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Black Desert readies sieges for January 17th

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Black Desert

Avon calling!
Ready to lay siege to your enemies and take control of whatever strikes your fancy (as long as it's a castle) in Black Desert? The developers are getting ready to let players do just that. Sieges will be enabled on a single server on January 17th for a live test, and as long as nothing breaks horrendously, all servers will have the mechanics enabled on January 24th.

Each guild will be able to build two towers and one command center as part of the lead-in to the warfare; the last guild standing after a siege will take control of the castle and be the defenders during the next assault. Still no word has been offered on an exact date for a North American release, for those of you watching this with hungry eyes. You'll have to find out how the siege tests go from the sidelines.

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Final Fantasy previews dungeons and plans maintenance for patch 2.5

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Dungeons, Subscription

Oh, good, two decades of dragon corpse can still move around and fight us.  Super.
The last pre-expansion patch for Final Fantasy XIV is going to be a big one. So big, in fact, that the game is dropping 12 hours of maintenance for the first part. Servers will go down at 6:00 p.m. EST on January 19th before coming back online at 6:00 a.m. EST on January 20th. As always, exact completion time is subject to change.

If you missed yesterday's trailer, you can get an idea of some of the fuss by checking out today's dungeon preview, which shows off the Keeper of the Lake, Amdapor Keep (Hard), Wanderer's Palace (Hard), and the World of Darkness. While the exact item level requirements for these dungeons are hidden, it is clear that the Keeper of the Lake will once again be part of the main scenario quests like Snowcloak was in patch 2.4. So get ready to fight a dragon corpse, slaughter various voidsent, and most importantly rescue a whole lot of far-less-rancorous Tonberries.

RIFT plans improvements to dimensions and minions

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Dev Diaries, Housing

Two of RIFT's more popular systems, dimensions and minions, will be getting some major dev love when Patch 3.1 arrives.

In a new dev diary that went out yesterday, the team lays out a list of improvements for these systems. Dimensions will be getting a free-fly camera to allow for even more building precision, permissions options for visitors, ban lists, and -- prepare for this to blow your mind -- a bigger +1 button.

As for minions, players will have even more options in how they deploy these hard-working followers. The team is adding minion stamina potions, the ability to shuffle adventures, and the option to link to minions in the chat window.

Final Fantasy XIV drops a trailer for patch 2.5, Before the Fall

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Although since it's coming out in the winter, it's more like AFTER the fall!  Haha!  Seriously, though, every single part of Eorzea is getting wrecked.
The final patch before Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion is a week away, and it's got plenty going on, so much that it's being split into three parts. A new trailer for the patch has been unleashed today, showing off bits and pieces of the whole thing but focusing chiefly on the content that will be going live on January 20th. You can view the whole thing just past the break, assuming you have 10 minutes to see all of the various hints and spoilers.

Patch 2.5 brings with it more main scenario quests, three new dungeons (Keeper of the Late, Amdapor Keep Hard, and Wanderer's Palace Hard), the World of Darkness raid, a battle against the primal Odin, and a continuation of the Hildibrand storyline. Patch 2.51 is confirmed in the trailer for late February and will include the Manderville Gold Saucer, while part 2 of Before the Fall will wrap up the main scenario and set up the story of Heavensward in late March.

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Not So Massively: SMITE's tourney, Shadow Realms' do-over, Heroes of the Storm's new mode

Betas, Video, Bugs, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, Previews, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS, Not So Massively, MOBA, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous, Infinite Crisis, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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Age of Conan has its eye on achievements, crafting for 2015

Fantasy, Age of Conan, Previews, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

Is Hyboria one of your planned destinations for 2015? If so, then you're in luck, as Joel Bylos has a taste of what's in store for Age of Conan this year in a new game director letter.

The two big initiatives for the year revolve around the brand-new achievement and revamped crafting systems. The first iteration of achievements are coming with update 4.5 in a few weeks. These will include achievements for completing speed challenges for dungeons. Following that, players will get to dive into a richer crafting experience.

Bylos hinted at a few other highlights for 2015, including the return of the world boss system and PvP festivals. "We are still nailing down our production schedule for the year," he wrote. "You can expect to hear more about the status of Palace of Cetriss and The Slithering Chaos in an upcoming letter."

Elder Scrolls Online tweaks champion points conversion rate

Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Endgame, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

The new endgame champion system coming to Elder Scrolls Online in Update 6 is the talk of Tamriel, and ZeniMax is evaluating feedback carefully to make sure that it launches without a hitch. The studio announced on Friday that it will be making a change to how it will convert veteran ranks to champion points.

Originally, the studio was going to give a blanket 30 champion points to any player who had at least one veteran rank on a character. Based on feedback, ZeniMax will now be converting veteran ranks to champion points at the rate of 200,000 XP per point at the moment of Update 6's release, for a maximum of 70 potential champion points for one's entire account.

The studio made it clear that champion points will not cost 200,000 XP after Update 6; this conversion rate is specifically for veteran ranks pre-release.

Betawatch: January 3 - 9, 2015

Betas, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Previews, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

PlanetSide 2
SOE confirmed this week that the beta for PlanetSide 2's PlayStation 4 edition will begin on January 20th. This month is shaping up to be a big one for the studio; its zombie MMO H1Z1 will kick off its own early access next week. What else is new in the world of MMO testing? Read on for our complete Betawatch roundup.

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You'll soon be able to buy WoW garrison followers directly

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, Patches, Previews, Subscription

If you missed out on snagging one of your World of Warcraft garrison followers or are willing to trade gold for time to complete your collection, then Blizzard is prepared to humbly accept your patronage. The studio announced on the forums that it will be adding a follower vendor in the next patch.

"One specific change I can share is in the next patch we're planning to add a new NPC to tier 3 garrisons who will sell followers you might not have access to based upon which buildings and outposts you've chosen," Community Manager Crithto wrote. "You'll be able to browse for followers you did not choose from quests and any you might have missed from failed missions."

EVE Online video gives brief 'recon' of Proteus

Sci-Fi, Video, EVE Online, Patches, Previews, Sandbox, Subscription

Sometimes all it takes is a good preview video to ratchet up one's personal excitement and anticipation over an upcoming release. If you're an EVE Online fan, then you might get that rush from the following brief video in which the devs outline Proteus' main features.

One of the biggest features of Proteus is a full rebalance for recon ships, including making them more sturdy and completely immune to directional scanners. The update will also contain the module tier side project, beta starmap tweaks, permanent places for newbies to mine, and visual improvements to one of the ships and asteroid belts.

Check out the video after the break!

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Age of Wushu previews new school abilities after server merge

Fantasy, Historical, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Age of Wushu

Yeah, the spectral head thing, I know.  You showed me, Wan Xiu.  Very impressive.  I'm sure that was totally worth abandoning your family.  Your daughter weeps furiously every night, but that'll fix things right up.  Great job.
The fifth inner skills for each of the eight schools are arriving in the next Age of Wushu update, and if you're a player, you'd probably like to know what they do, wouldn't you? I mean, one of them might instantly kill everything in a seven-meter radius, and the other might summon a moderate quantity of breadsticks and marinara sauce. That seems unlikely, though, as the preview of these new abilities mentions neither sort of talent. They do include attack buffs, HP drains, and major defensive buffs, though, so that's good.

You'll be able to show these skills off to a wider range of players after the game's server merges from yesterday. The Golden Kirin and White Tiger servers have been merged into the Blue Dragon server; players whose names will need to change should receive name changing scrolls within the next few days. If you weren't able to log in yesterday and aren't sure about how the merge went down, you can double-check the quick guide to the process.

Star Trek Online revamps bridge officers

Sci-Fi, Patches, Previews, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

Your loyal Star Trek Online crew deserves some recognition for its tireless work at raking you in XP, don't you think? Well, even if you don't agree, Cryptic is planning to give some major love to bridge officers in an upcoming patch.

The team posted a dev diary today outlining the revamp to players' faithful companions: "From a high-level standpoint, the updated bridge officer training system is focused on allowing players to invest in their bridge officers by training them in any of their class and specialization abilities, which can then be easily swapped in and out on the fly."

These changes will allow for a more flexible and customizable crew that can cross-train in intelligence and other potential specializations. The dev diary goes on to detail how officers will be trained going forward and what benefits players will get from these buffed-up buddies.

Shroud of the Avatar shows off zone diversity

Betas, Fantasy, Patches, Previews, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

If this week's Shroud of the Avatar newsletter is any indication, there will be something interesting to look at in this game no matter which direction you take.

The team showed off several different areas and biomes in the letter, including the undead realm of Brightbone Pass, the craters of Shardfall, the graveyard of Wyrmsands, and the desolate Dragon Pass. The Shardfall biome will be available for the first time in-game with the upcoming Release 14.

Shroud of the Avatar will be on the floor at CES in Las Vegas next week as part of a partnership with Plantronics.

Star Citizen's Chris Roberts looks back on a year of growth

Sci-Fi, Previews, News Items, Sandbox, Star Citizen

What goes up must continue to go up, forever.
2014 was a pretty big year for Star Citizen, and not just because the Arena Commander module went from its first release version to 1.0 over the course of the year. A recent letter from project head Chris Roberts states that over 2014 the studio has gone from having 70 employees in one location to 180 employees in four locations across the globe. He also notes the huge increases in funding that the game has seen from both new backers and old.

So what's in store for 2015? Big stuff for backers. The first episode of Squadron 42 and the beginnings of the game's persistent universe will be reaching backer hands, along with the first iterations of the FPS module. There's no exact timetable given, but the developers are certainly planning big for the year ahead. Take a look at the full letter for more statistics on the year past and the one just begun.

[Thanks to Cardboard for the tip!]

RuneScape delivers its 2015 manifesto

Fantasy, Previews, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Humor

We don't know what's better: the above teaser art or the fact that it represents RuneScape's upcoming 200th quest in which players will go to "a parallel universe where you, the hero, never existed and the bad guys won."

This is just part of RuneScape's 2015 Manifesto, in which Mod Mark gives a brief overview of the game's next 12 months. He says that players will guide the game's development via suggestions from its RuneLabs site as well as additional polls. "You can be sure that next year will be a fantastic cocktail of your best ideas mixed with the best of ours!" Mark gushes.

Other events in store include several updates to skills, new combat tactics, an Ocean's Eleven-style heist, a purpose for in-game shops, and a tussle with Tuska the World Devourer.

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