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Events (Massively's Coverage)

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!

PAX Prime 2014: Warhammer 40k trains players to think like soldiers

Betas, Sci-Fi, Previews, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Warhammer 40k

war40k
Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is most emphatically not about two things: PvE and lone rangers. While there will be a smidgeon of PvE content in the released game, the focus of the developers is about coordinated group PvP. In fact, coordination is an essential part to Eternal Crusade's experience, as the devs cited the chaos of PlanetSide 2 as something that they wish to avoid.

Instead, using technologies such as Eternal Crusade's single server, low latency, and the built in Razercom voice chat, tools are in place to allow players to find friends and squadmates and talk with them. Going off on one's own is a recipe for a quick death, while sticking with a squad to accomplish objectives and summon in reinforcements will be the path to progress. Different terrain and structures will also require different military thinking, shifting from guerilla warfare to scorched earth madness.

At PAX Prime, the devs were showing a very early alpha build to allow eight players to engage in small-scale PvP. The team stressed that the skirmish was definitely about skill instead of stats, although careful planning and strategy were just as important as quick reflexes. The ultimate goal is to help your faction take over as much territory as possible, transforming captured cities into faction-themed landscapes in the progress.

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PAX Prime 2014: Trove moves at the speed of lightrail

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Interviews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Trove

trove
Probably one of the coolest features that I've seen in an MMO in a long time came during a Trove demo at PAX Prime this weekend. The devs were keen to show off the game's magriders, which are tracks that players can lay down to take others on a pre-planned route around the world. Think of it as a combination of rollercoaster, lightrail, and slip-n-slide, and you might have a notion of how insane these can get. Magriders can obey the laws of physics or not and have several options for speeding up and slowing down passengers depending on the creator's intent.

After a dizzying five-minute ride through one of Trove's biomes that ended with a thousand-foot plunge into the heart of a volcano, I was sold on the potential for this new in-game toy. But as neat as magriders are, they're not the only card in the devs' deck as the game nears beta later in September.

The team recently introduced Trove's fourth class, the Dracolyte. This is a fireball-wielding mage who fills the need for the pyros out there. The Dracolyte also has a little familiar dragon hovering over its shoulder that can charge up a fiery attack and then unleash it at will. The class to follow the Dracolyte couldn't be more different, however: The Neon Ninja looks to be a cyborg sword-wielder who stepped straight out of Tron.

There's so much more to talk about with Trove's development, including the addition of clubs. Clubs are like mini-guilds, only you can join up to five of them, and each one gets its own world to modify and keep. The team is also working on a transmog system to allow players to collect and permanently store skins. From crazy candy biomes to lightning-quick rides, this underdog title might end up surprising us all.

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PAX Prime 2014: The mystery behind WildStar's Nexus

Sci-Fi, Patches, Previews, Events (Massively's Coverage), WildStar, Subscription

wildstar
Nexus is a giant ball of mysteries at its core, but WildStar doesn't want to drag out solving them. In the upcoming Defile drop, the team is prepared to address some of the biggest questions of Drusara and the Elden as players delve into the mystery of Genesis Prime. I sat down with Carbine's Stephen Frost at PAX Prime to pry out a few secrets in advance of the patch's release.

Defile is a massive patch compared to the game's first two releases, piling on a ton of solo, small-group, and large-group PvE content for players to face and conquer. A new zone will open up, one that's a key battleground between the Strain and Drusara, and things have gotten all sorts of weird there as a result of the clash. There are sentient spiders who have kidnapped faction leaders, a black focus that is malfunctioning, and a five-stage public event that includes bombing runs and a 20-man boss fight.

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PAX Prime 2014: Unpredictable water flows through RIFT: Nightmare Tide

Fantasy, Expansions, Previews, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), RIFT

rift
When RIFT's Nightmare Tide releases on October 8th, Trion Worlds expects that it will make more than a few MMO gamers rediscover why this is not a game to be discounted. Not only will the full expansion be completely free, but it will allow the Ascended heroes to finally take the fight to the Plane of Water. It's there that a being known as Draum has had his dreams disturbed, water has decided to eschew the laws of physics, and the bloodfire army is attempting an invasion of its own.

The team believes that RIFT has two types of players: ones who want to enjoy the story and ones who just want to level already. Nightmare Tide is built with both in mind, allowing people to delve into the story as much or as little as desired. However, Trion's Bill Fisher told me at this year's PAX Prime that the story is so good this time around that he's had a hard time doing the MMO gamer thing of ignoring the quest text.

At one point, players will encounter the birthing of a clutch of Skelf eggs. Skelf are humanoid sea creatures (some are like sharks while others share similarities to angler fish) who tend to kill the weakest member of a clutch. However, player intervention will save a poor Skelf baby who will then follow that player around and become a key part of the expansion tale.

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PAX Prime 2014: Landmark comes into its own

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, PvP, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, Landmark

landmark
After the better part of a year of being both an excellent building simulator and the sparse skeleton of an actual MMO, Landmark is finally starting to fill out in all sorts of pleasing ways. At this year's PAX Prime, Dave Georgeson was gushing about the joy that's been unleashed with the recent PvP combat patch. Not only are players reveling in the slaughter of their fellow humans, but a new market for death match arenas has sprung up virtually overnight.

"Players are having stupid amounts of fun with the PvP, even if they aren't typically into PvP," Georgeson noted. He said that contrary to popular belief, PvP is tougher to put into an MMO because it deals with a very unpredictable foe (a thinking human). But it's also better for the team to implement that first and home in on what makes the combat click to make PvE combat sparkle when that's added later on. More PvP customization options are on deck for the future as well.

Also part of the crazy fun are the new platforming elements: teleporters, moving platforms, and "flingers." Georgeson predicted that once the playerbase gets a handle on what these elements can do and how they can be chained together, the game will grow several orders of magnitude wilder.

From here, Landmark's progress will only speed up. The team is going to focus on bug fixes and polishing the new systems while listening to what the players think about the new toys. One thing that the devs have to do is separate ideas that are possible (such as allowing players to order voxel structures to obey the laws of physics) from those that are not (such as allowing players to create enemy creature models). The team does have a release date for the game in mind, although it is not sharing.

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PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is a go for launch!

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Launches, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing

archeage
The packed ballroom at Trion's PAX Prime party erupted into giddy cheers last night when the team announced that ArcheAge's launch is merely a couple of weeks away. This gorgeous fantasy sandbox blew up the alpha test population and is poised to be a huge coup for Trion as the studio adds another title to its growing portfolio.

While the official launch date is September 16th, there will be an open beta from September 4th through the 8th, followed by a headstart launch on the 12th for founders.

The team expressed confidence in the alpha testing and the back-and-forth communication with developer XLGAMES. If XLGAMES is the proud mom and dad of ArcheAge, I was told, then Trion is the proud auntie and uncle. A lot of work has gone into straightening out regional differences for the western audience as well. For example, in Korea it's quite common to play an MMO with the intent of selling your character for actual money, which places a different value and emphasis on what you accumulate and do. Since such sales aren't often legal here, adjustments had to be made for the localized version. There was also a special cape item that Korean players could use to identify botters, which was used responsibly in that country but has apparently been wielded as a griefing tool in the west.

ArcheAge won't be budging on its commitment to an open PvP world; it's simply how the game is constructed. Players who want to avoid getting ganked will need to keep an eye on war zones that move throughout the world and accept the inherent risk that comes with attempting trade in those regions.

The team hopes that there will be enough space on the servers for all subscribers to grab an open world housing plot if desired. Coming some time after launch will be castles, which are larger structures that guilds can build, maintain, and defend together. Trion said that server transfers won't be in for release but are being worked on for the future.

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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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PAX Prime 2014: The Repopulation's Josh Halls on beta, fishing, and houses

Sci-Fi, Interviews, Events (Massively's Coverage), Sandbox, The Repopulation

Above & Beyond Technologies Lead Developer Josh Halls has been on a very long journey with The Repopulation, a journey that began back in 2009 and isn't even close to being over yet. I met with Halls at PAX Prime to talk about where this sci-fi sandbox has been and where it's going as it angles for beta testing.

The Repopulation released its Alpha 3 build this past April and will be sticking with that for the duration of alpha testing. Halls told me that there's a pretty dedicated group of testers in the game, with around 1,500 having picked up the title so far and around 20 to 40 playing at any given moment. Those numbers are primed to increase when the game transitions into beta and Steam Early Access later this year.

While it's not terribly sexy, bug tracking and fixing is vital to the development process and foremost on the team's mind. Player feedback during the alpha has helped to refine the game in other ways, such as to make gathering less of a click-fest and more of a community effort. Right now a group of players can work together to enhance a region in order to gather better materials.

Other big to-do items include putting in a fishing minigame and opening the doors (so to speak) for open-world housing. Fishing will pave the way for other possible minigames, and open-world housing is the next step from the game's existing instanced homes.

Halls said that the dozen or so members of the team are hard at work to prepare The Repopulation for the larger gaming public and that the studio is currently operating in the black.

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PAX Prime 2014: PlanetSide 2 meets the PlayStation 4

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), PlanetSide 2

ps2
PlanetSide 2 is waging a war for your attention on two platforms these days. The big push by SOE as of late is to prepare the title for its testing and release on the PlayStation 4. At this year's PAX Prime, the team said that the MMOFPS should be going into a beta later this year after the devs finish refining the UI for use on the controller.

The PlayStation 4 version won't be sharing the same server as the PC, although SOE predicts that it will become the more popular edition due to the number of first-person shooter fans on the console. Great effort is being made to keep the game as fast and responsive as other FPS titles on that platform. As in many other FPS games on the PS4, voice chat will be a must-have for squads.

The team will be attempting to keep the updates for the PS4 edition as close as possible with the release of the PC title. Because of the approval process by Sony, it won't be possible for the devs to assure a same-day release across platforms.

We asked whether PlanetSide 2 could be coming to the PlayStation 3 as well, but the studio said that the older hardware simply can't handle the title without a serious compromise in game quality.

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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