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Events (Massively's Coverage)

Massively's PAX Prime 2014 roundup

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Humor, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

Sypster
Massively's Justin Olivetti soloed the PAX Prime boss for us this year, and he kicked its butt! His loot drop? A whole week of well-earned relaxation on the Massively golden yacht. Just kidding! Back to work, Olivetti!

We've rounded up all of his awesome PAX coverage below. What did he think of ArcheAge, Warlords of Draenor, and H1Z1? How many parties did he crash? Did he really cosplay as an angry Chua? Read on to find out!

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PAX Prime 2014: World of Warships balances historical accuracy with big boat fun

Betas, Historical, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), World of Warships, MOBA

wows
A warship is understandably larger and more complicated than a tank or plane, which is why Wargaming is diverging slightly with its third online title. At PAX Prime, I sat down with the dev team for World of Warships to see how the alpha is progressing and what a fleet of ships looks like with all guns blazing.

There are four types of ships from which players can choose when they step into a match. Destroyers are smaller and faster with torpedoes, battleships are hulking gun platforms, and cruisers are straddling the line between the two. Then there are carriers (which we did not get to see) that eschew big guns for a squadron of planes to send out. Unfortunately, submarines aren't part of the mix, as the team decided that they wouldn't be fun for this type of game.

Each ship is as historically accurate in its looks and is hideously detailed, with up to 500 parts and 270,000 polygons. This detail comes into play when ships are damaged in certain sections, disabling features and abilities. The team is planning on launching with around 75 ships between the starting nations of the United States and Japan.

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PAX Prime 2014: Tome makes for a more aggressive MOBA

Betas, Fantasy, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA

tome
One interesting trend that I noticed among the up-and-coming MOBAs that I previewed at PAX Prime this past weekend was how there's this real desire to challenge the status quo and cut out what's hurting rather than helping the genre.

Tome may not look much different than its contemporaries, with a grounded fantasy setting and typical setup, but underneath the hood it's sporting a few ideas that should make it more friendly and convenient to a larger audience. The team's decided against including last hitting while putting in handy features such as healing quickly and buying items anywhere while not in combat.

Another core principle of Tome is that it embraces aggressive gameplay. Matches should take 12 minutes or less to complete, with design elements such as hardier minions and limited ammunition towers making turtling an undesirable option.

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PAX Prime 2014: Upsilon Circuit debuts to the public

Betas, Sci-Fi, Previews, Free-to-Play, Humor, Events (Massively's Coverage)

upsilon circuit
I'll echo what Eliot wrote back at PAX East earlier this year: Upsilon Circuit is almost certainly one of the strangest and most intriguing video game concepts I've ever seen. Part Diablo clone, part Smash TV, part Hunger Games, and part Max Headroom, it's a virtual game show there eight contestants fight to stay alive while the larger player audience helps or hurts the contestants as they wish. This is all overseen by a Ronald Reagan-ish game show host who will snark and deadpan the proceedings.

The Robot Loves Kitty dev team said at this year's PAX Prime that the genesis for Upsilon Circuit came from seeing the surge of popularity for folks who watched other people livestream games. Why not take that voyeurism and make it more interactive? Thus, Upsilon Circuit was born.

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PAX Prime 2014: I wonder as I Wander

Betas, Fantasy, Previews, Consoles, Casual, Events (Massively's Coverage)

wander
We've been keeping our eyes on Wander for a year now, and during PAX Prime I caught up with Lead Developer Loki Davison to see how this collaborative exploration title's been going.

For someone who only now got a first look at this game, it was a jarring shift from the adrenaline-fueled rides in booths all around. Instead, Wander is something akin to an interactive nature screensaver. You slowly move through the beautiful tropical setting to poke around looking for secrets and more scraps of the overarching story. There is no death. There are no other creatures, except for fellow players. And your top speed is capped at something like two miles per hour.

Davison said that this style of game is meant to be both relaxing and rewarding to the inquisitive mind. Discovery and sharing those findings with other players to figure out the larger secrets is the driving force here, but if you simply want to walk around as a giant tree with hands or flutter about as a butterfly, nobody is going to stop you.

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PAX Prime 2014: Strife learns from the past

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA

strife
S2 Games is a big believer in learning from the past. Whereas many other MOBA developers are creating their very first such title, S2 already has a MOBA -- Heroes of Newerth -- under its belt. Taking key lessons from that experience, the devs are creating what they call the next generation of MOBA: Strife.

Strife was definitely in full force around PAX Prime this weekend. The team had not only a prime spot by the show doors (complete with a mechanical dragon that players could ride) but a spot at a local grill where prizes and cosplay repairs took place.

My key question for the devs was, "What makes Strife any different from the dozens of other MOBAs on the market?" This question led into a discussion of how the team has been pulling the best elements from the genre while discarding what didn't work -- denying, for example, is not a part of Strife in the least, nor is the commonplace "last hit" mechanic.

Instead, Strife seeks to be enjoyable both as a MOBA and as a single-player experience. The solo content was put in to flesh out the story of the world (MOBAs have story?) and give players a different kind of experience between matches. I was also interested in the pets that characters can acquire and wield for their special abilities.

Strife went into open beta this past weekend, so give it a whirl and let us know what you think!

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with The Crew

Betas, Hands-On, Races, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

the crew
Ubisoft's The Crew was part of two different booths on the PAX Prime exhibit floor this year, giving ample opportunity to anyone who would like to take a test drive of this online racing game. Being the brave soul that I am and a driver of several years, I got into an elaborate car setup to see if I had the chops to handle such a machine.

While we didn't get to see the larger world of the game, I did get to race alongside/against three other players in two mission modes. The first mission, which was prefaced with a short cutscene, had us chasing down a target car to ram into oblivion. The second was a standard street race supposedly set up to prove what an awesome driver I am to an NPC. In both of these, I failed spectacularly to accomplish the goal.

I don't think it was necessarily my or the game's fault but the specific game steering wheel used for the demo. It was hyper-responsive and kept jerking around, causing my car to go into unrecoverable fishtails and spins. It was during one of these lovely spinouts that I learned just how indestructible the cars in this game are.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade

Sci-Fi, PvP, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Warhammer 40k

war40k
After getting the pitch from Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade at PAX Prime, I was given the opportunity to sit down and experience a PvP bout first-hand. I'll share a little pet peeve of mine before we get into the meat of the hands-on, which is that I really don't like it when developers stand over your shoulders at demos barking instructions to you. I wasn't given much of an opportunity to do what I wanted to; instead, I was constantly responding to the dev's commands!

In any case, for a pre-pre-alpha build, I'm somewhat impressed that Eternal Crusade was able to cobble together a very playable deathmatch with several classes and two vehicle types (Rhino and Predator). My first class was something of a lumbering tank, well-armed but a clunky jumper. I opted instead to get a jetpack as an assault trooper, willingly trading firepower for the awesome ability to do huge leaps and be able to clutch on to the side of a building and jump once more.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hearthstone eyes an expansion

Fantasy, Expansions, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Events (Massively's Coverage), Hearthstone

hearthstone
The PAX Prime Blizzard booth was one of the larger and more populated venues on the show floor this year. A slow-moving line wrapped around it as players waited eagerly to try out Warlords of Draenor or to see Heroes of the Storm for the first time. Yet it was Hearthstone -- a free-to-play game available to anyone at anytime -- that was winning gamers over.

I talked with Game Director Eric Dodds about how this small project at Blizzard blew up into a great success story. He said that when the team noticed that Twitch livestreams of Hearthstone were drawing in thousands and tens of thousands of viewers is when the studio knew that it had a hit on its hands.

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PAX Prime 2014: Heroes of the Storm is friendly, zany fun

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA

heroes of the storm
Heroes of the Storm's beginnings are rooted in a mod that Blizzard made in 2010 to encourage StarCraft II players to get into the modding scene. Not only was this unnecessary (the StarCraft II comunity took to modding like fish to water) but the mod gradually became so well-liked internally that proper development began in 2012 to make it a full-fledged MOBA.

At PAX Prime, I asked the team what was going to make Heroes of the Storm stand out from the rest of the MOBA pack -- or whether it was merely content to ride the Blizzard name to big sales. The response was that this game is shaping up to be one of the most friendly and welcoming MOBAs on the market. Gone are mechanics like denying and last hits and in are new concepts like shared team levels. The devs said that the root of the toxic atmosphere seen in many MOBAs is game design that focuses more in individual selfishness and potential ways to hurt your own team. There also won't be any chatting with the opposing team in HotS to cut down on potential sass-mouth.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Expansions, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Subscription

wow
If you've played World of Warcraft once, have you played it for all time? I was wondering this as I slipped back into Azeroth for a look at the upcoming Warlords of Draenor expansion at PAX Prime. After all, it had been three years and two expansions since I've really played this MMO, but as I learned, even new shinies don't make this game feel any more or less like the good ol' WoW that I remember.

The floor demo allowed us to create instant level 90 characters and jump into the second zone, Shadowmoon Valley. I selected a character at random and naturally ended up with a Shadow Priest, a class that I've never played. Figures. I spent a minute selecting a specialization, random talents, and outfitting my hotbar with enough of a skill rotation that I wouldn't be laughed out of the next Priest conclave. Then it was off to check out this brand-new zone.

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MMO Week in Review: PAX Prime 2014

Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Week in Review, Miscellaneous

At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, Massively's Justin Olivetti braved the halls of PAX Prime and wrote all the things. Here's what he's tackled so far!
PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is a go for launch!
PAX Prime 2014: The mystery behind WildStar's Nexus
PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own
PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is launching on September 16th
PAX Prime 2014: RIFT's Nightmare Tide expansion launches October 8th
PAX Prime 2014: Unpredictable water flows through RIFT: Nightmare Tide
PAX Prime 2014: H1Z1's bears will end you
PAX Prime 2014: Going on a deer hunt in H1Z1
PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Shroud of the Avatar
PAX Prime 2014: The Repopulation's Josh Halls on beta, fishing, and houses
PAX Prime 2014: Paying a premium for Pathfinder Online
PAX Prime 2014: Warhammer 40k trains players to think like soldiers
PAX Prime 2014: Defiance defies barriers to play
PAX Prime 2014: Trove moves at the speed of lightrail
PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Undead Labs' Moonrise
PAX Prime 2014: State of Decay takes steps toward something larger
PAX Prime 2014: PlanetSide 2 meets the PlayStation 4
PAX Prime 2014: Marvel Heroes is the industry's surprise success story

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PAX Prime 2014: Marvel Heroes is the industry's surprise success story

Super-hero, Interviews, Previews, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Events (Massively's Coverage)

marvel heroes
Meeting with Marvel Heroes' David Brevik at PAX Prime confirmed what I have been observing over the past year or so: This game has quietly and steadily become one of the bigger success stories in the online gaming industry. Brevik told me that the Marvel Heroes playerbase continues to grow, boasting four times as many players as it had nine months ago.

What did Brevik attribute to the game's meteoric rise? The promotions and sheer mountain of new content that the team's been adding certainly helped, but he said that it really came down to terrific community relations. Brevik streams the game four nights a week and talks to the community members as though they were part of his family.

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PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Shroud of the Avatar

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

When I got my first look at the live game of Shroud of the Avatar at PAX Prime this past weekend, one thought slammed me to the ground: This game is so much better-looking than the website's screenshots let on.

My first steps into the spiritual successor to the Ultima franchise were taken in a player village at night. The incredibly dark surroundings were broken by the flickering flames of braziers in nearby huts and the swirl of fireflies. It was moody, stylish, and, if you'll pardon the word, magical. One of the devs told me that lots of work has been done lately to provide dynamic lighting that even goes so far as to allow your character's "eyes" to adjust to the dark and change the screen accordingly.

After poking around a few half-finished homes, I ported into a PvP zone to experience the game's combat system. I learned that fighting in Shroud of the Avatar is neither simple nor similar to other MMOs. There's a rather intriguing deck system in which you earn points to spend on cards, then create a build from those. When you switch into combat mode, your hotbar is gradually dealt cards depending on their cooldowns. And if you don't use those skills within an allotted time? Why, they go away. It was confusing to grok, although the dev mentioned that it was something all players will need to spend actual time to learn and wield effectively. I'm unsure how this marks an improvement over most current combat systems, although it might appeal to those who miss Chronicles of Spellborn's system.

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PAX Prime 2014: Defiance defies barriers to play

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Post-Apocalyptic, Defiance

defiance
If there's one message that Trion Worlds wants to get out about Defiance from PAX Prime this year, it's that the game is bursting with content and absolutely welcoming one and all to play.

While we're still waiting for the conversion of the Xbox 360 version to free-to-play, PlayStation 3 and PC players can already jump into the game and experience the title for free. The team's been hard at work refining and fleshing out the game, so for people who might have only dabbled in it shortly after launch, it's almost a completely new world to explore.

As season two of the TV show recently wrapped up, so will the current Aftermath storyline in the game. Both the show and the game dealt with the growing threat of cults, and the MMO will be packaging up the entire saga for players to revisit later in September.

The devs also shared with me that they used the real-world setting of the Bay Area to unleash some pent-up hatred toward the San Francisco airport and its parking in one of the new areas. Good to know that MMOs can be both fun to play and therapeutic for its makers!

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

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