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Why You Should Be Playing

Celebrate the Empire Strikes Back anniversary on Hoth

Sci-Fi, Star Wars Galaxies, Why You Should Be Playing

1980 was an exciting year for many. For some it was the Phillies beating the Royals (even though my team didn't win, thus ruining baseball for me forever), for others it could have been Reagan defeating Carter in the presidential election, or maybe they were just excited about someone shooting J. R. Ewing. This all pales compared to what happened at the beginning of the summer. Even at the ripe old age of four, I recall going to see Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back in the theater. Forever it dominated my destiny.

A Force beyond my control compelled me to celebrate this monumental day, the 30th Anniversary of the release of The Empire Strikes Back. I had to relive the memories; relive the fun of the day I went to see this great movie. I already had my Star Wars rockband boxers and watched the movie through, but I still felt empty. Then it hit me: I could actually go to Hoth to live out the scene of the great battle between General Veers' AT-ATs and Echo Base. I could log into my Star Wars: Galaxies account and just have some fun.

I encourage you to find the Star Wars Fanboi/gurl in you and follow me in my adventure to the snowy dunes of Hoth after the break.

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Why you should be playing Runes of Magic: It's free!

Fantasy, Economy, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Runes of Magic, Why You Should Be Playing

"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we're playing them, so you can know what to play.

It's no secret that free-to-play MMOs have gained a permanent foothold in the MMO landscape. With some titles garnering millions of players and others reporting record profits, it's clear that this business model is here to stay. Like most free-to-play games, Runes of Magic is supported by a micro-transaction system. Players spend cash on "diamonds", which can be used to dye equipment, unlock extra backpack space or buy items in the cash shop. Available items for purchase include tools for upgrading equipment, skill reset stones, XP gain potions, cosmetic pets and costumes.

In addition to the usual conveniences and cosmetic options, the Runes of Magic cash shop contains some items that could be considered essential. Yet of the few free-to-play titles I've tried that are supported by a cash shop, I find it the most supportive to players who don't want to spend any money. The method Frogster uses to keep Runes of Magic open to free players is highly effective. While cash can be used as a short-cut or convenience, free players are still able to acquire essential items and make full use of the game. In fact, there's very little a cash-wielding player can do that a free player can't.

In this article, I look at how Runes of Magic can be played without spending any cash.

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Why You Should Be Playing PlanetSide: It's online war!

PlanetSide, Opinion, MMOFPS, Why You Should Be Playing

War seems to be a hot topic in MMOs today. From MAG to Global Agenda, online war is the place to be.

But a few years ago, having an online war with 300 people at once was unheard of until one game pushed the boundaries and made it so -- PlanetSide. Sony Online Entertainment started the concept of having the MMO and the FPS merge together into one being that was above and beyond a persistent online shooter. It had the armor system of Starsiege Tribes, the inventory management of an MMO, the level progression and ability modification of an RPG, and the combat and vehicle control of a FPS, all played to the tune of a persistent war.

So why should you choose this game when there are so many newer alternatives available? Follow after the break, and let me outline a few features for ya.

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Why You Should Be Playing City of Heroes: Content on demand

Super-hero, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Why You Should Be Playing


With all the talk about the Skirmish system in Lord of the Rings Online and the World of Warcraft dungeon finder, it's hard to argue that people don't really like having the option to simply pick up and start playing something. Both of these systems thrive on the strength of their pick-up-and-play nature -- you don't have to wait to find a group, you just jump right into content without any slowdown. The obvious question, then, becomes "why didn't someone notice that people like to just jumping in and playing the darn game?"

Of course,the full answer is a bit less obvious but no less true: someone did. Several someones, in fact. Paragon Studios and Cryptic before them both realized how much people like to just pick up and go. That's why City of Heroes currently sports three different systems to allow you or a full team access to content quickly, ranging from reliving your character's greatest triumphs to fighting Nazi vampires on the moon.

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Why You Should Be Playing EverQuest II: It's five bucks

Fantasy, EverQuest II, Business Models, Opinion, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a freeform column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we're playing them, so you can know what to play.

When Steam offers a sale, Steam pulls no punches. This holiday has been one of the best sets of sales in the video game industry that I can remember, mostly thanks to Steam's Black Friday deals and this insanely long holiday special that's currently going on. Their deals are so great that the sales are actually crippling their bandwidth -- quite a feat for a service that has one huge bandwidth pipeline.

But we're not here to talk about Steam today. We're here to talk about EverQuest II and specifically why you should consider getting back into the game if you were a former subscriber, or if you're a brand new player. The reason? The game is five bucks.

Five. Five dollar. Five dollar MMO game. (Not to be confused with five dollar footlong subs.)

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Why You Should Be Playing Fallen Earth: First person combat

Fallen Earth, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, MMOFPS, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a freeform column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we're playing them, so you can know what to play.

Fallen Earth is a staff favorite around the Massively.com offices, yet it's very rare that we really get into why we love it so much. So today I set out to end that little problem and tell you why I love Fallen Earth so much -- the first person combat.

Sure, it's not the first time that an FPS system has been used in an MMO. PlanetSide is an FPSMMO, Tabula Rasa ended up incorporating an (awesome) FPS view shortly before it kicked the bucket, and Neocron is built on FPS concepts, but that doesn't mean that an FPS perspective isn't a huge amount of fun in an MMO or any less original.

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Why You Should Be Playing Aion: Chain combat

Fantasy, Aion, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Hands-On, Why You Should Be Playing

"Why you should be playing ..." is a freeform column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we're playing them, so you can know what to play.

I didn't give Aion the world's most glowing set of remarks last time I visited it, so I thought I should at least stop by and spend some time on a part of the game that I do actually like -- chain attacks.

Chain attacks do many things to help Aion's combat move smoothly and efficiently. They clean up the UI, they offer flexible choices, they keep the combat looking fluid, and they're a lot of fun to pull off.

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Why you should be playing Runes of Magic: Open Crafting

Betas, Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Guides, New Titles, Crafting, Professions, Player Housing, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Academic, Education, Runes of Magic, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a freeform column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we're playing them, so you can know what to play.

Runes of Magic is enjoying some well-deserved attention lately as it's wrapping up its open beta and preparing for a launch in March. To offer some more incentive for interested gamers to check out the game, we figured we'd let you in on a little secret: this game is awesome! How awesome? Although this would be a 10,000-word essay if that question were to be answered entirely, we're going to give you some information on just one of our favorite features of the game: open crafting professions.

What exactly is open crafting? It's a crafting system with no restrictions and no limits. The crafting profession system in Runes of Magic is the gathering and manufacturing of materials to create in-game items. It's the process of creating these items with special recipes and selling them on the Auction Hall. This is something we're accustomed to in most of our favorite big-name MMOs, but in RoM, you can take all crafting and gathering professions right from the start.

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Why you should be playing Final Fantasy XI: The corsair class

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Consoles, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we play what we do!

They keep telling me that gambling has no place on the battlefield. Battlefields are the places of warriors, mages, paladins, thieves, and rangers. You need to have a sword in your hand or a spell at the ready, because things can go from calm to chaotic in seconds. There's no time to play games when life and death is on the line, especially when a death can cause lost experience points.

Whoever said gambling has no place on the battlefield probably never met Final Fantasy XI's dice rolling, card throwing pirate class -- the corsair. The class where your buffs are based on a little skill, a little intuition, and all the luck the party can lend.

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Why you should be playing Tabula Rasa: It's free!

Sci-Fi, Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, Tabula Rasa, Education, Why You Should Be Playing


If you're still postponing the dive into NCsoft's Tabula Rasa, because of that whole shut-down thing, I wanted to just let you know that you may be missing out on a historical opportunity here. How often is it that you get to play a game through its last remaining weeks, and actually witness the end first-hand?

Right now the game itself is even free to download. I'll explain more on this later, but if you're feeling extra generous, or you're big into souvenirs from dead MMOs, you can pick it up on Amazon or most brick-and-mortar shops for $5 US. If you want to spend the extra cash for a Collector's Edition, to get some dogtags, an AFS Challenge coin, a "Making of Tabula Rasa" DVD and more, you can do that for $15-$30 usually. Or perhaps, you'll be lucky enough to find a dumpster full of boxes behind an EB Games somewhere.

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Why you should be playing City of Heroes: Emotes

Super-hero, Screenshots, City of Heroes, City of Villains, Opinion, Humor, Why You Should Be Playing

Sure, almost all MMOGs have emotes. They've been there forever. But much like the incredibly involved character creator, City of Heroes boasts a wide range of very silly and fun choices, perfect for those who love to add in that little oomph when role-playing or just messing around with friends. Also, unlike the fire-and-forget-it emote development of many other MMOs, the City of Heroes developers continue to slowly add new emotes in to the game, both through patches and microtransaction packs. Some are easy to find through the chat menus, while others are a bit off the beaten path, and short of hunting down a listing, you may not have seen them all.

For those who haven't ever experienced the wide range of City of Heroes emotes, I've compiled a gallery of some of my personal favorites. That said, this gallery is nowhere nearly the entirety of the emotes in the game. In researching this, I realized there were quite a few I hadn't even seen yet - despite playing CoH for a couple of years now! There are also a few emotes that have multiple /em commands to activate.

That being said, there is really no substitute for seeing them in action. So, if you've been considering trying on some tights, there's no time like the present!



Why you should be playing Final Fantasy XI: Level sync

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Tips and tricks, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we play what we do!

This should be a story that any MMO player is intimately acquainted with. You've just picked up an awesome new MMO and have been flying through the levels. It's gripping you and you really want to share it with your friends. Then you realize the fatal problem that occurs with most MMOs -- you're too high level and you don't want to wait for your friends to catch up.

With Final Fantasy XI, this was the brutal nature of the game. Being one or two levels away from your party resulted in decreased exp for everyone involved. Being three levels or more meant the party just didn't work at all and experience was ruined for everyone. It was unbearably hard to get parties, because everyone had to be within 2 levels of one another. With the recent advent of level sync, however, those days are long gone.

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Why you should be playing City of Heroes: Badges

Super-hero, City of Heroes, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we play what we do!

Non-combat rewards aren't new to MMOs, but for a long time they were entirely player-driven. In EverQuest the success of running guild or friendships within an online community were the primary non-mechanical motivators. Since then, and especially with the advent of Xbox Live, in-game achievement tracking has become a major factor in persistent games. We as players love to be rewarded for success, and pinning gold stars to our sashes is a lot easier (from a game mechanic perspective) than actual monetary or xp doles. Warhammer Online may have perfected this schema with the Tome of Knowledge this year, but way back in 2004 City of Heroes really got the party started with their Badge system.

Collecting badges is not only a fun and (often) relaxing alternative to leveling or instance-running, in recent years the NCsoft developers have made it worth your while as well. Supergroup badges, for example, stack up to allow your group the opportunity to teleport straight from your base into the field. There are a number of reasons to enjoy badge hunting, and the addition of this seemingly-simple gratification system is one of the reasons CoH as much fun as it is to play. Read on below the cut for more on how the City of Heroes developers give you more fun, with less grind.

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Why you should be playing Puzzle Pirates: Swordfighting

Puzzle, Puzzle Pirates, Free-to-Play, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we play what we do!

Free to play MMOs just don't get the respect they deserve. The problem is that that the entire submarket is painted by the same brush. Yes, there are many examples of not-so-great Asian MMOs poorly translated and dumped on the US market as free-to-play titles. Despite that, not only are some imports well done but home-grown free games are increasingly high quality. Three Rings has been making high quality free games for years, and Puzzle Pirates is their flagship title.

You probably already know the outline of the gameplay just from the name; it's an MMO where everyone does pirate-y things via puzzles. Everything is a puzzle in the game, from sailing and bilging to drinking contests. One of the most popular games in Puzzle Pirates is the swordfighting contest, and rightly so. Truly massively multiplayer, based on the Puzzle Fighter 2 console game, swordfighting is craftily, beautifully fun. Read on below the cut for my thoughts on why this simple puzzling technique may be one of the most engaging combats you can enjoy in an MMO.

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Why you should be playing Lord of the Rings Online: The Warden

Fantasy, Lord of the Rings Online, Classes, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Why You Should Be Playing


"Why you should be playing ..." is a free form column from Massively.com intended to inform you about our favorite parts of our favorite games. We want you to know why we play what we do!

The Warden class in the Lord of the Rings Online (introduced with the new Mines of Moria expansion) is, all things considered, a blast to play. A capable jack-of-all-trades class, rich in tactical options. Not a class for those who prefer their combat to be a bit mindless, the Warden keeps you thinking.

The biggest downfall of the Warden is probably hubris.

You see, the Warden is capable. Very capable. Durable in a fight, with a mix of melee and range attacks, and a variety of support powers, when they come up against opponents without special attacks (poison, stunning and so forth) such as orcs or brigands, Wardens can quite comfortably take on foes up to five levels or so above their own. The downside of this is that it can often lead you into trouble.

Read on to find out why I love the kind of trouble the Warden offers.

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