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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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Pokemon Go’s second anniversary report card sees high marks for content and innovation

Today is Pokemon Go’s second-year anniversary. Last year’s report card had to grapple with things like the game’s rapid rise and fall as a fad, its severe lack of promised content even with its first major update, crimes associated with the game, and being somewhat anti-social – and that was before the disaster known as Pokemon Go fest 2017. It was probably the worst way to start off a new year for your game, and it’s probably no surprise that our coverage of the game waned after the fallout.

But something happened. Whether it was because series Director/Producer Junichi Masuda was there to witness the horror or because some internal change in Niantic’s process changed, we’ll probably never know. But change came. Generation 3 became Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel. Suggestions I’d made previously happened and are still happening. The numbers are showing that the improvements are paying off, as the game’s playerbase is at the highest it’s been since its 2016 peak, after having gone through a brutal 80% dropoff. I thought I was being overly optimistic with my 2018 predictions for the game, but so far, so very good!
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Enjoy the Fallout 76 experience in Fallout: New Vegas… in a way

As people who are intimately familiar with the online game space (source: you read this site), most everyone here can imagine the worst excesses of player behavior to be found in Fallout 76 before the game launches. But why not experience it firsthand? A new mod for Fallout: New Vegas will allow you to have that online experience for the game right now, well in advance of release.

No, it’s not adding online functionality, why would it do that? It’s adding an NPC with a flamethrower who shows up right after the tutorial and will try to kill you while shouting racist epithets.

Yes, you can probably guess the joke right from there, but there is a video just below for those who would rather just watch something rather than trying to actually play with this mod installed. And if you have some time to play with it yourself… well, don’t say you weren’t properly warned. You knew what to expect.

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Vampire MMO Shadow’s Kiss turns on its alpha servers

Six months after raising over $80,000 in its Kickstarter campaign, Shadow’s Kiss is drawing players into its dark alpha test.

The alpha servers are now online for this horror-themed MMORPG, which the team describes as a “modern Game of Thrones for vampires,” whatever that means. If you don’t have alpha access yet, the most straight-forward way to obtaining a key is to purchase one of the game’s housing packages (which range from $40 to $99).

Creative Director Thomas Sitch gives players an idea of what they’ll find in the alpha: “At this point players can create a character, choose story motivation, go through a full tutorial (complete with voice talent), and then explore various quests in the fictional city of San Cipriano […] We’re excited to show our fans that Shadow’s Kiss is a reality, and getting better with each update.”

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Wild West Online pivots away from faction system PvP, plans free trial

Another week, another huge plan change for Wild West Online. Newly installed studio (or maybe the old studio with a new name) DJ2 Entertainment says it’s completely deleting the faction system from the game. “There’ll be no Mcfarlanes vs Steele,” the devs say on Steam. “We loved it internally, but effectively it did added some unnecessary complexity to the gameplay mechanics and affected player’s experience in a negative way.”

“Instead we’re bringing back Sheriffs vs Outlaws mechanics, and they’ll become our two main factions in a game. While we don’t think that first release will check all boxes for all players, we will continue tweak and fine tuning it until we’ll get system that all players will be happy about.”

The company is also working on a town capture redesign, weapons adjustments, fluff loot, barricades, event rewards, and a new tutorial. A free trial version of the game will soon appear on Steam and on the official site; it’ll allow folks to play to 20 without achievements and awards.

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Tamriel Infinium: With Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset, more of the same is a good thing

Today is the formal launch day for Summerset! My goal during the PC early access was to finish the main storyline, and I’m happy to say that I did it and some of the side quests as well. And I was also able to do a bit of exploring around the island just to see what was there. As an Elder Scrolls Online fan, I have to say that I’m satisfied with what ZeniMax delivered. If you are a fan of the game and really enjoy what the team has given so far in the game, then you will also like the Summerset chapter.

I strongly believe that ZeniMax over-delivered with Morrowind, so when making a direct comparison between the two different chapters, I will, unfortunately, have to admit that Morrowind was the stronger chapter. But that’s not to say that Summerset was a bad expansion to the game. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are some very strong characters, glorious set pieces, and fun Easter eggs.

As I talk about the story of the next chapter, it will be impossible not to talk about spoilers, but I will keep them as light and vague as I can. And I promise that anything that I reveal is not a major plot point. With that in mind, let’s talk about this story!

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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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The Repopulation is still plugging away at bug-fixing and the new starter island

The current owners of The Repopulation have a brand-new dev update, but maybe don’t expect it to move mountains, literally or figuratively. Idea Fabrik spends most of its words explaining why there’s no patch: essentially, that there are just too many problems in the code that need to be fixed first. The team does note it’s been working on the new starter island and repurposing the original tutorial NPCs, dialogue, and missions, as well as revamping the inventory system.

“Despite the difficulties we face as developers and as players, development is still continuing,” the studio concludes. “So this means that once we do have the patches coming out, we will have a large amount of changes coming your way over the course of a few updates. We decided it was only fair to give you additional information of what we are doing and working on since it was taking so long to get this update out. We are going to give you a snapshot of some of what is going on behind the scenes and what you can expect to see coming your way. Please do note that there might be changes, additions or removal of some of this information based on the feedback from both the testers and players. […] Our primary work has been focused on a) optimizing (art, terrain, world, environments and the time of day), b) review of all dialogue and missions and c) designing the new systems.”

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Choose My Adventure: Two milestones at the start in Final Fantasy XI

If I have to summarize, in brief, how much Final Fantasy XI has changed since its launch in the United States? In half an hour before leaving the house I made a character, started the first nation mission, and reached level 6 in the process of smacking six bees. Most of the way to 7, at that.

This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but if you played the game before your remember it primarily for being insanely brutal and slow. The idea of reaching the limit breaks in the course of a month would require hardcore play and persistence along with lots of high-end help, which is why I specifically stated I’d be getting none of that. My playtime with this characters sits at around 9 hours right now, which is a fair chunk of time, but it’s not much when spread over the course of four days.

But yes, I am now ready to pick up my advanced jobs helped significantly by the fact that my adventure started in Windurst. So let’s start talking about the mechanics of the game, how you can end-run so many parts of the system now, and how bad the game still is about telling you these things.

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Tamriel Infinium: Eight things you need to know before jumping into Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset

Monday, the Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset chapter went live for early access accounts. For the first time since 1994, players can visit the island of Summerset. And needless to say, 24 years makes quite a difference in the world of gaming. I’m not going to pretend that I ever played Arena, but think its safe to say that things look a lot different and the mechanics of the game have changed, too.

I don’t think that Summerset is as highly anticipated as Morrowind was, but that’s can be a positive for ZeniMax Online Studios because there is scrutiny when it comes to the lay of the land and the storyline. On the other hand, it means less hype for the expansion.

As an MMORPG enthusiast, I’m excited to see MMOs continuing to grow the way ESO has. And I know that you might not be as familiar with Summerset, so I would like to give you my list of what you should probably look out for when you jump into the next chapter.

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Shroud of the Avatar’s upcoming R54 includes new house deco, heraldry items, and lots of polish

MMOs dressing us as murderhobos wouldn’t be so bad if we were super stylish murderhobos, right? Shroud of the Avatar plainly agrees, which is why the headline item in its latest newsletter is dye-able peasant gear that actually looks pretty decent. For peasant gear. I spy demure barmaid gowns too! There’s more to the dev update than dresses, of course. Portalarium includes new images from its do-over for Shaminian Hills, new heraldry items that you can stick your own sigil on, and a list of to-dos for NPCs in Central Brittany.

The studio says R54 is currently on the test server undergoing tweaks; it’s still expected to roll out on May 31st, with performance improvements, the rebuilt and polished zones and scenes (including Shaminian Hills), virtue effects for gear, more hints during the newbie tutorial, polish on companions, new side quests, new recipes, new housing and deco, and a polishing patch for the container UI.

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Choose My Adventure: Starting fresh-ish in Final Fantasy XI

This is actually a Choose My Adventure that I was somewhat reluctant to do for a long time, simply because… well, in some ways, it goes against the entire spirit of Choose My Adventure. Or at least the spirit that I’ve always used as a guiding principle for these columns, for however much it matters.

The goal of Choose My Adventure has always been to take someone who is either wholly unfamiliar with a game or at least not an expert at it and throw them into a game with as little support as possible. There’s no way that I can realistically hit the level cap and make major headway into the endgame, of course, but I can at least try a game with fresh eyes and see how it plays, while presenting those thoughts in a non-tedious fashion.

And then we have Final Fantasy XI, which I cannot possibly look at with new eyes because I know this game very well. If I had to list the MMOs I know best, FFXI would probably be third or fourth on the list. Which is why for a long time I didn’t bring it up, because… I know all of this stuff, right?

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Perfect Ten: How MMOs can become more accessible

Back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, I was remarkably reluctant to enter into the field of MMORPGs despite being a perfect candidate (a gaming geek who loved fantasy and sci-fi RPGs). All of the reasons that I had at the time for stalling really could have been boiled down to a single word: accessibility.

MMOs back then looked — and probably were — very inaccessible. They had a payment barrier. They required a lot of setup and hardware. Their interfaces were cluttered and their gameplay interactions were obtuse. Frankly, I got the impression that a lot of them were a mess that was only understandable to those who had put in hundreds of hours to decipher the format.

When MMOs started to become more accessible, particularly with City of Heroes, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars, I eagerly jumped in. Those three titles in particular made giant leaps forward in opening up these games to the first-time player. But that doesn’t mean that MMORPGs have arrived at universal accessibility just yet. Here are ten areas that studios could be improving in order to make their titles more appealing and understandable to outsiders.

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