first impressions

First impressions of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, part 3: Narrative

All right. Strap yourselves in, folks, because this is when we have to start talking about narratives and story and intended emotional reactions. In short, this is where World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth becomes a seriously messy piece of work, because this is an expansion in which the game posits that maybe colonialism is super great and native peoples are evil villains in league with dark powers.

Yes, that’s a thing that happens. No, we’re not going to leave it there, but I’m trying to minimize spoilers before the cut.

I’ve said on Twitter before today that the game feels like a $500 million movie with $50 spent on the script, and that still rings true. A ton of effort has been put into the presentation of this expansion, and there’s nothing to do but praise all of that; there’s honestly very little to fault in any part of the presentation of the story. The faults all arrive once you start examining the actual text of that story. And boy-howdy, that’s a mess.

Fair warning, people, there will be spoilers below.

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First impressions of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, part 2: Content

The first part of this first impressions series yesterday was all about the mechanical changes made for this expansion. This time, I don’t want to talk about the mechanics of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth; I want to talk about the actual content. Not the narrative text, but just the actual moment-to-moment stuff you’re doing in the game. Which, I think, is what this expansion is going to be judged on at this stage by a lot of people.

Put simply, the game could have the best combat it has ever had with the best gear enhancement system conceivable, but if the actual things you had to fight were a boring slog, no one would like it anyway. Solid content covers a multitude of sins.

There are several people who would likely argue that Legion had some of the best content we’ve ever seen in WoW, and while there’s room to debate that, I think it’s definitely worth considering. So BfA started off on something of the back foot, and that was exacerbated by the fact that it has not one but two continents to fill out almost entirely separate.

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First impressions of World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth, part 1: Mechanics

Hey, there’s a new World of Warcraft expansion, right? When did that happen?

There’s a bit of snark there, but perhaps less than you might think. The weird thing is that Battle for Azeroth kind of does feel as if it just dropped without warning; it was outside of the usual release schedule for expansions, with a long lead-in, as if the final product just showed up on our collective doorsteps one day. Assuming you were already logged on and had your pre-orders set, you could just jump right in and start the expansion, which hearkened back to the days of midnight releases after a fashion.

Needless to say, there’s a lot to talk about with the expansion so far. Now that it’s actually live we can see the mechanics and the story with all the polish that’s intended, with nothing left behind a curtain (other than Warfronts, anyhow). Coming off the well-received Legion, this expansion has some pretty big foot gear to fill, and it’s fair to wonder if any expansion wouldn’t feel like a bit of a downturn… but let’s not start there. Let’s just start in on one aspect of the game and go from there.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR is testing huge changes for the Rishi stronghold

I know I took more than a moment to explain why I liked the new Rishi stronghold coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic in the next big update. It seems that the development team has a little more freedom to really listen to its fans and add items to this stronghold to move it from being a good stronghold to a great one.

I’ve clearly been critical of many of the things SWTOR has done over the year, and I rarely give it amazing scores on my yearly reviews. But I’m still a fan, and it’s improvements like the Rishi stronghold that help keep me interested in what BioWare developers are doing. On a scale that includes jumping the timeline forward 5 years and killing off major characters, creating a PvP stronghold ranks rather low, but I’m surprised at how much it actually helps to create an enjoyable game.

The final round of PTS changes hit this past weekend, and I spent some time goofing around and diving into these additions. Let me highlight some of the changes.

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Global Chat: Getting a handle on Legends of Aria

One of the great benefits of reading the wealth of MMO blogs out there is that you can touch base on a huge variety of games that you might not have time to play. Haven’t gotten around to checking in with the indie sandbox Legends of Aria? The blogosphere has you covered!

While Superior Realities thinks that there’s a “skeleton of a good game” in Aria, he wasn’t won over by the closed beta: “After about thirty minutes of dealing with bugs, spectacularly tedious and old school gameplay, and generally terrible design, I decided life was too short.”

Inventory Full felt that the game had featureless maps but probably deserved a longer look, and Levelcapped said that Aria is “so damn close to being an Ultima Online sequel that it’s both wonderful and blasphemous at the same time.”

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The Survivalist: Hands-on with survival MMO Rend’s closed alpha

It’s been nearly a year since I met with Frostkeep Studios at PAX West and got an early first-hand look at Rend, the three-faction fantasy survival sandbox with a timer. And I’ve been waiting since then to be able to play for myself; I saw the housing and learned about pet taming, and knew I wanted in. Even though I don’t play PvP for PvP’s sake, I liked the sounds of its implementation in Rend. And the whole thing about the temporary lifespan of the server? Newer information (namely that I can use ascension points to keep my favorite pets with me!) has helped alleviate that trepidation.

And now, finally, I’m in! The question is, what do I think about it? It is still in development — it is only closed alpha at the moment — and it shows. But there is also promise. I already know I am going to be playing it more. Here are my first impressions of surviving in Rend.

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Rummaging through Rend: Alpha impressions of Frostkeep’s blissfully social survival MMO

Early access for Rend is just around the corner, which means hype for the game is picking up. Frostkeep recently invited us to check out its studio and dive back into the alpha and see how the game’s been unfolding. While there’s an embargo preventing us from taking pictures or videos, we’re allowed to talk about our experiences, and talk we shall! We should first note that the game isn’t a traditional MMORPG, but even in its alpha state, it seems to be doing more right than most other games firmly entrenched in the genre. And that was before a recent patch that finally fixed a bug that threatened the game’s early access reception.

To prepare for my studio tour, I hit the alpha servers over the weekend, going through the newbie experience a few times on two different servers. Alpha is the key word here, as the game really was in a rough state at the time. Nodes being unharvestable, factions largely being glowing tattoos attached to a two-sentence description, almost no visual customization… things that sound terrible for a game but are normal for an alpha. Even the game’s basic tutorial wasn’t always working properly.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Our preview of Guild Wars 2’s Long Live the Lich, now live

We’ve waited out the short delay, and today’s the day when we get our hands on the third episode of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season. Long Live the Lich promises to be an intense addition to the season: A deadly plague in the hands of an angry Palawa Joko is no laughing matter, after all. I am delighted that we have some new content to uncover and the new roller beetle mount certainly helps, so I’m ready to settle in today and explore the gorgeous new map, the domain of Kourna some more. I was able to get a guided tour with some of the dev team before the weekend and was very impressed with the new map and mount, so I can’t wait to uncover more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll start off with a short recap so we’re all up to speed before I discuss my first impressions. I played for around 45 minutes and we didn’t go into any key story details, so this article shouldn’t reveal any more lore spoilers than the episode trailer, but if you’d prefer to go in without any info about the patch at all, give this one a skip until you’ve played yourself.

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E3 2018: hands-on with The Division 2 – a major upgrade over the original game

At this year’s E3, Ubisoft creative director Julian Gerighty said team behind The Division 2 tried to learn “everything” from The Division to help make the sequel better. As he reminded me, the original game’s final DLC was especially meaty in terms of PvE content and PvP balance, but it’s the first impressions of the game that mattered most: The initial Dark Zone iteration is still what gamers remember best, and that’s not necessarily a compliment. I myself was not impressed with the original demo back in 2015.

But based on my preview of The Division 2 at this year’s E3, I can say that Gerighty’s team obviously learned quite a bit – and absolutely improved on the original.

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Hands-on: The Jurassic World Alive ARG shows promise, but not for MMO fans

Ludia’s Jurassic World Alive isn’t being marketed as an MMO, but it is an augmented reality game that involves roaming in the real world for virtual dinosaurs so you can battle them against other players. Online. But not near you.

It’s not exactly perfect, kind of like the series, in several ways. It’s not as promising as Maguss seemed in some ways, and suffers from similar design issues, but it also does things differently from Pokemon Go that, with some tweaks, could potentially attract a playerbase, even among our readers.

Just maybe not right now. Let me explain.
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State of Decay 2 tallies up one million sales despite the zombie apocalypse

Despite shaky performance and numerous reports of severe bug issues, Undead Labs’ State of Decay 2 is another big hit for the studio. Outlets are reporting that the co-op zombie title has racked up over a million sales in the first two days of release alone.

That’s not the end of the big numbers, either. “Throughout launch, there have been over six million combined hours of State of Decay 2 gameplay, and we’ve watched nearly 3.5M hours of gameplay across Mixer, Twitch, and YouTube Gaming from over 41,000 unique broadcasts,” Microsoft said. The studio also noted that the typical period of survival for a player character was three days.

Curious what State of Decay 2 holds? Check out our first impressions piece, in which Andrew says that the multiplayer title “has an experience you aren’t likely to find in a lot of games. It’s frustrating and depressing, but in a way that makes you want to see your band of misfits survive and thrive.”

Source: Xbox

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Star Wars: The Old Republic uncovers The Nathema Conspiracy

If you’ve always thought that there was a conspiracy over at BioWare, it turns out you were right. It also turns out that it’s a good thing there is one, because The Nathema Conspiracy is making Star Wars: The Old Republic more full-featured.

Game Update 5.9 is here with a brand-new flashpoint that wraps up the traitor saga and brings back the companions of Felix Iresso, Akaavi Spar, and Mako. In honor of the patch, double rewards are running and point games for repeatable objectives have been increased.

You’ll also want to log in tomorrow, when the May the 4th holiday will grant you a free astromech pet (and if you’re a subscriber, a speeder as well).

The patch notes are just the beginning — tune in tomorrow, when Massively OP’s Larry will bring you his first impressions of this game update!

Source: Dulfy

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Tamriel Infinium: First impressions of Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset (mostly without spoilers!)

Over the years, I suspect I’ve made it well known what I find most important in my Elder Scrolls Online gameplay. I enjoy the environments and the quest storylines. I play most of the game solo with very little interaction with any other players. It’s not that I don’t like other players; it’s just that when I started playing ESO, the main storylines in the game where not very group friendly, so that kind of gameplay is what I expected and enjoyed. Of course, that means my primary focus, when playing through the Summerset Chapter for ESO, was story and single-player gameplay.

There are many things added with Summerset that aren’t single-player focused, like the new Cloudrest trial and the Abyssal Geysers, but I’d hardly call myself an expert in those areas. But we solo players do have many things to look forward to in Summerset besides the story quests, like jewelry crafting, a new skill line, and daily login rewards.

For today, I would like to focus on the main reason I play ESO: the story. I’m not going to spoil any major plot points as I describe my playthrough, obviously, but I would like to make mention of key players and things to watch for as you play through the newest chapter.

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