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Fantasy

Path of Exile announces Forsaken Masters, its second major update

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Path of Exile

Not to be confused with the Forsaken Maestros.  That's a very different expansion.
You aren't the best around in Path of Exile. To be the best, you need someone even better to teach you. You need a master. Maybe even a lost master, which is the premise of the game's second major update, Forsaken Masters. This update will give players seven different eponymous masters to train under, each of whom will make different requests of players and offer different lessons as players improve their reputation.

That's not all the update will offer when it goes live, though. Players will be able to craft their own customized hideouts upon reaching enough reputation with a given Master, allowing them to craft their own little town. There are also new items, revamped passive skills, rebalances of existing content, and new challenge leagues to enjoy. Players will be able to start taking on these new adventures when the update drops on August 20th. Then you can start really being the best around.

ArcheAge's second closed beta event is live right now

Betas, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox

ArcheAge's second closed beta phase is officially underway! This time around, you can play through 1:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, August 4th. If you played CBE1, you don't need to download the client all over again, but you will need to update your build to 4.3 via the 161 MB patch.

You may also be pleased to note that all of your CBE1 progress will carry over, including your crop timers and taxes. Trion says that CBE2 is expected to be "three times the size of the first."

Age of Wushu expansion Warrior's Ascension releases today

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

Snail has released Warrior's Ascension, the "summer expansion" for its Age of Wushu martial arts MMO. The update includes a beta of the Sky Ladder, which is a new PvP tournament system wherein players will fight random opponents "who match their level."

Warrior's Ascension also enables players to acquire new level six gear upon completion of the "Before the Final Battle" chapter that has been added to the Age of Wushu records.

[Source: Snail Games press release]

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Vindictus previews upcoming hero Arisha

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Classes, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Vindictus

Girl talk.
Bad news first: if you're a stateside player of Vindictus, you don't know when you're going to be able to start playing with Arisha, as she's not releasing in Korea until August 7th. You can, however, take a look at her trailer just past the break to get a sense for the character and how she fights, so that's something, at least.

In play, Arisha looks to be a fast-moving character using a single blade and magic to teleport, freeze time, and otherwise tear through her opponents. Also, by the looks of it, she's got a pet dog. Take a gander at the trailer if you're interested in seeing more about the character, although you will have to wait for a while yet to play her yourself.

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Daum hiring industry 'veterans from western region' for Black Desert

Fantasy, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Black Desert

When Pearl Abyss announced that Korean internet giant Daum would be publishing Black Desert in the west, my first reaction was "really?" It makes a certain amount of sense, though, as having one worldwide publisher (Daum is also releasing the fantasy sandbox in its native Korea) could work in the title's favor in terms of localization and time-to-launch efficiency. On the other hand, Daum has no real presence in Europe or North America.

That last point was recently addressed by Pearl Abyss Director of Overseas Business Brian Oh, who spoke with MMO Culture at ChinaJoy 2014. "Daum is looking to set up a new games business team and hiring veterans from the western region to operate the new games platform," Oh explained.

The interview also delves into Black Desert's translation process as well as IP restrictions and other notables.

Final Fantasy XIV gets a real-world theme cafe in Tokyo

Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Like this, but slightly less armor.
Have you ever looked at the vistas of Eorzea in Final Fantasy XIV and thought that they looked like a place you want to be in real life? Good news: You can. A new real-world themed restaurant in Tokyo called the Eorzea Cafe is opening soon, and it's based on the Carline Canopy in Gridania, complete with Eorzean dishes, beverages, and decorations. If you ever wanted to see a bladed lantern shield on the wall whilst you have your dinner, this is the place.

Opening on July 31st, the cafe features drinks inspired by the jobs, moogle-themed desserts, and what appears to be a burger based on the Lord of the Crags himself, Titan. There are also PCs set up for people to play the game at their leisure. It's going to be a bit of a hike out to the Akihibara district, but where else are you going to find a Titan Burger while drinking a Dragoon cocktail?

[Thanks to Kythas for the tip!]

The Daily Grind: I'll miss you, Vanguard

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Vanguard, The Daily Grind, Crafting, Sunsets

Hey Vanguard.

I wish you could stay longer. Yeah, you've been hanging around my hard drive since 2007, but that first year was a mess. You launched right next to The Burning Crusade, which would have been the kiss of death even if you hadn't debuted with a bunch of bugs.

SOE eventually fixed you up, and the result was a niche and highly enjoyable MMO world of the kind that no one wants to make any more. You were vast, you were an explorer's dream and, stutter-step chunk lines notwithstanding, you were seamless. You had more races and classes than I can remember, though I will remember the Dread Knight and the Disciple quite fondly.

I wish more people had given you a whirl. I wish more devs would copy your crafting. I wish all MMO quests were as fun as that lengthy, lovely unicorn mount chase. I'll probably get in trouble for saying so, but I wish your labyrinthine code could've led to an emulator. Most of all, though, I wish you weren't leaving. You were the first themepark I actually enjoyed, and that's no small feat.

You will be missed.

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!

WoW's Warlords of Draenor expansion is making faces at you

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Previews, News Items, Races, Subscription

WoW
When Blizzard launches World of Warcraft's Warlords of Draenor expansion later this year, players will be getting more than just the long-awaited character body model upgrades; they're also getting new facial geometry. Art Director Chris Robinson wrote today on the game's official blog,
Our next big focus is doing justice to the facial options. With the original models and their simplistic geometry and low-resolution textures, a lot of facial expressions were simply painted on. Now that we've moved to higher-polygon models with lips, teeth, and fully articulated faces-not to mention higher-resolution textures-recreating those same facial options isn't as simple as painting them onto a flat surface. Previously, to get a sneer out of a model, you'd just paint a sneer on its face, and that was that. To do it correctly now-and make it look great-we have to fully pose a sneer, create a custom texture, and mesh that base pose with all of the existing emotes and animations.
Robinson also said that Blizzard is "committed" to launching all of the new models together rather than roll them out independently post-launch, but a later tweet indicated that Blood Elf models will not make it in for launch.

Oort Online strives to create a 'universe-sized' sandbox

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Video, New Titles, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

Oort Online
Why should your sandbox MMO be confined to one measly world? That's the premise of Oort Online, an upcoming sandbox title that involves several worlds that can be explored, conquered, and molded by players. In this voxel-based game, players will exist on the same server and can choose to fight a nasty galaxy-spanning race called the Protectors or carve out a slice of land on which to build a masterpiece.

"We think fans of procedural games are going to love Oort Online! We're making a universe-sized sandbox and giving players control over what happens," developer Wonderstruck said.

Oort Online has been in development for six months and is available right now as an early access prototype for funders who spend $95 or more. The crowdfunded project also has cheaper tiers for alpha and beta access and promises a package of goodies (including a chance to win instant access) for those who send out a tweet promoting the game.

Get a sneak peek of Oort Online in a dev video after the break!

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Hearthstone unlocks the doors to the Plague Quarter

Fantasy, Patches, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

Hearthstone
The second wing of Heartstone: Curse of Naxxramas is now open for players to explore and plunder, as the weekly rollout of this online card game expansion continues.

The Plague Quarter has unlocked for players, but unlike the free taste of the Arachnid Quarter, this one will require gold to purchase. Inside the quarter, you will find Noth the Plaguebringer, Heigan the Unclean, and the big boss Loatheb.

Players that master the Plague Quarter not only will be treated to new cards for their collection but can also go on to tackle two class challenges with additional card rewards.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

NCsoft launches Lineage II's Ertheia expansion today

Fantasy, Galleries, Video, Lineage 2, Classes, Expansions, Lore, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Races, Dungeons

L2
Lineage II's latest expansion, Ertheia, launches today, bringing with it a new race (the Ertheia), two new classes (Ertheia Fighter and Ertheia Wizard), a new racial skill (Alchemy), new stats (Charisma and Luck), a level 99 instance (The Dimensional Barrier), and two new hunting zones for -- you guessed it -- Ertheia characters.

Former players can take advantage of a welcome-back promotion that includes a pack of goodies for veteran characters and a free mount for freshly rolled toons.

We've included some concept art as well as videos describing the lore and new classes below.

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RuneFest tickets on sale this week

Fantasy, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play

If you're a RuneScape fan and you'll be in London on October 11th, you might want to know that tickets for this year's edition of RuneFest are now on sale. Passes are £99 each, or you can get in for free (and even get a hotel room!) with RuneScape's in-game bonds.

The event starts at 10:00 a.m. local time and runs through 7:00 p.m., with an afterparty and late-night gaming scheduled through 11:00 p.m.

Neverwinter coming to Xbox One in 2015

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Neverwinter

Perfect World is porting Neverwinter to the Xbox One in China this year followed by a worldwide release in "the first half of 2015," according to IGN.

The site interviewed lead producer Andy Velasquez who says that a consolized Neverwinter will boast "all the same races, all the same classes, [and] all the same maps. The content will be there with some minor exceptions."

The Xbox One version of Neverwinter will not feature cross-play with the PC version, and Perfect World offered no comment on plans for other platforms.

Avalon Lords gears up for its Kickstarter campaign

Fantasy, Video, News Items, MMORTS, Crowdfunding

It sounds like the area around Camelot is really going through a dark age.
How do you feel about the MMORTS genre? The folks behind Avalon Lords don't have many nice things to say about it, which is why they're making an MMORTS game that, in their own words, is meant to elevate the game beyond free-to-play titles with microtransactions. The game launches its Kickstarter today, and it's put a trailer into the wild so potential backers can get a sense for what the game will look like.

Backers are being asked for $150,000 for the base game, a fairly humble sum considering other titles. The official support page for the game includes stretch goals starting at $250,000 and moving up, including fully customizable cities, NPC armies, and at the high end, a full-access mobile application. You can check the trailer out past the break, and if you like what you see and think the title will go all the way, you can toss in a few dollars.

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Jukebox Heroes: Lord of the Rings Online's housing music

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Housing, Jukebox Heroes, Music

lotro
One of the interesting features (but by no means unique) of Lord of the Rings Online's housing system is the option to slot a music box item so that visitors can enjoy your favorite tunes while they check out your pad. Like the rest of the housing system, music boxes haven't been added to or expanded much over the years, but I still think they're pretty keen.

Most of the music boxes contain a medley of three or so similarly themed tracks. Most of these are pulled from all over the game, but some are rarely heard outside of houses, so I thought these deserved another look. Plus, the original music for LotRO is quite gorgeous in spots and holds up very well over the years.

For those looking for a buyer's guide to these ambient themes, may I point you to CSTM? For the rest of us, I have six favorite music boxes waiting for you after the jump.

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