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Hands-On

PAX Prime 2014: Going on a deer hunt in H1Z1

Betas, Horror, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Humor, Events (Massively's Coverage), H1Z1

h1z1
The time was just before dawn, with colors muted by the limited light. I silently roamed through fog banks, looking for a quarry in the woods and finding none. It was my first time playing H1Z1, and I had no other purpose than to find something living (or unliving) and end it with my hefty axe.

Suddenly I spotted it: the flash of a white tail as a deer sprinted away from me through the brush. I pressed down the sprint button and went after it, chewing through my stamina and cursing my lack of four legs or gasoline-powered wheels.

The deer led me on a grim chase through the mostly silent woodland. At one point, a wolf appeared out from behind a tree and sprinted after the doe as well, although it couldn't catch up and eventually became disheartened (or glitched out). Yes, I felt both gruesome and silly spending my moments at the demo booth trying to kill Bambi, but I needed to know if I would be able to survive in this environment.

One wrong move and I was upon the prey, bringing it down with a sickening thud. Continuing to hack away at the carcass with my axe found me rewarded with more crafting materials and a dented conscience. Stricken, I wandered away and roamed up a hill, only to encounter a strange solitary sign with a skull on it.

"That marks the border of the game," a nearby developer told me while another dev professed amazement that he had never seen such signs before. "If you go past here, you'll die," the first dev cautioned.

Maybe I deserve to die. If chopping through a tender critter is what it takes to survive in this new world, is that worth the cost? I put down the controls and walked away, innocent no longer.

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The Stream Team: Becoming a TERA BAM killer

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

TERA
En Masse's Kickstarter-esque Bam Killer TERA event is too adorable for Massively's Mike Foster to pass up, so tonight he's lacing up his lancer boots and setting off on a course for monsters and mayhem. Join him as he scours the world for BAMs (Big Ass Monsters) to kill and works to help TERA's community reach its murderous stretch goals. The ultimate goal is five million BAM kills in 21 days; surely Mike can put a considerable dent in that number?

The action starts promptly at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Game: TERA
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, August 29th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Undead Labs' Moonrise

Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Kids

moonrise
One of the maxims of Undead Labs is that the team is composed of "gaming omnivores" who don't want to get stuck in a rut of doing the exact same game and genre over and over again. When this was explained to me, it helped ease the shock that was caused by the realization that a studio best known for its gory zombie survival bent is also making a colorful Pokémon-like title called Moonrise.

In Moonrise, you play as a Warden who is tasked with saving a wide variety of cute critters called Solari by -- of course -- enslaving them and making them fight other Wardens and their pets. Instead of striving to overcome its Pokémon heritage, the team admits that the game is specifically targeted at older teens and younger adults who grew up with those games and want to experience a slightly more mature and full-featured iteration.

I got to spend some quality time curled up on a couch with a lap full of Moonrise on the iPad at PAX Prime this week. Is this due to be the next "catch 'em all" fad or a strange blip in the company's portfolio? Read on, and I shall make my guess.

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The Stream Team: Random drafting in Dota 2

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, PvP, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Livestream, MOBA, The Stream Team

Dota 2
Newcomers to Dota 2 often stick to the game's All-Pick mode when searching for matches. In All-Pick, every hero currently in the game's hero pool is available for selection. This makes character selection more manageable for new players (since you can pick heroes you know), but it also leads to an All-Pick All-Stars syndrome in which the same few heroes show up time and again to crush teams and bust ancients.

Tonight, Massively's Mike Foster is exploring a different game mode known as Random Draft. In Random Draft, players take turns choosing from a pool of randomly selected heroes. There's still flexibility in terms of individual hero choice, but the full pool isn't available, and thus teams must get creative using the heroes that appear. Sometimes this goes well; sometimes it doesn't.

Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to see how it turns out for Mike.

Game: Dota 2
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, August 28th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: Firefall as it stands

Sci-Fi, Polls, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Choose My Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Firefall, MMORPG

Firefall
As I noted in the first week of this month's truncated Choose My Adventure, Firefall is finally an honest to goodness real-life video game. The extended extended beta is over, the launch trailer has released, and the game has been cut loose into the world. One might argue that Red 5 is now officially out of excuses; if something isn't satisfactory in Firefall, it must be unsatisfactory by design. We have stepped beyond the point where "it's a beta" is a fair explanation of the game's rougher edges.

Because what we're dealing with is theoretically intended to be a full retail product, it's not useful to talk about what Firefall used to be, nor is it useful to speculate on what Firefall might become. The only honest evaluation of the game, if evaluation is the goal, must center on the current iteration of the product, the one that Red 5 considered complete enough to release as the finished version of its vision. Is Firefall, in its current state, worth playing? Does it offer enough content to keep players engaged? Is it finally delivering on the promise we have glimpsed in its systems?

For the first time since my initial encounter with the game in early 2013, I'd say the answer is yes.

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The Stream Team: Firefall's farewell

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

Firefall
Massively's Mike Foster is prepping for one last go-round with Firefall, the subject of this month's Choose My Adventure. According to the results from last week's poll, readers are hoping to catch a glimpse of Firefall's newly-implemented campaign in action. So, with guns blazing and rocket boots flaming, Mike steps once more unto the breach. Join him live at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: Firefall
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet

Sci-Fi, Events (In-Game), Expansions, Guilds, Patches, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Hyperspace Beacon, Crafting, MMORPG

Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR conquests are good but not there yet
I'm writing this late on Sunday night, and I have some disappointing news: My Star Wars: The Old Republic guild did not make the top 10 on the planet we were attempting to conquer. It's partly my fault; I happened to choose the planet that would be the most hotly contested. Who knew that other guilds would flock to Makeb when conquests went live?

It wasn't all bad. In fact, I'd say that SWTOR kind of pulled our guild together a bit. We participated in content we hadn't done in a long time. It was a rallying cry for us: "Hey, look, this stuff is fun, and you can still have fun doing it." On top of that, it's reintroduced the idea that open-world PvP is possible. But with all the good that it's done -- player housing, guild housing, and open-world PvP -- there are somethings that have fallen short of what it could be.

I think the best way to explain is to tell you about my week.

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The Stream Team: It's so hard to choose just one in Marvel Heroes

Super-hero, Video, Classes, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Marvel Heroes, Hands-On, Livestream, The Stream Team

The indecision is getting worse with this one! Marvel Heroes has so many cool superheroes -- from Guardians of the Galaxy to X-Men to the Fantastic Four, and more -- and Massively's MJ is having a harder and harder time picking which to play! But soon that indecision may come to an end, as her all-time favorite is on her way: Rogue. Until then, MJ still has time to play around with the rest of the lineup. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for more XP-explosive adventures during Operation Omega as either Storm, or Rocket Raccoon, or Silver Surfer, or Psylocke, or...

Game: Marvel Heroes
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Monday, August 25th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Shooting all the things in Firefall

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

Red 5's Firefall
If there's one thing you can say about Firefall, it's that there's never a shortage of things to shoot. Join Massively's Mike Foster as he continues his adventures in Firefall by exploring the world, checking our ARES jobs, and shooting everything silly enough to come within his field of vision. There's only one week left of Choose My Adventure for Firefall, so now's the time to come along for the jet boot-powered ride. The action starts at 7:00 p.m. EDT.

Game: Firefall
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Friday, August 22nd, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Exploring Firefall's campaign

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

Firefall's rocket boots in action.
Firefall's second Choose My Adventure is in full swing, and Massively's Mike Foster is leaping headlong into the game's recently added campaign to see if Red 5 has finally delivered the epic experience it has been promising players since 2012. Tune in at 7:00 p.m. EDT to catch a glimpse of Firefall's PvE content; if you're interested in grouping up, Mike's Firefall character is named GiantButt, which he swears came from the random name generator.

Game: Firefall
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Thursday, August 21st, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Choose My Adventure: The distraught wives of Firefall

Sci-Fi, Polls, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Choose My Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Firefall, MMORPG

"There is no problem in this world a gun can't solve." These words, to my knowledge, are never explicitly stated in Firefall. There's no wise-in-his-grizzledness war veteran to rub his stubbled chin, frown into the distance, and impart such wisdom upon the player. But make no mistake, Firefall's world is one in which most tough situations are resolved with the thunderclap of gunfire. In Firefall's New Eden, violence really is the answer.

In last week's Choose My Adventure column, I asked you to help guide my path through this dangerous world, to give my character an identity, a role to play, and a purpose to fulfill. Votes were cast; suggestions were made. I've since created a new character and blasted my way through the re-re-re-re-designed tutorial/opening experience. And while I am, as always, having a wonderful time, I still can't get over my one recurring Fireball criticism: I'm shooting a lots of stuff but I don't care or know why.

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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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