The latest Elite newsletter features a pretty cool Imperial Cutter

Frontier has released the 99th newsletter for Elite: Dangerous, which coincides with initial availability of the 1.5 ship update beta. There’s also a slick new video demo featuring the exterior of an Imperial Cutter as seen from an SRV, as well as a look at the inside of a fortified transport.

Issue 99 also recaps last Tuesday’s livestream as well as Frontier’s plans for planetary raw materials in the Horizons launch. There’s more, too, but you’ll need to click on the link after the cut to read it!

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Have fun in TERA’s bonus weekend: Your generosity made it happen

En Masse Entertainment, the company behind TERA, took part in the Extra Life charity drive this year and wound up raising nearly $10,000 total. That means bonuses for all players, and thus a bonus weekend is running right now until November 16th at 2 p.m. EST. Hooray for charity!

All players can enjoy a 25% increase in experience earned from killing enemies in the world along with a maximum Stamina increase to 135. Players can also accept more daily quests during the event, with Standard accounts bumped up to 15 per day and Elite accounts set at 30 per day. That makes this a good weekend to jump into the game if you want to reap the benefits of charitable action.

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Compare and contrast the Warcraft movie trailer to the same areas in World of Warcraft

The landscapes of the upcoming Warcraft movie are not unfamiliar to veterans of World of Warcraft. Heck, they’re not even unfamiliar to dabblers within World of Warcraft, as many of these locations are ones encountered within moments of logging into the game for the first time. Fan Aerial51zd took the opportunity to compare the landscapes on display in the film’s recent trailer to the same regions in World of Warcraft.

Obviously, the caveat would be that WoW takes place three decades after the events of the movie and is a decade old itself at this point, so some of the details are different. No conclusions are drawn by the comparison imagery, but you can check out the full set of images and draw your own conclusions. Or watch the movie trailer again, if you want.

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Why I keep returning to Lord of the Rings Online

I got sucked into Lord of the Rings Online last weekend and I’m not sure why. There’s no new Hobbit movie forthcoming (thank funk). I haven’t reread Tolkien’s books lately, either, so that’s not the reason. I guess it’s just that time of year when I look around at the MMO space, see a mass of uninspired grindparks, and think to myself, “Well, at least I can wander through Middle-earth!”

This pilgrimage happens once, if not twice annually, and while I don’t know how long my current sojourn will last, ultimately all that matters is that I’m having a great time with it.

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Nexon had a good year in spite of its NCsoft disengagement

You might think Nexon would be smarting after selling off its NCsoft shares at a substantial loss in the wake of what was apparently a failed hostile move by by one South Korean giant against another. And maybe it’ll hurt in the four quarter — Nexon itself predicts revenues to drop — but its third quarter financial report sure looks rosy.

Nexon says its Q3 revenues neared 50 billion yen, “up 9% year-over-year.” The bulk of the revenue came from PC online games (almost 40 billion yen), while mobile game revenue clocked in at just over 10 billion yen, all up year-over-year. Of note, it says, “Dungeon & Fighter in China showed solid results” in the PC space, with Fifa Online 3M and DomiNations leading the mobile pack.

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WoW Factor: In the wake of BlizzCon’s Legion content

Well, folks, we’re officially living in a post-BlizzCon world. Until the next one. The point is, we’re done with that convention, and all that’s left is considering what is coming next for World of Warcraft and how close we got to all of the various elements that I said we really needed to come out of the convention. So how did Blizzard do?

Pretty well, actually. If you missed the four liveblogs I did and didn’t see my reactions in real-time, I suppose that’s news. (The Grand Magistrix has power over time.)

As with any convention, there was good and bad. Now that we’ve all had a few days to digest the information that’s come out of the weekend festivities, it’s a good time to examine the systems that were announced, the order of the presentation, and how well the job of managing expectations while building hype has been achieved. It’s not perfect, and it’s too early to call it even a return to form, but this far nothing has knocked my cautious optimism off the rails, so that’s something.

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Penguins and angler fish board ARK as tribal warfare begins

ARK: Survival Evolved has gone to the birds — and the fish — in the latest update. On top of a feathers and fur graphical update, yesterday’s addition of update 223 introduced the adorable Kairuku Waitaki, better recognized as a penguin, and the deep-sea Melanocetus, or anglerfish. Both new creatures are useful in the quest for survival.

Although the penguins aren’t really any good in a fight, players may want to collect a rookery of them as they exude body heat that can keep you warm while adventuring on the tundra. On a more morbid note, these docile creatures also have blubber that works as polymer, with the highest concentration found in the babies. The distinctive light found on the anglerfish makes it the perfect companion for underwater exploring, whereas harvesting this fish nets materials used for making a long-lasting fuel and organic lights for your house. Get a glimpse of them both in the video below.

In addition to new creatures, this update introduces the new Tribal Warfare Alliance system. Tribes can now declare war against each other for a specific time frame that all parties agree upon, encouraging large-scale PvP instead of offline raiding.

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Lineage II: ‘Classic hardcore is back’

Lineage II formally launched on Steam this week, complete with a fresh-start server, Zaken. There are even server firsts rewards, mostly pirate-themed goodies, for those who zip their way through content on Zaken, both in PvE and PvP.

More intriguingly, at least if you play Lineage II in Europe, is the fact that the game’s EU handlers are finally launching the classic Lineage II server players voted for last spring, lining themselves up to compete with some of the illegal emulators floating around the internet. “Lineage 2 Classic” will cost 10 euros a month — yes, it’s a subscription-funded service — and feature a hardcore ruleset. “Intense and hardcore levelling in Lineage 2 Classic will make every level a real achievement,” declares the website. “Incomparable fun for all the fans of classic hardcore!”

Pre-orders are open now; we’ve included info on the two pre-order packs below.

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Nexon’s mobile dinosaur survival game Durango is coming westward

How much space do you have in your heart for more games based on surviving amidst dinosaurs? Nexon‘s Durango is a mobile game centered around surviving in the same space as the terrible lizards, with all of the elements you’d expect from a survival game – catching dinosaurs, taming dinosaurs, fighting dinosaurs, belatedly throwing together a bivouac because you never got around to figuring out how to survive since the alternative was dinosaurs. And it’s coming out in English!

No details are yet available on exact publishing restrictions, business models, or anything else; all that’s known is that it will be launching in English next year. Still, the idea that you could be surviving against dinosaurs while on your lunch break at work is pretty cool, right?

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Star Trek Online offers ships and shuttles for charity

It’s kind of nice to get something in exchange for donating to charity. Admittedly there’s always the question of how much money goes to charity and how much goes to something else, whether or not it helps in the long run, and so forth… but the core principle is nice. You get something, organizations that need money get money. So, for example, you could donate money to anti-bullying charity and get several new ships in Star Trek Online.

The offer running now has a selection of eight small craft and substitute starting ships available for $1; you can select as many or as few of them as you’d like in exchange for $1 or more, with the Mirror Universe Danube Runabout exclusively available through this promotion. Players who donate will also receive a code for Mirror Admiral Leeta as a bridge officer. Check out the offer page if you want to donate against bullying, or even just want lots of new small ships and like the price.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Mattaui for the tip!

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Gloria Victis releases a new gameplay trailer for your viewing pleasure

9So you know someone who would probably really like Gloria Victis as a game. Let’s call him Trab. You can’t convince Trab to try the game, however, because Trab doesn’t have a recent gameplay trailer to watch. “Trab won’t try any game unless he can watch a gameplay trailer produced within the past year,” he tells you.

In this hypothetical, Trab speaks in the third person and is kind of awful. You might not want to continue being friends with Trab. But you can, at least, show Trab the new official gameplay trailer for Gloria Victis, which will nicely undercut his little rant. It’s also probably useful for anyone who is intrigued by the game but has not yet tried it out; check it out just below.

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The Daily Grind: Is an MMORPG still an MMORPG without gear progression?

A Massively OP commenter recently opined that “without gear progression, [a game] is a MOBA not an MMORPG,” and I would really love to talk about that because I’ve seen similar sentiments crop up a lot in the last year.

Many of my personal favorite MMORPGs are usually those that do away with gear progression or render it unimportant. Classic Star Wars Galaxies, Guild Wars, City of Heroes — never mind sandboxes like pre-Trammel Ultima Online or Glitch — all had minimal gear progression if they had any at all. Detractors might crow that Guild Wars 2 went back on plans to avoid gear progression, but I think most of us would still agree it’s relatively tame compared to the gear-grinds of themeparks like World of Warcraft. Are those not MMORPGs?

I agree that without some form of character customization or advancement, either vertical or horizontal, something that goes beyond swapping in a cash-shop skin for your avatar between matches, a game tips away from being an MMORPG. But I don’t think it needs to be gear. In fact, I think gear-based progression is cheap and lazy choice for an MMORPG to begin with.

What do you folks think? What’s the true deciding line between whether something’s an MMORPG or mere MOBA or online shooter? Is an MMORPG still an MMORPG without gear progression?

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Massively Overthinking: Is IP-blocking in online games a necessary evil?

This past week, news about Black Desert’s IP blocking has reminded me once again how IP-blocking, region-locking, and the resulting isolated MMO communities are becoming far too normal and making it harder than ever to meet and team up with people around the world, which is part of the magic that brought so many of us to the genre in the first place.

It’s also brought some community ugliness to the fore.

Some people argue that IP blocking and the ensuing regionalization of MMORPGs is necessary because it ensures that groups can communicate in the same language and aren’t forced to suffer the side-effects of low pings from groupmates far away. And others… well, there’s no other way to put it: Some people are openly, proudly xenophobic in their desire to keep servers free of one specific nationality or other.

Are you as weary of IP blocking as I am, or do you think there are cases when it’s justified and more of a help to an MMO community than a hindrance? These are the questions I posed to the MOP writers in this week’s Massively Overthinking.

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