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Elder Scrolls Online’s Wolfhunter boasts a hunting grounds dungeon that’s fantastically creepy

The Elder Scrolls Online is really upping its creepy factor in Wolfhunter, if its latest preview of Hircine’s Hunting Grounds is any indication. (Seriously, the new pics of the monstrously huge and ghostly Hircine are nightmarish. In a good way.) ZeniMax has deep-dived one of the DLC’s “dungeons,” March of Sacrifices, in a new dev blog today, and “dungeon” is in quotes specifically because this is no typical underground delve. Instead, March of Sacrifices is basically an overland realm dedicated to Hircine. Players will be competing with other teams in the zone to topple both the creatures there as well as each other to win the daedra’s favor and collect the requisite loot. Five bosses are also on the agenda for a takedown.

“As Hircine is the Daedric Prince of hunters and stalkers in the wild, the biggest element players will want to get used to in this dungeon is using stealth and taking on the role of a hunter,” ESO Dungeon Lead Mike Finnigan explains. “Some fights will require the use of mechanics not necessarily seen before. In particular, Tarcyr is quite different than anything we have done, and I suspect it will challenge players quite a bit.”

Wolfhunter was announced at E3 back in June and entered playtesting a little over a week ago.

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Interviewing Frostkeep’s CEO as Rend announces July 31 early access

Are you looking for a new way to survive? It’s coming. We’ve watched as Rend wandered down its closed alpha path since May, but now the unique survival game is inviting everyone to join in the journey as it makes the turn to beta. Starting on July 31st, Rend launches on Steam early access. Those who want to try the three-faction, pet-taming, base-building, win condition experience can grab the buy-to-play title for $29.99 and dive right in.

What will that one-time purchase get you? I sat down with Frostkeep Studios CEO and co-founder Jeremy Wood to talk a bit about the experience players will have jumping into early access.

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The Division 2 won’t force you to group if you don’t wanna

With The Division 2 on the way for next year, fans of the series are trying to get a handle on just how much grouping they will be expected to do when it arrives. It turns out that the answer to that is, “As much or as little as you please, just give us your money.”

Ubisoft confirmed that it will be entirely possible to solo through the whole game: “You can play through the entire story campaign into endgame and [then the] endgame [content], alone… [But] you can also do the same content [in] two, three, or four player co-op. Or eight-player co-op, two full groups in the raid if you opt into the challenge that we’re adding. So it’s very important for us that you get to pick.”

We got an early look at The Division 2 last month at E3, including mentions of the franchise’s first-ever eight-player raids. Right now, players in the first Division can earn shields that will unlock rewards for the March 2019 sequel.

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The ESA claims crunch issues in the industry have been declining over the past decade

Crunch – the act of putting in way too much overtime to get a video game completed and out the door – is a sensative topic in the industry and one that players often ignore as long as they get their games. But Waypoint made an effort to reach out to over a dozen studios at this past June’s E3 to ask how they are dealing with crunch these days.

Both Microsoft and Nintendo said that they were looking out for employees and their work-life balance as games near the crunch period. The Division 2’s PR handler stepped in to stop the line of questioning on crunch, even while Creative Director Julian Gerighty was praising the Swedish work ethic and the balance that he had struck with his work and home life.

And ESA President Michael Gallagher claimed that crunch issues have lessened over the past decade. “I hear more and more publishers saying—and they’re doing this for competitive reasons, for culture reasons, they’re rejecting crunch, and saying ‘That’s not how we operate.'” he said. “And that is an attraction for the best and the brightest to see those opportunities and make those individual choices, to go to those companies.”

Source: Waypoint

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Wolfhunter DLC enters player testing as the free-play event begins

We’re barreling down a pretty short road toward Elder Scrolls Online’s next DLC. As announced just a month ago at E3, Wolfhunter is indeed a werewolf-themed pack that features two dungeons alongside the goodies of update 19, including a semi-symmetrical battleground map called Istirus Outpost, keep recall stones in alliance PvP, an improved respec system, and better werewolf skills.

As of this week, the Wolfhunter DLC and the concomitant update 19 have landed on the public test server, meaning you can get in there and check everything out. Worth noting is that the champion point cap is lifting, there are indeed some class tweaks as promised, and there are two new houses coming:

Hunter’s Glade: An underground entrance way leads through a portal to an expansive forested glade in Hircine’s Oblivion realm of The Hunting Grounds. Those “blessed” with lycanthropy can maintain werewolf form indefinitely in this otherworldly wilderness.

Grand Psijic Villa: When Artaeum was “removed” from Tamriel, a few neighboring isles went with it, including the site of the Grand Psijic Villa, a monumental estate with magnificent views of the south coast of the main island.

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Defiance 2050 officially launches as a free-to-play reboot on PC and console today

Trion has a big launch on its hands today as it pushes Defiance 2050 out of beta into a live state on PC and both core consoles. As we’ve been covering, Defiance 2050 is set to be a “completely from-the-ground-up recreation” of Trion’s original Defiance that “overhauls the exciting story and groundbreaking gameplay of the original, reimagining the San Francisco-based sci-fi shooter experience for current gaming hardware.” Classic Defiance, which sparked widespread use of the term “transmedia synergy” buzzword across the MMO genre when it launched alongside a SyFy TV series of the same name, will continue on for those who prefer it as well.

If you’ve previously picked up a founder pack, you’ve already been in the beta, but as of today, the game is free-to-play and everyone can hop on in. Launch time is technically 1 p.m. EDT this afternoon, so if you’re reading this in the morning, you’ve got just a few more hours to wait. Why not check out some of our coverage while you do? We recommend our hands-on experiences from E3 and GDC!

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Check out the full E3 demo for BioWare’s Anthem

There’s a lot we still don’t know about the upcoming multiplayer-but-not-completely shooter from BioWare, Anthem. There’s also a lot we do know, some of which has rather cooled enthusiasm. But if you weren’t at this year’s E3, you didn’t see much of it in person, so it’s a good thing that you can see the game’s full demo in video format just below.

The 20-minute demo shows off the game’s gunplay, dynamic events, dynamic group scaling, and all of the environmental exploration you could want. In short, it’s a quick slice of what the final game will look like, enough to give you an idea of what you’re in for. Jump on below if you’re curious to see how it’ll play (or what it was playing like on the show floor, we suppose).

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Elder Scrolls Online deep-dives the dungeons and PvP upgrades of the Wolfhunter DLC and GU19

ZeniMax is back to work today and hyping up Elder Scrolls Online’s next DLC. Announced at E3, the Wolfhunter pack will roll out two new dungeons, both with the werewolf theme. The first, March of Sacrifices, sounds like a “Hounds of Zaroff” type of encounter as players will be trying to take down Indrik to please Hircine himself. The second will send players into Moon Hunter Keep to topple the ancient werewolf Vykosa “before she threatens all of Tamriel.”

But of course, as ZeniMax notes, Wolfhunter isn’t the only thing players have to look forward to. In fact, even if werewolves and dungeon romps aren’t your thing, there’s a bunch of stuff coming in the simultaneous release of update 19 that is all free. There’s a brand-new semi-symmetrical battleground map called Istirus Outpost, the addition of keep recall stones to alliance PvP, an improved respec system, better werewolf skills, and unspecified class changes too.

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Rend posts its alpha roadmap and highlights the Highlands

Curious where the survival sandbox Rend is at in its alpha development? The dev team posted a roadmap on the site that shows current (control points, the Reckoning, taming) and future (UI polish, character rework, more biomes, talents, perks, high-tier crafting, social systems) feature goals.

The team also shone a spotlight on another one of the game’s biomes, the Highlands. This wild are will be full of “stony fields and sloping foothills,” marked also by huge monolithic pillars that can be seen across the landscape. It’s these pillars that form part of the mystery of this biome, which players will uncover as they rush to build an outpost and defend it from other factions.

Get to know what Rend is about with our extensive look at the title from E3, in which we said that we were “optimistic about what Rend brings to both the MMO and survival genres.”

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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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Trove has just launched its exploration-centric Geode expansion and new battle royale minigame

The first leg of Trove’s Geode expansion has launched today, with brand-new mechanics for the blocky-cute sandbox.

“Players will find themselves on a brand new planet with a seemingly endless network of caves to explore,” Trion says. “Built with a wholly distinct feel, Trove Geode is the next chapter in the Trove universe, with combat taking a backseat to exploration, as players discover new collectibles and companions, embarking on story-driven quests through Geode’s maze of tunnels and cave systems. Players will climb to epic heights of Mastery, reaping the rewards and amassing a collection of styles to customize their look through a massive selection of weapons, costumes, hats, mounts, wings, and more!”

The second phase, which will task players with saving the planet itself, is set to “begin in earnest later this year.” Bomber Royale is live today too – in fact, I completely forgot about it when writing this morning’s Daily Grind about MMO battle royale integration.

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ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2’s living story, Heart of Thorns vs. Path of Fire, security, and momentum

Though ArenaNet was technically at E3 this year, the group representing Guild Wars 2 was chiefly a marketing and business one, so they carted our interview questions back to team members more suited to answer. ArenaNet Brand Manager (and former Massively columnist) Lis Cardy, Design Manager Crystal Reid, Systems Team Lead Irenio Calmon-Huang, and Game Director Mike Zadorojny weigh in on the living story, security, gaining “momentum,” and more, just in time for the launch of the next episode later today. Let’s dig in.

The ever-living story

While I haven’t personally played much GW2 since the arc about the fall Lion’s Arch, I’ve liked the concept of an ever-evolving story. It’s actually what got me into MMOs thanks to the Asheron’s Call series’ monthly updates. When I asked how the ArenaNet team felt players were reacting to the current living story, especially in terms of pacing, Mike Zadorojny said the studio has “seen players become more engaged with the releases.” Apparently, they’re happy to see the connections players making to the stories and characters they’ve developed and especially with the discussions across Reddit and the forums.
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Check out the landscapes and legendary local lore of Fallout 76

We’re not allowed to forget about Fallout 76 for even an instant, apparently: Bethsoft has posted up the epic Welcome to West Virginia video that it showed during its presentation at E3, essentially offering a tour of the area the company has picked for the multiplayer entry in the franchise.

“All-new graphics, lighting and landscape technology brings to life six distinct West Virginia regions. Watch Welcome to West Virginia, featured during the Bethesda E3 Showcase, to get a look at the newest location in Fallout. From the forests of Appalachia to the noxious crimson expanses of the Cranberry Bog, each region offers its own risks and rewards. Post-nuclear America has never looked so beautiful!”

You’re getting a glimpse of the bunker, the map, and the rolling hills of post-apocalyptic Appalachia. There’s a look at some concept art and some spooky local baddies too. Enjoy!

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