The Soapbox: The western port of Bless Online feels like a curse

To say that the development of Neowiz’s high-fantasy MMO Bless has been somewhat beleaguered would be an understatement. Since the Korean import’s Western release was announced in 2011, it has weathered numerous delays; the loss of its would-be publisher, Aeria Games, which dropped out of the project in 2017 citing concerns about “quality standards”, and an ambitious “rebuild project” wherein Neowiz announced a massive overhaul of the game’s core systems and even considered “[abandoning] the current structure and [making] it from scratch.” Despite these obstacles, however, Bless made its Stateside debut last month when it hit Steam as an Early Access title.

Its launch, however, has been every bit as tumultuous as its development, if not more so: Alongside the standard slew of post-launch hiccups that tend to plague any major MMO release, such as login queues and server outages, Bless had to contend with constant balance issues, half-baked localization, community uproar over missing content, and at least a couple of potentially game-breaking exploits – and that’s just in the first week of launch.

But many a game has weathered a touch-and-go launch and hit its stride in the following weeks, so the question remains: How is Bless holding up nearly a month after its release?

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Slay-to-win: Massively OP’s hands-on with the Dauntless closed beta

The end of September marked a major milestone for Dauntless, the upcoming monster-slaying action-MMORPG from indie developer Phoenix Labs, as it officially concluded its Founder’s Alpha event and made the jump into closed beta. Since then, legions of would-be Slayers have stormed the Shattered Isles, taking up arms to defend the last bastions of human civilization from destruction at the hands (and talons, fangs, or similarly sinister appendages) of the marauding monstrous beasts known as Behemoths.

And as it so happens, I was one of them. As a long-time fan of Capcom’s venerable Monster Hunter series, which pioneered the “kill-carve-and-craft” action-RPG subgenre upon which Dauntless aims to build, I’ve been eager to check it out for some time now. So when closed beta rolled around, I shelled out for a Founder’s Pack and joined my fellow prospects in the frontier settlement of Ramsgate, where I hoped to prove worthy of the Slayer mantle, or failing that, then at least to avoid dying horribly.

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How 2016 took Lord of the Rings Online to the gates of Mordor

As Lord of the Rings Online nears its impressive 10th birthday in April of next year, we see a game that’s in many ways coming to its own personal endgame. To be sure, LOTRO could indeed keep on thriving for another decade to come, but the guidance of the books and the progress of the updates has kept the story marching steadily toward the climax of Mordor and Mount Doom.

At the start of 2016, players were still in the thick of Gondor and facing the largest battle of their characters’ lives. At the end, the battle is behind them, a brief respite consumed, and the task of pounding down the doors of the black country to the east remains.

Let’s take a look at the year that was Lord of the Rings Online, from its updates to its festivals to its community to the future. Perhaps this is an MMO past its prime, but in at least one important way, it is only now maturing into what it was destined to be.

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Exclusive interview with Ashes of Creation’s Jeffrey Bard, formerly of Daybreak

Yesterday we covered a tip about a new MMORPG in the making: Ashes of Creation. Apparently we caught wind of this title before it was fully ready for a world reveal, but when Intrepid Studios heard about our story, the team figured this was as good a time as any to talk about its project.

Lead Designer Jeffrey Bard sat down with us for a lengthy interview to introduce the game and its studio. In a nutshell, Ashes of Creation is an ambitious sandbox MMO that’s being crafted by industry veterans, including several from Daybreak, that will empower players to change and mold a game world instead of passively moving through it. The game is still in the early stage of development but has extensive plans laid out for its path forward.

Let’s dig into what Ashes of Creation has in store as it enters the MMORPG scene this month!

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Nature cops who punch kraken: Catching up with Project Gorgon’s Eric Heimburg

As many of you are well aware, we here at Massively OP are pretty fascinated with the work being done by MMO industry veterans Eric Heimburg and Sandra Powers on Project Gorgon. This indie PvE MMO is long on creativity, quirks, and exploration, and after a long period in (open, playable) alpha, it looks like the game might be rounding the bend to launch within the next year or so.

This week we sat down with Heimburg to get an overview of Project Gorgon’s progress, the current Indiegogo campaign, how players can become Nature Cops, a timeline of the next year of game development, Steam early access, and the unavoidable question of graphics.

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Massively OP’s guide to upcoming MMORPG expansions

If there is one consistent inconsistency among MMORPG studios, it is that teams keep swinging back and forth on pursuing the expansion model. How many times have we seen an MMO go from releasing regular expansions to attempting a monthly or quarterly content update schedule… and then abandon that after a while for more expansions? It is almost as if teams keep discovering how exciting and wonderful (and even profitable) expansions can be for the first time.

Believe it or not, right now we are in the middle of a major expansion boom in the MMO genre. Already this year we have enjoyed several expansion drops, including Destiny: Rise of Iron, EVE Online: Citadel, Trove: Mantle of Power, Star Trek Online: Agents of Yesterday, and of course, World of Warcraft: Legion.

We have even more on the horizon: More than a dozen MMOs and online ARPGs have expansions in the works, with five coming out this November alone. To help you keep all of these expansion projects straight, we’ve compiled a list of them, what each contains, and a rough timeline of when players might get to enjoy them.

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Massively OP’s guide to the best upcoming indie MMORPGs, part three

Over the last couple of weeks, we shared with you part one and part two of our guide to the best upcoming and current indie MMORPGs on the market. Naturally, there were always those titles that we overlooked or couldn’t fit into the space, so we are back with the third and final part of this guide to make sure that all of your favorite games got mentioned.

As a side note, we won’t be covering most of the survival sandbox and mere multiplayer titles, as that would be too much for the scope of this guide. And if you’re interested in these games, then you’ll definitely want to track our Make My MMO and Betawatch columns.

On with part three!

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Massively OP’s guide to the best upcoming indie MMORPGs, part one

When you write for an MMORPG website that covers literally hundreds of games and could probably add in hundreds more that are extinct, are in operation only overseas, or are so incredibly niche that their creators’ moms don’t even know about them, you start devoting a large portion of your brain to trying to keep details about all of these games straight. This not only results in forgetting two of your kids’ names (after all, space is limited), but it’s nearly an impossible task. There’s just too much out there.

And lately I’ve noticed that the staff and readers alike have started to become incredibly confused regarding all of the indie MMOs that are oozing through the development process in their 72 planned testing stages (the other week I could swear that I saw a game declare itself to be going into “state semi-regionals”). There are too many games, some of which look far too similar, and it’s stressing us out.

Enhance your calm, citizen. Here’s the first part of our quick and dirty guide to many of the indie MMORPGs in development and some of the key points about each. Hint: It’s not asking whether they are a sandbox with open world PvP because of course they are. As a side note, I won’t be covering most of the survival sandbox and mere multiplayer titles, as that would be too great for the scope of this guide. And if you’re interested in these games, then you’ll definitely want to track our Make My MMO and Betawatch columns. Then stay tuned next week for the second half of this list!

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A deep-dive into MMORPG housing: RIFT vs. WildStar

If you took a casual poll of the MMO community and asked which game’s player housing system was the best and most robust, chances are that you would end up with about five or so titles running away with the votes. EverQuest II, Star Wars Galaxies, RIFT, WildStar, and Ultima Online (and perhaps Black Desert) would take the top tier, with other MMOs lagging behind for various reasons, such as style, reliance on hooks, and affordability.

As I’m most experienced with both RIFT and WildStar’s housing systems, I had quite a few thoughts on what makes each special. Both have allowed their respective communities great freedom to express creativity and provide unique spaces for socialization. But which is better? Is there a way to objectively — or even subjectively — sift through all of the features that each game offers in the housing market and come up with a superior system?

I’m going to try. Oh, I’ll probably fail and fail big, but I need to make the attempt. So which is better: RIFT or WildStar?

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Navigating through Neverwinter’s Maze Engine

After the “big missteps” involved in Elemental Evil, Cryptic is looking to put Neverwinter back on top of its game with this week’s Maze Engine content update. It’s not looking to rewrite the game but to continue the story set up in the previous expansion while responding to community feedback.

Making our way through the Maze Engine was tricky, which is why we enlisted the help of Cryptic Producer Landon Falls to give us a tour of what to expect when the patch lands tomorrow. Lean, mean, and chock-full of every Forgotten Realms iconic character that could be ripped from the pages of R.A. Salvatore, The Maze Engine has plenty of delights and surprises in store for adventurers.

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Massively OP’s guide to MMORPG death penalties

In real life, when you die the penalty is… death. You just get that one go at things. But in MMOs, player characters are imbued with immortality, able to come back time and again from mortal peril. From a player perspective, this is great, since it allows a chance for persistent development and encourages the exploration of the world without dire fear.

But a little fear is perhaps appropriate, to keep the stakes high during adventuring and combat and increase fun by introducing some risk. After all, if you can just pop right back into being without any punishment, then death means absolutely nothing and a sense of accomplishment is lessened. Creating the right type of death penalty for an MMO is a tightrope that devs must walk. Make it too lenient or too harsh, and a game could suffer for it. If you ask the community, players are often split on whether or not MMOs should have strong death penalties.

Today we’re going to cover the major types of death penalties that MMOs have implemented over the years. As with many things MMO, there used to be a lot more experimentation in this regard, but it’s still a relevant topic considering the crop of up-and-coming games in this field.

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Massively OP’s guide to MMO Halloween 2015

Halloween is an unstoppable force in the MMO industry and will not be denied to developers and their players. It’s that time of year where spooky, creepy, and delightfully nightmarish events erupt across games worldwide, allowing players to indulge in trick-or-treating and costume parties regardless of age.

In the spirit of the holiday, Massively Overpowered is proud to present its ultimate guide to MMO Halloween. Read on for details on all sorts of events, promotions, and contests!

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Marvel Heroics: Rating Scarlet Witch and Rogue

I’m back with another installment of rating two Marvel Heroes characters that I’ve leveled up to 60. Last time I looked at Squirrel Girl and Cyclops, and so today I’m going to turn my attention to two fascinating and powerful female characters that many players have picked up over the past couple of years: Scarlet Witch and Rogue.

I had a great time for different reasons going on the leveling journey with each of these heroes. I hadn’t even heard of Scarlet Witch prior to Age of Ultron coming out in theaters (that should tell you how anemic my Marvel knowledge is these days), although I will admit to a schoolboy crush on Rogue from the ’90s X-Men animated series. I’ve tried to get my wife to call me “sugar,” but no go on that front.

So how do these two ladies stack up? Let’s run down the categories and find out!

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