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Defiance 2050 performs better than its predecessor but hasn’t won the community over

With last week’s launch of the revamped and rebooted Defiance 2050, Trion Worlds was betting on players flocking back to the sci-fi MMO shooter now that it’s seen improvements and adopted a free-to-play model. However, it doesn’t seem as though the community is giving its approval for the latest version of this game, at least according to Steam, where Defiance 2050 is weathering “mostly negative” reviews.

One common complaint is that the relaunched MMO isn’t really that much different or better than the old game — yet players have to start over from scratch (in an eerily similar situation to last year’s Secret World Legends reboot). Other frequent criticisms include the proliferation of lockboxes, server instability, old bugs that haven’t been fixed, and not enough recognition or extras for players coming from the original game.

Site Kitguru ran Defiance 2050 through a series of benchmarks and compared it to the original game, stating that it “improves upon its predecessor with a more detailed experience.” It was also noted that there was a choppier frame rate on larger resoutions, better AI, and no apparent reason for the reboot on PC.

Source: Steam, Kitguru

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Multiplayer survival sandbox Outpost Zero hits Steam early access

The super pretty survivalbox Outpost Zero has planted roots in Steam’s early access program. It’s currently $15.99; tinyBuild and Symmetric Games say it’s a fully featured version of the game, though the devs are still working on more mechanics and balancing, particularly in regard to PvP and base raiding. The full launch is expected early next year.

“This Early Access version is a fully featured version of the game. Animals, Pirate Raids, PvP combat, Base Building, Corporations, and Bot AI are all implemented to create a full cohesive survival experience. We will continue to polish and improve these systems over the course of Early Access release. […] In the final version of the game we will be introducing many more powerful and fun Bot AI classes to craft, many additional Pirate Raid mechanics, Flying Vehicles, Massive Battle Mechs, several additional game modes (like horde mode and team vs team base defense), and of course a ton more content, from Equipment and Weapons, Structure types, Animal classes, and more.”

Massively OP’s MJ has been touring the game this summer as part of her deep-dive into multiple survival games for her ongoing column; you can check those streams out below, along with the official quickstart tutorial and trailer.

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Arr! Puzzle Pirates: Dark Seas has fully launched on Steam

Arrrr! If Sea of Thieves isn’t doing it for you, maybe you should board a more classic ship, like Puzzle Pirates – specifically, Puzzle Pirates Dark Seas. Puzzle Pirates, of course, has been around for 15 years as an adorable puzzle-oriented MMORPG. Developer Grey Havens has been hard at work on a more PvP-centered version of the game with a new ocean map and a clean economy, and that version, dubbed Dark Seas, has just formally launched on Steam after a stint in early access. Notably, this version is Steam only, whereas the “classic” game also works in-browser; the devs have plenty of fun lined up to get the game’s initial economy rolling.

“In celebration of our Full Release Launch we’re going to have a series of blue grey tournaments and competitions. These festivities will culminate in the opening of the first large island, Melanaster, for blockade on July 14th. We suggest you start recruiting mates and making plans in Parley.”

Did we mention it’s free-to-play? You can dive in right now!

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Holospark’s co-op shooter Earthfall has launched for PC and console

It’s a big day for co-op shooters: Not only did PWE announce a new one, but Holospark is releasing one officially today. I’m talking about Earthfall, which rolled out to Steam, Xbox One, and PS4 last night. It’s not an MMORPG; rather, it’s a smaller-scale multiplayer game with an emphasis on working together rather than brutally murdering each other a la the usual flavors of the month.

Earthfall is a four-player cooperative shooter that challenges players to survive hordes of ruthless alien drones and their inscrutable masters. Traverse a ravaged and depopulated Pacific Northwest with friends or AI teammates in a relentless guerilla war against a dominating extraterrestrial force. Save yourself from the ever-changing horde and save what’s left of humanity. Utilize futuristic weaponry, augment deployable barricades with fire or electricity, control mounted turrets, and throw absolutely everything you got at 10 levels of story-driven co-operative play.”

The game is currently live on Steam at a $29.99 price point and a “mostly positive” overall reviewset, though more recent reviews are more mixed.

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Want to try Legends of Aria? We’ve got trial keys just in time for the closed beta 2 launch!

It’s a big day for indie MMORPG Legends of Aria, as its second closed beta official kicks off with a server wipe and a juicy patch. CB2, as we’ve previously covered, revamps the game’s art, adds detail to the cities, adds a diurnal cycle, backer rewards, new encounters, better shops, a more realistic map, new tameables, saddle storage, new music, secure house trading, crafting orders, the dungeon revamp, and better fast travel.

“It feels like a different game, and we need to gather as much feedback as we can to get things just right for Open Beta and the Early Access launch,” Citadel Studios’ Derek Brinkmann opines in his letter to testers today, and that is where you come in: The Aria team wants you to test and has ponied up a bundle of trial keys to get the MOP readers in and playing. Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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The Culling 2 appears to be dead on arrival thanks to quality issues and angry Culling fans

Does the industry need more battle royale games? Allow me to play devil’s advocate for a second and say that it does. After all, if you want a genre to become its best self, it needs scrappy underdogs redrawing the lines and pressuring the leaders toward innovation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean people actually want to play those scrappy underdogs, and we may be in just such a situation with the newly released The Culling 2.

Xaviant Games’ The Culling 2 billed itself as a new-and-improved sequel to The Culling, described as “the world’s first built-from-scratch Battle Royale experience” with a “lush island arena, brutal melee combat, and a long list of perks to help you define your playstyle.” Here’s the official description of the new title:

The Culling 2 expands on every aspect of its predecessor: The arena is now a massive space, with 20 square kilometers in which to explore, loot, and fight. In addition to the established melee combat system, a wide range of firearms are now on offer, from 9mm pistols to high-caliber sniper rifles. All ballistics have been carefully tuned to match real-world equivalents, making for tense and tactical firefights. With 50 players, the matches are set to be fast and brutal, while still accommodating players who prefer a more cautious approach.”

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Perfect Ten: Best MMO debuts by year, 2007-2017

Continuing from my previous column, I’m going to be running through the second decade of graphical MMORPG launches and picking the best title to debut in any given year. From doing the first decade, I know that this thought exercise isn’t always fair; some years have several great contenders, while others see one mediocre one rise due to a lack of competition.

Still, it’s kind of fun to look back at MMO history and to see which game was really the best of that year. And if you ever felt sore that a particular title got overlooked, well, consider this a retroactive awards ceremony of some sort.

Let’s dive right in where we left off with 2007!

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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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New Dawn, a survival sandbox set in the 1800s, has launched into Steam early access

New Dawn – not to be confused with Darkfall New Dawn or Osiris New Dawn or Star Trek Online’s New Dawn – is hitting Steam’s early access this week after a lengthy period in closed alpha.

We began watching the game two years ago, when we described it as a “survival sandbox that puts players in the role of South American natives in the 1800s who must fend off pirates while living off the land,” complete with “interesting mechanics, such as taming horses, being killed in your sleep while you’re offline, and a slavery system with the NPCs.” It ran an unsuccessful Kickstarter in 2017, which raised only 4.4% of its $82K goal before it was canceled by Italian developer e-visualsoft.

“At the moment, New Dawn is in Pre-Beta stage, many game mechanics are complete and we have a solid base in programming, which allows us to add new content quickly,” the devs told followers this weekend.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

According to Friday’s Daily Grind on hype cycles, a lot of folks think they begin way too early for most games. But what about games with the opposite problem – hype that just isn’t loud enough?

I’m thinking of games like Project Gorgon here. It saw a flurry of activity when it crowdfunded, and again when it went into early access on Steam, but because it’s such a small studio, it doesn’t really generate much hype on its own, being reliant on word of mouth. It’s a wondrous little game with really unusual and unique ideas, but it mostly flies under the radar.

Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds patches Sanhok to be more pretty and less exploitable

A new patch is available for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on the test server, and it does exactly what the headline says. It makes the Sanhok map prettier, with a number of graphical improvements and little bits of added flair to make it more fun to creep around and shoot your opponents. It also makes the Sanhok map no longer ripe for exploiting, as the current version of the map allows players to tunnel under the terrain in certain ways and then shoot people from perfect cover.

While this feature is much-loved by people who enjoy exploits that no one else can possibly counter, it’s not actually how the game is supposed to work and is thus patched out on the test server. The patch will be brought out to live once the developers are satisfied with its overall stability. Meanwhile, the game is also starting a special event mode in Sanhok, starting today at 10:00 p.m. EDT, pitting 10 squads of five players each against one another.

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It’s starting to look like Valve is trying to murder SteamSpy on purpose

Back in April, Valve announced new supposedly privacy-oriented changes for Steam that had what everyone assumed to be an unintended (and unannounced) side-effect: It would hide everyone’s owned games by default, effectively neutering extremely useful and popular tools like Steam Spy.

Steam Spy’s Sergey Galyonkin, the Epic Games employee who ran Steam Spy on the side, hasn’t seemed particularly perturbed over the last several months since the announcement; in fact, last week, he said he was “excited” at the idea that Valve was working on its own version of the tracking tool. “The reason I opened Steam Spy to everyone was to let smaller developers make informed decisions based on data and to remove some of the information asymmetry that is so pervasive in our industry,” he tweeted last week. “Naturally, I am excited by Valve’s decision to offer a better version of Steam Spy.”

But that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening.

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Richard Garriott rejects idea that Shroud of the Avatar is a ‘flop’, says the game will run ‘forever’

Shroud of the Avatar has long been an odd bird in the MMORPG crowdfunding space. Driven by the eccentric Richard Garriott, it raised large sums of money and managed to be one of the first nostalgia-driven MMOs to make it from Kickstarter to launch – several times, we’ll note. And yet today, Eurogamer went so far as to call the game an apparent flop, citing its low Steam numbers and the layoffs we covered a few weeks ago.

Garriott has rejected the idea that the game is “on the ropes.” To Eurogamer, he reiterated Portalarium’s party line that the majority of players play off Steam and that the playerbase is “in the many thousands but not in the many tens of thousands of monthly active users at the moment.” He also rebuts the claim that half the team was let go, stating that the company went from more than 20 to a “little under” that now, not counting contractors.

So what the heck is going on over there? Garriott says Portalarium has struggled with marketing, spending on publicity that didn’t materialize; the company is “trialing new marketing internally” to try to tap into the “millions” of Ultima fans who still don’t know his new game exists.

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