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Expansions

World of Warcraft shows off revamped Tauren ladies

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, News Items, Races, Subscription

No word on whether or not their portraits will finally open their eyes.
As Warlords of Draenor approaches release, the art team behind World of Warcraft continues finishing the revamped models for the game's races. The latest race to get a revamp is the female Tauren; while male Tauren have been in the beta client for quite some time, players have until now seen only quick shots of what the new female model would look like. Now you can see her in all her glory, and even at a glance it's a massive improvement.

The original model was extremely angular and low-detail due to the technology available when the game was first made, but the revamped model has much more definition in her fur and body shape. The only big silhouette change is a shrinking of her hands, with the official design blog calling the original model's hands "out of control." Take a peek at the official preview for more details on the updated ladycows.

Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs

Horror, Real-Life, Expansions, Patches, Opinion, The Secret World, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

Chaos Theory: The value of The Secret World's DLCs
This question was posed to me recently by a few different readers and stream viewers: Are The Secret World's DLCs a good value? As I pondered the question, I decided that instead of answering each query personally, it would be a good topic to explore here in Chaos Theory. Besides, the answer is definitely not a short one! (It can't even fit in a single column!)

So why can't I just fire off a simple yes or no to this question? The biggest problem is trying to provide an objective answer to a very subjective situation. While the meaning of value itself is clearly defined, said definition emphasizes that the judgment is individual to whoever is involved. How each player defines value is very personal, so I can't really answer for anyone except myself. What I can do, however, is provide as much of the objective information that I can so you can make your own subjective judgment on the value. Are TSW's issues and sidestories packs worth it? Let's look at the value from various viewpoints and you decide!

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WoW's Warlords of Draenor beta: Questing, mechanics, and concerns

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Subscription

The past is haunting you.
Tell me if this sounds familiar if you've played World of Warcraft: Your faction's forces are unexpectedly trapped in a strange new world with some familiar elements but a large number of unfamiliar ones. You are facing both the other faction and a new almost unknown foe, forcing you to seek allies immediately. Unfortunately for you, the local inhabitants have their own customs and lives, and you're going to need to start forging alliances to deal with this largely alien region.

Yes, that's the Warlords of Draenor starting experience as well as the Mists of Pandaria starting experience. What sets the two apart, aside from MoP's clever use of mini-hubs moving out in a sort of spiderweb fashion, is that MoP approached its story by easing up on the pressure early in the plot. You start settling into a rhythm, putting down the conflict with the enemy a little more, dealing with the inhabitants on their terms. The overarching conflict was there, but it had time to fade into the background. Not so here; the conflict with the Iron Horde squats on your shoulder and screams at you, crow-like, preventing you from thinking even for a second that you might want to explore this strange fantasy world.

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EVE Online: Crius launches today

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Expansions, Patches, Sandbox, Crafting, Subscription

crius
EVE Online is just churning out expansions (or plus-sized content updates, if you will) lately, with today's Crius release being the latest of the bunch.

Crius' main focus is on revising and expanding the industrial and crafting portions of the game. Players can join industrial teams to get important jobs done, enjoy an overhauled research interface, partake in dynamic pricing of tasks, and add industry-related upgrades to starbases.

Other fun features of this update include interior atmospheric audio, a new reprocessing system, the ability to opt out of fleet warps, and API support for the industry features of this patch.

See the savage beasts of WoW's Shadowmoon Valley

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, PvE, Subscription

Blizzard released a dev blog on World of Warcraft's Shadowmoon Valley over the weekend, and it's filled with prose and images detailing the regions beasts. These include riverbeasts, podlings, elekk, and even "enormous sentient trees" that may give would-be lumber collectors a bit of pause.

EVE Evolved: Stepping through the EVE Gate

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Expansions, Lore, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
Though EVE Online is often lauded for its rich decade-long player history full of wars and complex political dealings, the NPC storyline and New Eden's ancient backstory have always held my fascination. I started playing in early 2004 after reading dozens of fiction chronicles and mock scientific articles on the EVE website that painted the picture of a real living universe where incredible things could happen. Sure enough, my first years of play were punctuated with compelling live events and storyline arcs like the Crielere research project that led to the development of cloaking devices, the theft of a Federation Navy titan by Serpentis pirates, and the Blood Raiders taking over Delve.

CCP has frequently stated that its goal with EVE is to create the ultimate sci-fi simulator, and the core of a compelling sci-fi setting is a living universe that grows and changes. The best sci-fi TV shows are those with a constant cycle of revealing compelling mysteries and then solving them and of encountering escalating challenges to be overcome. EVE has done this extremely well a few times in its life, such as with the release of wormholes or when the Sansha incursions events were kicking off, and each time the concurrent player numbers have spiked. Guild Wars 2 has shown the power of an evolving living storyline to get people into the game and keep them actively playing in the long term, something that should be the norm for MMOs and that EVE Online could take much greater advantage of.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the big NPC mysteries revealed in EVE Online's decade-long history and ask why they were abandoned and where they could go now.

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The Daily Grind: What's your favorite LotRO update or expansion?

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

I'm kinda slow-poking my way through Blackroot Vale in Lord of the Rings Online's latest update. So far it's pretty standard fantasy themepark fare, but I'm enjoying it well enough thanks to the setting (Gondor!) and the general ease with which I can wander through it.

As far as LotRO updates go, I think my favorite would have to be the Riders of Rohan expansion, both because of its sweeping vistas and a delightful soundtrack. What about you, Massively readers? What's your favorite major update or LotRO expansion?

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!

Warlords of Draenor encourages the return of free-form world PvP in Ashran

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, PvP, Dev Diaries, Subscription

wow
World of Warcraft players who pine for the "good old days" of open world PvP may get to sup from that cup again come Warlords of Draenor. The devs are whipping up a new island, Ashran, that pulls upon lessons from past PvP zone designs to create something that encourages as close to the real open world PvP experience as one can get (and still have it designed).

Ashran is for level 100 players who want to pop in and engage in up to 100v100 battles. Unlike past PvP zones, players won't have to join a raid group to partake in the fun and can choose between world and objective-based PvP. "We want players to get caught up in the moment and become emotionally invested in the outcome of each new encounter, whether it's just getting the drop on a member of the opposite faction player or getting revenge for a stolen kill," Blizzard wrote.

The team also previewed another one of Warlords of Draenor's zones with Gorgrond. Gorgrond is an area split between the themes of creation and destruction and the biomes of heavy flora and barren wasteland.

WoW's Warlords of Draenor beta: A disappointing start

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, First Impressions, Subscription

Yeah, I know those feels, all right.
My time with the Draenor beta has been an overwhelming disappointment.

Warlords of Draenor is to World of Warcraft as Man of Steel is to the Superman mythos. It's an effort to collect classic elements with no regard for the setting in which they make sense, throwing them together like line items. It's aware of the history of the franchise only as a resource to mine, and it's just giving us all of the old familiar pieces without the parts that made those pieces memorable.

Imagine watching Harrison Ford pretending to be Indiana Jones despite being far too old for the role now, locked in a script with no sense of momentum or energy, going through the motions in a way that's not just lackluster but actively kind of shameful. Imagine Frank Miller writing Batman as a parody of what people thought his original versions of Batman were anyway without the slightest sense of irony. That should give you some idea of where I am when it comes to Warlords of Draenor. It's loads of classic ideas, stuff that I desperately want to like, but it's ultimately just not very good, and it certainly doesn't come together.

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Hearthstone's Naxxramas adventure begins rollout next week

Fantasy, Expansions, Launches, Free-to-Play, Hearthstone

hearthstone
Naxxramas is almost open for business once more. Blizzard announced today that Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas solo adventure will begin its rollout on Tuesday, July 22nd.

Initially, Naxxramas will only feature one wing, the Arachnid Quarter, but will open one of the remaining four wings each week thereafter. While the first wing is free, subsequent wings will cost to purchase, either with money or with in-game gold.

Curse of Naxxramas will be launched across all of Hearthstone's platforms: Windows, Mac, and iPad. By beating each of the wings, players can earn new cards to use in competitive matches.

Warlords of Draenor's Talador is at the heart of the Draenei civilization

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Lore, Dev Diaries, Subscription

wow
World of Warcraft continues its exploration of the new zones of Warlords of Draenor, this time with the gorgeous land of Talador.

Talador is the predecessor to what eventually becomes Outland's Terokkar Forest, and while players will see familiar sights like Shattrath, it won't be quite as they remember. The area is a warzone as the Iron Horde has besieged it, and players must do all they can to push back the wave of invaders.

"Talador is home to the heart of Draenei civilization," Blizzard writes. "It is stunningly beautiful, and the zone has a palette of oranges, golds, and greens that make it incredibly vibrant. The zone really showcases the breadth of Draenei life: the sprawling trade hub of Shattrath, the massive mausoleum that is Auchindoun, the iconic city of Tuurem, the mythical Telmor (it does exist!), and so many others."

Age of Wushu Warrior's Ascension expansion coming July 31

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu

Snail has announced that Age of Wushu will be getting its "next major expansion" on July 31. The new content is called Warrior's Ascension and it includes a cross-server PvP tournament system called the Sky Ladder as well as new level six gear.

The firm hasn't gone into a lot of detail just yet, but you can check out the full verbiage as well as a couple of images on the official announcement page.

Lineage II's new expansion to launch on July 30

Fantasy, Lineage 2, Expansions, Lore, Free-to-Play

Lineage II
NCsoft has announced today that its classic fantasy MMO Lineage II will be launching its next expansion on July 30. Entitled Ertheia, this free expansion brings new hunting zones, new adventures, and reveals the lore that explains the arrival of the Ertheia race.

"As the last of Einhasad's four original races (Elves, Orcs, Dwarves, and Ertheia) enters the playing field, they will join forces with the other races and Heroes of Aden to save their world, all a part of the continuing saga within Lineage II's epic storyline," according to an NCsoft press release.

Check out the video after the cut for more information on Lineage II's Ertheia.

[Source: NCsoft press release]

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SWTOR's legacy storage detailed

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Crafting

BioWare community manager Eric Musco has highlighted some details of Star Wars: The Old Republic's legacy storage on the game's official forums. The system will debut with the Galactic Strongholds expansion, and players will obtain legacy storage for free by completing the introductory stronghold mission. Legacy storage will also be craftable and it will appear in the game's cash shop.

The storage default is one 80-slot bay, with additional unlocks available for purchase with in-game credits or cash shop currency.

Neverwinter shows off the Scourge Warlock for Tyranny of Dragons

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

NOT ALL DRAGONS
Do you want to fight some dragons? The next expansion to Neverwinter is all about fighting dragons, hence the title Tyranny of Dragons. Would you prefer to do so whilst conjuring up forbidden and evil magic from beyond to help smite your foes and empower your party? Then the Scourge Warlock is right up your alley. You can check the new class out in the trailer just past the break.

Scourge Warlocks are casters who can summon a Soul Puppet from the beyond, using their magical prowess to leech health and empower allies while leaving enemies as shambling shells. They also have access to a new paragon path, Hellbringer, which... well, it doesn't summon bunnies and stomach rubs. Take a look at the official development blog for a clearer picture of what these casters are capable of, and watch the trailer to see the class in action before Tyranny of Dragons goes live on August 14th.

[Source: Cryptic Studios press release]

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