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.
March 29, 2013
MMORPG Update: The WoW and Hearthstone Mini Edition
March has been a super busy month, I’ve dedicated much of my free time to levelling my Worgen Priest, Lursaduras, through the available WoW dungeons and practicing healing on my 5-man group. Our group is pretty laid back when it comes to running dungeons but we must be doing something that works because wipes are pretty rare. This week has been great and I’ve only been finding totally amazing gamers on my WoW server, I’m just drinking it the good vibes and help instead of the abuse and it’s been great to share the good experiences with you all on Twitter, if you want to check out our streams you can find me @cat792k and all our blog posts @gamersblogbytes!
In addition to playing WoW, I’ve now become a total Warcraft fiction addict. I’ve recently posted about Richard A. Knaak’s most recent series on the blog, Dawn of the Aspects (http://www.thegamersblog.com/mmorpg-update-dawn-of-the-aspects) and the good news is that the second part of the series is now available for download. In the first part we saw how the former dragon aspects are on the brink of going their separate ways to find new destinies since their original purpose as the protectors of Azeroth seem to be no more. Kalecgos has uncovered a mysterious artifact that allows him to see through the eyes of his late predecessor, Malygos, and he has been sucked into the past, literally sharing Malygos’ body, where dragons must fight for survival and he encounters the terrifying alpha dragon, Galakrond. We left Kalecgos in the clinches of Galakrond at the end of the first part – will he and Malygos share the same fate? The answer is, of course not, but what he finds next leaves him more troubled, enter the undead. Alongside this new discovery a stranger from the past begins to appear in the present and Kalecgos fears for his own sanity. Part 3 of the series will be available for download on the 22nd April 2013. At the moment you can discuss this series and also The War of the Ancients series with @WowWellRead on Good Reads at http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/88038-warcraft-well-read.
Also on my radar since it was announced at PAX East is Hearthstone, the new Blizzard digital strategy card game (http://www.thegamersblog.com/hearthstone-heroes-of-warcraft). Fans of the amazing podcast, The Instance, will be excited to know that they’ve got an interview lined up for next with with the Hearthstone team, you can keep up-to-date with what’s going on with the game and the team @PlayHearthstone. Although the initial beta testing will only be available on the US servers according to the current plans, it’s possible this might change so stay tuned. If you do want to get signed up for the beta test just visit www.playhearthstone.com to opt-in with your Battle.net account.
I seem to be on a roll recently with British developers and in this update I wanted to touch on Runescape developed by Jagex Games Studios. Runescape is the worlds biggest free MMORPG and hit 200 million accounts in July 2012. This game has been running for 12 years now and over the course of that time it’s just got bigger and better being played by millions of people around the world.
I’m not going to pretend to you that I’m any great expert on this game, in fact I know very little about it – which is something I’m looking to correct. You definitely have to get used to being behind on some things if you’re particularly into the MMO genre, playing something well and getting the most out of it takes time and dedication and there are jut so many god MMOs out there. What I did want to share with you is the same fascination that the idea of this game holds for me and why you might want to try it too.
The game has been built to run in Java through a browser, you can pick up anywhere without having to install the game client on every machine.
It’s got outstanding graphics
Something I always love to see in an MMO, as much as the gameplay it’s the journey of exploration and Runescape has got some great visual designers behind the scenes including Tim Chatfield (Lead Designer) and Tursan Raja (User Interface Artist).
It’s constantly evolving
This year sees a new game engine as well as new episode-release game content.
It’s choice driven and dynamic
Events are designed to produce unique instances.
It brings you dungeon crawling
The dungeoneering ability allows you to explore dungeons that are created on-the-fly based on your skills or the skills of your group, play by yourself or take four friends with you.
It lets that great British sense of humour shine through
This is most evident through the storytelling, including references to greats such as Monty Python and Red Dwarf.
You can play Runescape for free now at: http://www.runescape.com and join millions of others battle in this medieval fantasy world.
“Earth was torn apart by the destruction of both the Firefall event and the coming of the Melding. The only animal life that remains are left-overs from the Alpha Prime missions or mutated creatures that emerged from inside the Melding. Some are peaceful, most are not. Knowing which one you face will determine your survival.” http://www.firefallthegame.com/.
Finally I’ve had time to sit down and get into Firefall (currently in closed beta testing), I’m currently downloading the beta game client as we speak and I’m pretty excited to be starting a brand new game which aims to mix the best of MMORPG and MMOFPS. Therefore, this is likely to be a part 1 of 2 update where we can delve a little into the Firefall back story and set the scene, we can also look forward to what the gameplay might be like.
The story so far
Firefall is a catastrophic world event that takes place approximately 200 years in the future, it is a direct result of an asteroid collision with the Earth and the impact throws humanity into a new dark age known as ‘the nine year winter’. Many governments fell which left a space for new alliance to form. At the asteroid crash site the Japanese found a new and powerful element called crystite, this element had almost unlimited potential and became the primary power source used on Earth – but humanity wanted more. To achieve this aim they built space ships and travelled to the source of the asteroid which had impacted the Earth, on that remote planet they found an abundance of crystite and founded a colony known as Alpha Prime. But the 8-year round trip required to source the new element was too long and in time a method of travel between Earth and Alpha Prime was established known as Arclight. Arclight folded the fabric of space in order to create a wormhole capable of transporting matter large distances in a short time. Although tests on Earth were successful, the first Earth-Alpha Prime test was not, the act of creating an arcfold tore a hole in the fabric of space causing the emergence of a giant energy storm which became known as The Melding. The Melding mutated and transformed all life that it encountered and even the planet itself. Humanity came under attack by a new race calling themselves The Chosen and now struggles in an attempt to push them back and rid the Earth of The Melding once and for all.
Classes in Firefall are called Battleframes and there are currently five available:
A ranged light class focused on using sniper rifles, it has the lowest health but makes up in speed and agility.
A medium healing class that uses a bio-needler gun as its main weapon, ability to heal is tied with damage primary through poison.
A medium technology class that uses equipment to deal damage and support allies, with the ability to repair equipment.
A close range heavy class that uses the plasma cannon as its main weapon, slow dispersal but high damage.
A heavy class that has the highest health of all the available battleframes, this is the tank and uses an immense chain gun.
As well as the PvE game there are also 3 PvP arenas: Sunken Harbor (a simple team deathmatch map), Orbital Comm Tower (a capture/defend style of gameplay) and Blackwater Harvester (a capture and hold type gameplay), with a fourth announced which will be Moisture Farm which is a team death match, similar to that of Sunken harbor.
I haven’t heard of any free beta keys being still available, but if you want access to the beta environment you can still get in by becoming a founding member. There are three packages available, Ensign ($20), Lieutenant ($50) and Commander ($100) – any of these will get you immediate access into the game.
Looking forward to playing and I’ll be back soon with the next installment of my Firefall adventure.
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.
Christmas is coming and if you’re anything like me some of that time that I get off work is going to be spent totally submerged in gaming – I’m already looking forward to it. What I’m also looking forward to are the titles that are coming up in 2013, these are the ones that we’ve seen at events like E3 and Gamescom this year. I’m particularly interested in seeing The Elder Scrolls Online when it comes out next year, The Elder Scrolls goes from single-player to MMO, I have a feeling it’s going to be good.
Dead Space 3
Developed by Visceral Games this title is the highly anticipated sequel to Dead Space 2, a survival horror third-person shooter, Dead Space 3 sees Isaac Clarke pitted against the Necromorphs in a struggle to end the scourge forever. You will also be able to fight in co-op mode now or run solo, which is even easier with the drop in drop out functionality, so you can team up with a partner at any checkpoint in the game.
They’re back! Developed by Gearbox Software this first-person shooter is cross-platform and is set after the events of the film Aliens 3. The game employs drop-in/drop-out co-op for up to 4 players online or 2 players locally. If the recent prequel in the Aliens series has peaked your interest this will be one not to miss next year.
In this, the third installment of the Crysis series, take on the aliens in New York City’s Nanodrome where you become the hunter. Crysis 3 will be utilising the CryEngine 3 game engine giving you stunning graphics and an amazing gameplay experience.
Carmageddon is back, this time more gory than ever! This game was covered a lot over the course of this year and if there’s a more exciting vehicle combat game waiting in the wings I’d like to know about it. This game is the fourth in the series following Carmageddon, Carmageddon II: Carpocalypse Now and Carmageddon: TDR 2000.
If real-time strategy games are your thing, why not try this WW2 sequel coming next year. You are in command of the Soviet Red Army, your goal to free Russia from the Nazi threat of 1941 on the Eastern Front. The game runs on the Essence 3.0 game engine, which the publisher THQ claims will bring “new technological advancements” to the game.
Capcom’s cyberpunk release for 2013. Interesting concept here, the game uses ‘memory remixing’ which is entering and rearranging a target’s memories to manipulate them. By doing this you can then change the target’s memory of the outcome of any event. You play Nilin whose memories have been erased and the aim is to retrieve those memories and find out why.
One of my favourites for next year, The Elder Scrolls is going MMORPG! The game will be set on the fictional continent of Tamriel a millennium before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and it will have a storyline that is not connected to any of the previous games. After a lengthy development period it will be great to see what this game brings to the MMO market.