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Endgame

Final Fantasy XIV shows off patch 2.4's story and Shiva

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

This image is nothing to Sneeze at.
The next major Final Fantasy XIV patch will bring more story content. Every major patch does, after all. A new preview on the official site makes it clear that players will continue working with the Crystal Braves, delving further into the conflict that's brewing deep within Ishgard the threatens all of Eorzea. It also makes it very clear that players will be facing off against fan favorite Ultros in the next installment of the ongoing Gentleman Inspector Hildibrand storyline, which should delight Final Fantasy VI fans even more than their magitek armor mounts.

You can also take a peek at a preview of the coming battle against Shiva; the Hard version is part of the storyline, while the Extreme battle requires players to first clear The Striking Tree (Extreme). It promises to be a pretty cool fight. Take a look at the previews, and keep your eyes peeled for when the patch is going live.

Path of Exile shows off a prototype Grandmaster battle

Fantasy, Video, Culture, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play, Path of Exile

It's like PvP, except it's PvE.
The Hall of Grandmasters in Path of Exile, the home of characters that have ascended beyond the mortal realm, will be a place for players to go and admire the best of the best. And by "admire" I of course mean "kill." A new video has been released by the developers showing an early prototype match between a Grandmaster and a player character, with the former having a combat style best described as "what players do, taken to 11."

Of course, this is just an early prototype, as the finished version is supposed to feature players fighting against several of these foes at once, complete with jets of flame roasting characters from every conceivable angle. You can check out the video just past the break; there's still no release date for this feature, but the developers are happy with how it's been turning out.

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Final Fantasy XIV shows off the dungeons of patch 2.4

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Dungeons, Subscription

Take a shot every time pirates are involve in a story around Limsa Lominsa.  Oh dear, now you've died of alcohol poisoning.
We don't know exactly when patch 2.4 will drop for Final Fantasy XIV, but we know it will be soon -- and not just because it's been about three months since the last major patch, but we've also got a peek at the three new hard mode dungeons coming in patch 2.4. The Sunken Temple of Qarn and Sastasha will be updated in new forms, while Snowcloak takes the role of the completely new dungeon for players to navigate.

While the massive ice wall of Snowcloak is visible in the game now, a series of tunnels will be navigable in 2.4, allowing players to enter the depths searching for the source of this formidable barrier. Meanwhile, Sastasha has become invested with a new group of apparent pirates straight from the depths of the sea, and the Sunken Temple of Qarn has proven to be less conquered by adventurers than originally thought. Take a look at the full preview for more details; you can also check out the details on viewing livestreams from the upcoming fanfest in Las Vegas.

Destiny knows you want a looking-for-raid tool

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Endgame, PvE, Consoles, Community Q&A, Dungeons, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

In Destiny's latest letter to the playerbase, Bungie Community Manager Deej says that a looking-for-raid tool might be on the table. "You've been heard," he tells a player asking for raid matchmaking. "We're having conversations about how Matchmaking might support the more challenging activities in Destiny." He suggests that PUGs for dungeons thought mostly un-PUGgable are already happening.
You don't need to sell us too hard on the value of Matchmaking at Bungie. It's something we helped to pioneer. Yet, we understand its limitations. In the recipe of a Bungie game, Matchmaking has always contributed the ingredient of a team built to play one match of competitive multiplayer. As you've probably witnessed in recent weeks (or years), many of those fresh allies have failed to go the distance together.

The Raid was designed for solid teams of killers who have made a commitment to solve a dense and explosive riddle. Most of the raiding parties who have emerged victorious from the Vault of Glass have sworn that one weak link would have doomed their chain. There have been other stories, of course. We've heard tell of Guardians who met each other just outside the door that leads into that vault. Strange tales have reached our ears - tales of total strangers who have banded together to see the Raid all the way through to a triumphant finale.
After announcing that he wouldn't be fielding queries about rumors, Deej also addressed the companion app, factions, feedback, and class balance. "The next batch of enhancements, refinements, fixes, and tweaks," he says, will be released "very soon."

World of Warcraft shows off the dungeons of Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Dungeons, Subscription

Comes pre-loaded with all the draenei you can eat.
As the release of Warlords of Draenor inches ever closer, it's no surprise that players might want to know what dungeons they'll be running religiously for the next several months. The official World of Warcraft site has been updated with a preview of the eight new dungeons being added with the expansion, four of them intended for leveling along the way and four of them pegged at level 100 for players who have already reached the top.

On the leveling path, players will stop in the Bloodmaul Slag Mines, the Iron Docks, Auchindoun, and Skyreach. Once at the cap, they can start exploring the Shadowmoon Burial Grounds, the Everbloom, and the Grimrail Depot... or they can take a trip back to Azeroth to view the revamped Upper Blackrock Spire. Take a look at the full preview for more of the lore backdrop for the newest dungeon drives coming to the game in November.

Guild leaders converge for The Elder Scrolls Online's first guild summit

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

We've brought our most dedicated fans here in what is sure to not have any sort of echo chamber effect.
If you weren't invited to The Elder Scrolls Online's current guild summit... well, don't feel bad; only the leaders of 20 guilds and online communities were invited. But it's still kind of nail-biting. What could they be talking about in there? What strange and arcane topics will be brought up? Will special items be handed out? Are there designer cheeses available? Lucky for you, though, the folks at the Tamriel Foundry have taken the time to transcribe what's going down in Maryland so that even those not at the summit can get a sense for what's happening.

The first day of the summit covered combat responsiveness, system design, AvA mechanics, and the Champion system. This means both detailed examinations of where the game is currently lacking and what's coming in the future; the Champion system and the rework of the veteran experience is slated for "when it's done" rather than a specific date. So sit back and take a look at all of the hard details on display, possibly whilst eating some designer cheese of your own.

Age of Conan's Update 4.4 ushers in new raids, new tier sets

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Free-to-Play

It's barbaric, but hey - it's home.
As summer fades into memory, Age of Conan players turn their gaze toward the Halloween event and the next major patch of the game. The latest game director's letter is about exactly those topics, as well, so that works out nicely. While update 4.4 will bring with it new Unchained raids, there are other improvements coming along as well, not the least of which are visual improvements to the Tier 5 sets that will be released along with the raids.

The update also brings with it the PvP streak system and new area looting functionality; pressing Shift and V will automatically loot all eligible corpses in the immediate area. Players can also look forward to the upcoming gem system and Thirst of the Serpent God event at the end of the month. Check out the full letter for more details about what's coming next for the game over the next 31 days.

EVE Evolved: Features coming in Oceanus and beyond

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, News Items, PvE, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
It's been almost four months since EVE Online switched from publishing two major expansions per year to releasing ten smaller updates, and so far it looks like the new schedule has been a huge success. Rather than forcing the industry overhaul out the door in Kronos before it was ready, CCP was able to push it forward to the Crius release window seven weeks later and the extra development time meant the feature launched in a very polished state. It may be too early to tell if the new schedule's success can be seen in the concurrent player graph for Tranquility, but the numbers have remained steady for the past few months in what is typically the annual low-point for player activity.

The Oceanus update is scheduled to go live in just two day's time, adding several graphical upgrades, more difficult burner missions, an experimental new notification feature, and other small improvements. The scale of the update seems to be on par with the recent Hyperion release, consisting of mostly small features and minor iterations on gameplay. While we're told that CCP is still working on large projects behind the scenes, the new release schedule means they won't be rushed out the door and so we may not see them for some time.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I summarise everything we know about Tuesday's Oceanus update, and take a look at what's to come in further releases.

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The Elder Scrolls Online pushes players to Upper Craglorn in Update 4

Fantasy, Patches, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

I'll up YOUR Craglorn!  I... no, wait, please don't draw your weapons, adventurers.  I'm... I'm so lonely.  I don't know what I'm saying any more.  My life just hurts, and every time I think it's not going to hurt any more it keeps going.  I walled myself away so I could live better, but all it did was make me long for contact I don't know how to have.  I just want friends.  All I need is for you to hear me out, and maybe we - oh.  Okay, you can stab me.  Maybe it's better this way.
You've been to Craglorn? Pff, that's boring now. Upper Craglorn is where the real action is these days. And by complete coincidence, Upper Craglorn is now open on The Elder Scrolls Online's servers, as the game's fourth major update has just dropped. The zone will wrap up the Celestial storyline as your character takes on the Scaled Court. That also ties into the new trial, Sanctum Ophidia, which is a direct strike against the heart of the Court; players will take on the minions and end up fighting the Celestial Serpent.

The new Dragonstar Arena also debuts with this patch, asking players to fight against waves of oncoming enemies. Plus there's a new crafting trait available, improved grouping mechanics, various bugfixes, the usual assortment. So if you can't wait to go knife up a really important snake and check out the places that all the hip new kids are heading for, go check out the update.

Destiny unlocks its first raid and goes on sale

Sci-Fi, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Promotions, Dungeons, Destiny

Reacting to tepid launch reviews with a raid may not be the selling point the developers are hoping for?
Destiny hasn't been out for every long now, but if you've been power-leveling along, you might very well be level 26 or above. And that's a good thing if you want to take on the game's first raid, which has just been unlocked for players. The Vault of Glass can now be entered, with hardcore enthusiasts already rushing to be the first one to clear its challenges. As with all of Destiny's raid content, a fire team must be assembled out of members of your friend list, as there is no matchmaking option for Vault of Glass.

Haven't yet picked up the game? Well, you can do so now at a discount; despite the short amount of time Destiny has been out, retailer BrandsMart is reportedly offering the game for $30, which larger retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart may or may not price match. (Reports are conflicting.) While you likely won't be ready for the Vault of Glass if you take the offer, you will be able to get in on the ground floor a fair bit cheaper, so it's still a win.

Kotaku argues that as of this morning, Destiny has "resoundingly mediocre review scores" with "76.29% on GameRankings and a 77 on Metacritic." Our sister site Joystiq reviewed the game this morning, giving it four out of five stars.

The first chunk of Champions Online's Steel Crusade is live

Super-hero, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, Lore, Patches, Endgame, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Champions Online

Champs
As we previewed back in August, the first leg of Champions Online's Steel Crusade update went live last week. Your task in the update? Stop people from spontaneously bursting into flames. No, really.
The Steel Crusade update begins in Millennium City, where things are really heating up as citizens are spontaneously bursting into flame. With the help of Professor Silverback, you'll need to help save citizens by shrinking down to microscopic size to enter the human brain and investigate the cause of the malady.
The update introduces a new archetype for max level characters (Reawakened Automaton), new missions to combat Mechanon, and yeah, a new lockbox with a chance at new costumes and a vehicle.

The second and final part of the update launches this Thursday with a "space-station showdown."

WildStar trims back attunement requirements

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

So that got fixed up real nice.
If you're still slamming your head against the wall of WildStar's raid attunement, the game's most recent small patch will make your life a bit easier. The medal requirements for Veteran dungeons have been lowered to only Bronze, achieved simply by clearing the dungeons. Players will also be required to kill only 12 out of 18 bosses to complete a step of the chain, with progress applied retroactively via achievements where applicable. It won't strip away the overall length and complexity of the process, but it will make it a bit less onerous.

This patch also improves the process of acquiring new AMP and Ability Tier points, adding them to PvP vendors, including them in Path progression, and upping their world drop rates. Aside from a handful of bugfixes and balance changes, the patch doesn't contain any new content, but it should give players trying to get into content a little more incentive to keep moving.

Destiny unveils more raid details

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Destiny

They're like every raid except now they're in a FPS, basically.
Destiny is coming out very soon, and that means future players are probably thinking about what the endgame will be like. The latest update on the official site shares some more details about how raids will work in both Normal and Hard modes and elaborates on the differences between difficulties. In short, Normal mode is meant to be far easier and allow for more diverse clearing strategies; Hard mode demands coordination and execution.

Opening raids for the first time is meant to be challenging; the devs shared an anecdote about players taking 45 minutes just to get in the front door. The developers are confident that players will be able to tackle raids more quickly once the raids are better known. There's also discussion about the weekly lockout, which will save your progress as you move through the raids. Take a look at the official update for more details.

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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EVE Evolved: How to fix nullsec territorial warfare

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Guilds, Patches, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
If you've been playing EVE Online lately or just following the major events in the game, it can't have escaped your notice that nullsec has become a bit stagnant. The lawless nullsec regions are supposed to be politically unstable territories claimed by hundreds of warring player-run alliances, but today they're dominated primarily by just two or three mega-coalitions. Individual alliances can no longer hold out against the combined forces of the coalitions and must either pick a side or be annihilated. The coalitions have even signed agreements not to take space from each other by force, and players are being bored to death as a result.

Two weeks ago, I examined the history of force projection in EVE Online and made the argument that capital ships and jump drives ultimately created today's nullsec problems. Increases in mobility have led to alliances teaming up over vast distances, making mega-coalitions an inevitable outcome. It's obviously too late to remove capital ships or jump logistics, but there are plenty of other ways to potentially fix the nullsec problem. We had some great discussions in the comments of the previous article about how this complex problem could be solved without making warfare the painful slog it was back in 2004, and I believe it's possible.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I lay out some ideas for new game mechanics that could solve the current nullsec crisis and may meet CCP's goals for the eventual sovereignty revamp that's on the way.

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