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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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The Stream Team: Dungeoning in Swordsman

Fantasy, Historical, Video, New Titles, PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team, MMORPG, Swordsman

Swordsman
According to Perfect World, the real meat of Swordsman is to be found in its dungeon content (and its PvP). Join Massively's Mike Foster tonight as he continues his Choose My Adventure exploration of Swordsman by queuing up for some mid-level instances and seeing where his whips take him. The action starts at 7:00 p.m. EDT -- assuming, of course, that the instance gods show Mike some pity and give him a group.

Game: Swordsman
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, October 24th
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches today

Fantasy, Business Models, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Launches, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Dungeons

RIFT
After a brief postponement, RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion will launch today. It opens up the Plane of Water, introduces a minion system, revamps endgame classes with masteries, ushers in endless nightmare rifts of all levels, and tweaks the mentor system to scale players' level upward, not just downward.

Earlier this month, Massively's Justin Olivetti explored the expansion's key features and weighed the pros and cons of the collectors editions. He noted that free players who don't pay for the expansion will be able to play most of it but will lose out on earring slots, Planeswalker: Water gear, and the Manguo League, though some of the restrictions can be removed with in-game effort.

West coast-based Trion Worlds says to expect the rollout this afternoon.

Ultima Online dares you to seek the Treasures of Doom

Fantasy, Bugs, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Ultima Online, Promotions, Sandbox, Dungeons, Anniversaries, Subscription

UO
Ultima Online's publish 87 arrives on all shards today, bringing with it Halloween gifts as well as a fresh round of 17th anniversary gifts meant as an apology for their tardiness. The patch introduces a new Halloween event, Treasures of Doom, which funnels players into the dungeon Doom. Artifacts collected inside the dungeon can be traded to new NPC researchers stationed outside in return for brand-new titles and loot items, including named lanterns, unique slayer bonus buffs, and several pieces of high-end gear.

The update also installs bug fixes for the vice vs. virtue PvP system, trade quests, and enhanced client.

The game's standard trick-or-treating events run until November 19th, while the Treasures of Doom promotion continues until December 1st and won't resume again until Halloween next year.

The Daily Grind: Would you play an all-endgame MMO?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Endgame, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

I'm hard on MMOs with endgames, especially endgames that focus on a single repetitive activity. The problem isn't so much what that activity is but that MMOs spend so much time making you do something else before you can get to that activity -- instead of just letting you just do that presumably ideal and fun activity from the start. That's prompted some clever players to wonder, why not just make an all-endgame -- an all-raiding -- MMO?

To be clear, I'm not talking about sandboxes or persistent PvP games that can be perceived as entirely endgame. I'm talking about a classic themepark experience with the levels and questing ripped out -- just endgame dungeons and raids, pure PvE group challenge, from the moment you log in to the moment you log out. If raiding really is about the challenge and the thrill of big group PvE, such a game would be welcomed by hardcore raiders... right?

And more importantly: Would you play 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!

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