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First Impressions

The Stream Team: A first look at Swordsman's beta

Betas, Video, First Impressions, Livestream, The Stream Team, Swordsman

Are you in the mood for a MMO with an oriental flair? Massively's MJ is peeking into the open beta of Swordsman, a game based on the books of Louis Cha. What does this martial arts title have to offer players? Now is the time to come and see! Join us live at 5:00 p.m. for a look at MJ's first steps into this new world.

Game: Swordsman
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Monday, July 21st, 2014
Time: 5:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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WoW's Warlords of Draenor beta: The disappointment of garrisons

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Housing, Subscription

This house is not a home.
Once a player finishes the introductory quests for Warlords of Draenor, the Horde and Alliance gangs go in separate directions, and I had slightly higher hopes for the rest of my beta experience. The introduction was kind of a wash, a climactic third act delivered we'd been left out of the first two acts unless we'd read novels and participated in an event that's not yet live. But Shadowmoon Valley was where I could start seeing the pure promise of this expansion realized, the beautiful idea of a Draenor still filled with Draenei before the corruption and assault of the Horde, an alien landscape far from what was familiar on Azeroth. Not too far, of course, but just far enough to feel like we'd really come to a strange new place. And, of course, the first thing you do is unlock your Garrison.

If my first impression of the WoD beta, which I posted last week, was negative, then this is where it took a sharp nosedive into something resembling rage. But let me start off with a statement that might seem to make no sense, in this context: I've always been fine with housing never being a part of World of Warcraft.

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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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Dino-survival: Hands-on with The Stomping Land's early access alpha

Betas, Bugs, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions

Stomping Land
Yesterday, I examined up-and-coming dinosaur-survival MMO Beasts of Prey. Today, let's look at another game in the same niche genre: The Stomping Land.

The Stomping Land isn't technically billing itself as an MMO, but it boasts a semi-permanent world. But my experience in it was nothing like the trailers shown back in May. The current game is totally different. In fact, it seems to have regressed. There's no customization, there are no berries, and no one I talked to knew how to name a tribe. It feels like a semi-permanent shooter, similar to other survival games except without a lot of the building. You either make a teepee or you don't. You make a bow or you don't. You have a dinosaur mount or... you don't. The biggest servers I saw had 24 people, meaning I was able to avoid other players very often, but the game was more fun when I encountered people -- at least people who didn't one-shot me and waltz away.

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Dino-survival: Hands-on with Beasts of Prey's early access alpha

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Post-Apocalyptic, Crafting, Buy-to-Play

Beasts of Prey
When I first dived into the horror-survival genre, I knew there would be zombies, but I never expected dinosaurs. You don't get much bigger than a T-Rex stomping around your neighborhood (though I am still waiting for an underwater survival game that randomly has blue whales unintentionally ruining your kelp fort as they hunt for krill). When dinosaurs started to replace zombies, I knew that my inner child would drag me in, even if I once again had to pay for alpha.

It's this very idea of "paid alpha" that inspired me to tackle not one but two titles from the newly spawned dino-survival based genre. Apologists will say that it's just alpha, but the reality is that you get only one launch, and to me, launch is you start letting people buy your game and don't hold them under an NDA. With this in mind, I decided to try my hand at both Beasts of Prey and The Stomping Land to see which, if either, feels the most deserving of my time (and money). Today, I'll start with BoP.

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E3 2014: Hands-on with EVE Valkyrie and a chat about Legion

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, MMOFPS, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Virtual Reality

Valkyrie
Why does the guy who gets motion sickness keep getting sent out into space!? Someone on Massively's staff is really looking out for you guys and gals with weak stomachs because once again I was sent to chat with CCP about EVE universe stuff and take an Oculus Rift for a spin at this year's E3. Spoiler alert: I managed to keep down my breakfast and have fun.

First up was EVE Valkyrie, the virtual reality game that this time last year was still known as EVR. While the game looked a bit familiar, there were certainly some differences. First is the addition of Rán (it sounds like "roun"). Rán is sort of the first Valkyrie and your trainer, acting as sort of your flight instructor and mission debriefer, who helped give me a sense of setting. EVR was fun before, no doubt, but it was a stripped-down flight simulator (not a bad thing). Having a narrator makes it feel more like a game. The addition of some brighter and bolder colors helps boost immersion too.

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E3 2014: Hands-on with Swordsman and Dawn of the Immortals

Fantasy, Historical, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Hands-On, First Impressions, MMORPG

Swordsman
I have a problem: I like a lot of the mechanics in Wuxia games like Age of Wushu, but I have trouble getting into them. Perfect World Entertainment's Swordsman Online, while lacking some of the mechanics of AoW, might have a mixture that catches people off-guard. And while you're off-guard, PWE's Dawn of the Immortals might come in and show you how the world of mobile MMOs is starting to progress.

I had a look at both Swordsman Online and Dawn of the Immortals at this year's E3. Read on!

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E3 2014: Hands-on with Black Gold's PvP

Betas, Fantasy, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Steampunk, Black Gold

It can be hard to demo an MMO at E3. Some studios stick a bunch of journalists together and have us try an instance, which can be fun or, if the worst of us ends up taking a key position, it can be rather frustrating. Other studios let you into a questing area but, to be brutally honest, these usually feel pretty stale compared to the nearby console games that let you do more than kill 10 goblins.

Snail Games broke from the mold by letting us PvP in its upcoming Black Gold Online MMO, and while there were some issues, I felt a bit more confident about the title than I did last year.

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E3 2014: Hands-on with Star Citizen and a chat with Chris Roberts

Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Chris Roberts prefers a joystick or controller to the mouse and keyboard. This came up immediately upon meeting him for our Star Citizen demo/interview at this year's E3. As someone who's mainly watched news on the game from the sidelines, sitting in awe of what looks like a terribly complex title with tons of gameplay options, I was a bit intimidated going into this sit-down. But I came out of it feeling, well, relaxed.

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E3 2014: Hands-on with Skyforge, World of Speed, and Armored Warfare

Betas, Fantasy, Real-Life, Classes, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Skyforge

I won't lie: I went to an E3 meeting with publisher My.com thinking only of Skyforge. I'd heard about Armored Warfare and World of Speed, but I didn't expect much from either title. I'd seen tank games and racing games trying to move into the MMO sphere, and while they were sometimes interesting, I didn't pay a whole lot attention.

And ultimately they weren't as interesting to me as Skyforge, but I did walk away thinking they are titles that will appreciated by a portion of the MMO audience.

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E3 2014: Hands-on with H1Z1

Betas, Horror, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, H1Z1

H1Z1
I'm coughing. My head hurts. I'm tired, hungry, and thirsty. I'm not hearing things anymore, but when I close my eyes for too long, I feel disoriented. And this was before I got my hands on H1Z1! I'm sick at E3, but well enough to see through some spin while looking at a winner. If you're tired of hype, false promises, and pay-to-play alphas, come read between the lines with me as I recount the experience of my H1Z1 demo.

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The Stream Team: Time for Tokyo in The Secret World

Horror, Real-Life, Video, Expansions, The Secret World, First Impressions, Livestream, The Stream Team, Buy-to-Play

Yeehaw! It's time for the Yank to spend some quality time in The Secret World's Tokyo expansion. Massively's MJ is taking her Illuminati to the Land of the Rising Sun now that Issue #9 The Black Signal has released. There are tons of new cut scenes to watch and new lore to scoop up. Come join us live at 12:00 p.m. EDT to check out the sights, sounds, and screams available in TSW's first new zone!

Game: The Secret World
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, June 7th, 2014
Time: 12:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Chaos Theory: Touring Tokyo with TSW's Joel Bylos

Horror, Real-Life, Patches, Hands-On, The Secret World, First Impressions, Chaos Theory, Buy-to-Play

It's Tokyo time! That's right, an end to the wait is finally upon us. Come Wednesday, everyone who buys Issue #9 The Black Signal for The Secret World and has acquired The Council's Seal will be able to cross the threshold into Tokyo.

Like you, I've been dying to get in and check out this new zone, the first new area introduced to the horror game since launch. Thanks to a special tour with Game Director Joel Bylos and Communications Manager Tor Egil Andersen, I was able to preview the first of the three Tokyo zones so I could share that experience with you. We not only explored the city itself, but we completed one of the new -- and might I add, really spooky -- missions and utilized the new AEGIS system.

So, how is it? Let me just say, it's worth the wait! And not just for the creepy homages to the Illuminati handler, Kirsten Geary.

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Massively's first impressions of Black Gold Online's beta

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Steampunk, Black Gold

Do you prefer a steampunk or fantasy flavor in your MMO? With Black Gold Online you don't have to choose! And for those who vehemently dislike one or the other, you're welcome to express that distaste on the battlefield; Snail Games' upcoming free-to-play game features realm versus realm warfare that pits machine against magic. With these two different genres represented, the game looks to please a broader spectrum of players than the traditional single-genre titles that populate the MMOverse. The question is, will it succeed?

Even though we've perused available news and watched a variety of videos about everything from the various classes and different races to action combat to guild vs. guild systems, nothing beats getting into the MMO and experiencing it for yourself. Closed beta for Black Gold Online began mid-May, so I jumped in to get a taste of what awaits players when the game hits open beta this summer. What I found is that while the game excels in some areas, it comes up short in others. Here's a run-down of my first impressions.

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Massively's hands-on with EVE Valkyrie on the Oculus Rift DK2

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Previews, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, Casual, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous title image
At last year's EVE Fanfest, the press and attendees got a rare glimpse into something other than CCP's major IPs -- a virtual reality tech demo produced by a handful of developers during their down time. Originally codenamed EVR, this VR dogfighter on the original Oculus Rift development kit drew a surprising amount of attention and went on to win several awards at E3. It's now been a year since that project first sprouted legs, and last week at EVE Fanfest 2014 it sprouted wings as well.

Now named EVE Valkyrie, what started as a side-project has become one of CCP's key intellectual properties and the poster-child for virtual reality gaming. The game's success now ultimately relies on the adoption of VR tech and the appeal of its gameplay, both of which are still open questions at this point. I got some hands-on time with the latest build of Valkyrie during Fanfest to see how the game and the technology that powers it have come along in the past year, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Read on to find out how Valkyrie has changed in the past year and for a first look at the new Oculus Rift Development Kit 2.

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