culture

OrbusVR hosts another free weekend starting today

We should warn prospective players of OrbusVR ahead of time that the game’s new free weekend will not include a free VR headset. If you want to play the game, you will need to already have a headset to do so. However, if you already have your set but haven’t yet tried the game out, you can do so for free starting… why, today!

All right, the official listing says “Friday, July 19th,” but we’re going to assume that’s a typo. [Update: Yep. It was. Live now!]

Players can explore the game freely for the duration of the free weekend, which comes to a close on July 22nd at 3:00 a.m. EDT. The game has had some recent patches, so if you’d been holding off on playing the game for whatever reason, this is a perfect opportunity to see what’s on display and consider making it a fixture of your VR library.

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EVE Online is planning to weaken Force Auxiliaries

It’s just too easy for Force Auxiliaries to heal other ships right now in EVE Online. That’s the reason behind the balance proposal put forth on the official forums for a rebalancing pass. Essentially, the numbers are just too high and the counterplay options for FAX are too limited, so the plan is to reduce the numbers and see if that balances out. And they’re significant numbers, lowering healing output at all ranges while increasing capacitor costs across the board.

The estimation is that it would lead to an overall 37% reduction in potency, a significant change that seems to be warranted pending more general player feedback. To that end, feedback on the proposed change is being solicited now. One can imagine the effect this might have had on the game’s latest big conflict at UALX-3, which the community has dutifully summarized for those wondering what was lost in the latest stellar dust-up.

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World of Warcraft answers pressing prepatch questions in its latest video Q&A

The prepatch for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth is out now, but the expansion is still a bit further off, so players have questions about it. For that matter, players have questions about the changes made since the prepatch hit. The latest Q&A video just below covers a number of questions, but if you don’t want to watch the whole thing, you can get caught up with the summary of events. And several of the issues with the prepatch are ones that will be remaining in place. For example, Legacy loot mode? That’s working as intended and shouldn’t be available for Legion dungeons and raids in BfA.

The issue with artifact appearances changing your offhand as well as your main-hand is also a limitation of how Artifacts are coded; that having been said, transmog limitations are being examined, especially for Fist weapons. The developers have also considered doing a level squish instead of just a stat squish, partly in response to the perception of more levels without much actually happening during them (there’s a desire not to add more talent bars, for example). Check out the full video below or the full summary on Wowhead.

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Overwatch is performing a little surgery on its healers and planning another free PC weekend

Healers are important in Overwatch, but they also have the potential to get out of hand. Sure, it’s good to be able to patch up your teammates, but it’s not fun to play a match where you can’t actually damage the other team; at the same time, it’s not fun to play as a healer and watch your options be “slightly slow down team deaths.” In order to avoid these hypothetical scenarios, Blizzard is adjusting most of the game’s support heroes in the next patch.

Ana’s ultimate will get a healing component, Lucio gets additional shields and range, and Moira gets additional resource regeneration, all of which should help cover blind spots in these character toolkits. By contrast, Brigitte’s Shield Bash is getting its cooldown increased and Mercy is having her healing beam very slightly lowered in potency, which already has people on the forums happily explaining that Mercy is now completely useless. (Which has happened with every Mercy adjustment ever.) Check out the exact numbers and developer philosophy on the forum thread.

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Sea of Thieves’ devs have realized that community comes from not constantly fighting each other

Hey, kids, did you know that players feel more like a community when they’re working together rather than constantly fighting one another? Of course you did, you’ve paid attention to more than two decades of MMOs teaching this exact lesson. But it appears that Rare was absent during those days of design school. A recent interview on the post-launch environment for Sea of Thieves reveals that the game’s team more or less completely changed the plan for the game once it became clear that, gasp, communities form when people work together:

We looked at the game just after launch and thought: players want to enjoy the fantasy of broadsiding other ships, so it makes sense for AI to take the brunt of that: if you’re giving people the creative outlet of attacking a common foe, it’s going to reduce the wish for dominance over other players.

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The Daily Grind: Where are the spots you most identify with in MMOs?

It’s going to be most relevant next week, but honestly I’m not even a little bit sad at the thought of Darnassus burning in World of Warcraft. Seriously. I’ve hated that city and the tree it’s sitting on since the game launched, and if Battle for Azeroth delivers me nothing else I like I’ll consider it a net positive because Darnassus has burned. But if something happened to Ironforge? I’d be sad. I already was sad when my beloved Wetlands got pretty trashed back in Cataclysm.

Any MMO you play for a while has certain locales you get more or less attached to. After years in Final Fantasy XIV there’s a whole lot of feelings for me attached to Mor Dhona and Ul’dah; by contrast, I wouldn’t really miss chunks of Gridania. I have never cared about the faction stations in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but I loved Dromund Kaas and I want to live on Voss in real life, much less in the game. What about you, dear readers? Where are the spots you most identify with in MMOs?

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Darkfall: Rise of Agon looks forward to big new systems like dynamic housing

The last patch for Darkfall: Rise of Agon had a whole gaggle of stuff in it. There’s even a video walking through all of the stuff contained therein below, if you want to check it out. But that’s all in the past now, and so the developers are looking ahead to future additions and improvements for the game. First on the list? The Relic system, which will allow players to pick up powerful Relics and attune to them, thus building characters in new and interesting ways and differentiating individual playstyles further.

The team is also hard at work on building the game’s dynamic housing system, allowing players to drop houses anywhere they’d like within the game world. That ties into expanded territory control mechanics in the game, as well as the upcoming Clan Platinum currency for purchasing clan-related things like siege weapons. So when you’re done enjoying the newest features the patch has to offer, you can start peering into the game’s future and get excited about that.

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Crowfall’s latest patch notes from the future video reads off 5.7 notes

The latest edition of Crowfall’s regular Patch Notes from the Future is not looking very far into the future. It’s actually close to looking into the present because patch 5.7 is very close to deployment. And since there’s been some time with 5.7 in development, a lot of the patch notes had already been read off before the most recent show. But it is available in archive form (you can watch it just below) and it does contain new stuff because apparently patch 5.7 just keeps getting bigger.

For example, the crafting disciplines and associated stats are being rolled into the game with the patch. The systems to alter those stats are not being included, but the stats will be there as part of the game’s UI to explore. There are also elements like decay rate and mega deeds slipped into the workings of the patch, but why take our word for it? You can see the whole rundown in video format just below.

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DC Universe Online adds the Teen Titans storyline Judas Contract today

It’s time for a new story in DC Universe Online, and this time the game is taking a spin with one of the universe’s more popular teams with the Teen Titans. Since Cyborg is leaving the Titans to work with the Justice League full-time, there’s a hole in the Titan roster. Players of the heroic persuasion are eligible, and players of the villainous bent are sneaking in anyway… but there’s another infiltrator sent by Deathstroke, and players will need to ferret out who it might be.

The patch includes new duo content, new raids and elite raids, and a new alert as part of the overall story arc. There’s also the new Augment system in the game, replacing the old R&D system and equipping various Augments directly to your character. Check out the full patch notes to know what you’ll be diving into, and then go hang out with a bunch of teenagers.

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World of Warcraft confirms that allied race requirements aren’t changing any time soon

Today is the day of World of Warcraft turning to the first page of Battle for Azeroth with the expansion prepatch going live today. Next week sees the story buildup kicking into high gear. But if you’ve been holding off on trying the expansion until the Allied Race requirements (added several months ago) were eased up… well, you’re going to be waiting quite some time, as the official word is still that there are no plans to ease the requirements for unlocking Allied Races.

Players who wish to unlock Highmountain Tauren, Nightborne, Lightforged Draenei, or Void Elves will still need to reach Exalted with a specific reputation for each and finish a story achievement, just as before. (The other allied races will have other requirements and can be unlocked once the expansion is live.) Of course, this isn’t actually a change; players have had these requirements in place since the pre-purchase bonus was announced, and that means several months to unlock the races. If you’ve waited in hopes that it would be easier by the expansion launch, though? Not going to happen.

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Champions Online puts its lifetime subscription on sale for the price of its freeform slots

We still don’t know exactly what the plan is with Champions Online’s subscription. The plan to take subscriptions off the table entirely was postponed due to how subscriptions interact with freeform archetypes, but freeform archetypes are now cheaper. And now the lifetime subscription is on sale for a cool $120, which still sounds like a lot under the circumstances but is a 60% discount. As MOP readers Stez and Nicholas have pointed out, this morning’s update did indeed disable subscriptions, and the freemium pack is now for sale, though Cryptic does now allow unused freeform slots to apply to existing characters.

For those of you doing the math at home, that evens out to being six characters slots with freeform options for $120, the same as individually buying six freeform slots (it’s $60 for three), plus a whole bunch of other goodies on top as well as a monthly stipend in perpetuity. Is it worth it? That depends on you; it’s certainly an open question how much cool stuff you can expect to be added to the game in the future, if anything. But in terms of dollar-for-dollar value, it’s competitive with other things you can buy from the game.

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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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Fractured is hosting a livestream on crafting and building today

Want to know more about crafting and building in Fractured as the game has passed its 75% funding mark? Good news, you’ll have a chance to find out more about it live today as part of the game’s newest livestream. The stream starts at 4:00 p.m. EDT on the game’s streaming channel, so you can check it out, ask questions live, and do all of the things you normally enjoy doing through livestreams.

Assuming that what you normally enjoy doing isn’t disgusting. Please don’t be gross in stream chat.

There’s no scheduled run time, but you can imagine it’ll probably be about an hour of answering questions and leading into details about player-run towns. If that’s not what you care about, this likely won’t have a lot of interest for you… but for everyone else it should be plenty of fun information about making things.

Source: Official Site, press release. Cheers, Luvly.

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