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Betas

Perfect Ten: New MMOs to watch in 2015

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, Opinion, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous, Black Desert, The Repopulation, Shroud of the Avatar, Trove, Skyforge, Landmark, H1Z1, The Division

all the mmos
As I've done for 2013 and 2014, I'm going to use the turn of the year as an excuse to look ahead at what MMO releases we may have to look forward to enjoying in the next 12 months. As always, it's a mixture of research, guesswork, and weeks of anguished ranking to come up with 10 titles that I think will define the new year.

After the huge launch year we had in 2014, 2015 will most definitely be a smaller year for big-name releases. That doesn't mean it will be a complete write-off, but perhaps it will challenge us to look beyond the heavy hitters to find more diamonds in the rough.

A couple of notes before we launch into the list, if you please! First of all, I limited this list to MMOs that at least have a shot of launching in 2015; games that are popular but are definitely not going to make it this year had to be excluded. Second, I am expanding the "honorable mentions" section this year to include more upcoming MMOs and my brief thoughts on them. So you are really getting 50 games for the effort of reading 10! You are welcome.

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Betawatch: December 20 - 26, 2014

Betas, MMO Industry, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

Say a little prayer for Mr. Fancy Pants - the whole world knows it's only clothes, and deep inside he's sad.
Alas, Transformers Universe, you were too beautiful for this world. Only you were not, in fact, too beautiful for anything; you were actually not beautiful enough to make it to launch. Yes, it happened a little while ago, but due to some holiday or another this has been a fairly slow week, and someone needs to shed a tear for the game. Or something like that.

What else was new in the world of MMO testing for the week? Jump on past the break for our full listing of games in testing!

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Pathfinder Online ends its stress test and preps for early enrollment

Betas, Fantasy, News Items, Sandbox, Pathfinder Online

There's a path!  Do I win?
The bad news is that if you had hoped to do nothing but strain the Pathfinder Online servers over your holiday, you were denied that option. The good news is that the test ended because the servers passed the stress test with flying colors, and that means it's time for the development team to move on to the next phase of access. Yes, early enrollment is just around the corner.

Of course it hasn't kicked off just yet, as the developers behind the game are human beings who would like to actually spend some holiday time with their families. But it's coming soon. The change will mean that players who have alpha access via friends & family options or are normally slated to enter during open enrollment can no longer log in; so if you want to keep jumping into the game you may wish to upgrade your account. For those already happily waiting for early enrollment, nothing else remains to be done other than continuing to wait. Not much longer now.

Realm Zero enters alpha testing

Betas, Fantasy, Video, News Items, Sandbox

Here we go again, just like before.
Looking for another indie sandbox title to follow along? Realm Zero has your number, and not coincidentally, it just entered its second phase of alpha testing. No, really, it's not just a collection of concept art! There's a video past the break and everything. So if you're leery of giving your heart to a game that's a bunch of lovely ideas with no actual game, well, at least that's not quite what's happening here.

The game promises to have an evolving world based on player action, with combat based upon FPS models rather than on the traditional level-based grind of most MMOs. It also boasts a skill system that allows you to build a character without having to make permanent choices, so you can mix and match over time to build your preferred character. Read more on the official site.

[Thanks to Sandboxer for the tip!]

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Not So Massively: Elite's launch, Transformers' sunset, and SMITE's $2M prize pool

Betas, Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Launches, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Mobile, Consoles, Crime, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MechWarrior Online, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Infinite Crisis, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

Transformers
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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Shroud of the Avatar drops Release 13 for the holidays

Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Patches, News Items, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, WE SMASH YOU A MERRY CRUSHMAS, AND WE ARE MAKE YOU PASTE.
The team behind Shroud of the Avatar has headed home for the holidays until December 28th, but a little present has been left behind for fans just the same. The latest update for the game is live on the servers, and it allows you to pick up a seasonal Yule Hat just for stopping in and checking out the new content. Also there is a whole lot of new stuff to play through, so a hat is probably not your primary incentive here, but the point is that the hat exists just the same.

To be fair, stopping in and checking out the content requires going through the game's Grand Tour quest, which will lead players through all of the new bits added in this update. That includes new crafting, new creatures, new skills, and new areas. Check out the full update for patch notes, details on how to clear out the Grand Tour, and upcoming community events.

Star Citizen releases Arena Commander 1.0

Betas, Sci-Fi, Patches, Sandbox, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

star citizen
Pilots, start your engines, for Star Citizen's Arena Commander 1.0 is here! Arena Commander is the next significant milestone for the modularly developed space sim. With AC 1.0, pilots can take their ships out for dogfighting or just to experience flight among the stars.

Arena Commander 1.0 also has the effect of growing Star Citizen's feature list. The team's tripled the number of flyable ships with 14 new vessels. Missiles were improved, while the game added a lobby system, a friends list, a ship signature system, a thruster power system, and a lateral g-force system. The team also improved many of the visuals, animations, and audio effects.

[Thanks to Chrysillis for the tip!]

Gloria Victis is all up in your beeswax

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, Sandbox

gloria victis
In yesterday's pre-alpha patch, Gloria Victis shattered all sense of boundaries and decided that it was going to make your beeswax its business. Yes indeed, we are finally living in an era when beeswax has been added to beehives in an MMO, and life will never be the same again. (Actually, my editor informs me that Ultima Online has that as well because it has everything.)

Other changes with the patch included global buffs for capture-the-flag winners, cattle horns as "by-products of [the] animal skinning process," a buff to gear durability, a higher change to get weapon drops from humans, and a rework of the mob spawning system.

Betawatch: December 13 - 19, 2014

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Massively Meta, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

Elite Dangerous
Elite: Dangerous formally launched this week, departing our Betawatch (Gammawatch?) list and flying free into the wilds of the MMO jungle. What else is new in the land of MMO testing?
  • Landmark's closed beta launched PvE combat this week; SOE says it will shift full-time to working on EverQuest Next in early 2015.
  • Shroud of the Avatar's devs spoke to us about its community and development process.
  • Black Desert officially launched into open beta in Korea.
  • Sandvox SkySaga began its alpha phase for UK players.
  • Skyforge launched a beta contest and demoed two classes.
  • Cabal II's closed beta is taking signups; the first focus test is slated for this weekend.
  • Valiance Online kicked off a Steam Greenlight campaign. It's currently in pre-alpha stress testing.
  • Space strategy MMO AD2460 leaves testing and launches on December 29th.
  • MapleStory 2 will begin closed beta signups in Korea next week.
  • Albion Online's winter test begins January 26th.
  • Rainbow Saga softlaunched into open beta.
  • MMORTS Siegelord's closed beta began this week as well.
Read on for the complete Betawatch list.

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MapleStory 2 begins closed beta signups next week, will include a jail system

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

MapleStory 2
Another day, another game we can't have yet. This one's MapleStory 2, the sequel to Nexon's MapleStory, which in spite of its cuteness is still one of the biggest MMORPGs in the world. Steparu reports that MS2 is set to enter its first closed beta phase on January 21st; signups go live for Korean players on Christmas eve.

Over on the official site (in Korean), Nexon further discusses the MMO's jail system, something fans of games like Ultima Online and ArcheAge know well. This particular jail is meant to hold those who make wreckage of chat channels, though Nexon says will punish counter-abuse "severely." What could possibly go wrong?

We don't yet know whether the game will come here, but since classic MapleStory has a global version that's earned Nexon boatloads of money, it's pretty darn likely.

We've embedded Steparu's MapleStory 2 customization video below.

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Sandvox SkySaga hits alpha in the UK

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content

Skysaga
Sandvox SkySaga has officially entered alpha, says developer Smilegate. The team announced the start of the testing phase over social media yesterday and today:
Great news! We've just started up the Alpha servers (UK only still, I'm afraid), and from now on they'll be running 24/7 (with the exception of maintenance periods!).
You read that right: The alpha's open only to UK players right now, though we've had reports that there's no IP blocking just yet. Release is still set for next summer. The game is a voxel-based sandbox with the usual trapping: crafting, harvesting, combat, arena PvP, and an "evolving" online world shaped by the players themselves.

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War Thunder's Steel Generals expansion beta is live

Betas, Historical, Galleries, Screenshots, Video, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS

War Thunder
War Thunder, Gaijin Entertainment's WWII-flavored MMO, updated with its Steel Generals patch this week, just ahead of the holidays. It includes new vehicles, tow cable mechanics, retooled artillery strikes, and new damage modeling. Gamers can also jump into three new maps: White Stone Fortress for air and ground battles, an Eastern Europe map with "varied open ground and urban terrain features," and the massive air-combat Battle for Moscow, which reconstructs the city during the Winter Campaign of 1941-1942. The Steel Generals content, however, "steals" the show:
The biggest addition to War Thunder with this update is the beta of the Steel Generals expansion, which includes the first six American tanks available now. By the end of Q1 2015, more than 30 US WWII tanks will be available. This release schedule allows Gaijin Entertainment to test each of the tanks to ensure that they are ready for battle when commercially launched. In honor of the update launch, special packages are available for purchase that contain premium US tanks and other bonuses alongside closed beta access. Players can participate in the Steel Generals beta by entering into contests and in-game events in War Thunder.
Check out the new screenshots and walkthrough video below.

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Albion Online's winter test begins January 26th

Betas, Fantasy, Sandbox

albion online
Backers of Albion Online have been sitting on their hands for a while now, waiting for the next alpha test of this isometric sandbox. The good news is that Sandbox Interactive has announced that the alpha winter test will begin in a little over a month on January 26th.

There will be plenty of new and updated systems to check out during this testing cycle, including an extensive farming system, consumables, more weapons, more skills, and player and guild islands. Another significant change is that players can flag themselves as friendly or hostile in PvP areas, effectively adding consensual PvP into the game.

Albion Online's winter test will be available to legendary ($100) and epic ($50) founders and will last for four weeks.

Camelot Unchained prepares to cross $3M in fundraising

Betas, Fantasy, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained, Subscription

camelot unchained
As of the writing of this post, Camelot Unchained is on the verge of hitting $3M in fundraising donations at $2,952,875. City State Entertainment said that when that already-impressive sum climbs to $3,025,000, the team will sign on a sound engineer to kick the game's audio up a notch.

"Part of this goal will cover licensing the Audiokinetic Wwise engine and technical support for it, as well as some great plug-ins, while the rest will go toward the salary and expenses of the sound engineer," CSE posted.

To help prompt more of those donation dollars, Camelot Unchained began selling unveiled lifetime subscriptions today at the builder's level.

Black Desert is officially in open beta... in Korea

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Classes, New Titles, Previews, News Items, Hands-On, Sandbox, Black Desert

Black Desert
Still pinning hopes and dreams on Daum's breathtaking sandbox MMORPG Black Desert? If you're in South Korea, those hopes and dreams are a reality this week, as the game officially entered open beta in that region yesterday.

Blogger Steparu has already posted one video from the event, a snapshot of progress on a mid-level Sorceress. We've included it below. If you're bilingual and already enjoying the game, we'd love to hear about it, as those of us in the West will be waiting until at least 2016.

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Make My MMO: December 21 - 27, 2014

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