warcraft expansion announcements and hype lulls, the difference in buzz lead-up between Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire, and the seemingly interminable Kickstarter MMO dev/hype/funding cycles are perennial subjects here.

How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin? How long before the planned launch of a game or an expansion – or even a Kickstarter – do you actually want to hear about it?

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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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It’s the battle of the cephalopods in Splatoon 2 as it pits squids against octopi for its birthday bash

It’s almost been a year since Nintendo released Splatoon 2 on the Nintendo Switch. The frequent Splatfests – casual tournaments that decide winners by popularity, singleplayer performance, and team-based performance – have seen interesting tweaks of late, like a longer-form, team-elimination format that eliminates a voting option while letting everyone continue playing. North America and Europe experienced this with a Ninja Turtles-themed event.

However, for its one-year anniversary on July 21st, the game will be hosting an event partially based on its new DLC: Squids vs. Octopi. Much like the small change to ink color, t-shirts, and other tweaks Nintendo’s done for other Splatfest, this one also comes with a twist: While DLC players have access to the octolings (octo-kids) once they complete the rather challenging new storyline (or allow one of the characters to “hack” any level you’re stuck on), the new Splatfest will let any player who chooses Team Octopus play as an octoling for the duration of the event. As you might have guessed, Team Squid is stuck as the default but more varied inklings. While the choice may be tough, we’ve included a Very Serious discussion between the differences between squid and octopus advantages, care of Zoo Tier.

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Perfect Tenception: Our ten perfectest Perfect Tens (since last year)

Last year on the Fourth of July, I posted up a Perfect Ten that was a list of my favorite Perfect Tens Justin and Eliot had done since New Massively was born. It was a sort of a meta joke, but the post actually did well. Plus, I like funny listicles. I mean, we did one on sexy MMO monsters. We did one about robot fantasies. We did a sequel to the one where we pretend to have goofy conversations with anthropomorphized MMO studios. I love this job.

This year, I’m turning it into a new Independence Day tradition because literally nobody can stop me, and it amuses me to go back and look at some of these pieces that hold up so well over time.

So once again, in honor of those of you stuck at family gatherings today where you’re super bored, I’ve picked out my favorite Perfect Tens from the last dozen months and rounded them up for you below so you don’t even have to hunt for something fun to read. Just hunch over your phone and tell them you’re doing Very Important Work! I do it all the time!

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The Daily Grind: What MMO is theoretically perfect but fails to click with you?

Let’s talk about Final Fantasy XIV for a minute. This game really frustrates me because, on paper, it has so much of what I’m looking for in an MMORPG. It’s a polished and popular title with tons of story, player housing, swappable classes, incredible music, gorgeous visuals, and plenty of solo and grouping content. Yet every time I’ve made an honest effort to get into the game, I can only last about a month before I give up and head elsewhere.

I think it’s one of those cases of a game where the parts come together to make an objectively great product that doesn’t click with me personally. I’m routinely bored by the story and the slow pace, not to mention put off by the clunky controls and UI. I wish I could love it more, but I just don’t.

I’ve heard many of you say something similar about various games. There are titles that should be great for you, but so far, every time you try them, they don’t click. There’s something about these MMOs that keep them from being as fun for you as they might otherwise be. Which games are like this for you and why do you think this is the case?

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMORPG skill system that avoids the ‘illusion of choice’?

Over the weekend, my husband and I were chatting about playing on a Star Wars Galaxies emulator again, probably the Legends one that people keep recommending to me. And yes, it’s an NGE server. I was basically weighing all the content that was ultimately added during the six years of the NGE against the skill-on-use-based classic game. I loved the ol’ skill tree system to bits, so don’t get me wrong, but I was able to do most of the same things, eventually, in the NGE using classes and specs and secondary trees like beastmaster, and I floated the idea – horrors, I know – that maybe the skill system wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Fighting words, right? So that led us to discussing whether the original skill tree offered merely the illusion of choice. We were thinking about MMOs like Ultima Online and Guild Wars 1; only a very small percentage of skill builds in those games are actually viable, after all. The same is true even of level-based games with talent trees. Most builds are terrible, a waste of time, a way to present the feeling of lots of choices, but in the end only a few combinations are worth pursuing – so why did anyone bother designing and implementing them? And interestingly, we both came to the conclusion that classic Star Wars Galaxies somehow escaped that trap. Even weird builds were viable because the rest of the game made space for them rather than tried to trick you into bad choices.

What’s your favorite MMORPG with a skill-based progression system, and if it avoids the “illusion of choice” in character development, how does it do so?

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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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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG has the best user interface?

In the comments of my last Daily Grind about Star Wars Galaxies, there erupted a lively debate about the game’s user interface in the particular. I was surprised to find that some folks are convinced the game’s interface was lacking, given that it’s basically the same minimap-plus-hotbars-plus-unit-frames-plus-chat interface that every other MMORPG since has cribbed, just a bit more Star Warsy, glowy and minimalistic.

Then again, if you hate the stock minimap-plus-hotbars-plus-unit-frames-plus-chat interface setup that most MMORPGs boast, then yeah, hating SWG’s too makes sense.

Which MMORPG has the best user interface? And how does it deviate from the (at this point) completely standard World of Warcraft template?

(Note: The screenshot above isn’t actually SWG’s; it’s Otherland’s. You should check out The Repopulation’s too.)

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Global Chat: A starting point for WoW Classic

The recent announcement of WoW Classic’s starting point — Patch 1.12 — started to make the prospect of this legacy server a lot more real to players, including many MMORPG bloggers.

“Fans of Captain Placeholder are no doubt disappointed, but it seems like a reasonable place to call Vanilla to me,” said The Ancient Gaming Noob.

“I do wonder whether Blizzard will ever take this idea to the logical next step, as other studios have already (both EverQuests and now RIFT), and make it into a progression server so that players can relive the highs of each new content release, patches, and expansions in turn,” mused GamingSF.

Inventory Full concurs: “A server that simply locks at a specific snapshot of the game risks stagnation. There is a market for an unchanging experience as can be seen by the number of ‘maintenance mode’ MMOs that still hold some kind of population but it’s easy to see why a company as large and successful as Blizzard might not consider that audience sufficiently large or profitable to encourage.”

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