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Not So Massively: The MOBAs and pseudo-MMOs of PAX Prime 2014

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Classes, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, Diablo III, Destiny, Star Citizen, Shroud of the Avatar, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play, Hearthstone

Moonrise
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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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

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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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

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: Landmark comes into its own

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

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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The Stream Team: Experiencing Landmark's first combat arenas

Betas, Video, PvP, Livestream, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

Folks have had a few days to get their bearings with Landmark's new PvP combat system, and that means more arenas have opened their doors. Want to see what's sprung up? Massively's MJ is taking a tour to see and experience -- and most likely die in -- some of the new builds focused on the fledgling fighting system. She's sure there are many creative ways to perish at the hands of her fellow players! With any luck, at least some will involve proximity mines. Join us live at 1:00 p.m. for the two-hour tour (as well as a chance to win more codes).

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, August 30th, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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PAX Prime 2014: Paying a premium for Pathfinder Online

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, PvP, Sandbox, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

pathfinder online
Would you pay to get into an alpha test? Well, would you continue to pay a monthly subscription to keep on playing a title that's not yet launched? If you've answered "yes" to these questions plus the special one that I ask at the end of this article, then you're one of the folks that Pathfinder Online hopes to recruit for early enrollment come September 15th.

I sat down with Goblinworks CEO Ryan Dancey and Game Designer Stephen Chaney at PAX Prime yesterday to talk about this next big step for the game. Pathfinder Online is still far from feature complete, but the team considers it done enough that it can monetize the game in the form of a monthly sub. The 20,000 or so folks who will be admitted into early enrollment play (a number that includes the 7,000 Kickstarter backers) are expected to pay $15 a month as the team continues to develop the title. In exchange, characters and progress will not be wiped, and players will get to see the game take shape around them.

Goblinworks' philosophy is to have a robust game design first and then wrap the rest of the game around it afterward. Dancy said that the monetization is necessary to keep the lights on and the development rolling. The budget for a finished Pathfinder Online is $5 million (89% of which is salaries), but only $1.4 million has been raised so far.

Being only passingly familiar with Pathfinder Online, I asked why the MMO with its territory control seems so different from the small party, adventure-oriented tabletop game. The reason for this is that the pen-and-paper game doesn't completely translate to software boundaries, plus it draws from an adventure pack that Paizo tested a while back that went on to become one of its best-selling products. In both versions of Pathfinder, the long game is to rule the land and establish a legacy, not merely fill up a bag with XP and loot.

So is it worth it to you to pay a full subscription price for a half-finished game? That's up to you.

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PlanetSide 2 reveals its newest vehicle, the Valkyrie

Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, PlanetSide 2

PS2
SOE has today revealed the Valkyrie, the first new vehicle added to PlanetSide 2 since last year. What's the Valkyrie?
Packed with a front-facing turret for up-close-and-personal air support, the Valkyrie is a fast-attack gunship that serves as a nimble transport for up to six soldiers (pilot, forward gunner and four rumble seat passengers). Whether it is flying over the dense swamplands of Hossin or through the narrow canyons of Indar, this fast-moving versatile aircraft is sure to change the war on Auraxis.
In the making-of video below, Senior Art Director Tramell Isaac explains the process by which the developers conceptualize and then "jazz up" ship models.

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Star Conflict launches September 4th

Betas, Sci-Fi, Galleries, Screenshots, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play

Star Conflict
Sci-fi space sim MMO Star Conflict has today announced its official launch date: September 4th.

The EVE-like soft-launched as an open beta title on Steam last year; this formal release will include a special invasion mode still currently in closed beta. What's invasion mode?
Invasion Mode features an underlying story in which an alien race that disappeared into another dimension of space and time has now returned to invade and conquer. Players must team up in parties of four to explore the new 'Open Space' area and combine forces as they take on new quests and engage in PvP and PvE battles. These new activities provide new loot, which players can use to construct unique armament options and protection for their spaceships.
While the game is ostensibly free-to-play, it offers half a dozen purchaseable DLC packs running from $19.99 to $79.99.

[Source: Press release]

Dark Age of Camelot patch spruces up keeps and relic raids

Fantasy, Dark Age of Camelot, Patches, PvP, Subscription

daoc
Patch 1.115c went live on Dark Age of Camelot's servers today, bringing with it a slew of changes to the game's relic raids, keep art, and New Frontiers system.

Players will log in to discover that relics are back in the possession of relic temples, bringing back the old raid mechanics for a new age. To steal a relic, teams have to open up certain relic milegates first and then plunder the item from its respective keep. Keeps have also received a visual upgrade and can be captured and upgraded by the three factions.

There are several new RvR quests as well as plenty of fixes for bugs that may vex ye, so check out the patch notes and give the updated classic MMO a whirl!

The Stream Team: Random drafting in Dota 2

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, PvP, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, MOBA, The Stream Team

Dota 2
Newcomers to Dota 2 often stick to the game's All-Pick mode when searching for matches. In All-Pick, every hero currently in the game's hero pool is available for selection. This makes character selection more manageable for new players (since you can pick heroes you know), but it also leads to an All-Pick All-Stars syndrome in which the same few heroes show up time and again to crush teams and bust ancients.

Tonight, Massively's Mike Foster is exploring a different game mode known as Random Draft. In Random Draft, players take turns choosing from a pool of randomly selected heroes. There's still flexibility in terms of individual hero choice, but the full pool isn't available, and thus teams must get creative using the heroes that appear. Sometimes this goes well; sometimes it doesn't.

Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to see how it turns out for Mike.

Game: Dota 2
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, August 28th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Norrathian Notebook: I tasted Landmark's combat and I like it!

Betas, PvP, Player-Generated Content, Norrathian Notebook

Better late than never, right? At long last, after months of only mining and voxel magic (and then an overnight delay), I have finally partaken of the Landmark combat fruit. And oh, how sweet it is! Of course the system was just barely implemented and is in only its first iteration, but that doesn't stop me from sharing the experience I had upon first logging in to check things out. So in I jumped just as soon as servers went live... and there I lost the rest of my day.

Even with the inevitable bugs, I was not disappointed by my first few hours of this update. There are flingers and teleporters, weapons and proximity mines -- plenty of things to keep a slightly wacky mind occupied. And who can leave out the new joys of fall damage? Here are my unadulterated first impressions of that much-anticipated system.

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Heroes & Generals tops 2.6 million registered players, releases 'Rommel' update

Historical, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, Dev Diaries

Heroes & Generals' latest update is codenamed "Rommel," which seems rather appropriate given the new general characters and officer rank overhaul. "The Rommel update is an important update, as it wraps up our vision with the character progression tree," explains Reto-Moto game director Jacob Andersen. "So you may start your career as a foot soldier and work your way up to become an officer and finally a general in order to command armies and wage war resources."

Rommel also adds FG 42 and M1 carbines for paratroopers, new win conditions for wars, a "much larger" campaign map, improved tank handling, and more.

Reto-Moto's press release says that Heroes & Generals now has more than 2.6 million registered players. Don't forget to view the seven-minute Rommel dev vlog after the break.

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The Stream Team: Launching into Landmark's combat

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, PvP, Free-to-Play, Livestream, The Stream Team, Landmark

You know how people always reminisce about where they were when the moment something big happened? Well, something big just happened in Landmark, and Massively's MJ is making sure you are there to be a part of it. Yes, combat has just arrived! That means death galore, and not just death at the hands of fellow players but death by mountains and oceans, too. And, as always, she's got some fun codes to giveaway as well. Join us live at 12:00 p.m. for the first peek into this new system. Better yet, catch MJ's first Landmark death live! You know it's bound to happen. Oh, and get codes, too!

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, August 28th, 2014
Time: 12:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Landmark's combat patch goes live

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

Combat has finally come to Landmark, but there's much more to this update than just armor, weapons, and death. There are plenty of new Kerran-themed props, new materials (10 new color of Stucco variations and 16 new Burled Wood tints), movement props, and bug fixes. On top of that, there's a new way to pay claim upkeep; those who desperately want to keep their claims but don't want to bother with copper now have the opportunity to pay with Station Cash at a cost of 10 SC per day per claim.

And here's probably some of the best news from the mouths of the devs themselves:
"We've made a number of optimizations that should improve framerates for many players. This does not include the Multithreaded Rendering, which we are still working on."
If you plan to dive in and check out combat, SOE has posted instructions for setting up the PvP games on the forums to help answer any questions. Full details on the update can be found in the patch notes. For now, all claims will be flagged for PvP until the observer mode can be added.

Finally, the Workshop livestream is moving! Starting August 28th, the show focusing on the collaborative development of racial buildings will be broadcast on the EverQuest Next Twitch Channel Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. EDT.

The Crew's closed beta PvP is lobby-based

Betas, Real-Life, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Races, Buy-to-Play

What's PvP like in The Crew? You can find out if you're playing the PC closed beta this week. If not, you can read the latest news blurb on the racing MMO's website to get the general idea. It says that PvP races are enabled at level 10. Curiously, given Ubisoft's focus on The Crew's open-world design up to this point, the post also mentions that the closed beta's eight PvP races are lobby-based.

"The PvP lobbies can be accessed directly from the map," the company says. "The Midwest PvP lobby being in Detroit and the East lobby in New York, both represented by a yellow lozenge."

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