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Expansions

World of Warcraft opens the doors of Highmaul

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Dungeons, Subscription

wow
The raid cycle of World of Warcraft's endgame begins anew today with the advent of Highmaul. While this raid did not go live with Warlords of Draenor's release, Blizzard is now opening the doors a crack to let in players for their first taste of epic combat.

Highmaul is a seven-boss raid, although only two of those bosses are mandatory for players to down (but c'mon, only cowards tiptoe by the big baddies). Even though the raid is open for business today, it will feature only normal and heroic difficulties and will not be listed on the raid finder. In the coming weeks, mythic difficulty and raid finder functionality will be added to the instance.

Hyperspace Beacon: Previewing SWTOR's Shadow of Revan

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Launches, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: Playing the Shadow of Revan
When I was first introduced to the expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, there were two things I wanted to see: the continuation of the class story and Yavin 4. And I'm happy to say that this expansion delivered both of those in a satisfying way. When I spoke to studio game director James Ohlen and lead writer Charles Boyd about the expansion a few weeks ago, they told me that Shadow of Revan would close one major chapter and open a new book for SWTOR. After seeing the expansion, I have to agree that Shadow of Revan does put a great cap on a class stories and opens the door for an exciting future for the game.

I don't want to give you the impression that everything in the expansion is exactly what I wanted, though. There is a surprising lack of exploration, the amount of content fell short, and parts of the maps felt slapped together. The screenshots depict beautiful scenes, but sometimes form outweighs function.

Before I continue, I feel obligated to tell you that there are spoilers of previous content in this piece, but the important parts of the new content will remain unspoiled.

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Here are some screens from SWTOR's new planet

Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, News Items, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Dev Diaries

Star Wars: The Old Republic's website has updated with a new developer blog called Rishi: Places of Interest. Actually, let me back up. It's not really a developer blog, even though it's listed in the site's developer blog section.

It's actually something of an in-character journal/travel log, but don't worry if you're not a roleplayer. You can still look at the pretty screenshots that focus on points of interest around the planet Rishi, which debuts in this month's Shadow of Revan expansion.

The Secret World's nightmarish Issue #10 coming 'in next couple weeks'

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), Expansions, The Secret World, Dev Diaries, Buy-to-Play

Content-loving The Secret World fans will be happy to hear that the next issue is just a couple weeks away. Joel Bylos' November Game Director letter has announced that Issue #10 Nightmares in the Dream Palace will go live "in the first half of December." That means more Tokyo locations, a new mission chain, new AEGIS shields, and more interesting characters will soon be available to enjoy. Want to wander the docks and the shipyards? How about prowl around an abandoned quarantine camp or the Orochi tenements? Those locations and more will be available for exploration. Can't wait to hear and see more? Keep your eyes peeled for Massively's hands-on with issue #10 this week!

Not all the goodies are dependent on owning the issue, either. The accompanying patch brings quality-of-life improvements including bug fixes, a UI editing mode, and an updated con system to help newer players. And what's TSW without a great holiday event? The letter also introduces this year's new Christmas event, which will run from the middle of the month until just after the new year. Called The Christmas Conspiracy, it begins with an invitation to see a performance of "The Magic Flute" at the Albion Theatre and entails working to stop the Phoenicians from stealing the very heart of Christmas itself. Previous Christmas events will also return.

Battlefields open in Sevencore's first expansion

Fantasy, Expansions, News Items, Free-to-Play

Battlefields opening in Sevencore's first expansion
Sevencore may have just enjoyed its global launch at the beginning of this month, but there's already an expansion just around the corner. On December 2nd, Webzen will release Occupation War for the English server Balmung. This expansion includes the battlefields Tillau and Crimson Plateau, where players can earn victory points (VP) to spend on weapons, armor, random boxes, and even mounts from the PvP vendors.

Each Saturday at 4:00 p.m. EST, one guild will compete against the others for control a certain area. Winners of this contest will be able to collect taxes and manage prices in regional goods as well as access the Presidential election for Inadar.

[Source: Webzen press release]

Captain's Log: Why Star Trek Online is kind of a mess right now

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Patches, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Captain's Log, Subscription

A little messy and incoherent despite... hmm.  Commentary.
I haven't had nearly as much time to play Star Trek Online lately as I would have liked; I've had other projects to work on, other games to play, and a lot of holiday stuff going on. So my main captain, who's been trekkin' around since launch, is still woefully underleveled. I accept entirely that this is my own fault, but I haven't been stressing out over it; I have no need to rush up to the cap.

That attitude is helped substantially by the fact that the people who are rushing up to the cap or already did rush up are awash with complaints. The speed of leveling. The speed of upgrade mechanics. How the Tier 5 and Tier 6 ships interact. The price of items. The amount of mission content. Gaining new specialization points at the cap. Sure, some of it is pretty normal complaining, but there's a general sense of discontent with the game at the moment. And I'm honestly not surprised because this problem was always going to crop up, and it could have been managed so much better.

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Norrathian Notebook: First impressions of EQII's Altar of Malice

Fantasy, Galleries, EverQuest II, Expansions, Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Crafting, Norrathian Notebook

Norrathian Notebook:  First impressions of EQII's Altar of Malice
Although Altar of Malice has been available to All Access subscribers for two weeks, EverQuest II's 11th expansion just opened up to everyone on Tuesday. That makes this a great time to share my initial impressions of the new lands and new content. Mind you, these are literally only first impressions: I am not one to blow through the content at a break-neck speed just so I can consume it all in as little time as possible. That's relegated to pecan pie. MMOs aren't a race to me. I prefer to gradually savor the content, stretching it out so the experience lasts. I've actually also been holding myself back from doing too much so I can run through things with those who can finally join me now that the expansion is fully released. I will continue to poke though it at my pace while I continue my other endeavors (do you realize just how long it takes to decorate a house?!). As such, a full review of everything will have to come at a later date.

So what my thoughts as I amble amble my way through the land of the lost... er, jurassic park... I mean, Altar of Malice? EQII's dino-riffic expansion definitely has its highlights, like offering a heaping helping of nostalgia, but it has its disappointments as well. Here's my take.

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Icarus Online releases trailer for The Evil Desert

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Patches, Previews, News Items

You said we were going to Red Lobster.  This is not Red Lobster.  Are you listening?  I WANTED RED LOBSTER, TRISHA!
We have to be honest and say we don't know a whole lot about Icarus Online, due to the fact that it hasn't been released over here and isn't in a language that most of us can speak. Those are barriers to education right there. But we do know it's getting a new expansion, and a trailer for that expansion is available just past the break.

The expansion is dubbed The Evil Desert, and you can guess what the focus is from the title alone, really. It's not a benevolent tundra. From the trailer, it should feature new storyline quests, at least one massive new boss, and a lot of people speaking ominously whilst conjuring cards. Check out the trailer for yourself just past the break; it'll take only a minute of your time.

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Star Wars: The Old Republic explains 3.0's Sniper and Gunslinger

Sci-Fi, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Subscription

Keeping it at arm's length.
Star Wars: The Old Republic finishes up its series examining the class changes coming with the 3.0 update today with the Sniper and the Gunslinger. Why were those two the last on the list? Probably because they were hiding way in the back. That's sort of how they do things. As both of the base classes (Smuggler and Imperial Agent) have seen some significant changes, some of the changes to Snipers and Gunslingers focus around keeping the core utility of the advanced classes while removing unnecessary or superfluous buttons.

Sharpshooter/Marksmanship are fairly unchanged from their current incarnations, save for a new ability replacing an older ability in regular rotation. Engineer/Saboteur is largely unchained, but the changes to abilities should produce smoother overall rotations. Last but not least, Virulence/Dirty Fighting specialties both gain a new ability that functionally replaces an older option and a new passive ability to spread damage over time. Check out the details on the new tricks on the official development blog.

Take a look at World of Warcraft's updated Blood Elf models

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

These could have been in at launch, sure, but it would have cost a raid tier.
Blood Elves kind of got the short end of the World of Warcraft stick when Warlords of Draenor launched. All the classic races got an updated model, the Draenei got an updated model, and the Blood Elves didn't. The result is that the race is notably older than its contemporaries. That's going to change soon; the updated models for the race are swiftly moving through development, bringing the Horde's magical addicts up to par with the rest of the faction.

As with the other updated models, the differences are subtle but notable. Blood Elf women have slightly wider torsos and a more defined neck, while the men have better anatomy and a more natural stance. There's no precise ETA, but the team is hoping to have these updated models into the game soon, as rigging and animating are currently underway. You can get some idea of what the finished product will look like by checking the preview.

The Stream Team: Through Warlords of Draenor's Dark Portal

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Video, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team, Subscription, MMORPG

World of Warcraft
Now that the server carnage has died down and everyone's off running dungeons and farming loot, Massively's Mike Foster is ready to pick up the Warlords of Draenor story line to see where it takes him. Tune in tonight at 7:00 p.m. EST as Mike ghost-wolfs his way through Draenor and catch a glimpse of the World of Warcraft expansion responsible for bringing over three million players back to Blizzard's content buffet.

Game: World of Warcraft
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Monday, November 24th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Destiny's Dark Below gameplay previewed in new video

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Expansions, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Destiny

Bungie's response to last week's Destiny expansion leak takes the form of a new dev diary video. Joystiq reports on the "one way trip" nature of The Dark Below's design on display in the new clip. The vid also introduces Eris Morn who serves as a quest giver and offers insights based past encounters with the expansion's baddies.

The Dark Below will cost you $20 when it launches on December 9th, unless you already have the $35 Destiny season pass, of course. Game Informer holds exclusive rights to the diary video, so you'll need to follow the links below to watch it.

SWTOR's Revan Returns trailer has a lot of Revans in it

Sci-Fi, Expansions, MMO Industry, News Items, Star Wars: The Old Republic

How many times can you say Revan inside of a minute? Quite a few, if the latest Star Wars: The Old Republic expansion trailer is any indication. It's called Revan Returns, and it's all about the Shadow of Revan expansion slated to launched on December 9th. Click past the cut to have a look!

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EVE Evolved: What does Thera mean for EVE?

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Culture, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Game Mechanics, Guilds, Lore, Patches, Previews, PvP, Endgame, PvE, Opinion, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
If you've been keeping up with the recent news updates on EVE Online, you've probably heard about the upcoming Rhea update scheduled for December 9th. This mega patch will introduce the new tech 3 Tactical Destroyer ship class, Sleeper incursions into normal space, hands-on WASD flight controls, and 101 new wormhole systems (including 25 that are limited to small ships). The new wormhole systems have had all of their planets shattered by an as-yet unknown stellar phenomenon, and clues as to what transpired there will be hidden in the rubble. This infusion of new content and story will mark the first time the wormhole storyline and gameplay have been significantly expanded in over four years.

Each of the new shattered star systems is guaranteed to have at least one outgoing wormhole leading to normal space at all times, increasing the likelihood that pirates will catch you exploring or farming them. And since these systems won't have any in-tact moons, you won't be able to put up a permanent starbase to retreat to if hostiles appear. I'm pretty excited for exploring this new lawless frontier, but it's a unique shattered star system called Thera that I'm most looking forward to finding. Thera will be the first and only wormhole system to have fully kitted NPC stations and will serve as neutral ground for anyone who wants to live there. It's been described as the Mos Eisley of EVE, a permanent home to pirates, PvP corps, and smugglers looking to make some quick ISK.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at how the Thera system could revolutionise EVE for a lot of players and where the EVE storyline could go as a result.

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The opening cinematic for Destiny's first DLC has been leaked

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Expansions, Previews, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Destiny

It is dark.  And you are below something.
You remember Destiny, don't you? Come on, folks, it was only a few months ago. Science fiction shooter? Made by Bungie? It had a cave that you shot until candy came out? Well, the opening cinematic for the game's first major DLC, The Dark Below, appears to be out in the wild via a leak. You can watch it just past the break, complete with ominous chanting and creepy voice over explaining what the title actually means.

The DLC is planned for launch on December 9th for $20, or included as a part of the game's Season Pass for $25. There's no way to confirm if this is indeed the trailer, but it certainly looks legitimate, and it lays out a reasonable story pitting players against the Hive and its ultimate designs on Earth. You can check out the trailer for yourself just past the cut.

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