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Elite's premium beta starts today, expands May 30

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

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Elite Dangerous
Frontier has announced that the premium beta for Elite: Dangerous "effectively starts today." Backers may download a single-player combat build and play around with it until the full testing phase starts on May 30th.

Prior to that, the devs will roll out the fourth and final phase of Elite's alpha, wherein the sci-fi sandbox title will expand with two new modes of faster-than-light travel as well as the full Milky Way galactic map featuring 400,000,000,000 star systems.

You can read the full press release after the jump.

[Source: Frontier press release]

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Wurm testing 64x64 kilometer non-instanced mega-server

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Wurm Online, News Items, Sandbox

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Wurm Online
Wurm Online's largest current server measures 16x16 kilometers, but the developers have their eyes on a much bigger prize. Today at 10:00 p.m. Central European Summer Time (4:00 p.m. EDT), Code Club will be testing a 64x64 kilometer non-instanced mega-server.

You can join in if you like, as the Wurm devs are looking for anyone and everyone to see how many players the server can simultaneously support. No registration is required for the test.

Lead developer Rolf Jannson says that 50,000 critters will be roaming the fantasy sandbox title's wilderness during the test, which is actually "a fairly low population in Wurm terms." Jannson also says that no other MMO has launched a modifiable map of this scale, and "running this many players in one game zone is pretty unusual in itself and will be an interesting experience."

[Thanks bdew!]

World of Tanks makes more per user than LoL, GW2, and everyone else

Historical, Business Models, Economy, MMO Industry, News Items, War, Free-to-Play, World of Tanks

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Highest ARPU
Wargaming's tank-based lobby battler generated more revenue per user than League of Legends and Dota 2 over the past 12 months.

In fact, World of Tanks generated more ARPU than any other major F2P title, according to Superdata. "There's World of Tanks, which has a monthly active user base of around 9.1 million and makes $4.51 per month per user. And there's League of Legends, with 58.5 million average monthly actives over the past twelve months, and a $1.32 spend per user. Five times the audience, but less than [a] third of the earnings per player," Superdata says.

After WoT, the top five includes Team Fortress 2, Guild Wars 2, War Thunder, and PlanetSide 2.

Defiance's fifth DLC to release on April 15

Sci-Fi, Expansions, Patches, War, Defiance, Buy-to-Play

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Defiance
Tax day just got a bit sweeter as Trion announces that Defiance's fifth DLC pack will release on April 15.

Arktech Revolution introduces an EGO rating cap increase, new perks, new enemy difficulty tiers, dynamic event scaling, expert co-op maps, and much more.

PC and Xbox 360 players can grab the DLC on April 15th, while PlayStation 3 players will only get it that day if they have a PlayStation 3 Season Pass. The DLC will be available in the PlayStation store on April 29th for North American players and April 30th in the European store.

The Daily Grind: What do you hope to see at this year's PAX East?

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Previews, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous

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PAX East
Massively will be on the ground in Boston at this year's PAX East, which officially starts on Saturday. We'll be scurrying all over convention land to check out WildStar, Landmark, EVE Valkyrie, Warlords of Draenor, Guild Wars 2, Star Citizen, The Repopulation, PlanetSide 2, Guns of Icarus, State of Decay, and Infinite Crisis, among others. A few big MMO studios won't be present, of course; I think everyone will grok why ZeniMax Online might be a bit too busy for another con just now. But big guns like Carbine and SOE and Blizzard will all be in attendance at the first gamer-centric rather than media-centric con of the year.

So what are you looking forward to seeing out of PAX?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

World of Tanks shows off new game modes for 2014

Historical, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, News Items, War, Free-to-Play, World of Tanks

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All of these modes feature, well, tanks.
World of Tanks continues rolling along and updating, and it has some big features on deck for 2014. The latest video development diary shows off some of the new game modes which will be coming to the game in the near future, starting with Fortifications. The Fortification system allows clans to build structures and collect bonuses while at the same time defending their fortifications against other clans. The result is a complex interplay of new elements like pillboxes and aerial strikes that give both sides the tools to take fortified structures or defend them as needed.

That's not the least of the additions being made, however, as Historical Battles are also incoming. While this game mode has been in discussion for a long time, due to massive differences in tank capabilities, it's been tricky to create battles with an equal chance of victory for both sides. The solution is asymmetrical team composition, a rebalancing of stats for this specific game mode, and respawning lighter support tanks. Take a look at the video past the cut for a more in-depth examination of these changes.

[Source: Wargaming.net press release]

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SMITE now features Bastet, the Goddess of Cats

Video, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA

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SMITE's Bastet
Hi-Rez has revealed its latest SMITE deity in a new five-minute video focusing on Bastet, the Goddess of Cats. The clip delves into Bastet's Egyptian lore, her passive and active abilities including Pounce, Razer Whip, and De-claw as well as her ultimate Cat Call.

The clip also features plenty of in-game scenarios showing off said abilities, so click past the cut if you want a preview of Bastet in action.

[Thanks Soren!]

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SOE's H1Z1 is a zombie-flavored sandbox after all

Historical, Horror, Game Mechanics, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Sandbox, MMORPG

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SOE
SOE has just released more information on its upcoming F2P zombie MMO H1Z1. In a letter posted to Reddit just moments ago, President John Smedley explained his vision for the game. "It's a massively multiplayer game in which players fight for survival in a world where death is the only sure thing," he writes. Set in middle America with a distinct zombie flavor, the game will be a sandbox with a "deep crafting system" with which "players can build shelters out of resources in the world" and "work together to make amazing fortresses complete with weaponry to help defend against both the Infected and other players."

How is the game different from the multitudes of other kill-or-be-killed post-apoc zombie sandboxes already in existence? Smed says it's a persistent MMO with thousands of players and different rulesets, a strong economy, open looting in PvP, access to devs, an emphasis on "player ownership and building," and cool tech borrowed from PlanetSide 2. The studio plans to have a player-playable version within four to six weeks; it will fall under the $15 All Access Pass and have microtransactions but will not be P2W.

Have a look at the first released screenies below. The Game Talk Live stream is now over.

[Source: SOE press release]

Leaderboard: Are you looking forward to The Crew?

Real-Life, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Leaderboard

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The Crew's MINI Cooper squeeeee
Ubisoft hosted a preview event for The Crew earlier this week, and while I was already excited for the game, seeing some of the press coverage that emerged got me even more hot and bothered. And the fact that I saw a MINI in the latest batch of screenshots didn't hurt, either.

While The Crew may not be an MMO in the massive numbers of players sense, it certainly does feature a massive open world, quests, and plenty of character progression to go along with its sweet, sweet car porn.

How about it, Massively gear heads? Are you looking forward to The Crew? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Make your own kind of music in Guild Wars 2

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Music, Player-Generated Content, Buy-to-Play

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And now the song is in your head, too.
You could be forgiven for overlooking the new drum in Guild Wars 2's cash shop -- it's just a cosmetic thing for roleplayers who stand around town, right? Well, not exactly, and a developer diary from ArenaNet audio programmer Aaron McLeran aims to explain why you should care (and buy all the things). The drum actually allows players to select from two modes: a pre-set groove mode, which lets you auto-play several drum tracks solo or in time with other players' tracks, and user groove mode, which starts to travel into Lord of the Rings Online territory. Says McLeran,
The first five skill buttons have five unique drum sounds respectively. Each sample can be triggered individually so the drum can perform like our previous instruments in free-play mode. The only difference is the drum will quantize beat events so that they always sound good to you – and in rhythm. If you push the sixth or seventh skill slot, you put the drum into "loop-record" mode. If this is the first time you've pushed it, you'll hear a nice little click-track (that only you can hear!) that gives you an idea of where the "global" pulse is. Think of it like a count off: "A one, a two, a one two three four!" Then, when you push the drum sample set skill buttons again, they'll actually loop back on themselves. You can build up ever more complicated and funky grooves.
We just have one question: Where's our Bard class?

Fallen Earth nodes to get less 'willy-nilly'

Fallen Earth, Free-to-Play, Post-Apocalyptic, Dev Diaries, Crafting

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Fallen Earth
Tired of node placement refusing to make a lick of common sense in Fallen Earth? There's a dev for that.

Fallen Earth's new state of the game post for April has a word or two to say about how the team is moving around gathering nodes to fit the environment better. "What this will look like is an increase in hand-placed nodes that reflect the setting and environment better and fewer nodes scattered willy-nilly," said Producer Marie Croall.

The post also talks about new armor suits and cosmetic gear recipes that are coming soon as part of the rewards for controlling the Outpost.

EA's Dawngate MOBA gets open beta, new trailer

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, MOBA

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Dawngate
Electronic Arts and Waystone Games want you to know that their Dawngate MOBA is now in open beta. Should you play it? That depends on whether you value things like resource gathering and character customization in your MOBAs.

If you're still not sure, you can have a look at Dawngate's "Break the Meta" trailer after the cut. Don't forget our hands-on impressions while you're at it.

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HD Streaming for EVE Fanfest now on sale

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), News Items, Subscription

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I kind of prefer Star Trek Online's Dyson sphere ships to EVE's apparent Dyson vacuum ship.
Are you a big fan of EVE Online? Do you want to go to EVE Fanfest but can't fit a trip to Iceland into your budget? Do you have a spare PLEX sitting around? Are you thinking about marzipan? Because right now you can buy a high-definition stream of the entire Fanfest from CCP Games for $19.95 or one PLEX, whichever works better for you. (The marzipan thing you'll have to sort out on your own.)

Buying the stream gets you access to three days of high-definition coverage, the pre-convention livestream from developers, your choice of one of four industrial ship skins, subscriber-only giveaways, and a digital version of the Fanfest shirt for 2014. Sound good to you? Then head on over and drop your money! Or you can just watch the festivities streamed for free on Twitch, but you'll have to put up with normal definition footage, like an animal.

The Stream Team: Jumping on the (literal) Landmark rollercoaster

Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, EverQuest Next, Livestream, The Stream Team, Player-Generated Content, Landmark

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When Landmark devs say you can build anything (appropriate, that is), they aren't kidding! Massively's MJ has come across a wide variety of creative endeavors. In fact, recent adventures have uncovered a number of cool and interesting builds, not the least of which is an actual rollercoaster. Don't miss out on her latest tour; join us live at 5:00 p.m. EDT and see the latest and greatest creations to crop up.

Game: Landmark
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
Time: 5:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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WildStar's elder gem system to get post-launch love

Sci-Fi, Launches, Patches, WildStar, Subscription

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WildStar
What you see is only half of what you get, at least in regard to the elder gem system in WildStar.

Carbine Studios Product Director Mike Donatelli churned out a good-sized post on the forums this morning concerning WildStar's elder gem system and what the studio has planned for it after the game's launch. He said that what's currently in-game is "only half of the intended final system," and while the team can't get in the full deal by release, the rest will be included in the first major post-launch patch.

Elder gems are a type of currency that players will earn with XP once they hit the level cap. There's a weekly limit to the number of gems that can earned, and players can use these gems to buy gear and items from special vendors. Future plans for the system include the ability to buy amp and ability tier points that haven't been procured elsewhere and weekly and daily quests to earn more gems.

Entropy lets players fight over star systems

Betas, Sci-Fi, Patches, PvP

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Entropy
Forget fighting over small patches of dirt in some fantasy arena; Entropy now lets you conquer entire star systems.

The space sim launched its first major update today called Hostile Takeover. The core feature of the patch is a three-faction PvP system that allows players to fight over, conquer, and protect outlying star systems from their enemies. Factions must destabalize an enemy system in order to cause a crisis -- a limited window of opportunity to swoop in and cripple the enemy's space station. If this is done, then the system changes hands.

"With support for up to a hundred players in the same match, we expect some truly epic battles," said Artplant Producer Jack Wulff.

Entropy is currently available through Steam Early Access.

SOE All Access changes go into place on April 23rd

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, PlanetSide, Business Models, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Dragon's Prophet

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All Access
After a couple of delays in rolling out the revamped All Access plan, SOE has targeted "on or about" April 23rd as the go date for the changes.

According to the revised FAQ, the new membership plan will include "top-tier" access to SOE's entire library, a monthly stipend of 500 Station Cash, a 10% discount on marketplace purchases, and other promotions. The cost will be $14.99 a month with discounts for multi-month packages. SOE said that all current memberships will be automatically transitioned into the new All Access plan and that details concerning Dragon's Prophet benefits are forthcoming.

Diablo III's 2.0.4 patch makes resplendent treasure feel more resplendent

Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, PvE, Crafting, Diablo III, Buy-to-Play

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D3 2.0.4 logo
Blizzard has patched Diablo III to version 2.0.4 in the Americas. There are a decent number of class tweaks in the patch as well as an adjustment to the drop of unique legendary crafting materials. They've been "significantly increased," if you're wondering.

There are a few itemization changes, too, including an adjustment to to treasure drops from resplendent chests. "The treasure from Resplendent Chests has been improved to feel more resplendent," Blizzard says.

Black Gold's closed beta getting 'major changes,' new classes

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Steampunk, Black Gold

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Black Gold Online mage art
Snail Games says that fans of steampunk MMO Black Gold Online can expect "a newer, smoother, updated version" of the title when closed beta testing starts "soon."

The game's UI, graphics, battlefields, and vehicles will be tweaked, and Snail says that "major" combat system, quest line, and PvE changes are already happening. While there's no date on the closed beta just yet, today's press release reveals that it will feature four new classes. You can click past the cut to read the full notice.

[Source: Snail Games press release]

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ArcheAge alpha is officially underway

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, News Items, ArcheAge

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Because we literally cannot run any news post about ArcheAge without including one of these rowboat pictures.
Trion Worlds has announced today that the alpha test version of XLGAMES' ArcheAge is now underway. Yes, that sentence was real. No, you don't need to rub your eyes and re-read it; the game is finally in testing after lying dormant for so long that many feared it had been quietly shelved. We're staring down the barrel of more testing and an ultimate release.

You don't believe it? That's fair. Don't take our word for it; take it from the trailer just past the cut that's being used to advertise the start of testing. Admittedly, it isn't showing off in-game footage, but it is in English. Besides, it's cool. The long wait for English ArcheAge fans won't be quite so long now, especially as press (like us) has the testing NDA dropped and can start talking about our experiences in the client.

[Source: Trion Worlds press release]

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