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PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade

Sci-Fi, PvP, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Warhammer 40k

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war40k
After getting the pitch from Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade at PAX Prime, I was given the opportunity to sit down and experience a PvP bout first-hand. I'll share a little pet peeve of mine before we get into the meat of the hands-on, which is that I really don't like it when developers stand over your shoulders at demos barking instructions to you. I wasn't given much of an opportunity to do what I wanted to; instead, I was constantly responding to the dev's commands!

In any case, for a pre-pre-alpha build, I'm somewhat impressed that Eternal Crusade was able to cobble together a very playable deathmatch with several classes and two vehicle types (Rhino and Predator). My first class was something of a lumbering tank, well-armed but a clunky jumper. I opted instead to get a jetpack as an assault trooper, willingly trading firepower for the awesome ability to do huge leaps and be able to clutch on to the side of a building and jump once more.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hearthstone eyes an expansion

Fantasy, Expansions, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Events (Massively's Coverage), Hearthstone

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hearthstone
The PAX Prime Blizzard booth was one of the larger and more populated venues on the show floor this year. A slow-moving line wrapped around it as players waited eagerly to try out Warlords of Draenor or to see Heroes of the Storm for the first time. Yet it was Hearthstone -- a free-to-play game available to anyone at anytime -- that was winning gamers over.

I talked with Game Director Eric Dodds about how this small project at Blizzard blew up into a great success story. He said that when the team noticed that Twitch livestreams of Hearthstone were drawing in thousands and tens of thousands of viewers is when the studio knew that it had a hit on its hands.

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The Mog Log: Happy birthday, Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Anniversaries

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They grow up so fast.
Congratulations, Final Fantasy XIV! It's been a year and you're still going after the relaunch, much to the surprise and consternation of the many people who were hoping for the opposite outcome for... well, I'm not clear on that exit strategy. Bragging rights, I guess. The point is, you turned out to surprise pretty much everyone, you've been posting incredibly solid numbers for a while now, and you don't seem likely to go anywhere in the near future. You can take a load off, maybe take a nap.

Now that I've gotten the congratulations out of the way, let's talk about Final Fantasy XIV and the many ways that the designers have screwed up so far. Sort of. I mean, over the past year I've been more than willing to fire with both barrels when a screwup was made, which has happened... about once every major patch. But here's the thing: I'm glad to see that happening, on some level. It gives me hope for the future.

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PAX Prime 2014: Heroes of the Storm is friendly, zany fun

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA

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heroes of the storm
Heroes of the Storm's beginnings are rooted in a mod that Blizzard made in 2010 to encourage StarCraft II players to get into the modding scene. Not only was this unnecessary (the StarCraft II comunity took to modding like fish to water) but the mod gradually became so well-liked internally that proper development began in 2012 to make it a full-fledged MOBA.

At PAX Prime, I asked the team what was going to make Heroes of the Storm stand out from the rest of the MOBA pack -- or whether it was merely content to ride the Blizzard name to big sales. The response was that this game is shaping up to be one of the most friendly and welcoming MOBAs on the market. Gone are mechanics like denying and last hits and in are new concepts like shared team levels. The devs said that the root of the toxic atmosphere seen in many MOBAs is game design that focuses more in individual selfishness and potential ways to hurt your own team. There also won't be any chatting with the opposing team in HotS to cut down on potential sass-mouth.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Subscription

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wow
If you've played World of Warcraft once, have you played it for all time? I was wondering this as I slipped back into Azeroth for a look at the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion at PAX Prime. After all, it had been three years and two expansions since I've really played this MMO, but as I learned, even new shinies don't make this game feel any more or less like the good ol' WoW that I remember.

The floor demo allowed us to create instant level 90 characters and jump into the second zone, Shadowmoon Valley. I selected a character at random and naturally ended up with a Shadow Priest, a class that I've never played. Figures. I spent a minute selecting a specialization, random talents, and outfitting my hotbar with enough of a skill rotation that I wouldn't be laughed out of the next Priest conclave. Then it was off to check out this brand-new zone.

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The Daily Grind: What's the longest you've anticipated a new MMO?

Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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When Trion announced ArcheAge's western launch date last weekend, the first word that came to mind was finally. I'm not looking to bust anyone's chops here, but damn have I been waiting to play this game for forever.

The only other MMO I've followed so closely from its public announcement to its release was Star Wars: Galaxies, and that was only three years of waiting compared to over four for ArcheAge. What about you, Massively readers? What's the longest amount of time you've spent anticipating a new MMO? Which MMO was it?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

MMO Week in Review: PAX Prime 2014

Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Week in Review, Miscellaneous

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At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, Massively's Justin Olivetti braved the halls of PAX Prime and wrote all the things. Here's what he's tackled so far!
PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is a go for launch!
PAX Prime 2014: The mystery behind WildStar's Nexus
PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own
PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is launching on September 16th
PAX Prime 2014: RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches October 8th
PAX Prime 2014: Unpredictable water flows through RIFT: Nightmare Tide
PAX Prime 2014: H1Z1's bears will end you
PAX Prime 2014: Going on a deer hunt in H1Z1
PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Shroud of the Avatar
PAX Prime 2014: The Repopulation's Josh Halls on beta, fishing, and houses
PAX Prime 2014: Paying a premium for Pathfinder Online
PAX Prime 2014: Warhammer 40k trains players to think like soldiers
PAX Prime 2014: Defiance defies barriers to play
PAX Prime 2014: Trove moves at the speed of lightrail
PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Undead Labs' Moonrise
PAX Prime 2014: State of Decay takes steps toward something larger
PAX Prime 2014: PlanetSide 2 meets the PlayStation 4
PAX Prime 2014: Marvel Heroes is the industry's surprise success story

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Star Citizen's Arena Commander V0.9 patch delayed

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

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If you were hoping to get your hands on Arena Commander V0.9 this weekend, you've probably guessed by now that that's not happening. Star Citizen's website published an update blurb that details the reasons behind the delay.

It's also worth reading if you're a casual SC follower and weren't aware of all the stuff that 0.9 will bring to backers. There's the new Murray Cup racing map and game mode, a co-op Vanduul Swarm mode, and two new flyable ships (the M50 and the 350R). The update also features Star Citizen's first stab at private match functionality and a few other bells and whistles.

Cloud Imperium says that it "will be working around the globe through the holiday weekend to deliver on the promise of V0.9."

[Thanks Cardboard!]

EVE Evolved: Wormholes should be more dangerous

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

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EVE Evolved title image
When unstable wormholes began forming all over the EVE Online universe in 2009's Apocrypha expansion, players approached them with extreme caution. The promise of riches in the form of new loot and Tech 3 cruiser components was balanced by the incalculable risk of facing a powerful new enemy in untested circumstances. Between the Sleeper AI that had been reported to melt players' ships in seconds and the player pirates taking advantage of the hidden local chat channel to sneak up on unsuspecting victims, we had no idea whether any ship we sent into a wormhole would ever make it back out again.

The risk of venturing into something truly unknown made wormhole exploration the single most exciting thing I've ever been a part of in an MMO, but the past five years have completely eroded that danger. Farmers now know exactly what to expect in every wormhole site and can efficiently farm Sleepers with the minimum of effort or risk, and PvP alliances can rapidly cycle through systems to find weak targets to attack. We've mapped and tamed all of the wormhole frontier, systematically reducing the risk to the lowest possible levels under the current game mechanics. Tuesday's Hyperion update aimed to shake things up with a few disruptive changes designed to keep wormholes dangerous, and I think it's a definite step in the right direction.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the changes in Hyperion designed to keep wormholes dangerous and ask what more could be done to keep things interesting.

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PAX Prime 2014: Marvel Heroes is the industry's surprise success story

Super-hero, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Events (Massively's Coverage)

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marvel heroes
Meeting with Marvel Heroes' David Brevik at PAX Prime confirmed what I have been observing over the past year or so: This game has quietly and steadily become one of the bigger success stories in the online gaming industry. Brevik told me that the Marvel Heroes playerbase continues to grow, boasting four times as many players as it had nine months ago.

What did Brevik attribute to the game's meteoric rise? The promotions and sheer mountain of new content that the team's been adding certainly helped, but he said that it really came down to terrific community relations. Brevik streams the game four nights a week and talks to the community members as though they were part of his family.

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Return for a free week and get major discounts during Final Fantasy XI's anniversary event

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, News Items, Anniversaries

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This fall marks Final Fantasy XI's 12th anniversary, and as part of the lead up to the celebration, former players are invited back for a free week of play! Dubbed the Return Home to Vana'diel Campaign, the event lets all players who have ever previously paid for a subscription to FFXI return from Wednesday, September 10th, at 11:00 p.m. EDT, to Wednesday, September 17th, at 10:59 a.m. EDT. To be eligible, accounts must either be currently canceled or have the "To be Canceled" status as of September 8th at 10:59 a.m. EDT.

Starting at the same time but lasting a week longer are special discount offers for everyone. Until 10:59 a.m. EDT on Tuesday the 23rd, players can grab the following digital downloads and services for significant savings:
  • Seekers of Adoulin Expansion Pack -- $4.99 (83% off)
  • Final Fantasy XI: Ultimate Collection Seekers Edition -- $9.99 (75% off)
  • World Transfer Service -- $9.00 (50% off)
All deal are through the the Square Enix e-Store. If you've wanted to get back into the game to see what has changed or want to pick it up and check Vana'diel out yourself, this is a good opportunity to dive in.

PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Shroud of the Avatar

Betas, Fantasy, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Shroud of the Avatar

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When I got my first look at the live game of Shroud of the Avatar at PAX Prime this past weekend, one thought slammed me to the ground: This game is so much better-looking than the website's screenshots let on.

My first steps into the spiritual successor to the Ultima franchise were taken in a player village at night. The incredibly dark surroundings were broken by the flickering flames of braziers in nearby huts and the swirl of fireflies. It was moody, stylish, and, if you'll pardon the word, magical. One of the devs told me that lots of work has been done lately to provide dynamic lighting that even goes so far as to allow your character's "eyes" to adjust to the dark and change the screen accordingly.

After poking around a few half-finished homes, I ported into a PvP zone to experience the game's combat system. I learned that fighting in Shroud of the Avatar is neither simple nor similar to other MMOs. There's a rather intriguing deck system in which you earn points to spend on cards, then create a build from those. When you switch into combat mode, your hotbar is gradually dealt cards depending on their cooldowns. And if you don't use those skills within an allotted time? Why, they go away. It was confusing to grok, although the dev mentioned that it was something all players will need to spend actual time to learn and wield effectively. I'm unsure how this marks an improvement over most current combat systems, although it might appeal to those who miss Chronicles of Spellborn's system.

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PAX Prime 2014: Defiance defies barriers to play

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Post-Apocalyptic, Defiance

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defiance
If there's one message that Trion Worlds wants to get out about Defiance from PAX Prime this year, it's that the game is bursting with content and absolutely welcoming one and all to play.

While we're still waiting for the conversion of the Xbox 360 version to free-to-play, PlayStation 3 and PC players can already jump into the game and experience the title for free. The team's been hard at work refining and fleshing out the game, so for people who might have only dabbled in it shortly after launch, it's almost a completely new world to explore.

As season two of the TV show recently wrapped up, so will the current Aftermath storyline in the game. Both the show and the game dealt with the growing threat of cults, and the MMO will be packaging up the entire saga for players to revisit later in September.

The devs also shared with me that they used the real-world setting of the Bay Area to unleash some pent-up hatred toward the San Francisco airport and its parking in one of the new areas. Good to know that MMOs can be both fun to play and therapeutic for its makers!

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

PAX Prime 2014: Warhammer 40k trains players to think like soldiers

Betas, Sci-Fi, Previews, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Warhammer 40k

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war40k
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is most emphatically not about two things: PvE and lone rangers. While there will be a smidgeon of PvE content in the released game, the focus of the developers is about coordinated group PvP. In fact, coordination is an essential part to Eternal Crusade's experience, as the devs cited the chaos of PlanetSide 2 as something that they wish to avoid.

Instead, using technologies such as Eternal Crusade's single server, low latency, and the built in Razercom voice chat, tools are in place to allow players to find friends and squadmates and talk with them. Going off on one's own is a recipe for a quick death, while sticking with a squad to accomplish objectives and summon in reinforcements will be the path to progress. Different terrain and structures will also require different military thinking, shifting from guerilla warfare to scorched earth madness.

At PAX Prime, the devs were showing a very early alpha build to allow eight players to engage in small-scale PvP. The team stressed that the skirmish was definitely about skill instead of stats, although careful planning and strategy were just as important as quick reflexes. The ultimate goal is to help your faction take over as much territory as possible, transforming captured cities into faction-themed landscapes in the progress.

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PAX Prime 2014: Trove moves at the speed of lightrail

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Trove

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trove
Probably one of the coolest features that I've seen in an MMO in a long time came during a Trove demo at PAX Prime this weekend. The devs were keen to show off the game's magriders, which are tracks that players can lay down to take others on a pre-planned route around the world. Think of it as a combination of rollercoaster, lightrail, and slip-n-slide, and you might have a notion of how insane these can get. Magriders can obey the laws of physics or not and have several options for speeding up and slowing down passengers depending on the creator's intent.

After a dizzying five-minute ride through one of Trove's biomes that ended with a thousand-foot plunge into the heart of a volcano, I was sold on the potential for this new in-game toy. But as neat as magriders are, they're not the only card in the devs' deck as the game nears beta later in September.

The team recently introduced Trove's fourth class, the Dracolyte. This is a fireball-wielding mage who fills the need for the pyros out there. The Dracolyte also has a little familiar dragon hovering over its shoulder that can charge up a fiery attack and then unleash it at will. The class to follow the Dracolyte couldn't be more different, however: The Neon Ninja looks to be a cyborg sword-wielder who stepped straight out of Tron.

There's so much more to talk about with Trove's development, including the addition of clubs. Clubs are like mini-guilds, only you can join up to five of them, and each one gets its own world to modify and keep. The team is also working on a transmog system to allow players to collect and permanently store skins. From crazy candy biomes to lightning-quick rides, this underdog title might end up surprising us all.

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PAX Prime 2014: The mystery behind WildStar's Nexus

Sci-Fi, Patches, Previews, Events (Massively's Coverage), WildStar, Subscription

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wildstar
Nexus is a giant ball of mysteries at its core, but WildStar doesn't want to drag out solving them. In the upcoming Defile drop, the team is prepared to address some of the biggest questions of Drusara and the Elden as players delve into the mystery of Genesis Prime. I sat down with Carbine's Stephen Frost at PAX Prime to pry out a few secrets in advance of the patch's release.

Defile is a massive patch compared to the game's first two releases, piling on a ton of solo, small-group, and large-group PvE content for players to face and conquer. A new zone will open up, one that's a key battleground between the Strain and Drusara, and things have gotten all sorts of weird there as a result of the clash. There are sentient spiders who have kidnapped faction leaders, a black focus that is malfunctioning, and a five-stage public event that includes bombing runs and a 20-man boss fight.

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One Shots: The big plunge

Screenshots, EverQuest, Culture, Vanguard, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Miscellaneous, WildStar

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gw2
For someone like myself who is mortally terrified of heights, MMOs are not a good form of immersion therapy. I still feel my stomach clench when I fall from a ledge or, in the case of our first screenshot of the day, witness someone else doing it.

"This was my first jumping puzzle in Guild Wars 2," Reader Chiara said. "You don't forget those things. I was all excited when I found a secret passage -- I wasn't even aware of the existence of jumping puzzles back then -- and as luck would have it, I found one of the toughest ones. Of course. My character is always camera-ready, as you can see -- even when she's plunging to her death. I think she was trying to wave, actually."

What happened next? In my mind, she'll always be falling, falling. Well, we all might as well take the big plunge into the rest of these screencaps!

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PAX Prime 2014: Unpredictable water flows through RIFT: Nightmare Tide

Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), RIFT

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rift
When RIFT's Nightmare Tide releases on October 8th, Trion Worlds expects that it will make more than a few MMO gamers rediscover why this is not a game to be discounted. Not only will the full expansion be completely free, but it will allow the Ascended heroes to finally take the fight to the Plane of Water. It's there that a being known as Draum has had his dreams disturbed, water has decided to eschew the laws of physics, and the bloodfire army is attempting an invasion of its own.

The team believes that RIFT has two types of players: ones who want to enjoy the story and ones who just want to level already. Nightmare Tide is built with both in mind, allowing people to delve into the story as much or as little as desired. However, Trion's Bill Fisher told me at this year's PAX Prime that the story is so good this time around that he's had a hard time doing the MMO gamer thing of ignoring the quest text.

At one point, players will encounter the birthing of a clutch of Skelf eggs. Skelf are humanoid sea creatures (some are like sharks while others share similarities to angler fish) who tend to kill the weakest member of a clutch. However, player intervention will save a poor Skelf baby who will then follow that player around and become a key part of the expansion tale.

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The Daily Grind: Do you have an ArcheAge guild yet?

Fantasy, Guilds, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

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ArcheAge has a launch date. And a founder's launch date. And an open beta date. I'm ready to go, but for the fact that I'm going it alone. I don't have an AA guild, and I've been purposefully steering clear of my alpha and beta access over the last few months so as not to spoil more of the game and instead savor the experience when it counts.

So I've missed the usual pre-launch guild recruitment opportunities, basically.

What about you, ArcheAge fans? Do you have a guild yet, or are you just going to play it by ear?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Landmark

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landmark
After the better part of a year of being both an excellent building simulator and the sparse skeleton of an actual MMO, Landmark is finally starting to fill out in all sorts of pleasing ways. At this year's PAX Prime, Dave Georgeson was gushing about the joy that's been unleashed with the recent PvP combat patch. Not only are players reveling in the slaughter of their fellow humans, but a new market for death match arenas has sprung up virtually overnight.

"Players are having stupid amounts of fun with the PvP, even if they aren't typically into PvP," Georgeson noted. He said that contrary to popular belief, PvP is tougher to put into an MMO because it deals with a very unpredictable foe (a thinking human). But it's also better for the team to implement that first and home in on what makes the combat click to make PvE combat sparkle when that's added later on. More PvP customization options are on deck for the future as well.

Also part of the crazy fun are the new platforming elements: teleporters, moving platforms, and "flingers." Georgeson predicted that once the playerbase gets a handle on what these elements can do and how they can be chained together, the game will grow several orders of magnitude wilder.

From here, Landmark's progress will only speed up. The team is going to focus on bug fixes and polishing the new systems while listening to what the players think about the new toys. One thing that the devs have to do is separate ideas that are possible (such as allowing players to order voxel structures to obey the laws of physics) from those that are not (such as allowing players to create enemy creature models). The team does have a release date for the game in mind, although it is not sharing.

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Destiny September 9, 2014
The Crew November 11, 2014
LEGO Minifigures Online Fall 2014
ArcheAge 2014
WoW Warlords of Draenor November 13, 2014

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Brianna Royce Editor-in-Chief
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Justin Olivetti Contributing Editor
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