Of course, the picture that it pains thus far also isn’t a pretty one, and there are a whole lot of question marks without solid answers. That’s part of the nature of this exercise. So let’s take a look at what we’ve learned from patch 4.3 and both what has gone said and gone unsaid. Fair warning, if it wasn’t obvious from context alone, there will be unmarked spoilers below. If you haven’t finished the story, you may wish to look away or resign yourself to spoiling.
For those of you who don’t have the game’s entire quest storyline memorized for some strange reason, the recommended quests cover the game’s main story through your first steps into the game up to the mostly cinematic quest from December of last year. No word yet on when more will be coming, but considering the context, you may probably assume that more story is on the way and soon. So if you’ve got quests just about to be finished but haven’t yet bothered… now would be a good time to do so.
A few months ago, we ran a Leaderboard poll asking players what kind of live studio-led events they want out of MMORPGs. By way of example, I compared the types of GM-run live events I saw in Ultima Online and EverQuest. In Ultima Online, we often saw long-running plotlines, mysterious NPCs, decorated special locations, dungeon crawls, and weddings galore. In EverQuest, I saw weddings, yes, but also GMs running around massacring newbies to get the highbies to come take them out (which wasn’t such a grand time as you lost experience on death). In Asheron’s Call, well, don’t take my word for it – just listen to Andrew talk about some of the biggest MMO events that ever took place in the genre.
Such GM events – the good ones, at least – are the subject of Saga of Lucimia’s weekly dev blog, which ought to make the majority of you who voted for plot, roleplaying, and activities other than endless murder in your event happy.
“Over the years, that type of interaction faded away as it became too ‘cost prohibitive’ for companies to maintain the type of staff required to create such unique events, and these days you are hard-pressed to find a GM logged into any game, much less get customer support to answer your emails in a timely fashion,” Lucimia Creative Director Tim “Renfail” Anderson maintains. “Cash shops and loot boxes are the name of the game these days. Game masters? What are those?”
So, who’s the next hero for Overwatch? We don’t know yet, but there’s plenty of room for speculation… and there’s a little more food for that speculation with the latest lore release. Of course, it doesn’t outright say who the next hero is, but it seems like it might be relevant as we look at a letter from Torbjorn to his wife following his rescue by Reinhardt, right before the birth of his daughter.
This all lines up nicely with speculation that Torbjorn’s daughter Brigitte, whom we’ve seen in Reinhardt’s recent video; it turns out that she’s also Reinhardt’s goddaughter, thus further linking her to what happens next. Obviously, this is speculation, and it could be something completely different… but it does seem to be where the lore is pointing at the moment. As much as it’s pointing to anything. It could always be Torbjorn’s lost arm as the next character, really.
He’s also responsible for Mara Jade, but you can’t really hold that against him.
So it’s a safe bet that he’s going to have some pretty neat things to say when he joins the development team for SWTOR on a livestream in which Zahn discusses the motivations of the Chiss and answers viewer questions. If there’s one person who understands the Chiss mindset better than anyone, it’s definitely him. Interested? Jump along to the stream at 5:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 7th.
The release of the Orochi Tower in Secret World Legends is a big deal for several reasons. For one thing, it wraps up the storyline in Tokyo, resolving all of those dangling plot threads for those who have never explored it before. But for another thing, it also marks the moment when The Secret World and Secret World Legends are both at the same point, content-wise; the relaunched game is no longer lagging behind in content. Now it’s all in there, and the future is an undiscovered country.
Of course, there’s new bits of lore in the Orochi Tower, so even if the past is a well-worn country to you, there’s still good reason to go through the tower and see what it has to offer. Plus, you know, there are all of the gameplay rewards inherent in going through the tower, that doesn’t hurt matters. So get into the tower and put some closure on this moment of The Secret World’s story, why don’t you?
Or you can check out the latest official dispatch, which also talks about future balance changes for the game, notably including the removal of AoE damage penalties from weaponry. Assault Rifles in particular suffered from a lack of single-target options that brought down their damage in several situations, so the changes are meant to make the weapons more viable in a fight. The game continues to steam along nicely, so it should be for the benefit of everyone that viability and overall balance is still being examined closely.
You can also pick up a new specialization, Miracle Worker, which focuses on feats of engineering to improve weaponry and heal damage; if your captain should be able to turn your ship into a perfect engine of battle, this is the specialization for you. And you’ve got new queues and red alerts to try the specialization out within, along with a new fleet holding to build up on the aforementioned joint colony. So what are you waiting for? Warp in and get engaged.
Players will also be exploring the Drowned City of Skalla, ruins flooded beneath what is now Loch Seld in the wake of the Sixth Umbral Calamity, now filled with the remnants of a once-grand civilization. Over in Kugane, players will be meeting up with the Majestic Imperial Theater Company on the performance airship Prima Vista, learning more of the company’s legendary performance of the Zodiac Brave story and diving into the legend of Ivalice. And that’s only the stuff we already know about on the preview page; there’s still more to come.
Where is Batman? Who will win in the rivalry between the Joker and the Riddler? What’s going on at the Gotham Zoo? What’s really going on with all of these events? Who wants a pizza party? Why do drive-through ATMs have braille instructions? Why can you remember ad jingles from when you were five but not the reason you just walked into the kitchen? Answers to some of these questions can be found when DC Universe Online launches the Riddled With Crime update today.
Server maintenance started at 8:30 a.m. EDT and may run for up to eight hours, but once it’s finished players will have new content to enjoy, ranging from open-world missions all the way up to a new set of raids. So get ready to have the answers to several of these riddles revealed through play, although we can’t help you with the ad jingle one. We’re all wondering about that.
The content added ranges from open world missions on the Amusement Mile as players step into the middle of a gang war to the new eight-player raid at the Gotham City Zoo. Players who clear the most difficult content can get access to Riddler-themed rewards, a Batwoman mask, and the satisfaction of keeping Gotham City safe from itself again. Check out a preview video just below, and get ready to start beating up suited enemies on September 20th.
One of the things that strikes me with a certain degree of bemusement is how often various bits of story in Guild Wars 2 are locked behind things. If you’re not raiding, you’re locked out of the story there; if you weren’t playing when the first season of the Living World story played out, same deal. But then, those are pretty common lockouts, and there are important World of Warcraft stories you simply can’t access if you play now (because they’re not there any more). So perhaps it isn’t surprising.
No sooner do I think about that, though, than I think about what other sorts of lockouts you could design for story content. Some amount of story in MMOs is always locked behind invested time (you have to get up to the right level and so forth) and real-world money (you’ll never see the expansion stories for Final Fantasy XI if you never buy the expansions). But what other sorts of lockouts could you have? Where do you draw the line for what stories should be locked behind and what shouldn’t impede your ability to explore an MMO’s story? Let’s throw that question to you, readers. What are acceptable barriers to experience the story in an MMO? And are there any barriers you would like to see that just don’t show up very often?
The first really story-heavy MMO I played was arguably Guild Wars, and while it’s been many years I still remember talking with other people about how Prince Rurik was a toolbox and deserved to die. Rurik was dumb, that’s the point. But he was hardly the last NPC I hated in an MMO; Thancred in Final Fantasy XIV and Corso Riggs in Star Wars: The Old Republic immediately spring to mind as characters I would love to shove down a well.
But these are characters whom I don’t just dislike, but ones who I enjoy disliking. I don’t like, say, Kan-E-Senna in FFXIV, but I don’t actively cheer when bad things happen to her. Corso, by contrast, gave me great joy every time he disapproved of my actions. So what about you, readers? Who are your favorite MMO NPCs to hate? And as an added benefit, did you feel that they got their just desserts? (I was one of the ones cheering when Statesman bit it in City of Heroes, for the record.)