At what point can we consider this a concrete industry trend. It seems if a title isn’t holding a healthy amount of subscribers, a number which depends on the title, the game will make its way to the free-to-play model (Could Fallen Earth be next?). Dungeons & Dragons did it, Champions Onlinefollowed and EverQuest II has special servers to accommodate that part of its fanbase. Heck, Lord of the Rings Online, a title that was doing fine by all accounts, transformed because Turbine made gobs of money from DDO: EU’s transition. That company struck gold twice.
Hi-Rez Studios announced today that its third-person sci-fi shooter Global Agenda will be joining the freemium ranks when the Free Agent content patch releases in mid-April. To date, the company hasn’t charged a single subscription fee, modifying from a subscription model to the Guild Wars style ‘pay for expansions’ model when Sandstorm, the previous large content patch, was released in June. Hi-Rez Studios refused to charged subscription fees until it felt the game was of adequate polish.
I did mention that Patch v1.4 is a content patch, right? The aptly titled Free Agent will include new high level content in the form of a Dome Defense mission, a Capture The Flag-style Mercenary map with pilotable robots and revamps to all specialization trees (FINALLY!). Additional content and tweaks weren’t detailed, but are promised.
Obviously, F2P titles make their money off of cash shops, and Hi-Rez is already promoting a premiere item, Elite Agent status. The one-time purchase ($19.99) gives players all sorts of perks including increased XP, credits and Elite loot, selectable Mercenary maps and more. Standard boosters will continue to be made available for all players.
Gamers that currently own Global Agendawill be upgraded to Elite Agent status upon relaunch for free.
F2P customers really do get full access to the game. Hit the jump to see all the perks to Elite Agents and the guarantees to F2P gamers. Continue Reading
Global Agenda‘s latest free patch, 1.37, lands tomorrow. While it consists primarily of tweaks, fixes, and system upgrades, it also introduces a couple of things that were promised since the beginning of Sandstorm — namely, achievements. I’d give you all the highlights, but they (ironically) comprise about half the full list of patch notes by themselves. Instead, you’re getting the highlights of the highlights, because it would just be a kick in your browser’s patoot to detail everything right here.
Achievements: A full achievement system has been added. Players can view achievements using the ACHIEVEMENTS tab on the Agent Profile screen. Some achievements will award helmets or other flair as they are achieved.
Star Rankings from skills now fade in between variance 17-18.25. This prevents an issue where users sometimes saw their star ranking suddenly drop after an unusual match (Ed. Note: They should just drop these altogether).
Quick Swap Profiles: Players can now purchase multiple equipment profiles for each character from the PROFILES VENDOR at the Proteus Center for Neural Reprogramming in Dome City, using Tokens. Each profile allows you to set unique Skill Tree, Weapon, Appearance, and Armor choices. You can switch profiles from anywhere that you can equip your character. You can purchase up to a total of 4 additional profiles per character.
Special Vanity Items: This release introduces two new special/rare items — Magic Elf Goggles, which you wear during PvP matches and cause all enemies to appear to have elf heads (so you can have fun shooting them); and a Vanity Pet, which follows you in Dome City while also giving your character a 50% groundspeed boost while in Dome City. See below for more information. (Ed. Note: Dome City isn’t big, but I’ll take anything that allows me to get around it faster, since the most pertinent areas are on complete opposite sides.) Continue Reading
Hi-Rez Studios is at it again. The company announced late yesterday that Global Agenda servers will be taken offline at 11:00 AM EST to apply the latest phase of the global overhaul that is the Sandstorm expansion. The application of Patch 1.36, which does not include Player Achievements, so it is not the Phase III patch detailed by Todd Harris, will be completed by 3:00 PM EST.
Don’t scoff at the short timeframe. Hi-Rez is surprisingly good at estimating downtime.
Before we head to the jump and patch notes, I have a completely non-news related issue to mention. Even though I’ve been subscribing to Global Agenda since February, I really love the fact that the game goes on sale every time there’s a patch. This week it’s 25% off. What a terrific way to suck those vaguely interested or constantly harassed friends into trying the game out. Three of my friends have succumbed to date. Have any of your pals?
Below the jump you’ll find some highlights for Patch v1.36, including more AvA changes, weapon balancing and defensive raid restrictions. Click here for the full report straight from Hi-Rez Studios. Continue Reading
It’s hard to believe the way I discovered Global Agenda. As I was stomping through PAX 2009 (that’d be PAX “Prime”) I heard a man shouting something about “No elves.” Mildly interested, I turned to see a booth lined with computers, which people were huddled around playing a game I had never seen. Turns out, I knew exactly what the game was. This was the game responsible for shooting an elven mage in the head while he was casting.
I sat down, played a few rounds, and found myself very interested. I continued to follow the game, eventually worming my way into the alpha/beta process. I was my usual, vocal self, calling for various changes and updates, but mostly, I begged for further polish of the MMOG features. The game, like all games, had its flaws. What made the difference, and what ultimately made me an early adopter, was how Hi-Rez reacted. The company essentially admitted the game wasn’t as ready as it would have liked and put subscription fees on hold. A sweeping PR victory.
Now, here we are six months after Global Agenda launched. The game is subscription free and pushing itself as an expansion-based title (a model popularized by Guild Wars). Two thirds of the first “expansion” have been released for free to wild praise, and just about every facet of the game has been tweaked.
To celebrate the six-month accomplishments ofGlobal Agenda I decided to harass Hi-Rez with a few questions. Executive Producer Todd Harris was kind enough to indulge me. The answers are only a click away. Continue Reading
After an extended mid-day downtime, the second phase of Global Agenda‘s first expansion should be available for play on July 22nd. Now, I know there’s a bit of confusion as to how this update represents Phase II. A lot of people expected the bulk of new features to be introduced in Phase III, and complicating matters, the developer’s CEO mentioned that the changes to AvA were actually Phase II (a fact that he apparently didn’t share with the community). Well, if official sources are to be believed (and if they aren’t, who can be?) then this is definitively Phase II. That means there may still be some stuff in the works (the 64-player Warzones, hopefully), but who cares? We’re getting a mass of awesome stuff right now. Sandstorm is absolutely cream-worthy.
Here’s what you can look forward to in the new patch:
The Sonoran Desert Open Zone — For the first time, you can actively adventure outside the confines of Dome City. The Sonoran Desert features a more traditional, quest-driven style of MMO gameplay with all sorts of rewards and arcs fleshing out the world’s story. It’s designed for newer players from Level 5-15, but the way levels are structured in the game means that just about anyone will find it a lucrative venture.
Defensive Raids — These are 10-player skirmishes with waves of AI opponents attacking Dome City. Reportedly quite difficult, these raids should give experienced players another great way to test their skills.
Consumables/Salvage — In playing the game, you come across a number of duplicate weapons and items that would probably better be scrapped than sold. Now you can actually do something with them, breaking them into component parts through Salvage and using those bits to construct new, one-time Consumables which can be used to buff yourself in battle:
Insta-Heal: instantly provides a full heal when activated.
SuperShell: Pops a shell similar to the Perfect Target device.
Mini-Force Wall: Pops a small force-field (similar to the Robotics Force Field)
Excessive Damage: Provides a damage boost for a given time period.
Spec Ops Expanded — There will be new Spec Ops (4-player PvE) missions available with improved enemy A.I. to complement.
Token Changes — The token system is being revamped again to accommodate the elimination of the subscription fee and further streamline gear upgrades.
Rainbow Dye — According to Hi-Rez President/CEO Erez Goren, it’s out there, but it won’t be easy to get. Obtaining it will make you even more special than seeing a full double rainbow in the sky.
“Much More” — What does this mean? Who knows? But we’ll find out soon enough, won’t we?
Although future expansions will be different, remember that Sandstorm is completely free to anyone who simply purchases the game. You can check out the full patch notes, though they seem to be the same as the ones introduced during Phase II’s testing. No word on if they’ve changed further since then or not.
Even though it’s called a “raid,” it works a little bit differently from what we’re used to seeing in an MMO (and it pretty much has to considering the action-oriented nature of the game). Usually, you just traipse into a dungeon and the bosses all sit there waiting for you to come within 10 feet of them before attacking. Global Agenda‘s baddies aren’t quite so forgiving. In fact, they come after you. Every once in awhile, an alarm will go off in Dome City (the hub area) signaling an impending attack by outside forces. It’s then up to the players to queue up and band together in order to defend their city from waves and waves of robotic attackers. If they manage to kill the core you’re protecting, you lose. If you hold them off, then you’re treated to an epic battle against a gigantic boss (and, presumably, some appropriate rewards).
Sound cool to you? Check out the footage from the dev blog below:
She's upset by the AoE spam. She has a pair of daggers. Better listen to her.
I have it on good authority that the Sandstorm patch for Global Agenda will complete its multi-part release sometime this week. It’s obvious to anyone that’s played the games for five minutes that the iterations that already have been released have dramatically altered the game for the better. Mix in a dash of subscription free, and Global Agenda is a markedly different game than it was in February. The final part will literally open up the world, introducing Open World gameplay on massive maps that will include new mobs, game modes as well as new maps for existing modes.
It’s plainly obvious that the developers have been hard at work. However, most of the development has been aimed at adding content and polishing what was originally a rough presentation. Balance issues have received some attention. It’s a handful of gameplay mechanics that keep gnawing at the back of my mind.
High Combat Skill = newb team – Combat Skill is a mathematical number that attempts to rate a player’s competence. Think of it as Global Agenda’s Gearscore. It’s roughly that accurate. Level and win percentage are its top factors. Once you reach the upper echelons, don’t expect to play against hardcore teams in nail-biting, highly-strategic matches. Instead, you’ll likely be paired with another “highly skilled” player to carry a team of “lower skilled” players.
I’m exaggerating a bit, but it does feel that the ranking system isn’t tiered in any fashion. Outside pre-mades, it’d be rare to find teams of 4-5 star players competing against each other.