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First Impressions

Soloing through SWTOR's Shadow of Revan

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

Impressions of soloing through SWTOR: Shadow of Revan
Some people question how you can be a solo player in an MMO. To be honest, I, too, question how someone can do the whole game solo, but I do understand the desire to experience the game at your own pace. I believe the creators of Star Wars: The Old Republic understand this, too. Game director James Ohlen said that the biggest thing players wanted was the continuation of Knights of the Old Republic 1 and 2. Although part of the SWTOR story did continue the Revan and Exile stories, a lot of players haven't even touched on that storyline.

In a multiplayer game, it's hard sometimes to experience the story solo with all the group-only material. However, Shadow of Revan creates an amazing opportunity for the solo MMO player to really experience the full story it has to offer.

Fair warning: I will not spoil major plot points for the expansion, but I will reveal some key characters in order to talk you through this leveling experience.

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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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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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The Stream Team: Stepping into EQII's Altar of Malice

Fantasy, Video, EverQuest II, Expansions, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Livestream, The Stream Team

It's here! EverQuest II's Altar of Malice expansion is live for All Access members, and Massively's MJ can't wait to get inside and return to her roots on the Isle of Refuge. However, this homecoming won't be all rainbows and unicorns (or even goblins and sharks, for that matter); it will be bittersweet as the beloved starting zone has been blasted by some magical calamity. There is plenty of new stuff to see and do, so join us live at 8:00 p.m. for this first romp through AoM.

Game: EverQuest II: Altar of Malice
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Think Tank: Remembering our first MMOs

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Hands-On, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

UO
This week, my very first MMO, Ultima Online, turns 17 years old in what can only be an intentional effort to make classic MMO gamers feel very, very old indeed. I've been thinking a lot about the game and returned to it recently to scope it out, so for today's Think Tank, I polled the Massively writers about their own "first MMOs," their first memories of the genre, and whether their firsts have survived the test of time.

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Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day six - P2W and the early verdict

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Lost Continent

Is ArcheAge pay-to-win? That's a question I've been asked several times in recent days. Before I answer it, let's get something out of the way up front. And by "out of the way," I mean that this is the most important part of the article and needs to be emphasized in the intro.

Pay-to-win is 100% subjective.

There is no scientific or universally accepted definition of pay-to-win. Some things in this life are absolutes. Pay-to-win is not one of them.

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Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day five - Random knowledge

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Lost Continent

Today's diary entry is going to skip around a bit, as I'm still dabbling all over ArcheAge and finding it nearly impossible to convey everything important inside of a few thousand words. If you're just joining us, this is day five of Massively's launch chronicle because even though the game "launched" yesterday, it really launched last Friday via the founder head start.

I'm aware that some people had disconnect issues and nightmare two-hour login queues on the 16th. I did not have much trouble with either, presumably because of my Patron account status regarding the latter. Trion does have some work to do, though, as I noticed a lot of slow-down in high-traffic areas throughout much of my play session last night, and I also logged into a black screen more than once and had to re-queue as a result.

In other words, it was a typical MMO launch day. I've seen better, but I've also seen far, far worse.

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Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day four - Trade runs, sea beasts, and pirates

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, Lost Continent

I got ganked in ArcheAge last night, and believe it or not, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had in an MMORPG in quite some time.

I'm usually apathetic about MMO PvP. I mean, I will PvP with friends, but I don't think I've ever sat down to play an MMORPG and thought, "Hmm, maybe I'll go kill some players tonight!" PvP factors heavily into ArcheAge's design, though, so I knew going in that I'd be doing it more than in most of my other MMOs.

I just didn't know it would end up being as fun as it was on last night's trade run.

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Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day three - PvE, quests, and story

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Lost Continent

Welcome back to Massively's ArcheAge launch diary. I can't believe we're already on the third installment because there's still so much to see, do, and learn. That's a good thing, though, isn't it?

Yeah, it is, and while ArcheAge has its share of issues, its breadth and depth is incredibly welcome in a genre that's gotten far too comfortable repackaging the same tired experience.

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EVE Evolved: Has the industry revamp worked?

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, EVE Evolved, Sandbox, Crafting, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
When I was first introduced to EVE Online back in 2004, a big part of the attraction for me was the promise of a huge player-run economy in which the only real laws were those of supply and demand. With only a handful of tech 1 ships and modules available to build and everything made out of the same basic minerals, science and industry were pretty easy for new players to figure out. Over the years, more complexity has slowly been added to industry via features like Starbases, Salvaging, Capital Ships, Tech 2 Invention, Planetary Interaction and Tech 3 Reverse Engineering. Today's industrialists have to contend with hundreds of different items that are often arranged in sprawling component manufacturing chains, which can make it hard to figure out exactly how to make a profit.

The recent industry revamp attempted to solve this problem with a full user interface overhaul and a revamp of material costs and manufacturing prices. All of the relevant information for using a blueprint was packed into a slick new combined Industry UI, allowing new players to find the info they're looking for in-game rather than through websites or opening dozens of item info windows. It's now been almost two months since the industry revamp went live, and while the market for many items is still going to take several months to fully stabilise, the dust has finally begun to settle. So what's the verdict? Has the industry revamp worked?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I consider whether the industry revamp has been successful, how easy it is to make a profit in the new system, and whether it's worth setting up your own industrial starbase.

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Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day two - Classes, skills, combat

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Lost Continent

Welcome to day two of Massively's ArcheAge launch diary. Technically, by the time you read this, it'll be day three, but you know how these things work. And I know, I know, it's not really launch; it's head start. But Trion's not wiping this weekend's progression, so I'm going to keep referring to this as a launch diary!

Thanks to a bunch of virginal script kiddies who thought it would be cool to DDoS the ArcheAge servers on Saturday, I didn't get to play all freakin' afternoon as planned. That's OK, though, because we've got a lot to talk about with regard to the game's basic mechanics.

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Massively's ArcheAge launch diary: Day one

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Lost Continent

I'm standing on a sun-baked rock along Nuia's northern coast. The waves lap at my feet, little bubbles are visible just off shore. Wispy strips of white cirrus float overhead, framing a baby blue sky that meets the ocean somewhere beyond a hazy horizon I can't quite see.

I've been standing here a while because there goes the sun, melting into the water and leaking red-orange streaks across the purplish waves as I watch. Up the cliff face behind me, a gaggle of green-named newbs mosh about in the newb area doing what MMO newbs do.

A couple of them make their way down the cliff face to join me. One of them jostles my character and apologizes. He didn't realize there was collision detection and he's very sorry and wow, this game is pretty, isn't it?

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HEX is not Hearthstone: A look at HEX's closed beta

Betas, Economy, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, HEX

530
It's been a while, HEX. Last time I saw you was E3 2013. I hadn't yet started to play Hearthstone, and truthfully, I doubted it could hold a candle to you. In a lot of ways, I was right. It's so much simpler, it's less complex, and at the time, it felt less imaginative. But my card game days are behind me. I don't have the kind of time I used to, so Hearthstone's faster games and accessible drafts (called "arenas" in HS) reminded me of the things I love about the genre while allowing me to keep my grown-up schedule intact and being easy on my wallet.

Just the same, HEX, when I got the closed beta invite to see you again, my heart skipped a beat. I was ready to drop some big money on you, but I've been burned a few times. While I've been in betas and alphas for other games, there's been a trend of letting people pay to play unfinished products. I've been burned, and while I don't regret the experience, I do regret the purchases at the moment. I mean, when a game suddenly disappears from the market, it does make you question your decisions, so I decided we should go out a few times first before I really invest in you.

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The Think Tank: The best of PAX Prime 2014

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, First Impressions, Miscellaneous, The Think Tank

ArcheAge
This year's PAX Prime has drawn to a close, as has our coverage, but how did it fare, on the whole, for MMO players?

I polled the Massively writers for their favorite announcements and showings from the con. Here's what we think was the best and most interesting MMO news to come out of PAX Prime.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR guild ships and Rakghouls

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Patches, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR guild ships and Rakghouls
This weekend was full of space zombies and capital ships in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I ended up dividing my time between the live servers hosting the Rakghoul event on Tatooine and attempting to make the most out of having a guild ship on the public test server.

Unfortunately, my guild's capital ship fell victim to the Bermuda Triangle bug that makes ships completely disappear, and I wasn't even able to buy a new one. I chalk that up to testing. And I certainly will not cry foul because of it. Besides, the ship was eventually restored, just not in time for my guild to really make any headway in the conquests for this week.

However, I did get to experience the ship some because I was on the SWTOR official livestream last week, and I also created my own guild on PTS to test out the capital ship features.

But first, let's talk about Rakghouls.

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