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The Soapbox: Six reasons MMOs should abandon raiding, part 3

Culture, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

Sometimes you just need to cut away the disease.
In parts one and two of this Soapbox miniseries, I tackled four of the reasons the MMO genre should abandon raiding as a central gameplay element, but one key argument has been left out until now: The social aspect of raiding.

Whatever else is true of raiding, it is definitely social. Communities spring up and keep going largely based on that raiding community, to the point that it's easy to assume that everyone in a game's population raids. There are lengthy discussions about raiding, about how to raid, about tips and tricks for clearing raids. The social aspect of raids is what I think has kept them around so long; it's easy for a designer to look at that sort of engagement and see it as vital.

Yet there's more to the story than might be available at a glance, and the social aspect is not without steep costs. Those social elements do not carry the weight of everything else... mostly because they aren't as strong as they appear.

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The Soapbox: Six reasons MMOs should abandon raiding, part 2

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

Time to take on the stock.
In yesterday's Soapbox, I had some things to say about why it's time to dump raiding. I'm writing this before I've seen the comment responses, but I'm willing to bet that a fair amount of angry shouting was involved in the comments because that's what I usually expect. But I wasn't done, as suggested by the whole "part 1" thing in the title header.

For those don't feel like reading the whole thing, the short version is that raiding is too expensive to develop for too small a portion of the players. This is a solid argument, but it's standard: You hear it every time this debate comes up. In some ways, it's the foundation of the argument against raiding beyond the reality that most people say they just don't like raiding.

There's more to be said, though, and there are more serious issues up for discussion. Raiding isn't just expensive in terms of development. It's expensive in lots of ways.

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The Soapbox: Six reasons MMOs should abandon raiding, part 1

Game Mechanics, Endgame, Opinion, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

Sorry, Truce.  You deserve better, but you get this.
Raiding is no longer doing MMOs any favors.

I've compared raiding to open PvP in the past, and the comparison still holds up. It's something that a lot of games developed in response to a specific genre-defining game have featured. But it's not doing those games any favors, and it might be time to take a hard look at this gameplay element that games survive in spite of rather than because of. If we learn nothing else from WildStar's issues when it launched into what should have been an ideal environment, it's that raiding certainly isn't driving players into a game's waiting arms.

But I don't want to just say that and let it roll around on the floor. Let's actually break the argument down across a couple of articles this week. Why does raiding need to shuffle off of the main stage, definitely as the default endgame model, perhaps altogether? I can give you six good reasons.

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The Mog Log: The end of Final Fantasy XIV's 2.0 cycle

Fantasy, Patches, News Items, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log, Dungeons, Subscription

I'm betting end of May 2015, just to push it out as far as possible.
It's going to be a little while until we see the next major patch for Final Fantasy XIV. I'm not expecting to see patch 2.5 in the wild until February, to be honest. That's a little longer than the standard three months, but we've also got a holiday season through there and a not exactly clockwork schedule to begin with. It's enough time to get plenty of Poetics kit, make headway into Second Coil, and get thoroughly sick of the expert roulette dungeons. Perhaps the game shouldn't always just keep the three most recent dungeons on there...

But we still have interquel patches to consider, starting with the promised inclusion of Eternal Bonds in 2.45. While we've still got a little bit of time until the next Live Letter (which will no doubt reveal more about what's coming for the next few months), we've got enough information to speculate, prognosticate, and forecast, which is exactly what I want to do for this week. It's a thing I do.

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WoW Archivist: Epics

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, Dungeons, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Bulwark of Azzinoth
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on November 21st and is included here by permission.

Leveling through Draenor has been a blast, but as I am a player from classic WoW, a few things have struck me as incredibly strange. Triple-digit numbers in the guild panel. Sending NPCs to do quests on my behalf. And most of all, getting epic armor and weapons from solo leveling quests.

Many players in classic WoW (and not just raiders) opposed making epics more available to players. They called Blizzard's evolving attitude a slippery slope. "What's next," they argued, "epics for doing solo quests?" They never actually imagined that would happen. In 2005 it would have been unthinkable. Eight years later, here we are. But it's all been by design -- an evolving design with many steps along the way. Let's look at how we got here, one random drop at a time.

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LotRO begins testing fellowship version of Pelargir epic battle

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

lotro
The newest epic battle added to Lord of the Rings Online in Update 15 is about to get even bigger. Retaking Pelargir, the offensive-focused battle, was initially released in a solo/duo version, but testing has begun on a fellowship version.

This change will come with Update 15.1, according to the preliminary patch notes: "A fellowship version of Retaking Pelargir is now ready for limited release on Bullroarer, where we'll be taking important balance feedback from preview players. The timing of its release will depend on the feedback we get about this new version."

Update 15.1 will also contain plenty of tweaks and bug fixes for the Beorning class as well as allow players to track nearby quests inside of structures.

WoW previews Highmaul raid, kicks off anniversary events today

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Lore, Endgame, News Items, Dungeons, Subscription

And this time, slightly less than a year between updates!
Are you ready to start in on the raid cycle of Warlords of Draenor? Yes you are; that's what you do here. You can start by checking out the latest World of Warcraft development blog that shows off Highmaul in all its glory. The raid's release will be staggered into four parts, with Normal and Heroic releasing on December 2nd, Mythic and the first part of the Raid Finder difficulty releasing on December 9th, and the final two wings being added to the Raid Finder on December 16th and January 6th.

Highmaul contains seven bosses, three of which are optional and two of which are mandatory. Players will take on Kargath Bladefist to kick off the raid experience, while the ultimate encounter leads players against Imperator Mar'gok, the pinnacle of ogre power in the region. You can also take the time to play around with the game's new Twitter hashtag campaign while you wait. That won't help you with the raid at all, really, but it will help pass the time.

In other WoW news, Blizzard will be kicking off its previously announced anniversary events today. Both the 40-man, level 100 version of Molten Core and the Southshore vs. Tarren Mill battleground will become available to players through the raid finder and battlemaster queue, respectively. Everyone who logs in will receive a molten corgi pet as a happy birthday present from the team. The events end January 6th.

Wizard101 adds four new dungeons

Fantasy, Video, Patches, Free-to-Play, Kids, Wizard101, Family, Dungeons

Wizardry is not a safe profession these days. Wizard101 has grown even more dangerous with the addition of four brand-new dungeons spread across the game's level range, and Massively fully expects multiple online casualties to result from this irresponsible action.

The new dungeons are the snowy Shangri-Baa Mountains (level 25), Barkingham Palace (level 40), the House of Scales (level 60), and Castle Darkmoor (level 100). The latter is vital for wizards seeking a new spell for their arsenal, as a Castle Darkmoor quest will award one new shadow-enhanced card for each school of magic.

The November update came with other improvements to the game, including bypassing combat idlers' turns, more member benefits, and savable equipment sets. We've got a video covering the shadow-enchanced spells for you to watch after the break.

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The Nexus Telegraph: Is WildStar's raid size change too late?

Sci-Fi, Endgame, Opinion, WildStar, Dungeons, The Nexus Telegraph, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

You cannot play potential.  You cannot enjoy what could be fun.  You can only play the game that there is, and a pile of wasted potential does not make a game worth caring about.
Very few people are going to contest that scaling WildStar's biggest raid down to 20 people is a good move. Some will, yes, but when 400 players are working on content five months after release, that's a good sign that it's not doing the most basic job of getting people to play it. Bringing Datascape's size down is an indisputable good thing.

The question, of course, isn't about that. It's about whether it's too small a change too late in the game.

Make no mistake, this is a change that is significant enough to merit an announcement, but it's one that just missed the big patch we finally received not too long ago. (My initial reaction to that is middling, for the record, neither bad nor really a break from form or something that justifies its long delay.) I would be surprised if we see this change actually live in the game before next year. And it's a change of more conceptual significance than anything else because unless someone very quietly managed to clear Datascape without telling anyone, the end of that raid has gone unseen.

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WildStar is scaling Datascape down to 20 players

Sci-Fi, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Dungeons, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Yeah, it's all right to just comment with LOL to this one.
WildStar brought 40-player raids back to the forefront. The game is now pushing said raid size back away from the forefront, as the game's 40-person raid pinnacle is getting scaled down to 20 players. The official post on the subject notes that the number of people entering was far too low and the attrition rate far too high, so the raid is being rebalanced (but not nerfed) to account for having only half of its originally designed population inside.

Several reasons are cited for the changed, such as the game's combat working best with a smaller number of people, the lowered demands on computers, and a consistent raid size for future raid content which will hopefully make guild management easier. While the topic stops shy of saying that the 40-player versions are never coming back, that is certainly the implication. So it'll at least be marginally easier to form a group for Datascape soon if you're able to get through the first raid successfully.

Meet the bosses of TERA's upcoming Fate of Arun expansion

Betas, Fantasy, Screenshots, Lore, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, TERA, Dungeons

TERA
Announced abruptly just before Halloween, TERA's long-planned Fate of Arun expansion is due out in December, complete with a level cap bump and loads of new zones. Today, En Masse has provided us with an exclusive poster and a sneak peek at the bosses arriving to torment you in Arun. Check 'em out below!

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Neverwinter's Rise of Tiamat gameplay trailer is here

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Lore, Patches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Dungeons, Neverwinter

Neverwinter
Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic have been pimping the heck out of the upcoming Rise of Tiamat module for Neverwinter, the fifth episode in the season of dragons storyline. While the module itself doesn't land on official servers until November 18th, the gameplay trailer is here right now. Spoiler: Thar be dragons!

Don't forget that Neverwinter's April Fools' Day event returns this Thursday for a reprise lasting until the Rise of Tiamat launch.

Check out the trailer below.

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New TERA vid explores expansion dungeon

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, TERA, Dungeons

Ready for some new TERA dungeons? They're coming in the new Fate of Arun expansion and they're also showcased briefly in the preview vid we've embedded after the break. There are four new instances including Sabex Armory (level 61 and up), Macellarius Catacombs (64 and up), Ravenous Gorge (65 and up), and Bathysmal Rise (65 and up).

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Aion: Invasion launches today with new zones, dungeons, and server vs. server PvP

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Aion, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

The battle for Atreia expands today as Aion's latest free content update launches. Invasion introduces two all new zones, two new dungeons, a daily log in reward system, new world bosses, and a new gear enhancement system. On top of that, Daevas will be able to participate in the open beta of server vs. server PvP!

The two new zones include Kaldor, the burnt-out remnant of what was once the ancient Danuar land, and Levinshor, the colorful territory of Tiamat's origin. Kaldor is home to Wealhtheow's Keep, a place featuring new fortress siege elements. Levinshor is home to new species that will associate with the Elyos and the Asmodians. Of the two new instances, The Linkgate Foundry is for level 65 players and is solo, whereas Igdel Dome is a six-man PvPvE instance.

This server vs. server PvPvE will happen in a zone called Panesterra, which was thrown into another dimension by a massive Ide explosion. There, 100 players from each server and faction will battle against one another as well as baddy Beritra's forces in a massive seige to control the zone. The first live siege begins on November 9th.

For a look into the new content, check out the trailer below and dive into even more details in the patch notes. Then log in daily for your special gifts!

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Destiny's The Dark Below expansion launches December 9th

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Business Models, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Consoles, Dungeons, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

Destiny
The Dark Below, Destiny's first expansion -- sorry, "Expansion I" -- releases on December 9th, Bungie announced today. What's in store for players?
  • New weapons, armour and gear
  • A new Light Level cap of 32 with 5 additional Bounty slots
  • New story quests and missions revolving around a new character Eris and the Hive
  • A new co-op Strike called The Will of Crota (with a second co-op Strike, The Undying Mind, exclusive to PlayStation gamers for a year)
  • Three new competitive multiplayer arenas: Pantheon, Skyshock, and The Cauldron
  • And a new six-player Raid called Crota's End.
Bungie says the expansion will cost £19.99 standalone or £34.99 for a bundle that includes this expansion plus Expansion II. We've included a few of the new screenshots and concept art pieces below.

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