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The Daily Grind: Did you go back to World of Warcraft for Battle for Azeroth?

Did they getcha? Did they suck you in again for another go-round?

I have a flurry of guildies in World of Warcraft right now thanks to Battle for Azeroth, and yet I haven’t been enticed to go back. In fact, Legion was the first expansion I didn’t buy or go back during, and now we’re at the next one and I’m still in exactly the same shruggy place. I’m not saying I’m over it forever. I’m not saying I’ll never go back. The game just isn’t doing it for me personally right now. There are things they could do that would make me whip out my wallet: new classes (bards!), real housing, a meaningful economy – maybe something that replicates the exploration amusement of vanilla, the dungeon joy of Wrath, or the questing and farm fun of Pandaria. Probably plenty of cool things I haven’t even thought of could get me in there; the truth is, I am a sucker for the idea of playing The Big One, secure in the knowledge that it’s a sure bet for longevity.

But this expansion isn’t grabbing me, and that’s OK. Not everything has to be for me. And I’m glad it’s grabbing some of you – who doesn’t love all the buzz and hoopla? So did you go back to World of Warcraft for Battle for Azeroth?

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RIFT’s progression server moves on to Ember Isle, onslaughts, and planar attunement

It’s a big step forward for RIFT’s one and only progression server. Prime inhabitants can now move into the game’s 1.6 Update with all of its vanilla RIFT endgame glory.

There’s a lot of content for players to plunder with this update, starting with the (re)introduction of the Ember Isle. This tougher level 50 zone includes 30 additional quests and many other activities to keep players busy at the level cap.

Also arriving with yesterday’s patch are the defensive-themed onslaughts, the Caduceus Rise dungeon, and Planar Attunement. This last feature is an ongoing character progression system that converts post-level 50 XP into advancement through several enhancement fields. The full patch notes are up as well and mention some of the class tweaks and general fixes that went into the game.

Source: RIFT

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Hyperspace Beacon: Take your SWTOR PvP to Rishi!

OK, I’ll come right out and say it: I love the Rishi stronghold. The Star Wars: The Old Republic developers have outdone themselves. I will unlock that whole stronghold as soon as it’s available on the live servers. It will be expensive, even for me. But I will do it, and I will not regret it.

Star Wars: The Old Republic, an MMORPG that has taken some hits for not doing things right for its community, might be turning some things around with its latest patch 5.9.2. Of course, this latest update puts a lot of focus on PvP, but for an MMO that places the story as a major pillar of its design, we know that PvP will never be its only focus on any patch.

Even though I admit that I love the new patch and stronghold, I am not blind to its flaws, so let’s take a tour of the new stronghold to examine the good and the bad.

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Global Chat: A starting point for WoW Classic

The recent announcement of WoW Classic’s starting point — Patch 1.12 — started to make the prospect of this legacy server a lot more real to players, including many MMORPG bloggers.

“Fans of Captain Placeholder are no doubt disappointed, but it seems like a reasonable place to call Vanilla to me,” said The Ancient Gaming Noob.

“I do wonder whether Blizzard will ever take this idea to the logical next step, as other studios have already (both EverQuests and now RIFT), and make it into a progression server so that players can relive the highs of each new content release, patches, and expansions in turn,” mused GamingSF.

Inventory Full concurs: “A server that simply locks at a specific snapshot of the game risks stagnation. There is a market for an unchanging experience as can be seen by the number of ‘maintenance mode’ MMOs that still hold some kind of population but it’s easy to see why a company as large and successful as Blizzard might not consider that audience sufficiently large or profitable to encourage.”

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO’s music brings back all the feels?

One of the reasons that I love and listen to MMO music so much — other than it rocks, obviously — is that it has this incredible power to trigger nostalgia and latent memories of time spent in-game.

It’s amazing: I might have been away from a game for years or haven’t even thought about it since it went offline ages ago, but the second I hear the main theme or an iconic track, it is like I never left. Occasionally I marinate in City of Heroes’ score or the vanilla World of Warcraft soundtrack just to be transported back to around 2004.

Which MMO soundtrack brings back all the feels for you? Is there a particular theme that makes you close your eyes and gives you goosebumps as you are transported back in time?

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Get Elder Scrolls Online and Morrowind for 8 bucks, check out the Murkmire DLC teaser from E3

If you somehow missed the Morrowind chapter of the MMORPG we named game of the year in 2018, then this sale is most definitely for you: Green Man Gaming has Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind edition on sale right now for $8.10. ZeniMax didn’t ask us to post this, and this is not an affiliate link – just a great sale.

The bundle can be a bit confusing, so let me break it down a bit: The Morrowind pack includes the base game and the Morrowind chapter, but that’s it. It doesn’t come with the extra bonuses from the CE, it doesn’t come with any DLC (like the Thieves Guild), and it doesn’t come with the latest chapter, Summerset. Vanilla plus Morrowind is still a huge amount of content, plus all the classes, so it’d be awesome for gamers who’ve somehow never given it a try. The game does have a subscription, but it’s optional; it unlocks a bunch of perks, cash-shop currency, and non-permanent access to the DLC (but not the chapters, so not Summerset, again). Worth noting is that you can start out as a new toon in Morrowind; you don’t need to grind in the base game first if you won’t want to.

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ArcheAge’s fresh start servers snag the ‘Conquer’ update next week

Trion’s pretty sure MMORPG gamers cannot get enough of starting over in ArcheAge, which is why it’s whipping up yet another phase for the ArcheAge: Legends Return fresh start servers next week on June 13th, complete with new housing, dailies, bosses, dungeons, and raids.

“In the Conquer Phase, a host of new dungeons, raids, and upgrades are now at your fingertips. Venture forth to Golden Ruins in order to claim additional housing in Auroria, or embark on new daily quests and high level creatures to secure your route to level 50! […] Additionally, the Serpentis raid is open for enterprising adventurers, as well as Sea of Drowned Love and Sea of Drowned Love’s weekend version. Other changes include changes to the Dream Ring, which can now be progressed to an Epic version, an expansion of the Dream Ring quests on Fresh Start, allowing you to take your Ring to its maximum level, and the introduction of T1 Cars, and the Farm Hauler upgrade.”

The pair of fresh start progression servers have been running in NA and Europe since April, doing their happy progression server thing with vanilla content unlocking over time. Phase two rolled out last month after a brief delay.

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Massively Overthinking: The state of modern MMORPG raiding

Massively OP reader Sorrior recently sent in a question about raiding, a topic we haven’t discussed in a while.

“I have noticed raiding tends to lead to more homogenization even without PvP and a bigger focus on numbers when making classes as opposed to their feel and style. I also see a correlation with a bigger emphasis on raiding and the decline of community quality. On a personal level, I feel like raiding should be about the joy of taking on foes you cannot defeat alone with allies/friends, but I feel many treat it as a chore or just see the numbers nowadays. Or they are just after the gear, which also seems to bring in a lot of people who focus on the numbers rather than the experience. I thought talking about why we raid and what we enjoy about it as MMO players while discussing ways to preserve the feeling of community might be fun.”

I think talking about that would also be fun, which is precisely why we Overthink it in this column. So let’s do it: This week I’ve asked the Massively OP staff whether they raid now or ever did, what they raid for, and how they feel raiding fits into the modern MMO from a mechanics and community standpoint.

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WoW Factor: Updating data in the wake of Battle for Azeroth’s release announcement

Hooray, we have a release date for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth instead of just a release window! And contrary to what many skeptics (myself included) expected to get, it is actually quite a bit faster than other releases. But as you all have no doubt noticed by now, my love of math means that I’m hardly sore about this. It just means that there’s another data point to consider when we look to the future.

So let’s talk about this new piece of information while using the same information from the column in which I made a reasonable estimate, based on this new information. Again, I think it’s important to note how much faster this expansion is actually releasing compared to prior expansions; it’s significant, even if it means that the people predicting things like June were being wildly wrong about “optimistic” predictions. (After all, pessimistic predictions were equally wrong, just in the other direction; my own estimates were off by 2-3 months.)

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GDC 2018: Hands-on with Trion’s ‘reimagined’ Defiance 2050

Before my GDC interview with Producer Matt “Destromathe” Pettit last week, I was really frustrated with the news about Defiance 2050. I wasn’t a huge fan of the first Defiancebut mostly out of lack of experience; I liked the transmedia idea, and when that died, so did my interest. When Trion announced 2050, I couldn’t join in the excitement. The details were scant and PR-y. I wasn’t even happy with the questions we got back. When I was told I’d get an interview with Pettit at a “party,” I was worried it might mean I’d need a stiff drink to accept what I was being invited to see. In short, I expected 2050 to be a cash grab.

But now I wish Trion had put in its announcement everything Pettit told me. I feel much better about what Trion’s doing now that I’ve seen the product, and I didn’t even drink anything beforehand!

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Jukebox Heroes: World of Warcraft’s best music, part 5

And here we arrive at last in our multi-week countdown to the final seven. It has been a fun and delightful journey through World of Warcraft’s soundtrack, and I have eagerly anticipated getting to the end so that I could share my absolute favorite tracks with you.

As we wrap up this look at WoW’s score — at least, until the next expansion arrives! — I would love to hear from you about this soundtrack. What pieces are special to you? What have the most nostalgic value and why? Let me know in the comments!

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Hyperspace Beacon: So SWTOR’s Update 5.8 happened

Yesterday, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched the delayed Update 5.8: Command Authority to the servers. BioWare now offers its first complete operation since Shadow of Revan. For those keeping score at home, SoR was launched way back in December 2014. We also see some much-needed improvements to the guild questing system that was originally launched with Strongholds expansion earlier in June of 2014, although BioWare has been adding to and improving strongholds since then. And lastly, we are introduced to some of new interactions companions Arcann and Ashara.

It’s only been a day since the launch, but I’ve had a chance to take a long look at most everything BioWare introduced in this expansion. And overall, I’m glad to see an update, but it’s just kind of… there. I have to wonder whether it was really necessary to make the bulk of what was introduced into a major update at all – or the developers could have placed the individual pieces into a much more impactful update. Let me explain what I mean by breaking apart the major pieces.

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Perfect Ten: Why MMO progression servers are a brilliant idea

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been enjoying the journey through RIFT Prime, the game’s first progression server. Trion Worlds surprised and delighted many of us when it announced that it would be creating a slightly more difficult, vastly more cash shop-free shard that would take players through the entirety of the RIFT experience from vanilla through the latest expansion.

As I’ve reset the clock on my RIFT adventures, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the benefits of progression servers. With a lot of World of Warcraft fans wondering if Classic will eventually morph into a progression shard (which I certainly hope it does), and with games like EverQuest and EverQuest II repeatedly embracing the alternative ruleset, I think we could be moving into an era where older MMOs experience new life with this relatively simple move.

So why are MMO progression servers a brilliant idea? Here are 10 thoughts on the matter.

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