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Leaderboard: Do you need to spend money to enjoy Marvel Heroes?

Super-hero, Polls, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Leaderboard

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Marvel Heroes' Avengers
I think I might play me some Marvel Heroes. Which is somewhat odd since I'm neither a Diablo nor a Marvel fan. It's not that I have anything against the latter, it's just that I've always read Batman comics and nothing but, so my knowledge of the Marvel-verse is restricted to The Avengers flick and Bryan Singer's old X-Men films.

Anyway, Gazillion's game is of course free-to-play and I'm installing it via Steam as I type. My question for you, though, is should I spring for any of the cash shop bundles or should I just take what the devs are giving away? Which route did you go, and was it the right decision? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Neverwinter will make players choose between mercenaries

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Neverwinter

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Neverwinter
When Icewind Dale arrives with Neverwinter's Module 3, players will have a difficult decision to make: whether to join up with the Ten-Towners or the Arcane Brotherhood.

In a new post, Cryptic explains that these two groups are at conflict with each other in the effort to collect the precious Black Ice. Ten-Towners want the Ice for profit and for those who have lived in the north, while the Arcane Brotherhood desire the substance to increase its knowledge. Once a group is chosen, that faction will deliver daily contracts that the player can take up. By repeating the dailies, players can earn enough Black Ice to create a new armor set. Players shouldn't fret too much about their choice, as their allegiance can change on a daily basis with no penalty.

Cryptic will also be introducing account shared banks with the module to help pass items between characters with ease. Module 3 arrives on May 13th.

The Elder Scrolls Online expounds on Craglorn's 12-man trials

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, Endgame, News Items, Dungeons, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO
ZeniMax has just published a dev diary about the brand-new 12-player trials en route to The Elder Scrolls Online with its upcoming Craglorn patch. Trials, the studio stresses, are more than your average raid experience:
One of the first things you'll notice about Trials is that they bring a new experience to ESO designed to test even the toughest veterans. You'll need a group of 12 to take them on, but they're not just dungeons that require a large group-we're applying additional pressure. Your team will only have a limited number of resurrections available, and additional rewards will be granted to those who defeat the weekly challenge with one of the top times across the megaserver.
What makes 12 players the sweet spot for these encounters? ZeniMax hopes to downplay the organizational hassle of putting together groups, to telegraph fights without too much distraction, to keep them to about 90 minutes in length, and to appropriately rely on player skill rather than zerging. Another bonus raiders will welcome? No lockout timers!

Scope out the video below for a first-hand look at the new trials.

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CCP posts EVE Fanfest 2014's schedule

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), DUST 514, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

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EVE Fanfest
EVE Fanfest 2014 is just a week away, and participants will be pleased to know that CCP has posted the full schedule for the show.

The Fanfest schedule includes the dedication of a monument to EVE's players, the wrestling matches between the staff and CCP, a lecture by NASA's Les Johnson on interstellar travel, news about the future of CCP's game roster, and a blowout party-slash-concert.

The studio is psyched about the event: "Ask anyone at the CCP what their favorite time of the year is, they will say Fanfest. It is not just the players who look forward to attending, it's a highlight for us developers as well because interacting with the community is both the soul of our games and a thrilling reward."

The 10th EVE Fanfest runs from May 1st through 3rd in Reykjavik, Iceland. The entire convention will be streamed for free on CCP's Twitch channel for fans who can't attend. And stay tuned on Massively, as we will be there on site!

League of Legends introduces Braum, the Heart of the Freljord

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA, League of Legends

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Is there a Mrs. Heart of the Freljord?
For too long, there's been a hole in the many champions of League of Legends. Braum, the Heart of the Freljord, fills that hole, introducing the first truly impressive moustache to the game and allowing everyone to marvel at every perfectly waxed hair. Oh, and he also serves as a tank support character, which is also a first, but mostly it's about that glorious lip-blanket.

Right, you probably want to know a little bit more about what Braum can do. Well, he applies a stacking debuff that stuns enemies with his basic attack, but once the first tap is in place, attacks from allies will also increase the stack count. He also attacks with line-based AoE attacks that snare targets, blocks attacks with his enormous shield, and can dash to his allies to help protect them from further attacks. In short, he's a traditional MMO tank tearing up the League of Legends lanes. And he has a moustache. Did we mention that?

New Final Fantasy XIV producer's letter talks China and 2.25

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

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Naoki Yoshida, seen here being a friend to all mankind.
Final Fantasy XIV is doing pretty well for itself at the moment, and it's still expanding. The latest letter from producer Naoki Yoshida discusses preparations for the game's launch in China, with the cooperation of Shanda Games. Service is expected to launch this summer; the game has just recently launched on the PlayStation 4, expanding its range of available platforms.

Yoshida also discusses patch 2.25, which will be live tomorrow. Originally, the patch was slated to include an expansion to the current Zodiac weapon quests; however, Yoshida states in the letter that this system is being pushed back until patch 2.28 goes live in May. The team is hoping to incorporate feedback on the existing quest line and allow players more time to upgrade and receive their Animus weaponry. 2.25 will contain improvements to the Wolves' Den PvP system as well as a new system involving materia, so while further weapon upgrades are on hold, there's still going to be plenty of new things to do.

Age of Wushu's expansion hits May 7th; here's a trailer

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu

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It's raining in Age of Wushu
Age of Wushu's Tempest of Strife expansion launches on May 7th. To celebrate, Snail has released an action-packed trailer that shows off new classes, new environments, and the new weather system. ToS also brings new face-lifting customization options, personalization-enabling equipment inscription, and new sects to the table.

The martial arts sandbox MMO also boasts a new website as of this morning. Don't forget to click past the cut to watch the trailer!

[Source: Snail Games press release]

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SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds early access delayed for more features

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Housing

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SWTOR Galactic Strongholds apartment
Star Wars: The Old Republic senior producer Bruce Maclean has penned a new producer's letter focused on the upcoming Galactic Strongholds expansion.

He states that for GS to truly feel like an expansion, "it needs to include the full set of features including those originally coming later in the year." As such, BioWare is delaying the start of subscriber early access from June 24th to August 19th. Maclean says the additional time will allow the devs to add conquest events, expanded guild flagship functionality, the Tatooine Homestead stronghold, and the ability to place vehicles, mounts, pets, and companions as player housing decorations.

BioWare has also moved the deadline date for subscribers who are looking to get early access rewards. It's now July 15th instead of May 11th, meaning that you'll need to sub up by the former date if you want the Nar Shaddaa Sky Palace with three additional rooms and the other promised goodies. After the August 19th subscriber early access period, preferred early access and the official launch will follow in September and October.

[Thanks ninjonxb!]

Choose My Adventure: Testing addons in The Elder Scrolls Online

Fantasy, Screenshots, New Titles, Opinion, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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Gratuitous cleavage shot
My adventure in The Elder Scrolls Online continues this week with my Nightblade Fa'saad making his way through Stonefalls for the Ebonheart Pact. As the format of Choose My Adventure has changed slightly, the polls from the first two articles mold my journey through the rest of the month. At the end of it all, I'll give my summary impressions and tips I learned along the way.

This week it's all about addons as I tried out a dozen or so to report back on my favorites. Addons can aid your gameplay in so many different ways, from stat counters to UI mods to quality of (virtual) life improvements, but they're not for everyone. I'm not usually an addon fan because I think they verge on cheating in a way, so I've approached these addons from the perspective of a skeptic. Did they really help my game? Will I continue to use them?

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The Elder Scrolls Online's Matt Firor posts on the state of the game

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

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ESO's Alik'r desert
Elder Scrolls Online lead developer Matt Firor has posted a state-of-the-game address on the fantasy MMO's forum.

Firor says that, yes, ZeniMax sees the groups of bots clustered around the game's dungeon bosses and that yes, it is taking steps to address the problem. "We regularly ban accounts involved in spam and bot activity," Firor says, but the scope of said activity is so large that it accounts for nearly 85 percent of ESO's customer service tickets.

There's also a blurb about de-synched quests as well as a brief preview of the game's first major update that ZeniMax is currently prepping for ESO's test server.

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WoW Source vid on WoD's PvP, class updates

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, Subscription

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Warlords of Draenor
WoW Source's latest episode features World of Warcraft lead designer Ion Hazzikostas, lead class designer Kris Zierhut, and senior game designer Brian Holinka. The trio discuss everything from Warlords of Draenor's class changes to PvP to skirmishes. There's also a sneak peek at the new Ashran PvP zone.

Click past the cut for the full video!

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WildStar unveils Warplots DevSpeak

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

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WE ARE THE BORG.  YOU WILL DEACTIVATE YOUR BASE DEFENSES AND PREPARE FOR A PVP LOSS.  RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.  YOUR RATING IS IRRELEVANT.  FROM THIS POINT FORWARD YOUR RESOURCES WILL BE ADAPTED TO SERVE AS OURS.
Do you consider yourself something of a military genius? Do you also consider yourself a big enthusiast for player housing? Have you long wished for some form of gameplay that combined your love of building the prettiest dwelling possible with your love of killing other players? Then you're looking for WildStar's Warplots. They're a thing. Yes, they're customizable fortresses that you pit against other customized fortresses from other players, that is the whole deal.

Want to know more? Well, if you see that little "Continue Reading" button down there, you can click that and watch the latest DevSpeak from the development team covering Warplots. Is that not enough for you? All right, then, you can read through our coverage of the gameplay mode from PAX East when we got to take an advance look at it. Still not enough? Maybe you'll need to wait until the game launches in June, then. Do not convert your front lawn into a death fortress and attempt to fight a PvP Nerf war with the mail carrier. That won't go over well.

[Source: NCsoft press release]

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The Daily Grind: Are you into stealthing mechanics?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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WildStar
Apart from the Imperial Agent in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I haven't played a lot of stealth-able characters in MMOs. For me, I just don't see the appeal of sucker-punching bad guys instead of facing off in a fair fight; it kind of makes me feel as though I'm bullying them. Plus, having to walk slower in stealth, constantly worry about positioning, and ignoring the illogic of disappearing in broad daylight all wave me off of such characters.

But that's me and those are my hang-ups. I know that stealthing is pretty popular in certain quarters, and I can concede that when done right (as in the Thief series) it can be a compelling mechanic. So I'd like to hear whether you're into being all stealthy in MMOs and what you think about how these systems have been handled over the years.

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!

Black Desert's extreme character creation profiled in video

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, News Items, Hands-On, Black Desert, MMORPG

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Black Desert
Overseas MMO expert Steparu is back with another round of Black Desert videos that make North Americans extremely sad about the ongoing Korean beta and the lack thereof here. The videos highlight character creation, specifically the hyperrealistic (and, er, extremely toned) Sorcerer, Warrior, Giant, and Archer models, male and female, complete with musculature and hair mesh toggles and sliders. We're not exaggerating when we say that this is extreme character customization, folks. Enjoy two of the videos below and the rest over at Steparu.com.

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Massively Speaking Episode 294: Moar mailbag, please!

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

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We're so behind on addressing our mail on the show that we've decided to dedicate an episode to playing catch-up! Don't worry, as there will still be news, but Bree and Justin need to clean out their inbox to make room for all of the excellent emails to come. You understand.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
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Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Landmark's devs on crafting and item upgrading

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, EverQuest Next, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

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Landmark
SOE Senior Brand Manager Omeed Dariani and Lead Systems Designer Michael Mann present this week's Landmark roundtable video, this time focusing on one of the more detailed components of the sandbox's crafting system: item upgrading, which beat out reinforcing, imbuing, and refining among roundtable voters as the system most worthy of prioritization. Mann explains that item upgrading is intended to reduce the demoralizing effects of RNG; eventually, all crafted items will be created as green-quality items that are upgrade-able depending on player skill and statted according to player direction via relics.

Dariani and Mann also hint that Landmark and EverQuest Next will share the same crafting-related back-end systems and that Landmark's crafting will ultimately "flavor" the crafting system in EQN. The full roundtable video is below.

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War Thunder introduces closed beta tank events

Betas, Historical, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play

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War Thunder
Gaijin Entertainment posted today that it's launching tank events for War Thunder's closed beta participants. Prices of tanks and associated purchases have been slashed by 90% to facilitate this test phase; accordingly, Gaijin warns, everything will be wiped once again before the WWII combat sim's open beta begins.

The studio also recently announced its intention to launch War Thunder in China in 2014 via Tencent and revealed its Elo-based rating system for squadron battles.

CCP staff to wrestle MMA fighter at Fanfest 2014

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, DUST 514, Sandbox

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Fanfest
CCP is looking to give its fans their admission's worth for Fanfest 2014, as the studio announced that members of its team will be wrestling against MMA fighter Gunnar Nelson during the show. That's MMA, not MMO, by the way. The event, called EVE OF DESTRUCTION, will take place on Friday, May 2nd, in a series of 10 one-on-one wrestling matches.

CCP would also like to remind you that voting for EVE Online's 9th Council of Stellar Management ends tonight at midnight.

Star Trek Online launches Season 9: A New Accord

Sci-Fi, Patches, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Subscription

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Season 10: A Used Nissan Sentra.  Season 11: Repairing Dad's Old Mustang.  Season 12: Bicycles.
It's been a long while since Star Trek Online captains had to fear the Undine. This mysterious race has moved off of the radar as the Federation and KDF have explored the Solanae Dyson Sphere, fought back against the Borg and the Tholians, and sought allies upon New Romulus. But the latest patch for the game sees the Undine stepping up their campaign of aggression from fluidic space, sending players through a new series of featured episodes, introducing a new reputation, and offering several new endgame activities.

Season 9 also brings with it a number of other changes, including a revamp to how both kits and reputations work. Both systems are now more flexible, with the former allowing captains more control over which abilities show up on the ground and the latter providing more player choice over the long term. Take a look at the full list of additions and get ready to set a course for new dangers in this update.

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WildStar springs another 'bonus' beta weekend for all

Betas, Sci-Fi, WildStar, Subscription

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WildStar
Carbine's limited four-part WildStar beta weekend run leading up to release is now in danger of becoming a Friday the 13th-sized franchise, as the studio announced today that it will hold another bonus beta weekend starting on Friday. Anyone who has signed up for the beta will be given a code for the weekend, so there's no reason not to check this game out if so inclined.

The bonus weekend begins on Friday the 25th at 10:00 a.m. EST and will conclude on Monday, April 28th, at 3:00 a.m. EST. The team is raising the level cap to 25 and giving everyone a hoverboard to enjoy. Each day of this bonus beta weekend also counts toward accumulating "boom boxes" full of goodies that will be delivered at launch.

[Source: Carbine Studios press release]

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Massively Speaking Episode 294: Moar mailbag, please!

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