Guild Wars 2 Preview

Posted by on January 7, 2010 - No Comments »

When it was released, the first Guild Wars was different, to say the least. To a professional video game developer or hardcore MMORPG gamer the concept of ArenaNet’s debut game may have sounded more like an experiment. Guild Wars combined classical hack and slash gameplay in a brand new shell, while rewriting the laws of instance based gameplay and featuring a merciless PvP system where everything comes down to your skills. It was proudly branded “MMORPG with no monthly fees”. Then out of nowhere – it turned into a hit. But not because it was original, but because it was flawless on almost every aspect, other than the lack of content of course.  This was later on fixed with the release of two stand alone campaigns – Factions and Nightfall and one true expansion – Eye of the North. Now it is time for me to present to you the true sequel to Guild Wars – Guild Wars 2. This Guild Wars 2 preview will inform you of almost every bit of information that was released since the announcement of the game.

A new world

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Guild Wars 2 is set about 250 years after the events in the first game. The world has shifted to a point where even the bravest of skill hunters that stormed the servers of Guild Wars will not be able to recognize it. The cause of these changes, other than time, is the brand new and much more serious threat – the Dragons. These massive beasts have awakened after a millennia of sleep. So far we were introduced to three dragons – Primordus, Zhaitan and Jormag. The awakening of the dragons has caused havoc and despair throughout the land. The only hope left is for the races to unite. Old conflicts must be forgotten for the greater good of the land. As you may have already noticed, you will now be able to choose between one of the five playable races: Asura, Charr, Human, Norn and Sylvari. Each race promises a completely different look on things and each will have its advantages or disadvantages. The asura, for example, will be able to summon golems to help in battle. Not much is known about the race-driven gameplay yet, but more information is to come. The companions system of the first game will be reworked so that we’ll once again be able to bring henchman for aid, but they will not take a party slot but instead serve as an extension to the the character. As for the presentation of the world – it will now be open and containing all the players at once.

Migration

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Guild Wars 2 will offer a sort of migration feature from the first game to the second. No, you won’t be able to transfer your pumped fire elementalist with that awesome AoE build, but instead you will be rewarded for spending so much time to build it. As some of you may remember, Eye of the North introduced a hall of monuments feature. This is the key that will allow you to transfer some of your titles/items from the first game to the second. It will not be a direct transfer, though. You can also reserve your names through that same system.

Quests

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Guild Wars 2 will utilize a brand new quest system different that anything we’ve seen. The game will feature the so-called “Event system”. Different events will occur through the world of Guild Wars 2 and if you happen to be present at one of those – you can participate. One of the examples demonstrates a dragon attacking the bridge of a small village. The players will then have a choice whether to fight the beast or not. If they succeed in this, the dragon will flee and they will be rewarded. Should they fail then the dragon destroys the bridge of the village and a new series of quests is unlocked to fix the bridge.

Player versus Player

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There will be two types of PvP in Guild Wars 2 – World PvP and Structured PvP. World PvP will allow large numbers of players to participate in massive battles in the world of Guild Wars 2. It was noted that this PvP mode will have different objectives to complete. There will also be a Lineage-ish castle system where players join each other to take control of a selected castle. The other side of the coin – the structured PvP – will be similar to GvG’s in the first game.

Technical info

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Guild Wars 2 is powered by an updated version of the engine from the first game. Actually “updated” is not the right word, “complete makeover” is more like it. The engine will offer more detailed models, better lighting and shadows, new animation and effects systems, plus new audio and cinematics engines and a more flexible combat and skill-casting system. There have been rumors about the game supporting Dx10, too. As for the physics system – it’s Havok. To sum this up – the game will look astonishing. The music will be recorded by Jeremy Soule, who did the music of the first Guild Wars.

Closing comments

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Guild Wars 2 is shaping up like a great MMO. A revolutionary one, even. ArenaNet have tweaked the right places and are offering us a more massive and epic adventure. No release dates have been announced as of yet but the game is nearing it’s completion. Which reminds me that ArenaNet have said the game will have no monthly fees. One thing is for sure – I will be getting Guild Wars 2. And it looks like I’m not the only one.

Star Wars Galaxies: Galactic Civil War Update Hits Test Servers

Posted by on January 7, 2010 - 3 Comments »

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The jedi council is calling for reinforcements to help them test the latest update for Star Wars Galaxies, entitled Galactic Civil War. All you have to do to take a glimpse into the new content is sign onto the “TestCenter” today(January 7th) or Monday(January 11th) from 4:30 to 6:30PM CST. The update will also be available on another test server – TCPrime, tomorrow(Friday, January 8th) and Tuesday(January 12th) from 4:30 to 6:30PM CST. The tests will focus on the city invasion system. As for locations and faction sides – they will be announced at the start of the test.

Galactic Civil War will be a faction oriented update and will focus mostly on ranks and scores. As you progress through the galactic civil war you will earn faction points. With those you can earn different ranks depending on the number of points you have. Ranks on the other hand unlock valuable items as rewards. You will also earn points while fighting on battlefields, destroying enemy bases, killing enemy NPC’s and pilots in space.

You can view a complete list of the new game mechanics here.

Global Agenda Four Pack + Females With Useful Gear

Posted by on January 6, 2010 - No Comments »

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Those of you that have been on the fence about purchasing Global Agenda should grab your calculators.  If the Global Agenda Limited Edition didn’t cause you to break you wallet, perhaps this new deal will.  Following the recent (successful) trend of selling multiplayer games in bundles, Steam has just unveiled a Global Agenda four pack.  The pack isn’t as sweet as Left 4 Dead 2′s or Borderlands’, but at $137.97 the purchasers will save $15 over normal retail.

As a consumer, I really wish Steam would stop running these four packs after the standard and limited edition versions have been made available.  I probably would have purchased the LE for the perks anyways, but at the same time, I would have tried to round up three friends for the the discounted foursome.  As a business person, I understand the reasoning behind catching the early adopters ASAP, and then going for the people on the fence.

In other Global Agenda news, Techland.com has a feature touting the sci-fi shooters “femme fatale” quadruplets.  The females in Global Agenda break the genre convention of sexy body parts being immune to all damage.  Instead, males and females alike will don heavy duty armor to protect them from the bullets and plasma that will be flying their way.

Lead character artist Sean McBride said “It’s a little easier in fantasy games as it could be explained away with magic, or her ability to finesse around the other characters.  It’s a little different when you put guns into the mix and think about someone not wearing body armor around their heart.”

The art, and decision, goes along with Hi-Rez Studios “No Elves” campaign of breaking popular MMOG conventions.  However, I can’t help but think some of the females are stuffing the wrong part of their armor.

New Year Brings New Bribery…ahhh I mean Updates.

Posted by on January 6, 2010 - No Comments »

I got some candy for you.The new dungeon finder for World of Warcraft has been a large success from Blizzard. Most of the player base seems to approve. The new tool has given dungeons a new level of accessibility to Heroics. Of course some dungeons are not as popular as others. If you guess Oculus you are correct. For some reason the majority of players hate Oculus, however I know a few out there actually enjoy it. I have joined many random dungeon groups to have the group unanimously yelp “Oh no not occ…” or “Oh Fuuuudddgggeee! (except he didn’t say Fudge). As usual Blizzard has noticed this trend and implemented a bribery system to those brave or foolish enough to endure it. Here is the post from a dev:

To encourage players not to shy away from the many invigorating adventures to be had in The Oculus, we have applied a change to enhance the rewards players are provided when selected for this dungeon via the Random Heroic option in the Dungeon Finder. Once Ley-Guardian Eregos is defeated, one loot bag per character will be provided in his chest in addition to the current rewards. Each loot bag will offer players rare gems, two additional Emblems of Triumph, and a chance of being rewarded the Reins of the Blue Drake. These fine treasures could be yours should you honor your fellow party members by besting the challenges contained within The Oculus! Keep in mind, however, that these extra loot bags will only be awarded to each party member if Oculus is selected by the Dungeon Finder when players choose the Random Heroic option.

So get out there and accept your bribery like a true warrior.

The Best Thing About Darkfall (Isn't What You Think)

Posted by on January 5, 2010 - 48 Comments »

darkfallI am about 2 weeks into Darkfall and even though my skills are crap, my gear is crap and I have barely explored further than the newbie areas, I have to say it is a lot of fun. I am actually quite surprised as to how fun a game it is. Remember, at launch this game produced enough bile that every subscription came with a pack of antiacids. Folks on this very site dismissed the game after wrestling with its arcane user interface. Every forum (Darkfall’s included) was filled with wailing over how bad this game was. It scored a 2/10 in an early review… and then that review was hotly argued… by the developers and the review site’s editors nonetheless.

It was the biggest trainwreck since Age of Conan — The Trainwreck of All Trainwrecks — which is a cornucopia for hobbyist internet vultures such as myself, but did not bode well for the health of the game. And yet, here we are nearly a year after launch and through several patches and expansions, Darkfall is still around and it has become a good game.

Say it with me, “Darkfall is a good game.”

I am having a great time. The two friends I sort of dragged along with me are having a great time. Talking to a few vets, I find that they are having a great time. The Darkfall forums are generally positive and for every “I quit” post (can’t have a game forum without them) there is one “I am thinking of coming back” post. Membership in NEW (a guild that caters to easing newbies into the otherwise harsh game) is trending up over the last few weeks. Development is continuing with more features being added, more bugs being fixed and more exploits being closed. It seems the Internet’s Most Maligned Game (this week) has hit a stride.

One thing that I think has helped attract and keep new players, and currently the best part of Darkfall for me, has been the game’s PvE. That is likely to surprise people who’ve never played and is certain to annoy the game’s vets who are gnashing their teeth, screaming “Carebear!” and queuing up their Gank skill as we speak. But it’s true. Darkfall has been touted as the PvPer’s paradise — a hardcore, free-for-all, full loot gankfest where player skill trumps gear and giant 100 v. 100 sieges are commonplace. It may actually be all of that, but it is also a game with some of the most engaging and exciting PvE I’ve seen in a long while.

Saying that PvE is the best part of Darkfall is a bit of a stretch. As a new player, there are huge aspects of the game I haven’t seen. I am sure that most veterans of Agon would claim that PvP of one stripe or another is Darkfall’s forte. For me, PvP mostly consists of getting smacked down by meth-amphetamine enhanced circle-strafers with stats macroed well into the thousands all wearing depleted uranium armor and wielding two handed plasma cannons… at least that’s what I’ll say when I cry on the forums.

Seriously though, Darkfall is a game with a pretty steep character progression curve. Stats matter, skills matter and though it matters less than in most games, gear does still matter. As a new player, I am seriously lacking all of those things and so it will take quite a bit of time to close that gap. Closing that gap for most means grinding PvE and fortunately, Darkfall’s PvE is a pleasant surprise.

Great Environments — Darkfall’s world of Agon is filled with ancient ruins, caves, villages, goblin huts, statues, bandit forts and abandoned keeps. The environments look good, are well-designed and are fun to explore. It has been a long time since I have experienced an MMO with more “Let’s check that out!” moments as Darkfall has. And there is a good reason to check out these sites. Many of them hold magician’s boxes, chests and crates of food and resources. Others have lucrative monster spawns. Of course, some sites have nothing, or spawn monsters that will rip the unwary newbie in two. Not knowing is a lot of the fun.

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Terrain Matters– The first cool moment I had playing Darkfall was when I realized that hiding behind a boulder allowed me to draw a lone goblin into striking distance, and that a tree would allow me to kill one goblin while protecting me from an other’s spells. All games have trees, boulders, hills and shrubs, but Darkfall is the first game where they matter… a lot. Having the high ground is useful in melee and archery, but being up against a wall exposes you to splash damage from spells. Also, many mobs in DF have ranged attacks and will start shooting as soon as they spot you… none of this pansy 25 ft. aggro radius. Stealth in Darkfall means crouching in shrubs, or behind rocks and trees and how you approach a battle has a lot to do with winning it.

sleepySkill Matters — Two times in my life have I been sleeping while doing something that theoretically requires human intervention. The first time I was a student working the night-shift in a motel and I had an early morning appointment in a nearby city. About half way through the drive, I realized I wasn’t going to make it and so I turned around to head back home. Half an hour later, I woke with a start at a red light about a mile from my house, seemingly having driven 25 miles while sleeping.

The second time, I was playing City of Heroes. I hear I did pretty well actually, firing off buffs, holds and attacks without missing a beat. I guess controllers are easy mode after all!

That’s not to say that tab-and-click MMOs take no skill. They do, but much of that skill comes from knowing the game mechanics, knowing your build and your combat options and constructing proper skill chains to react to various in-game events. Once you perfect your build, a lot of the minute-to-minute gameplay is rote. Start fight, press 1, then 2, then 3, then 2 again, then 5, then 1… spawn is dead. Move to next spawn, rinse and repeat.

Darkfall’s FPS gameplay keeps me engaged, even when fighting spawn after spawn of mobs. You have to aim. You have to dodge. You have to keep an eye out for new mobs and enemy players looking to capitalize on you making a mistake. Falling asleep during Darkfall would be a little like dozing off playing Modern Warfare…

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Decent AI– Though no computer game has great AI, the mobs in Darkfall do a good job of making combat interesting. I have seen DF mobs lure me into their friends, circle strafe me, flank me, find their way up two flights of stairs to ambush me while resting in a supposedly safe place and pelt me with arrows from an unreachable position on a nearby cliff. Mobs are difficult right from your first quest to kill four goblins. Ask 100 DF vets and I bet 99 of them have a story about underestimating a mob and ending up dead.

Constant Reinforcement– The skill system in Darkfall is a lot like those you find in Daggerfall, Morrowind and Oblivion in the sense that your skills increase as you use them. So, as you are slogging through goblins, you are rewarded with a steady stream of messages about how your sword skill is increasing, or your defense skill has improved. As you craft and gather, you are increasing your skills, but also your stats which will eventually make you a combat machine. Everything you do in the game improves your character.

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Risk v. Reward– A lot of game developers talk about risk versus reward and very few of them get the equation correct. The main reason for this is that there really is never any risk in a typical MMO. If you die in WoW, you have to repair your gear at the cost of some gold, or possibly sit a few minutes as your rez sickness wears off. In City of Heroes, you accrue some debt which slows your rate of xp gain a little. It used to sting, but over the years, the devs have reduced the debt so much that death effectively has no penalty. In Champions Online… there is no death penalty to the point where “graveyard zerging” (alternating deaths and making sure at least one character in a battle survives long enough to allow the others to return, thus you heal to full while the enemy is slowly worn down) is the main strategy to beat a few of the bosses.

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Darkfall’s risk comes from the fact that combat is inherently dangerous for much of the game. There are no levels and no “conning” in the game, so you only know how hard something is going to be by hitting it and getting hit by it. Of course, at some point, you learn what you can handle. Even so, most mob spawns contain mutiple mobs, that will work together to kill you and respawn fairly quickly. It is easy to get in over your head if you aren’t careful. And if you aren’t careful, you can end up winning a fight, only to end up with a quarter of your health and out of stamina and at that point, you are a prime target for a PvPer looking for an easy score.

At best, death means running back to your unmolested corpse and having to fight your way back to reclaim your gear. At worst, you lose everything you brought with you and everything you gained this trip. Every time you grab gear out of the bank, you are taking a risk.

On the other hand, by adding the risk into the game, the developers have made the rewards that much sweeter. Every time I find a chest and get a free infusion of cash, I am elated… and paranoid. A good hunting or mining trip where I make it back home to bank a pack full of cash and goods makes me happier than looting yet another blue item off yet another boss mob who happened to be sitting around waiting for me to kill him and even if I managed to die in the battle, I could just return in five minutes to try again. And spotting that player corpse on the horizon when no one’s around is quite a rush. Who knows what you might find? Or could that player be storming back to retrieve his stuff? Could it be a trap?

Welcome to Darkfall.

Server Glitch Makes Aion Players Rich, Ruins Economy

Posted by on January 5, 2010 - No Comments »

mmoc_aion_glitchFollowing a bit of routine maintenance on Aion’s Azphel server, a few players noticied that their characters had some extra money, or kinah as it is know in Aion.  To the sum of 30 trillion kinah!

The obvious mistake caused NCSoft to take the server down.  It ultimately forced the developer to rollback the game in an attempt to restore the economy that was devastated by the flock of overnight trillonaires.

NCSoft is still looking into the issue, and is actively watching the other servers to see if it was a localized issue.

Here’s the official line.

Earlier today we began to receive reports that a small number of players on the Azphel server had received over 30 trillion Kinah as part of a reward glitch. Since that time, we’ve brought down the Azphel server and have been working diligently to identify how to restore economic stability. We’ve made the decision to rollback the Azphel server data to 6:00am CST this morning and will continue to monitor all servers for related anomalies.

It’s important to understand that we saw the rollback as a last option and made every effort to avoid doing so. We’re currently performing the rollback and anticipate the server will be back online at 10:00pm CST. At that point, all character progression on Azphel will be restored to its state as of this morning.

As an apology for the downtime, we’ll be rewarding everyone on the Azphel server with five Lodas Amulets later this week. It’s our goal at NCsoft to provide the best possible service to our customers. Our apologies for the downtime and as always, thank you for your continued patience.

One of the craziest MMOG stories I’ve heard since WoW’s Martin Fury scandal.  At least they didn’t get banned.

New ICC Wing: Plagueworks

Posted by on January 5, 2010 - No Comments »

World of Warcraft is about to open up the new wing of Ice Crown Citadel (ICC):  Plagueworks. It is set to be opened up after tomorrows weekly maintenance (January 5th). The new wing will host three new bosses: Rotface, Festergut and Professor Putricide.

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Plagueworks will also give players the opportunity to complete the quest to obtain the coveted two-handed axe Shadow’s Edge.

Also we were told that you would have only five attempts to down Professor Putricide. However a Blizzard employee tells us the number has been upped by five which gives guilds a total of ten attempts on the Professor.

New Years- Azeroth Edition

Posted by on December 31, 2009 - No Comments »

FireworksChristmas may be over but the holiday events are still going on. New years is a big celebration in World of Warcraft. Here is the description of the holiday from Blizzard:

Another year is ending in the rich world of Azeroth. Countless battles have been fought, and numerous accolades achieved. It is time to laud victories and give remembrance to those lost. In celebration of the old year’s passing and anticipation of the new, skilled brewers and talented pyrotechnicians have brought their finest creations to the bustling cities; join the party underway and ring in the New Year with your fellow adventurers!

Type: Holiday Event
Date: December 31st – January 1st
Location: around Azeroth

Fireworks

The innovative and artistic engineers of Undermine have been slaving away since their display of pyrotechnics in July. Their latest and greatest — not to mention highly dangerous to operate — creations will be on display in the cities of the world every hour after sunset. Keep your eyes to the skies, and be sure to stick around for the finale!

Potent Potables

What good is a party without sampling some of the brewers’ delicious work? Kegs of the finest brews are available in the cities of Azeroth, bringing good cheer as we bid farewell to the old year. Cups are available for all party-goers; simply pick one up and fill up at the keg to warm your belly and lift your heart!

Revelers, All

Many soldiers formerly abroad have come home to engage in the festivities. Share in the merriment and dance with the revelers, or, if you’re so inclined, blow a kiss to one that catches your eye. It’s all in fun, after all; they appreciate the attention!