Sea of Thieves’ July 31 Cursed Sails update adds creepy skeleton ghost ships and a three-man vessel

Who doesn’t love a good ghost ship story? I’m a sucker for them, so Sea of Thieves’ Cursed Sails, the game’s second major update, definitely has my eye. According to the new trailer and blog post, players are getting that promised new ship, some new story lore, and the three-man Brigantine, along with the hinted-at multi-boat alliance system and the NPC skeleton ships that will be popping out of the sea to wallop your crew as the “emergent threat” they are. Nothing like watching a ship helmed by skellies literally dive into the depths and drag everything with it. Reddit is freaking out (in a good way) over the crab sighting too.

“Cursed Sails will change things forever on the Sea of Thieves, as the sails you see cresting the horizon are no longer guaranteed to be other players making their own way through the world. The decks beneath those masts may now be manned by skeletal marauders returned to the seas from their restless graves. All that sustains these grinning terrors is a thirst for battle that leads them to terrorise Outposts and call out defenders to face them on the tides…”

The update launches on July 31st; you can watch the preview trailer down below. Arrr!

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The Survivalist: Using Conan Exiles for a virtual tabletop campaign

So I’ve been thinking. (A dangerous pastime, I know!) And I have actually been formulating an idea. And that is using a survival game like Conan Exiles to run a guided player campaign. You see, way back when as I was first playing D&D and other tabletop campaigns, I dreamed of the ability to play them in virtual reality. Can you imagine it? Instead of saying, “I cast a fireball,” you actually just do it! It is still a dream; a VR experience is not quite possible yet, but when I found MMORPGs I felt it was one step closer. I could see my actions play out in an adventure. However, for the most part it was an already scripted adventure according to the game devs. In some cases there were tools for players to make their own adventures (and boy, have I celebrated those!), but there were still more like story vignettes in a larger world out of the game master’s control. To  really have a fully-crafted experience, you need greater control than what the MMORPGs afforded.

And then came survival games. Now there is a whole world you can take control of and run a story campaign. Granted, they aren’t perfect, but survival games offer more tools for creating a robust visual player campaign a la tabletops. And that’s exactly what I am planning in Conan Exiles.

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No Man’s Sky’s Next update drops next week with absurd amounts of space and land content

Don’t call it an MMO yet, but Even More Multiplayer is making its way to No Man’s Sky with its “Next” update. Hello Games today dropped a new trailer showing off how the “limitless procedural universe” is coming along. In fact, you haven’t got long to wait to play it yourself, as it’s rolling out next week on July 24th (Europeans have to wait an extra three days to the 27th for some reason).

“The new mode will be added to the limitless procedural universe across all platforms next week via the No Man’s Sky NEXT update, coinciding with the game’s launch on Xbox One, in a publishing partnership with 505 Games for physical retail. With this launch, players across Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Steam for PC will be able to explore, fight and survive with friends as they voyage across the vast celestial sandbox.”

Hello Games is touting a whole slew of features, including small-group exploration, the chance to “prey on others to survive,” building shelters and colonies, exocraft racing, custom race track creation and sharing, “epic space battles,” unlimited base building, fleet control, capital ships, “challenging multiplayer missions,” and a massive visual upgrade. Holy crap. Maybe that’s why the game’s recent reviews on Steam are pretty positive, eh?

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Check out all of the Warframe’s TennoCon 2018 videos

If you missed out on the glory of TennoCon 2018, you can take in most of the Warframe experience thanks to the cache of videos of the event Digital Extremes posted last night. Probably the most important bits are the Railjack and Fortuna previews, but there are several other vids, including the art and sound panels and the cosplay contest.

Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie was on-site for the event; if you’re not into lengthy videos, check out her written coverage and interviews!

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PUBG is testing custom matches, so you can roll your own zombie survival game… hey wait a second…

It’s a big day for PUBG as its latest patch has just hit the test server, and it’s a doozy: It’s the one that finally allows custom matches. Players will be able to combine their selected game mode with other presets, like weather, spawn types, and maps. Apparently “zombie mode” is the one to watch; according to RPS, regular players have been jonesing for this option ever since influencers started streaming it. Now everyone can whip up a humans-vs.-zombies match in PUBG, and we have finally come full circle in the world of survival/battle royale games.

Over on Steam, players are ascii-spamming – is there a better word for filling a comment section with word-art of your demands for the devs? – about the game’s ongoing desync issues. There are new weapons and beat-up ol’ trucks in testing now too; you can preview those down below if that’s your thing.

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Hearthstone delivers a funny Boomsday Project short story, runs Midsummer Fire Festival

Yes, the Hearthstone team is having way, way too much fun with the loopy insanity of the upcoming Boomsday Project expansion. It’s so much fun, who could call it work? Not the person who wrote this new short story that steps into the Boom Labs to look at the mad science in progress. Plus, if you read carefully, you might catch a glimpse of one of the expansion’s newest cards.

Hearthstone is currently enjoying the heat of the Midsummer Fire Festival. In addition to enjoying some special theming, players can earn a new fire emote, take part of a fiery tavern brawl, and earn double gold from quests. This event will conclude on July 30th.

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Fractured pivots from global to regional servers as it pushes toward its Kickstarter goal

Quite often, you hear MMO gamers lament that their communities are artificially separated into different servers, with all of the problems that that entails. A single-shard server seems to be the ideal experience, and one that the upcoming Fractured was aiming to attain… until recently.

The developers posted an article this week explaining that while the original plan was to deploy Fractured on a single server, they received significant pushback from the community on this due to latency and regionalization issues. Looking at the world’s geography and ping speeds, the team has decided that it will eventually roll out Fractured on seven servers that will cover the globe. Additionally, Fractured will be released in Portuguese, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and English.

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World of Warcraft kicks off the Battle for Azeroth era

While the expansion won’t be here until August, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth officially begins today. That is thanks to Blizzard’s tradition of releasing a features pre-expansion patch with many of the changes that will help to usher players into the new era.

Patch 8.0 is live today with a lot for players to explore and experience. The highlights include a wide array of class changes, PvP War Mode, Communities, upright Orc postures, and a Legacy loot mode (who’s going transmog hunting this week?). Also, next week will see the debut of the Teldrassil and Lordaeron playable scenarios, both of which lead right into the expansion.

And since your Battle for Azeroth fever is burning bright, why not add a couple of degrees by watching the new trailer to a trio of upcoming animated shorts that Blizzard is making? Check it out after the break.

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The Daily Grind: How can we solve Reddit’s gaming ‘tragedy of the commons’ problem?

In dealing with the ArenaNet fallout over the last couple of weeks, I started giving serious thought to the Reddit problem in gaming, and I’m not just talking about the overt hate groups allowed to fester there. You know how one of the rules of thumb for MMORPG communities for the longest time was never go to the official forums because you’d come away feeling depressed and dejected, believing the game community was a hot mess and your class was most assuredly the most broken? Reddit is like that, only nobody there cares enough about fixing it to see it through, and so we’ve got a tragedy of the commons problem playing out in cyberspace.

When game companies owned their own discussion spaces, most of them at least made some modicum of effort to keep them respectable. Oh, sure, some took that way too far and deleted criticism, but most, barring the very biggest, tamped down on toxicity because that space reflected on them. They cared. This is how I feel about our own comment section, incidentally, because our team owns this site and cares about the conversations we have here, unlike many other sites owned by corporate groups that don’t even care if comments exist at all.

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The Stream Team: Walking that Path of Exile journey

There is a path. For Exiles. And Massively OP’s MJ is an exile traveling that path. Where will it lead her today? Into danger! Isn’t that always where it leads? She’s charging through the lands in Path of Exile, prepping temples, hunting masters, and being a general baddy with her bow. Come be a part of that: Join us live at 9:00 p.m.

What: Path of Exile
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, July 16th, 2018

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Creative Assembly’s Grace Carroll speaks on fighting toxicity with active moderation

Anyone who’s been on the internet for more than a few minutes knows how quickly forums and comment threads can quickly descend into toxicity — not that such a thing would ever happen around here — and community managers and moderators are constantly trying to figure out how to combat that problem. But according to a new report published on GamesIndustry.biz, the solution may be simpler than you’d think.

The article cites Creative Assembly’s Grace Carroll, who spoke on the subject at Develop:Brighton, as saying that on the Steam forums for the studio’s Total War series of games, simply the “visible presence of moderation” was enough to tone down the toxicity.

“If someone posts a really awful comment, and I reply . . . they’re like, ‘oh my god, I didn’t think you’d read it, I didn’t think you’d reply to it,'” Carroll says. “The attitude can turn from horrible to apologetic straight away.”

Take notes, game devs and community managers. You can check out the full summary of Carroll’s talk over at GamesIndustry.biz.

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What made Fortnite so ridiculously popular? Anticipation is baked into both the loot and the gameplay, says one psychologist

Over the weekend, I was chatting with the mom of my son’s friend and let slip that I’m a video game blogger. Her reaction? “What do you think of Fortnite? Is it so big because it’s free-to-play?” Our kids aren’t even old enough to play this game, and she knew all about it and wondered about its runaway success.

The truth is, there are lots of reasons for Fortnite’s success, more than I had time to mumble out in small talk. Jamie Madigan on The Psychology of Video Games blog took a stab at answering the same question this week, and his answer is probably not what anybody is expecting.

“I think Fortnite Battle Royale’s secret sauce has to do with something that’s kind of obvious once you think about it: random chance. I don’t mean that Fortnite’s success is due to luck. Rather, I mean that Epic smartly leveraged the power of random rewards in their design for the game, and that’s one of the main reasons it’s so popular.”

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Kritika Online update adds danger zones, class awakenings, and pet gems

Kritika Online seems like it’s one of those sleeper MMOs that doesn’t get a lot of attention yet is really aggressive and faithful in putting out regular content updates. Hot on the heels of its first birthday celebration, last week’s content update offered up a host of new features and experiences for the action MMO’s playerbase to enjoy.

The patch kicked off with the addition of two new danger zones, Corsairs’ Cove and Coldsnap Village, which are in the “extreme difficulty” range and shouldn’t be attempted lightly. Five of the game’s classes and sub-classes also received second awakening questlines, which when completed will transform the Assassin, Catspaw, Wolf Guardian, Psion, and Vamp into noble (advanced) versions.

There’s a lot of other little improvements, such as five more pets, multiple class skill adjustments, plenty of new special titles, a third force of Etherforce, and brand-new pet gems. These gems increaes the power level of faithful companions and can be upgraded over time.

Source: Patch notes

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