It’s not every year that a movie comes along that captures the pop culture zeitgeist so powerfully and so quickly as The Matrix did. I recall lugging a few college friends along to see this back in 1999 — having heard only a few sparse details about it beforehand — and coming out of the theater feeling as if we we’d been electrified. The bold mix of science fiction, martial arts, philosophy, action, and leather ensembles became the smash hit of the year, and a franchise was born.
And while we had great hopes that this would be this generation’s Star Wars, The Matrix ultimately proved to be a lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenon, impossible to recapture once unleashed. Sequels, animated shorts, video games, comic books — none rose to the height of the original film, and eventually the franchise petered out.
During this period, an odd duck of an MMO was born: The Matrix Online. When you think about it, an online virtual world where people log in and fight against programs was a really short hop from the movie series. MxO, as it was abbreviated, was an audacious game with unique features, story-centric gameplay, and a sci-fi bent in a field of fantasy competitors, and while it only lasted four years, it was enough to make a lasting impression for its community. Today, we’re going to revisit the 1s and 0s of The Matrix Online to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
If you had to pick six of the most influential video games in history, what would they be?
For a panel of experts at the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., the answer is, “Pong, Tetris, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Doom, and World of Warcraft.” The so-called “national museum of play” recently inducted its first class of picks into its Video Game Hall of Fame, which includes the still-popular fantasy MMO.
According to the museum, the six games picked had to meet certain criteria: “They’re iconic, have longevity, reach across international boundaries, and exert influence on the design and development of other games, on other forms of entertainment, or on popular culture and society.”
It’s been said that World of Warcraft‘s patch 6.2 will not be the end of the expansion’s patch cycle, but boy, it sure does feel like it. Just looking at the preview for Hellfire Citadel you can see an enormous collection of show-stopping bosses and battles, covering almost every major enemy that players have encountered on Draenor up until now. It even throws in some new ones, like Tyrant Velhari the anti-paladin and Xhul’horac the void revenant. And this isn’t the finale?
The full preview shows off all of the bosses with designer commentary on each one. While it won’t give you a comprehensive idea of how to beat each boss, it does offer hints. Several of the encounters are also designed to be references to previous content, such as being devoured by a boss, facing a boss-level encounter without a single boss, and even taking control of a raid boss for a brief time. Check out the full preview for all of the details.
Do you have any desire to play the newly launched Heroes of the Storm
yet? What if we told you that you could get a free pet
? Yes, Blizzard is running a cross-promotion with the newly launched title and two of its established online games, Hearthstone
and World of Warcraft
, awarding players shiny new things in one game
for advancing with one of the others
Players who reach level 100 in WoW will get a new mount to ride around in Heroes of the Storm; likewise, players who have won 100 matches in Hearthstone will get a different mount that will be available soon. On the flip side, World of Warcraft players get a pet for reaching player level 20 in Heroes of the Storm, and Hearthstone players get a new card back for reaching player level 12. Whichever of the group you play most often, you have the incentive to at least check the new title out.
An editorial over at Rock Paper Shotgun attempts to tie two topics together as one: why there will never be a World of Warcraft killer and how MMOs have been in a cultural decline ever since Azeroth opened for business.
“World of Warcraft was a hit for many reasons,” the author postulates. “Its chunky graphics that still hold up. Its focus on a personal quest. Its generally welcoming attitude and approachability. But what made it the game that it was was being the first to bring the magic of MMOs to the wider world. […] But the trouble with magic is that the same trick rarely works more than once.”
How is the MMO blogging community reacting to Blizzard’s proclamation that flying mounts are grounded — perhaps permanently — in World of Warcraft? In two words, not well.
In An Age gave 10 reasons flying was a great part of the game, Aspect of the Hare says that it felt like “a punch in the gut,” Murloc Parliament thinks that the game must move forward instead of backward, Tish Tosh Tesh considers the decision a strike against returning to the game, Cogitationes Astalnaris says that this is another example of how the studio has lost its mojo, Alternative Chat blames the studio for poor communication on the issue, and Heals n Heals speculates that it’s part of a larger probem. On the flip side of the issue, The Rykter Scale says that he won’t miss it and Tales of the Aggronaut agrees with the devs that flight is a “double-edged sword.”
With that out of the way, let’s look at some other excellent community posts from the past few weeks, including first steps in EverQuest’s progression server, a screenshot safari to City of Heroes, 10 reasons to play Trove, and a huge testimonial about the awesomeness of Marvel Heroes.
So you’ve heard about MOBAs by now, right? Maybe you tried League of Legends, or the idea behind DOTA 2 was too confusing to inspire a download. Now there’s this Heroes of the Storm thing coming out and you find yourself oddly excited (or being badgered by friends to get in game). Plus, it’s Blizzard, and you can’t pass up a Blizzard game. What’s an MMO fan to do?
Worry not, dear reader! As someone who has played quite a few MOBAs, I’m here to give you a quick rundown of the genre, how Heroes of the Storm works, and some tips on surviving and thriving in the game.
If you’ve been taking part in the battles over Ashran in World of Warcraft, it’s understandable that you could be a little tired of the open PvP zone. That’s why the zone is getting a bit of an overhaul in patch 6.2, starting with a mechanical change that removes Conquest Point rewards from killing faction bosses and events. Instead, players will be awarded Conquest Points through new repeatable quests requesting some dead faction bosses and some event victories. It’s not functionally all that different, but there’s an added step.
The big addition, however, is the rush to the Ashran Excavation, which will pit both factions against one another in a race to collect more Apexis Marks of Redemption. Players are charged with cutting down Arakkoa ghosts to collect the marks, turning them in to a neutral ghost and collecting a powerful artifact for hitting 50 first. Take a look at the full preview for all of the details.
Many words have been spilled about World of Warcraft’s relative immunity to aging due to its stylized graphics. And while that art style is quite beloved, have you ever asked yourself what WoW would look like as a modern game?
Now you can. Fan Daniel Luchau has been slaving away rendering WoW’s Elwynn Forest in the Unreal Engine. The sights are instantly recognizable, if quite prettier than gamers might have expected. Luchau said that this is very much a work-in-progress, although he has plans to cover additional zones and release the project for others to explore via virtual reality headsets.
You can watch the full two-minute fly-through after the break!
Were you too busy gaming this week to pay attention to MMO news? Get caught up every Sunday evening with Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review!
Just in time for its first birthday, Carbine formally announced WildStar’s free-to-play transition this week; it’s due in the fall and is part of NCsoft’s stated intent of bolstering its Western roster. Our own WildStar expert Eliot Lefebvre, who’s been heavily critical of the game’s first year, thinks there’s still hope for the game.
Read on for the very best of this week’s MMO news and opinions.
So what knocked World of Warcraft‘s subscribers down so quickly between the launch of Warlords of Draenor and now? Most people playing the game will be quick to point out design decisions, update pacing, and other such culprits. A recent article on Marketplace.org posits a different theory, however – that the game’s decline coincides with the rise of mobile gaming as a more addictive option.
The article notes that the game hits its apex in 2010, around the same time that mobile gaming started to take off. Subsequent falls have been a result of mobile gaming successfully getting more and more addictive compared to Blizzard’s title. Whether you agree with the conclusion or not, it’s food for thought as you go about your day.
It is a truly difficult thing to create something completely new and original, especially in storytelling and setting. It’s perhaps impossible in this day and age, as we tell variations on time-worn tales. But what is almost as good of a substitute is to take two elements and put them together to make an interesting new mix — such as science-fiction and ancient Rome.
That was the premise for Mythic Entertainment’s Imperator Online, a fascinating project that was originally to be the follow-up MMO to the studio’s Dark Age of Camelot but instead was cancelled before it ever launched. Even so, players got hooked by the intriguing premise: “What if the Roman Empire never fell, but instead continued on to become a really radical futuristic online roleplaying game setting?”
This week’s Massively Overthinking question comes to us from Kickstarter donor Aldranis, whose query neatly dovetails with the IP-related question we answered on the podcast earlier this week. Aldranis writes,
Do you think IP-based games lead to an oversaturation of mediocre MMOs on the market? It seems for every Marvel Heroes or Lord of the Rings Online, there are one or two Matrix Onlines. I feel these types of games can not only stunt design/developer creativity but also introduce games that no one would really play, wasting a great IP. Similarly, I’m really bummed that World of Darkness didn’t make it to the light of day (pun very intended). That was an IP-based MMO I was really looking forward to, and now seems to be lost, at least in the short-term.
I posed Aldranis’ question to the Massively OP writers, and man, they took the diss on The Matrix Online as fightin’ words!