May has been an extremely busy month, but there is always time of course for some warcraft and I’ve been smiting my way to 90 with my priest, not far to go now 88 and counting. Also in a bold move, our 5-man dungeon team have decided to strike out on our own and set-up a brand new guild! Never ones to be afraid of a bit of hard work we realise we’ve got quite a way to go to make level 25 but we’re going to have fun trying, it gives us a chance to do the things we always wanted: to make a guild that is fun and social attracting like-minded people, using our professions to help our fellow guildmates and stocking our guild bank and especially knowing who to go to by actually having a guild website as well as plenty of officers who are online regularly. We acknowledge that we’re not epic, we’re all about the learning experience, and encourage others to come learn with us and not feel that they’ll be letting anyone down… we do that for ourselves mosts instances! So, it’s time for us to run some of those classic dungeons, grab a tabard and grind that rep, I see good times ahead. So it’s great news that Blizzard have released their in-game events page to the World of Warcraft Game Guide, the page lists all the different types of regular contests and celebrations in one place.
Also on my radar is the new Elder Scrolls Online developed by ZeniMax Online Studios which is currently scheduled for a 2013 release, but you can now sign-up for beta access here: http://elderscrollsonline.com/en/. If you loved Skyrim and you love MMO’s then this is one not to be missed. Set 1000 years before the events of Skyrim, Tamriel is in the midst of a struggle for the emperorís seat. The world has broken off into three alliances, each alliance contains in itself a triumvirate of races. There is the Daggerfall Covenant in the west (Breton, Redguard and Orc), the Ebonheart Pact of the north and eest (Nord, Argonian and Dark Elf), and the Aldmeri Dominion of the south and south-west (High Elf, Wood Elf and Khajit).
You’ll see that it shares it’s fighting style in part with World of Warcraft in that there is an action bar with six abilities and the associated cooldown timers but this is combined with swordplay which means you’ll be doing a lot of left and right clicking for certain abilities. But unlike Warcraft you weapons will also gain XP, level up and be granted skills. In lots of ways I compare the Elder Scrolls Online to the best parts of my favourite MMOs, World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2, as with GW2 Zenimax are emphasising that sense of exploration which is something that I know will be a big bonus to a lot of players.
Confirmed features to pique your interest:
Player vs Player (available after Level 10)
Available in three different languages: English, French, and German.
Time-travel will be featured in the game.
Mundus Stones will be used to give characters special abilities.
Fast Traveling will be available through unlocked Wayshrines.
Mounts will be included.
Classes will be used, including Dragonknight, Templar, Sorcerer, Warden, and Nightblade. Classes will only define the special abilities of the characters, not the weapon choices.
Synergy abilities are those that naturally blend players’ abilities together to bring down tougher enemies.
Players will be rewarded for successfully attacking, blocking and dodging through the “Finesse” system. Once significant finesse points are earned, players are able to use a designated Finesse attack, called Ultimate Abilities, which level up the more it is used.
Ultimate Abilities are Class-based, meaning that each class will have different Ultimate Abilities.
Crafting elements can be done in cities as well as in the wilderness.
Players will be able to own a pet, which they can use in combat.
Daedric Artifacts will exist in the game, and will be tied to the Fighters Guild storyline.
Only 5 Abilities will be available at once, however these can be changed.
Abilities can be leveled up to become more powerful the more they are used.
6 Skills can be used at any one time: The first two are weapons skills. The next three are class skills. The final skill is the Ultimate Ability.
PVP: In Cyrodiil, combat will revolve around the capturing of Keeps and its surrounding buildings. It is designed for 10-15 players to take a keep, 10 for an Outpost, and 4-6 for a support structure such as a farm or Lumber Mill.
Fast Travel in Cyrodiil will be different from the rest of the game. Instead of the Wayshrines, players will travel to the Keeps that they control (Other than those currently under attack).
Siege Weapons will not only be in the game, but will be craftable and customisable.
Alliance Points: An Alternative advancement system, with 23 ranks at launch. A “lifetime alliance point tally”, each rank will give a new title and alliance icon. (Similar to faction ranks in Morrowind and Oblivion).
Guilds will exist in the game.
Guilds will be specific to a Faction’s campaign.
Public Dungeons will be instanced. That is to say, once you reach Level 50, new areas of the dungeon will open up, and you will be able to see the results of your actions previously in that dungeon. These are known as Adventure Zones.
Morality and Criminality will be added to the game after launch.
Emotes will be available, as will flags for the Megaserver to group players in.
Dragon Shrines will be in the game.
A list of wieldable abilities so far includes: Two-Handed, One-Hand and Shield, Dual Wield, Bow, Fire Staff, Ice Staff, Lightning Staff, Heal Staff, or One-Hand and Rune.
There are a total of eight ranks for increased character weapon proficiency.
Daedric Ruins are confirmed to be appearing in the game.
Crouching (Sneaking) will use Stamina, as will sprinting and blocking.
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and love is in the air with a number of the MMO’s putting on special Valentine’s Day events, the various festivals emulated in-game are fantastic for injecting something new and getting your friends involved in some fun and games. Three MMO’s with big events are World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2 and RaiderZ, I’m going to take a closer look at what you can expect and start spreading that Valentine’s spirit.
WoW does a fantastic job of adding those in-game extras and rewards while tying it all neatly together with a storyline to boot – to be honest, no-one does it bigger! The Valentine’s event runs from February 10th until the 23rd and you can get involved by visiting any of the following major cities of Azeroth: Stormwind, Ironforge, Darnassus, Shattrath, Dalaran, Thunder Bluff, Orgrimmar, Undercity.
There will a dungeon encounter available (using Dungeon Finder) with Apothecary Hummel that will drop both special holiday loot and more useful high-level items (level requirement is 89) as well as a special main quest line and daily quests. You can also look forward to:
Mounts (Big Love Rocket, Swift Lovebird).
Pets (Toxic Wasteling, Truesilver Shafted Arrow).
Amorous Accessories (Romantic Picnic Basket, Forever-Lovely Rose, The Heartbreaker, Vile Fumigator’s Mask, Dinner Clothes).
Titles (If you complete the fifteen Achievements of Love Is in the Air, your character will gain the special title The Love Fool).
Seasonal bonuses (buffs for your character).
Achievements (Love Is in the Air currently offers a total of 160 achievement points, split over 15 achievements and 1 meta-achievement).
GW2’s Black Lion Trading Company has some exclusive items which will be available until the 18th February, you’ll be able to pick up a Bouquet of Roses (which will grant you 5 unique skills), Red Dye Packs containing red and pink dyes to dye your armour, and a 20% discount on Self Style Hair Kits that lets you choose a completely new hair style.
And just in time for Valentine’s Day RaiderZ brings you sweet chocolate that melts in the mouth and also has the handy benefit of raising your life energy. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t look like there will be any Valentine’s costumes for RaiderZ players this year, but perhaps they have saved those for the Lunar New Year Festival, I’m led to believe that costumes are a definite for this one. In-game events include “Weaponized Gambling” where defeating monsters drops an item that generates a random effect when thrown on the ground and the chocolate broomstick mount which allows you to target the objects of your affection with a cupid’s arrow emote.
Detailed information on any of the events above can be found by visiting the associated websites using the links below:
If you’re an MMO junkie like me you’ll be used to paying your subscription fee or even fees for your games of choice, but in the last 12 months there has been a distinct shift with a lot of the games out there to utilise the free-to-play (F2P) model. You’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that it’s been a contentious issue which has divided the gaming community. There are so many different MMORPGs out there for you to choose from and if you are unsure of the style you want to play the F2P model is definitely a great way to find out what it is that you like doing, mmorpg.com have a great A-Z list. If you do already have friends playing something like World of Warcraft, Diablo III or Guild Wars, or you are happy to pay the flat/subscription fee these are great games to get involved with and there is a big community out there to help you find your feet.
But what is F2P exactly?
F2P games don’t require you to pay a fee to play the game, you can play forever, for free. Some players will then choose to spend money on things within the game via in-game stores such as new gear, experience boosts, aesthetics (e.g., hair and appearance), repairs, etc.
So, why are some subscription-based MMOs moving to this model?
Subscriptions can be a barrier to adoption, you have to persuade people to commit to a regular monthly payment. This model allows anyone to try the game and enables those people who decide to get more involved with the game to buy things that they want within it to make their online experience more enjoyable. Gamers can also play several games at the same time without incuring several subscription costs. It’s great for software companies because they can get more players to try their games which means that games no longer need to appeal to a mass-market, you can now have successful, profitable games that can corner a niche in the market.
In that case, why are people still going with the subscription-based model?
It all comes down to MMOs being able to justify their subscription fees in the eyes of the gamers. World of Warcraft for example, still looks relatively safe, especially given its revitalised subscriber numbers following the release of Mists of Pandaria, but for other games it may just be a matter of time. While F2P may seem like a good way to give consumers more options, not everyone is happy about it. Unlike monthly subscriptions, there are many variations on the F2P model. They may not have time limits like free trials but they are often limited in other ways to encourage gamers to spend money in-game. As a result, the amount that a F2P game can actually be enjoyed for free varies greatly from player to player and between games.
Is there an answer to this question of F2P or subscription?
Not really, but it’s worth noting that they are not mutually exclusive. In some cases a F2P version is coupled with an optional subscription plan that includes access to all of the game’s features. There are always going to be different play models and I think it’s just a matter of finding the model that works for the game and also for the gamer.
If you are thinking of trying out an MMO for the first time, or if you want to try something new, we’ve shortlisted 5 free MMOs that you can try right now:
4. Planetside 2 Truly epic, massive combat on a scale never before seen in stunning detail.
5. Runes of Magic Comparable to WoW, but with dual class system, which allows you to enjoy the skills of both.
There doesn’t seem to be a perfect business model for MMORPGs, not now anyway – so we’ll be keeping a keen eye out for future developments and keep you updated on what’s happening with MMORPGs in 2013.
Balancing GW2 and WoW game time is a fine art, which I have to tell you I haven’t yet mastered! Of late I’ve been playing a hell of a lot more GW2 and jumping on my soap box telling everyone why I’m enjoying it so much, so I thought I’d actually put text to editor and run through what makes GW2 such an amazing game for me.
1. It’s all about grouping and playing together, you aren’t forced together but form a natural alliance that allows you to achieve your objective, grouping is so easy in GW2 and it makes the game so much more enjoyable. It’s inclusive rather than exclusive, bringing people together rather than pushing some people out because they have done the endless gear grind.
2. There are no ‘kill 10 mountain lion’ quests, GW2 is all about dynamic events that unfold as you travel around the world, you really feel engaged in the story e.g., repelling a bandit attack on a village, rather than focusing on the number of targets you have to eliminate.
3. You don’t need a dedicated tank and healer to form a group and everyone has the ability to resurrect a fellow player.
4. High and low level players can play the game together, the high level player is just scaled to the level of the area, this means it’s not a walk in the park for the higher level player and keeps it interesting. You still do a bit more damage, but the mobs are still a challenge, and more importantly the quests give you loot that is appropriate to your level.
5. There is no subscription fee, meaning that I don’t need to worry about multiple subscriptions running at the same time and not getting value from each one of them – you can stop playing and not have to worry about cancelling any subscription. You can even come back in a few months time and pick it up again, as if you’d never left, your character will be sitting there, just like you left it. And who cares if your friends are all level 80? They can come play with you and be dropped down to an appropriate level so you can all enjoy the game together.
6. The addition of vistas to locate and view is a fantastic idea, some of them definitely get you thinking and once you get to the location you’re rewarded with amazing views of the landscape. The art of GW2 is stunning and comes alive with detail, it’s quite simply a sight to behold and you can’t fail to be in awe of it – one amazing job done there.
7. Really engaging story lines for your character with the ability to stop and start the storyline whenever you want, e.g., when you want to focus on events or professions instead. You play the game how you want to play it, exploration is a key part and scouts in each area point out areas of interest that you can choose to go an investigate.
8. The GW2 community is really friendly and helpful and Arenanet are constantly updating and fixing the game to ensure optimal gameplay.
9. I can carry a whole range of weapons and each weapon that I use has it’s own abilities which are unlocked as you get more experience. As well as wielding an impressive arsenal I can also swap weapons during combat which changes all my abilities.
10. You are no longer separated from the rest of the world on your server, if you don’t like your community then you can play in another one, simple.
Are these two upcoming games really in competition for our game time?
PC gamers should be extremely happy at the moment, not only do we have one big upcoming release, we have two! Not to mention that we’ve just had The Secret World release, labelled as a new modern MMO, on July 3rd. The decision by Blizzard to launch the WoW expansion Mists of Pandaria (MoP) only one month after the launch of ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2 (GW2) created quite a stir in the gaming community, sparking speculation of some type of ‘secret agenda’, but it looks like Blizzard are just releasing when Blizzard is ready, and we know that for Blizzard this totally normal. But does this mean that there will be a split within the MMO gaming community for our affections? Or can both games co-exist? We’ve all now had a chance to look at the betas and there have been many attempts at comparing the two and weighing up which is better, but does pitting one against the other really make sense? Except for both being MMOs, they really are two completely different games – or am I wrong? GW2 seems to be all about having a great PvE experience right from the first level, negating the ‘endgame’ that is attributed to WoW, whereas WoW tends to give you certain content up to the max level cap and then you start endgame. Similarly, although WoW has PvP, GW2 seems to be much more geared up for this. Plus, I just don’t think you can compare GW2 to WoW with it’s massive subscriber base – it may not be right but WoW fans are going to get MoP no matter what.
Personally I (and I think that a lot of other WoW players) will be getting GW2, playing up to the MoP release and then switching over, at that point GW2 will still be on the radar but in a more casual sense; since it doesn’t have a subscription you can just pick it up again whenever you want – this is actually why I was happy with Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR) going F2P. I’ll probably be working a little SWTOR into the equation, I know they have made a lot of changes since I’ve been gone and I’m actually quite excited to see those changes.
I think both games are going to be successful in their own right and I’m happy we’ve got so much new content coming out, I guess that only time will tell to see how the player base reacts. These are two amazing games and so I can’t see them going the way of SWTOR and Star Trek Online. What do you think? Will you being playing MoP, GW2 or both?