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The Stream Team: Goodbye, Free Realms

Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Free Realms, Livestream, The Stream Team, Sunsets, MMORPG

The Stream Team: Good-bye, Free Realms
Since 2009, Free Realms has entertained children and adults with go-kart racing, playing trading card games, and of course, being a ninja. Unfortunately, even the good MMOs must end. Join Massively's Larry Everett and his son at 7:30 p.m. EDT as they take one more lap around Free Realms and maybe catch one more demolition derby.

Game: Free Realms
Host: Larry Everett
Date: Monday, March 31st, 2014
Time: 7:30 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Massively's Elder Scrolls launch week diary: Day one

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvE, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Elder Scrolls Online skyshard
Like any proper Tamrielian title, The Elder Scrolls Online starts you off in chains. This isn't the boat-bound incarceration of Morrowind, though, or the relative comfort of Oblivion's initial Imperial lockup. This is the Wailing Prison, an otherworldly abyss stocked with iron maidens, soulless inmates, and a spectral Prophet who sounds a lot like Albus Dumbledore.

Don't worry, though; ZeniMax didn't blow its budget on Michael Gambon or the rest of ESO's A-list voice cast. This is a fairly deep game, and it also does a surprisingly decent job of translating 20 years' worth of single-player sandbox history into a mass market MMORPG.

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The Stream Team: Accessing Elder Scrolls Online early

Fantasy, Video, Launches, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Livestream, The Elder Scrolls Online, The Stream Team, MMORPG

The Stream Team: Accessing Elder Scrolls Online early
The moment players have been waiting for is here: The Elder Scrolls Online is officially live. Of course, Massively's ESO columnist Larry Everett cannot wait to jump in. He's been up since the wee hours this morning playing. Join him live as he continues his journey through Tamriel saving the world from the schemes of Molag Bal.

Game: The Elder Scrolls Online
Host: Larry Everett
Date: Sunday, March 30th, 2014
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Hands-on with TUG, The Untitled Game

Betas, Fantasy, Economy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Sandbox, Crafting, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

In my youth, my father handed me nails, wood, and a hammer and told me to build whatever I wanted. I managed to create swollen fingers and a few tangled heaps of wood and nails. Nerd Kingdom is a lot like my father, but instead of wood, the studio is handing me TUG, or as I like to call it, everything.

TUG is a sandbox RPG akin to Landmark or Minecraft, but something about TUG is different. Maybe it's the development team that contains working titles like Economist or Behavioral Scientist. Or perhaps it's the data-driven design philosophy, which claims to deliver a better experience by analyzing how we play. Regardless, it's clear that Nerd Kingdom is attempting to give us more tools to create, both for the players in game and the modders outside of it.

My recent demo, interview, and hands-on session showed me how TUG will unlock the creator's imagination -- with fewer swollen fingers.

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Working As Intended: What Guild Wars 2 got right

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Guild Wars 2, Hands-On, Crafting, Buy-to-Play, Working As Intended

I returned to Guild Wars 2 recently after months away and was pleasantly surprised with what I found. No, there was nothing earth-shatteringly new, and no, I'm not going to praise the latest installment of the plot, but I realized that I'd forgotten just how much Guild Wars 2 managed to get right. I have many complaints about the game ranging from the way group combat in dungeons flopped to how the economy tanked to the fact that the living story bores me to tears. But Guild Wars 2 has some true nuggets of brilliance all the same, even if it doesn't have (I'm gonna say it) Cantha.

Let's talk about them.

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The Breaking of Isengard: A play session with Lord of the Rings Online's Update 13

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, Hands-On

It's strange to realize that Lord of the Rings Online players have been exploring Volume III of the epic story for four years now. With Update 13: The Breaking of Isengard, all of that is going to end. Volume III will wrap up, Saruman will get what's coming to him, and players will have a new endgame before heading out to Gondor.

We had a play session with the LotRO devs today covering the final eight chapters of Volume III and chatting a bit about what players will fill their time with as they wait for Update 14. Update 13 is certainly replete with plenty to do and see, from an upgraded inventory, mail improvements, a scaling Ettenmoors, revamped zones, and new crafting challenges, but the main story is what pushes the game forward.

In the final chapters of Volume III, players will not only investigate what happened to Isengard during the Battle of Helm's Deep but will have the option of jumping into the shoes (roots?) of an Ent for a unique perspective of an important character in the books. It'll be worth the journey, if only to have a shot at obtaining the first (non-Lore-master) cosmetic pets in the game. You read that right.

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Choose My Adventure: My final week with PlanetSide 2

Sci-Fi, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Choose My Adventure, PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2
I'm sad to say that this is my final week in PlanetSide 2 for Choose My Adventure, but I did come away with some new thoughts on the game. Playing the Heavy Assault, Light Assault, and MAX opened up my eyes to the other side of the fence and showed me that these are more than just run-and-gun classes.

And with more information on the Valkyrie aircraft revealed over the weekend, we can certainly see that Sony Online Entertainment is still dedicated to supporting the game. This is a good thing considering so many MMOs with PS2's ambition often fall flat merely months after launch when the numbers inevitably drop. Not so for this one, it seems.

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WildStar's gameplay is all too familiar to MMO vets

Betas, Sci-Fi, Opinion, Hands-On, WildStar, Subscription, MMORPG

broken granok
WildStar has a lot going for it. I might tell you it is the new RIFT, which was the new World of Warcraft, which was the new EverQuest, and I'd almost feel done for the day. Now, I don't buy an MMO and subscribe to it unless I intend to play it regularly for at least three months, and I rarely subscribe to multiple MMOs. Since WildStar is coming out in a year already packed with solid MMO releases, I'd like to consider at the pros and cons of the game in relation to the rest of the industry through the eyes of an MMO veteran.

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Choose My Adventure: MAXing out in PlanetSide 2

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Choose My Adventure, PlanetSide 2

PlanetSide 2
Back in PlanetSide 2 for this week's Choose My Adventure, I found myself strangely drawn into the game every chance I got. And that's really part of the beauty of PlanetSide 2: You can jump in and out of the action without any unnecessary foreplay.

I continued to play my Heavy Assault for most of the week but did flirt with both the MAX and the Light Assault trooper to see what I'm missing. My verdict? I miss my Engineer.

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Four videos of RIFT's new souls in action

Fantasy, Video, Classes, Previews, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, RIFT

RIFT subreddit moderator Seatin has posted to YouTube complete videos of all four of RIFT's upcoming 2.7 souls and how they perform in combat. To recap, the update will deliver: Enjoy the videos after the break!

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EVE Evolved: Rubicon 1.3 and repainting ships

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Business Models, Economy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Hands-On, EVE Evolved, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription, MMORPG

EVE Evolved title image
EVE Online's recently released Rubicon expansion was an important first step toward a truly player-run universe for everyone, allowing corporations to wage empire wars over planetary customs offices and introducing a series of new personal deployable structures. The initial release was a little light on content, but developers have since expanded on it significantly with three major point releases. Rubicon 1.3 went live this week, and the changes seem pretty good all around. This release overhauled the directional scanner, buffed the SoE Nestor battleship's capacitor recharge rate and remote repair range, and nerfed remote sensor dampeners into the ground.

Large corporations like EVE University were pleased to hear that the limit on the size of corporations has been increased to 12,600 thanks to changes to the corporation management skills. And in response to an emerging trend in fleet warfare involving hordes of drone ships assigning their drones to an interceptor, developers have also limited the number of drones that can be assigned to another ship to 50. The 1.29 GB patch also included several overhauled ship models and new ship shaders, but the new feature I see the most potential in is the ability to finally repaint our ships. This could eventually help corporations establish their own visual identities and might even link into gameplay or EVE's spying metagame.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at some of the Rubicon 1.3 changes and how repainting your ship could become more than simply a cosmetic upgrade.

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WoW Archivist: The battle for Hillsbrad

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Subscription, MMORPG, WoW Archivist

Fighting at TM
WoW Archivist is a biweekly column by WoW Insider's Scott Andrews, who explores the secrets of World of Warcraft's past. What did the game look like years ago? Who is etched into WoW's history? What secrets does the game still hold? It first appeared on our sister site on March 14th and is included here by permission.

Almost 10 years later, people still talk about the Southshore vs. Tarren Mill battles, the most infamous and celebrated world PvP in WoW history. They go on about how glorious it was, how they'd like to see that kind of intensity return to world PvP. It's not often, however, that they discuss the details.

If you want to know exactly what it was like to fight in those battles, keep reading. I lived it. My old Tauren Hunter still bears the scars. Pull up a bench and pour yourself a glass of ale. I will tell you about the war.

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Hands-on with MOBA Dawngate's closed beta

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, MOBA

Dawngate Karma
Dawngate. Another day, another MOBA, right? So why bother with this one? What does it do differently? What does it do better? Why play this over something else? I can't be the only gamer asking these questions, especially in such an oversaturated market, so I spent my weekend playing EA's Dawngate closed beta for that very reason. Here's how it all works.

When entering a match, you'll choose your character and then your preferred role to help coordinate with your group. This isn't just an "I'm going to jungle" icon; it actually provides you certain benefits for playing your role correctly. For example, a "hunter" does bonus damage to jungle NPCs and is healed for a portion of their total health after you kill them.

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The Stream Team: Breaking a world record with Age of Ascent

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (In-Game), Interviews, New Titles, PvP, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team, Crowdfunding

Age of Ascent screenshot
If you've ever wanted to be part of gaming history, check out this livestream with Massively's Beau Hindman and members of the Age of Ascent developer team. They'll be attempting to literally break a Guinness World Record for the largest videogame PvP battle, currently standing at 4,075 players! Age of Ascent launched its Kickstarter yesterday and is offering pledge rewards from special in-game ships to dinner with the devs. Join us live at 3 p.m. EDT.

Game: Age of Ascent
Host: Beau Hindman
Date: Friday, March 14th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Hitting the Mark: Turbine's sublime Rohan recreation in Lord of the Rings Online

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions

Lord of the Rings Online - Riders of Rohan
I've written before about my on-again-off-again love affair with Lord of the Rings Online, and after finally getting my launch-day character to Rohan a few weeks ago, I think it's most definitely on again.

Yeah, I'm still a sandbox fan first and foremost, and yeah, LotRO is still a dyed-in-the-wool nod to the World of Warcraft school of linear MMO development. But it's got a pleasing topcoat of Tolkien paint that often masks the pedestrian mechanics, and nowhere is this more evident than in the Riders of Rohan and Helm's Deep expansions.

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