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Hands-On

WoW Archivist: The classic Molten Core experience

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Hands-On, Dungeons, Subscription, WoW Archivist

Lucifron
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 August 15th and is included here by permission.

Are you ready to return to the Core? Last week, we learned that Blizzard is planning a 40-player LFR version of classic's Molten Core raid as part of WoW's 10th anniversary celebration. Regardless of what the studio has in mind, the experience is certain to be very different than it was back in 2005.

Sure, you've probably solo'ed MC or cleared it with a few friends. But what was a Molten Core run like during classic WoW, when conquering Ragnaros and his fiery lieutenants was the pinnacle of endgame content?

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The Stream Team: Firefall revisited

Sci-Fi, Video, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Livestream, Firefall, The Stream Team

Firefall
Massively's Mike Foster is taking Firefall for another spin in this month's edition of Choose My Adventure, which means he needs to spend a little time getting reacquainted with the game, its universe, and its mechanics. Join him live at 7:00 p.m. EDT for a little bit of jetpack-induced, assault rifle-powered shooty chaos. Alternatively, watch in awe as he attempts to complete the account recovery process after completely forgetting his login information.

Game: Firefall
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, August 14, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: Firefall is finally a real game

Sci-Fi, Polls, Launches, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Choose My Adventure, Firefall

Forgive me, Massively readers, for I have sinned. It has been six months since my last Choose My Adventure. Luckily, absolution is readily available via a 50-pound desktop computer, a mostly stable internet connection powered by one of the most hated companies in the United States, and three or four Hail Proudmoores. In summary: I have stared into the face of an eternal offline purgatory, clenched my teeth, and growled, "Not today."

No, today I'm going to play Firefall. And you're coming with me.

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An early look at Heroes of the Storm's alpha

Betas, Fantasy, Culture, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, MOBA

HOTS
Heroes of the Storm: Just another MOBA, right? Well, maybe. I have to admit two things before we jump into this article. First, I like MOBAs, but I'm an MMO player first and foremost. I keep trying MOBAs as they come out, and I've sunk some serious hours into the genre, so I do have a decent working knowledge of the bare basics, especially starting experiences.

Second, I'm neither a fan nor a hater of Blizzard. Blizzard often sticks to safe rather than unique features, but it also makes games for the masses, which is great because I love to drag my friends into my games. But a game that attracts everyone also attracts the kind of people I don't want to play with.

So why should I -- or you -- play Heroes of the Storm?

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The Stream Team: Family MMO night with the Super Hero Squad Online devs

Super-hero, Video, Patches, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Kids, Family, Livestream, The Stream Team

The Stream Team: Live with Super Hero Squad Online devs!
Super Hero Squad Online has been a favorite for several of Massively's writers, Larry Everett being one of them. Today, Larry and his son, Zach, will show off the new SHSO Recharged. And for extra fun, they've invited the developers along. (Maybe they'll have free stuff for you!) Join us at 7:00 p.m. to find out just how awesome this family MMO is for both kids and adults.

Game: Super Hero Squad Online
Hosts: Larry Everett, Zach, and the Gazillion devs
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Hyperspace Beacon: First impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion

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

Hyperspace Beacon: First Impressions of SWTOR's Galactic Strongholds expansion
It's been an exciting weekend: I've spent many hours just absorbing the contents of the new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Of course, the largest part of Update 2.9 is Galactic Strongholds. I'll come right out to say that the SWTOR livestreams do not do it justice. I'm finally glad that I could get my hands on it to see exactly what the hook system feels like, where I can find all the furniture, and mostly importantly, how much it is going to cost.

Beyond the strongholds themselves, BioWare also introduced a new planet and flashpoint this weekend. I took some time to also visit Manaan, and I know I'm going to sound like a fanboy when I say that it blew me away. I was absolutely not expecting something that gorgeous for a simple flashpoint.

We have a lot to talk about, and if you've spent some time on the SWTOR PTS, I'd like to read your opinions in the comments. But first here are a few of my thoughts.

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First Impressions: LEGO Minifigures Online

Betas, New Titles, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Kids, Family

LEGO Minifigures Online
Besides being an avid gamer myself, I am raising three children who are also avid gamers. You might have seen past livestreams that I've done with my youngest son and my daughter. In fact, my son and I are going to stream with the Super Hero Squad Online crew here in the next few days. As a gaming dad, I keep my eyes out for games that lend themselves to being kid friendly and fun for adults, too.

When Free Realms shut down, my youngest, now 9 years old, was heartbroken. Although he didn't really do much questing, he loved the other activities in the game like kart racing and exploring the housing system. I have attempted to get him to jump into games like Wizard101 and Pirate101, whose combat systems were more complex than his liking. But he's a fan of combat in SHSO. He also plays Minecraft daily and has really adhered to the whole culture that surrounds it.

So when LEGO Minifigures Online opened its beta, I thought it would be an excellent combination of both SHSO combat and the building systems of Minecraft. I was wrong on one count but right on the other. My son loved the combat system, at least.

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WoW's Warlords of Draenor beta: Questing, mechanics, and concerns

World of Warcraft, Betas, Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, First Impressions, Subscription

The past is haunting you.
Tell me if this sounds familiar if you've played World of Warcraft: Your faction's forces are unexpectedly trapped in a strange new world with some familiar elements but a large number of unfamiliar ones. You are facing both the other faction and a new almost unknown foe, forcing you to seek allies immediately. Unfortunately for you, the local inhabitants have their own customs and lives, and you're going to need to start forging alliances to deal with this largely alien region.

Yes, that's the Warlords of Draenor starting experience as well as the Mists of Pandaria starting experience. What sets the two apart, aside from MoP's clever use of mini-hubs moving out in a sort of spiderweb fashion, is that MoP approached its story by easing up on the pressure early in the plot. You start settling into a rhythm, putting down the conflict with the enemy a little more, dealing with the inhabitants on their terms. The overarching conflict was there, but it had time to fade into the background. Not so here; the conflict with the Iron Horde squats on your shoulder and screams at you, crow-like, preventing you from thinking even for a second that you might want to explore this strange fantasy world.

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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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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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Choose My Adventure: Final thoughts on WildStar

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, New Titles, Opinion, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, WildStar, Subscription

WildStar
This week marks my last stint with WildStar for Choose My Adventure, and I'll be giving not only my overall impressions of the game for this final installment but a run-down of my thoughts on the first few levels of each class and path.

When the fantasy/sci-fi MMO launched earlier this month, I had no idea what to expect. I had watched the preview trailers and knew the general premise of the game's feel, but didn't dive too deeply into game mechanics or lore because I like to discover these things myself as I go. WildStar is the perfect game for this, in my opinion, because it's full of surprises... in a good way.

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Choose My Adventure: Crafting in WildStar

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, New Titles, Opinion, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, WildStar, Crafting

WildStar
This week's Choose My Adventure is all about crafting in WildStar as I'll give my impressions on the creative system that seems to be pleasing finicky MMO fans already. You voted last week for me to focus on Relic Hunting and Technologist as my tradeskills, and I've been having a blast. Get it, blast? Because that's how you collect... the... ahem. Anyway!

First of all, I want to thank you for voting on two compatible tradeskills. That makes things much easier. Both Relic Hunting and the Farming hobby contribute the proper materials for the Technologist trade. Since the additional hobbies are free and don't count toward the two-trade-at-a-time limit, I also played around with the Cooking hobby a bit, too.

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E3 2014: A quick hands-on with Destiny

Sci-Fi, New Titles, News Items, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Destiny

As much as you might want have wanted to sink your teeth into Destiny at E3 2014, the lines and waits were pretty long. Even after the wait, we were afforded but a small taste of what Bungie's upcoming shooter has to offer before the next group was shuffled through.

After watching a video that touted plenty of public events, three-man strikes, dungeons, and story content, I followed the herd into a room and was subsequently not allowed to play any of that. Instead, the machines were all set up in teams for multiplayer PvP matches only. Using pre-made con characters (players will be able to take their own characters in the competitive multiplayer mode at release), we dived right in to two back-to-back capture-the-flag scenarios. On the plus side, the two maps highlighted the good graphics and sported very different landscapes; besides the very distinct themes, one had vehicles to utilize, while the other did not. On the negative side, throwing together such random teams of folks who've never touched the game before led to a less-than-ideal experience in teamwork.

The brief play-test that focused only on PvP allowed for little in-depth exploration of the title. How's Destiny PvE and the rest of its sci-fi quasi-MMO experience? We'll let you know when beta opens July 17th on the PS4!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-12, bringing you all the best news from E3 2014. We're covering everything from WildStar and Landmark to Skyforge and H1Z1, so stay tuned!

E3 2014: Shroud of the Avatar's Garriott and Long emphasize immersion

Fantasy, Interviews, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar

Touted as the spiritual successor to Ultima Online by its creators, Shroud of the Avatar aims to fill a sandbox-shaped void in the modern MMOverse. Judging by the successful crowdfunding campaign and continued support by backers, I know there are plenty of players who are eager for that to happen and believe SotA is the game to do it.

Are backers getting what they paid for? One weekend every month they can jump in and experience a new release of the game and offer feedback to the development team. And thanks to E3 2014, I also got to jump in and get some hands-on time with the latest release of the game. On top of that, I spoke with Richard Garriott and Executive Producer Starr Long about everything from player economy and pay-to-win concerns to combat, immersion, and player-contributed content.

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