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Dragomon Hunter: Anime MMO fan service by way of Germany and Taiwan

Dec 01 // Steven Hansen
It doesn't clear anything up, but Aeria Games actually started in Santa Clara, California almost a decade ago. It expanded globally, including into Berlin, as a a publisher and online portal (maybe you noticed the logo playing Tribes: Ascend) before being purchased by multi-billion-dollar German media conglomerate ProSiebenSat.1 Media in 2014. But even before getting Katamari'd up, Aeria boasted over "40 million players" and turned enough of them into paying players to finance continued publishing. "They basically leave us alone," Vice President, Global PC Games Business Tom Nichols said of his parent company. Of course, the advertising deals that affords alone are helpful. "The German market is much easier for us especially in regards to competition, it's easier for us to be visible," Bousquet said. "It doesn't always means that its necessarily a success. There's still a high dependence on the games and their mechanics and if they appeal to this audience. For instance, anime games, they work okay, but the two big markets are really the English and French markets. Germany's not really into anime stuff." The extra advertising oomph, helpful in Germany when Aeria is peddling more regionally popular medieval fantasy is somewhat emblematic of Aeria's strength, which is packaging something up for consumption by a new audience. As Nichols explained, "What Aeria does is take games that have been successful in Asia and brings them to the west." [embed]307904:60138:0[/embed] So the aforementioned "most changes [to appeal to the western audience]" for Dragomon Hunters are not for a general western audience, but knowingly for, "a much smaller audience...much more niche within anime MMOs," and that is the ultra chibi style. It is for western anime fans. The Japanese Dragomon Hunter publisher -- no, it's not a Japanese game -- brought on well-known anime voice actors (from the likes of Bleach and Naruto) and the western landing page has a link to a video excitedly pointing to, "the original Japanese voices" in this French and American localization by a German company of a game originally developed by Taiwanese developer X-Legend. I chuckled about anime-game fans who threaten boycotts over digital-only releases or the lack of dual language audio. "It's a very special audience," Bousquet said. The original title is Dragon Slayer. Bland, but much less of an obvious, broken-neck nod to Monster Hunter (the game is slightly more action oriented than many MMOs) and Pokemon (collecting). "We thought it didn't fit the genre or didn't communicate what the game was about," Bousquet said. "Dragon Slayer sounds like a game title you've heard a hundred times. You have a basic idea of the setting, but you have no idea what the game is. We wanted a title that caught attention just from hearing it." That's one way to do it. "I know some people, the first time they see it, they kind of interpret it as, 'oh, this is a ripoff,' but we feel it's much more of a tribute and a nod [to Monster Hunter] than a ripoff. If you look at the game closer, there are some similarities and .... the idea of collecting materials from slain enemies and using them for crafting is not a new idea, but this is an MMORPG at its core. It's not an action, skilled game. It takes cues from this existing game style, but takes very few elements from that." Playing up the [anime life]style isn't restricted to the title. The translated script is reference filled for game and anime fans (the story is sparse, so it doesn't necessarily come in at odds with a greater tone). "[Dragomon Hunter has been localized by anime and game fans for anime and game fans. We're not shying away from being referential and doing a few nods here and there." But the biggest changes in Aeria's fourth collaboration with developer X-Legend (you can still play the first, Grand Fantasia) have been on the gameplay side. "Most of the Asian RPGs are very grindy, like super hardcore grindy, which is something we try to get away from a little bit and be more action-player friendly." There are "better drop rates" and everything can be bought with in-game currency (versus spending real money). The tendency for Asian players in these types of games is to try out different classes and explore all the game's options, whereas western audiences seek out of whatever's figured to be the strongest class and work towards maxing levels and the like most efficiently. The archive system for the over 100 in-game mounts (all of the enemies have a chance at dropping an egg upon death, at which point you can use the monster as a means of transportation) doesn't exist in the original, but was added because, "Americans and Europeans like to collect things." Historically true! Dragomon Hunter also features controller support, something developer X-Legend neglected to mention because of how much of a non-feature it was in Asia, but that's a bigger deal in the US. And while Dragomon Hunter doesn't lean as far towards pure fighting game as something like Blade & Soul, movement is ostensibly important. I didn't find it too necessary in the early goings, the few hours I played from level one, but watching some high-level co-op plays against much more imposing baddies and opting to steer clear of a big, incoming attack is a smart move. Otherwise there are classes to choose from, monsters to catch (or buy), and Hoppalongs, your companion rabbits you design at the onset after making your player avatar. They're super cute and can be classes to balance and pair well with your character. And of course there's the need to preempt "pay-to-win" complaints that inevitably crop up around free-to-play properties in the west."What most companies like ours were doing was looking at game monetizing and saying you know what, we have those whales -- those few people who are spending crazy amounts of money and that's enough, so let's just focus on those people," Bousquet explained. "But that means it's extremely difficult to get people into the game because you're bringing in new people who are not going to have fun. They're going to go in there and the paying players are going to have fun slaying them, and those [new] people are not going to stay. What we're trying to do now is only focus demonetization on convenience and those anime games it is very important and does resonate with an audience. If people want to buy their mounts, that's up to them. If they want to hunt them down and get them as drops from the monsters that they slay, anyone can do that." The aim is to reward "people coming in and logging into the game often enough and staying in the game," versus just reward those who are "paying money up front." For a fun counterpoint to Dragomon Hunter, there's the trading card game Immortalis Aeria published on mobile. It took a card game that was successful in Japan and replaced the art assets wholesale while keeping the original gameplay mechanics. The more western fantasy art style worked and the release has a big success for Aeria. The company has gotten good in predicting what will sell and how. This year's fantasy MMO Echo of Soul was the biggest launch yet. "There's nothing about the game that makes it really stand out in terms of, 'oh, this has an innovative feature,'" Nichols said. "The MMORPG genre is really crowded so it's hard to come up with a new feature that nobody has done before, but EoS is just really polished and has all of the features an MMO gamer would want." Aeria seems to know what MMO gamers want; it's a fair, mid-Mel-Gibson-era claim when you're still running your first-published anime MMO six years later and simultaneously launching your fourth from the same developer. And Aeria is diverse, blending anime and fantasy MMOs with shooters and mobile development all while reaching interntional audiences. "The Turkish market loves shooters. They don't spend a lot of money, but there's a lot of players," Nichols said. You can still play WolfTeam, a shooter that lets you transform into a powerful wolf (that aspect is most popular in Germany). [embed]323419:61324:0[/embed] As for the future beyond Dragomon Hunter? Nichols sees, "fewer PC MMOs and shooters coming out of Asia" because of the mad dash towards mobile, "as a result, our PC business is kind of stable. We're launching one or two games a year at this pace, whereas two years ago we were launching four games a year. The growth strategy for our business is coming from mobile. We have four games all set to launch early next year. Each one of those games was very successful in its native market in Asia. We're optimistic that a game that can be successful in Asia will be successful in the West as long as we make the art and style of the game appropriate for the Western market." But mobile is getting full up, too. "We're seeing some signs that some of the developers are shifting back to PC because the mobile market is so competitive," Nichols said. "I thought, Capcom and Konami, they're late, because they've been so focused on consoles." "Even huge companies like Supercell are doing TV advertising in Korea -- that never happened before in Korea." You might remember Supercell's $9 million Clash of Clans commercial that aired during this year's Super Bowl in the states, unless you mute commercials and use the time to thumb through your phone or grab a drink. "And all the Korean developers are like 'what the hell is this,' because they can't spend that much money." 
Dragomon Hunters preview photo
And it all makes some kind of sense
"Dragomon Hunter is one of the games where we've made the most changes [to appeal to the western audience]," Aeria Games' Product Marketing Manager Alexandre Bousquet tells me. That doesn't mean shaving the points off of spik...

Warhammer 40K photo
Warhammer 40K

Oh hey, a Warhammer 40K game that looks okay

Tentative excitement for Eternal Crusade
Nov 29
// Kyle MacGregor
Games Workshop isn't the most discerning of license holders. Ever since the demise of THQ, the company has allowed just about anyone to make a video game based on Warhammer 40,000. The situation has reached the point where D...
World of Warcraft photo
World of Warcraft

Here's a quick look at World of Warcraft's new Demon Hunter class

For the Legion expansion
Nov 28
// Chris Carter
The World of Warcraft: Legion expansion isn't set to debut until mid-2016 (!), but Blizzard has provided alpha access to some individuals far ahead of its release. As of this week I had a chance to try out the Demon Hunter cl...

A guided tour of Life is Feudal: Your Own's many, many loading points

Nov 23 // Joe Parlock
Our utterly fascinating journey begins when entering a multiplayer server. I chose a heavily populated one (around 60 out of 64 potential players), and was treated to a nice, incredibly lengthy loading screen. But that's alright, the loading screen taking the better part of five damn minutes isn't a problem! Just take a look at those suave jet blacks and those imposing yellows as they come together beautifully in a visual feast slap bang in the middle of the screen. Isn't it just delightful? Note how the relevant information. such as how close the loading is to being complete, is relegated to being dark grey text on the black background. It’s a bold move that screams “I’m absolutely taking form over function, but when your form is as sweet as mine who really cares, eh?” Now I know what you might be thinking: this piece isn’t technically a true loading screen. But don't you worry, we're accepting of all hangups, slowdowns, waiting periods and roadblocks here! Look at this abstract art dancing around the screen. Look at how those blues and whites gently give way to a more rustic and earthy brown. You may have mistaken this for a delicious artisinal blueberry muffin, or maybe a painting by Johan Sebastian Mozart himself. In reality, this is  actually the world popping in incredibly slowly all around you! Unable to move, all you can do is stand and absorb the waves of colour as they cascade over you. You may have already sat through the initial loading screen, but Life is Feudal loves to just spoil you with how much waiting you're allowed to do before having to play the game! With time, those lighter areas might’ve gradually become a tree or a patch of grass, but in those few minutes it was something so much more: it was a discussion of the nature of reality, and the futility of seeking perfection. All I can describe it as is ‘inspiring’. And now we come to the main event, the one I've been most eager to show you. To do literally anything within Life is Feudal, you are rewarded with this low-key progress bar, slowly scrolling from left to right. Want to chop a tree, make an axe, or even just pick up some grass? Don’t be silly, nobody wants to do that, we all just want to gaze longingly at the progress bar in all of its sluggish, beige splendor. Some critics might argue that this bar is a metaphor for the unyielding capitalist society we find ourselves in, where even the smallest and most insignificant of actions requires hard toil. Life may be feudal, but does it really need to be this difficult? Alas, the beige progress bar seems to suggest so. And so here we are at last, the very end of our tour, and the thing that I believe might well be the most exciting statement Life is Feudal's makes. Should you ever find yourself tiring of the artistic genius that is the game’s many loading screens, and should you ever want to to stumble wearily away from the deep philosophical questioning of its progress bars, Life is Feudal will leave you with one parting message: life is nothing but waiting. Our fascinating journey begins when entering a server. I chose a heavily populated one (around 60 out of 64 potential players), and so got to sit through a nice, minutes-long loading screen. Look at those suave jet blacks and imposing yellows coming together beautifully in an absolute visual feast slap bang in the middle of the screen. And look at how the actually relevant information is relegated to being dark grey text on the black background. It’s a bold move that screams “I’m absolutely taking form over function, but when your form is as sweet as mine who really cares, eh?” Now this one isn’t technically a true loading screen. However it will become clear in time why I’ve included this in our tour. Just look at this abstract art dancing around the screen, merging blues, whites and browns. You may have mistaken this for a delicious artisanal muffin, but it’s actually the world popping in incredibly slowly. Over time, those lighter areas might’ve become a tree or a patch of grass, but in those few minutes it was something so much more. A discussion of the nature of reality itself. All I can describe it as is ‘inspiring’. And then we come to the main event. To do anything within Life is Feudal, you are treated to a low-key progress bar, slowly scrolling from left to right. Want to chop a tree, plow a field, or even just pick up some grass? Don’t be silly, nobody wants to do that on this tour, we all just want to gaze longingly at the progress bar in all of its beige splendour. Some critics argue that this bar is a metaphor for the unyielding capitalist society we find ourselves in, where even the smallest and most insignificant of actions requires hard toil. Life may be feudal, but does it really need to be this difficult? Alas, the beige progress bar seems to suggest so. And so here we are at last, the very end of our tour, and the thing that I believe might well be the most exciting statement Life is Feudal makes. Should you ever find yourself tiring of the artistic genius that is the game’s loading screens and wanting to stumble wearily away from the deep philosophical questioning of its progress bars, Life is Feudal will leave you with one parting message. That is right, my most esteemed guests. Even closing the game and ending your presence in their world will give you another wonderful loading screen. Hauntingly similar to the first, yet instead of the welcoming bearded gentlemen bringing you into his world, you are given a dragon-headed longboat to guide you far, far away. I hope you enjoyed your tour of what might be the most poignant, emotive piece of digital art created this decade. Truly, Life is Feudal is an artistic cornerstone, a piece to be held up for generations to come who seek to learn how to most effectively waste a player's time.
Life is Feudal: Your Own photo
This game has to be performance art
Life is Feudal: Your Own finally released on Steam last week after a hefty period in early access. The idea is great: take survival sims like Rust and The Forest, and add a pinch of Mount & Blade to make the ambitious med...

Watch this wild business photo
Watch this wild business

I watched a Korean musical about an MMO and so can you

Including: the devil, modern day rap
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
As a prelude to the Blade & Soul World Championship, NC Soft put together a Blade & Soul musical. I suppose it wasn't technically about an MMO since it was the Blade & Soul story, but I'm really not sure about an...
MMO PvP photo

Blade & Soul opens $35,000 world championship to the West

Open to an Evo appearance, too
Nov 19
// Steven Hansen
As announced earlier, Blade & Soul has a firm January 19, 2016 release date for North America and Europe, several years after being promised for release in those territories. Well, NC Soft wants to make it up to you. To s...

Korean action MMO Blade & Soul a right step for the genre, coming West on January 19

Nov 19 // Steven Hansen
The newest class, Qi Master, was recently announced. It's a Kung Fu Master and Force Master hybrid. [embed]321525:61178:0[/embed] I got time to mess with Blade & Soul recently at NC Soft's autumnal headquarters (possibly my first actual fall, being from San Francisco) and spent a not insignificant amount of time in the not-quite-Black-Desert character creator to create a buxom Kung Fu Master with beautiful hair. The boobs even jiggle in the character creator screen. I named her bushdidnineeleven because the numbers prohibited 420noscope69 and I am nothing if not an embarrassment. I went with Kung Fu Master, though, because of the challenge that was announcing it as the toughest class to use, most reliant on timing and player input. And indeed, once I got to that point, figuring out enemy attack wind-ups and using the counter skill felt pretty damn good rather than letting early chump MMO fodder even get off their potshots. Plus, the Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon influence is obvious in the running and fly/gliding animations (development head Moonyoung Choi cited it specifically when asked about influences, along with a long list of games including Street Fighter and Soul Calibur). And while Blade & Soul does encourage more activity than your typical click click click, it falls into feeling like just another MMO, at least in the early game. While I moving fleet of foot with WASD and beginning encounters with a floating jump kick, it was mostly for my own amusement, as I spent hours (somewhat quickly, but always very casually) leveling up near 20. I can see the twitch reflexes being more useful in hard raids or, obviously, PvP, but this isn't a huge genre shakeup when all's said and done. Just a pretty, high-budget version of the last decade with one twist in the right direction, which will undoubtedly be enough for some, especially with it being free to play anyways.
Blade & Soul launch photo
After three years
It's been a long time coming. Hugely popular Korean MMO Blade & Soul was confirmed for Western release over three years ago and it's finally happening. It went into beta last month and some beta weekends remain: November...

Guild Wars 2 photo
Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns won't change your opinion of Guild Wars

But if you want more, it's there
Nov 14
// Chris Carter
My experience with Guild Wars 2 has been very similar to a lot of people I've met over the years. We all agree it's a wonderful, beautiful take on MMOs, and delivers on its promise of a subscription-free game. But at the...

Review: Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (Patch 3.1)

Nov 11 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: June 23, 2015 Whereas past patches tended to lead towards an epic conclusion with a pesky Primal, 3.1, As Goes Light, So Goes Darkness in many ways is a table-setting diversion. The brand new trial encounter (Knights of the Round EX) is not gated by the main story questline -- players can just pick that up from the Mor Dhona bar -- and the tale essentially consists of a series of errands and cutscenes, with only one instanced mission at the end. All said, it will take you roughly an hour to complete. It basically deals with locating missing comrades after the events of the story and has no real payoff other than furthering the Warrior of Darkness arc, which will likely slowly play out throughout the entire course of Heavensward, until another expansion comes around. That said, it still has a lot of personality. I enjoyed seeing the new cast interact with one another. The real star of this patch though is the new exploratory mission mode. Billed as an open-world sandbox, you're thrown into a randomly generated high-level zone with various objectives, including combat challenges and gathering activities. In a Guild Wars 2-like twist, players will share rewards and XP if they fight named creatures in this mode while encountering other parties, and everyone can contribute to objectives as a party.  The rewards are excellent, and the entire affair plays out like a giant randomized hunt. It's a rush to fly around with a bunch of strangers and locate targets, and killing a bunch of high-priority enemies will spawn newer, tougher bosses. While it's meant to be played as a group you can still solo queue for it, as long as you're okay with rolling greed for everything against everyone else. I played this more than anything else this patch and don't see myself getting tired of it. [embed]320086:61066:0[/embed] Players can also head into two new dungeons and the 24-person Void Ark raid, meant to mirror the Crystal Tower casual activities in vanilla Realm Reborn. I'm happy with how the two dungeons (Saint Mocianne's Arboretum and Pharos Sirius Hard) turned out. The developers have it down to a science now (the same goes for the new EX encounter, King Thordan, which is just as fun as every EX in the past, and perfectly tuned in terms of difficulty). Bosses are fun without being too tough for people just passing through in matchmaking, and the locations, although heavily gated to prevent speedrunning, are full of detail. While patches typically provide three new dungeons, I'm actually fine with a pair of them, and the trend of one new location and one remake is something I can get behind. The Void Ark is very similar in that regard, but it also provides a brand new arc, which I personally feel is stronger than Crystal Tower's. The encounters are a tad easier than the previous casual raids, which I'm starting to have mixed feelings about. I get that the philosophy is accessibility, but at the same time, I feel like the developers aren't preparing the player base for tougher activities, some of which support matchmaking tools. On the flipside, I'm a bit more invested in the story this time around, as they've weaved Diabolos into it, as well as another fan-favorite character from the series that I won't spoil here. So what else does 3.1 entail? A bunch of ancillary stuff. For one, you have the Vanu Vanu beast tribe quests, which will provide hardcore players with another faction to grind for. I was never big on the tribes as they felt far too repetitive for menial rewards, and only adding one tribe feels like a half-measure -- people will just grind it out in a few minutes and move on daily. The Gold Saucer also got a small update in the form of a new wing, two new mini-games, and the Lord of Verminion strategy game, as well as some new Triple Triad cards. I'm really glad the team is still pushing this zone, as it's the perfect place to go while you're waiting for queue times, or if you want to spend a few minutes in the game without doing anything important. No, Verminion isn't quite Pokémon, but it adds in another use for minions, and it's definitely fun enough to play a few times on a weekly basis. Other quality-of-life fixes are in, like the fact that the DualShock 4 is now plug and play on PC. There are new camera options, enhanced companion functionality like full support for other mounts, a small Ninja buff to bring them in line with other DPS, more flying mounts, and the ability to ride in Idyllshire. Another controversial change is the "solution" to the housing market -- demolition -- or as other MMOs call it, "decay." After 45 days, your house will be demolished, unless you log in and prevent it. It's...a very typical strategy for more hardcore games, but for a casual MMO like Final Fantasy, it feels out of place. I wish Square Enix would just fix the housing issue with bigger wards and more of them, but the developers haven't actually addressed it in months. All in all, I'm a bit conflicted on 3.1 I adore the exploratory missions, and find them to be one of my favorite gametypes in an MMO to date. The new dungeons (as well as the Void Ark) are strong, and the story, while brief, is engaging. But at the same time, this is clearly a catch-up patch, with the typical loop consisting of players grinding for Poetic Tomes to better face the existing Alexander Savage raid. Sadly, there's no new wing for Alexander, and most disappointing of all, the anticipated continuation of the Zodiac weapon questline is nowhere to be found, as it has been pushed to a later patch I'm not sure if As Goes Light, So Goes Darkness is enough to really pull anyone back in if they quit recently, but I'm having fun with it regardless. I can see myself doing the Void Ark weekly for the foreseeable future, and logging in regularly to do more exploratory missions. I just hope the team has more up its sleeve sooner than later. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Final Fantasy XIV photo
As Goes Light, So Goes Darkness
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward was a tremendous expansion, all things considered. It brought in a whole new storyline that was worth getting invested in, new classes, and tons of additional activities including a raid. B...

MapleStory photo

MapleStory is getting a VR game for some reason

Whatever, I'm open minded
Nov 11
// Joe Parlock
When I was younger, I always confused 2D anime MMO MapleStory with other 2D anime MMO Gaia Online. I wasn't a particularly bright kid. MapleStory had a cool idea by mixing up normal MMO trappings by making the...
WoW photo

World of Warcraft: Legion will arrive 'on or before' September 2016

Info appears on
Nov 06
// Chris Carter
Well, Blizzard is seemingly letting all of the beans spill out before any of its BlizzCon conferences take place this weekend! According to an image straight from (which has been taken down), the World of Warcraft:...
Black Desert photo
Black Desert

Black Desert, that Korean MMO, is getting a King of Fighters costume

Haha, I want to play it
Nov 05
// Chris Carter
You may recognize the name Black Desert from its insanely detailed character creation tool. At this point though my interest has transcended mere avatar construction, and I want to play the damn thing. My interest has be...
World of Warcraft photo
World of Warcraft

Blizzard's done telling us how many subscribers World of Warcraft has

With good reason
Nov 03
// Brett Makedonski
Every three months, like clockwork, Blizzard has shared World of Warcraft subscription statistics as part of its quarterly report. The MMO is perfectly healthy, but the fanbase isn't at the fever pitch that it was at sev...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online celebrates new Trek show with free Enterprise stuff

It's been a long road
Nov 03
// Josh Tolentino
Rejoice, Trek fans. On the off chance you haven't heard yet, CBS is planning a new Star Trek TV series, which will premiere as part of the CBS All-Access streaming service in the far-flung future timeline of 2017, right ...

Star Wars: The Old Republic's latest expansion marks the best the game has ever been

Nov 02 // Chris Carter
Let's start with some of the enhancements the expansion has made globally, outside of the confines of the new storyline. I immediately created a new character and found that there have been a ton of concessions to make it less of a slog. For starters, XP gain has seen a stark increase across the board, so you don't have to do nearly every mission on a planet to move on to the next one -- instead, you can essentially follow the core storyline and that's it. This is how it always should have been structured, as most of the sidequests are rather dull. It's also much easier to see what is and isn't story related (narrative quests have a purple tint). Gear statistics have now been simplified so you don't find nearly as much trash, and fast travel is enhanced thanks to instant access to flight paths. Companions have been severely streamlined when it comes to gear as well (in a good way), so you can basically choose whoever you want and fit them into any role you wish. Here's the biggest change: you can basically do everything, including required Flashpoints (dungeons), by yourself. It's silly to say since this is technically an MMO, but Old Republic has made a ton of concessions for solo players. For the most part when I embarked upon my journey to max out at level 50 years ago I played alone, but there were a ton of sections where I needed assistance or was required to grind to progress with the story. With the dawn of Knights of the Fallen Empire, that need is basically eliminated. In this way, it now truly feels more like a Knights of the Old Republic 3. In the past it was ludicrous to ask someone to pay a subscription fee to experience that by yourself, but it's much easier to swallow for free. As previously mentioned, the new narrative is actually quite good, and feels like a true follow-up to KOTOR. To start the Fallen Empire storyline (which now goes to level 65), you'll need to have a maxed out 60 character. By subscribing (and thus gaining access to the expansion), you'll net one max boost, so you can breeze past the previous Hutt Cartel (previously 55) and Shadow of Revan (previously 60) add-ons. From there it's dead simple to start up the campaign, as you only need to queue up the mission on your ship. Missions in Empire are now more pointed. They don't feel like a shoehorned-in excuse to justify an MMO and a subscription fee -- they feel like quests from a classic BioWare RPG. Everything is much more cinematic and imposing, and the dialogue feels more meaningful. They're also completely removed from the gamey elements of Old Republic, almost like a separate mode entirely, devoid of grindy, time-wasting activities. In essence, this is something worth paying for, especially if you have some free time and want to go through it in a month before unsubscribing again. Over half of the Empire chapters have been released, and others will subsequently be released over time. It's something I would normally get kind of miffed about (gotta keep people subscribed somehow), but given all the other improvements, I just took to creating another class instead. It took BioWare long enough, but Star Wars: The Old Republic's 4.0 build really feels like what the game should have been like at launch. Whether you're a new player jumping in for the first time or a disenchanted veteran who's cautiously interested in subscribing again, The Fallen Empire is worth a shot. [This impressions piece is based on subscription time purchased by the reviewer.]
Star Wars photo
'Knights of the Fallen Empire'
Man, I'm surprised Star Wars: The Old Republic is still trucking along. You have to give it to BioWare (and to some extent, EA) for staying with it after its mixed reception at launch, so-so expansion packs, and its tran...

Final Fantasy XIV photo
Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV's patch 3.1 will once again feature Knights of the Round

Plus, a Pokemon-esque minion game
Nov 02
// Chris Carter
I haven't been playing Final Fantasy XIV as much as I'd like, mostly due to the content drought and other obligations. But that will change when patch 3.1 hits, which is set to bring a ton of new activities to the game. ...
TERA photo

TERA Online is coming to mobile devices in 2016

Android and iOS
Nov 02
// Chris Carter
TERA has slowly risen to the ranks of the most-played MMO on Steam, and has transitioned into a free-to-play experience in the past few years. Now, it's coming to mobile devices. According to 2P, Nexon has signed an agreement...
Neverwinter photo

Neverwinter's Underdark expansion launches on November 17

A questline written by R.A. Salvatore
Oct 30
// Joe Parlock
Jeeze, it doesn’t seem five minutes since Perfect World released Strongholds, the last expansion to their pretty great MMO Neverwinter. Now they’re already preparing to release the next major expansion for the ga...
Guild Wars photo
Do we make you thorny, baby?
Yo, check this out. Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns came out last Friday and I got ten codes for it. I bet that's more than you have. Lucky for you, I'm a super nice guy. Here's the deal: gave codes to Amazon who...

Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online hands out Back to the Future hoverboards

This one works over water, too
Oct 22
// Josh Tolentino
Are you tired of hearing news about Back to the Future day yet, especially now that it's technically over already? If you are...well, I'm sorry, but hey, this one might even be cool, because it comes from even further into th...
MMORPG photo

Black Desert Online won't be free in the West

New business model for the 2016 release
Oct 14
// Jordan Devore
You may not know Black Desert Online by name, but you might recognize its impressive character creator; that Tom Cruise lookalike makes me laugh to this day. The game itself, a massively multiplayer action-RPG, has been playa...
Rift photo

Rift's latest update is the biggest one since launch

That launch that happened four years ago
Oct 09
// Joe Parlock
Remember Trion’s Rift? I really liked it; it had a lot of excitement behind it before release, and then when it came out people seemed to forget all about it. The jump to free-to-play seemed to help a bit with getting ...
Destiny Exotics photo
Destiny Exotics

Destiny begins the quest for Sleeper Simulant today

Wake Up, Guardians
Oct 07
// Josh Tolentino
When it comes to Destiny's vast collection of fancy space guns, exotic weapons are the fanciest of them all. Every exotic weapon has unique qualities and is usually designed to bend or break a rule that governs one of the gam...
TERA photo

TERA now has weaponised undies to kill with your crotch

Super-duper underwear is now a thing
Oct 03
// Joe Parlock
I don’t know what the developer of TERA is doing… but I like its style. Here’s a trailer featuring hot men (and a raccoon thing) in tiny Speedos dancing to kill enemies. Watch as their bulges ripple and wa...

Soar the island-filled skies of Worlds Adrift

Oct 01 // Jordan Devore
[embed]313407:60583:0[/embed] There's Spider-Man-style swinging at 7:15. Ship construction, which is done by hand, starts at 10:50. Williams demonstrates flying at 19:20 and even alone, without the threat of other players, it looks terrifying. Then again, he clearly knows how to grapple and isn't afraid of plummeting to his death. Lastly, you can take photos (including selfies!) and frame them. See that at 23:20.
Worlds Adrift photo
But watch out for pirates
Bossa Studios (Surgeon Simulator, I am Bread) is making an open-world MMO about building airships, flying them to floating islands, and screwing over others (probably). You interested? The developers were in town, so we sent Rey to take a look at that game, Worlds Adrift, and he put together this in-depth video with narration provided by designer Luke Williams.

WildStar photo

WildStar's officially gone free-to-play

Born free, as free as the wind blows...
Sep 29
// Joe Parlock
WildStar has now finally ditched the subscription and gone free-to-play. The trailer is absolutely amazing. It’s got the vibe of a Borderlands trailer, and the animation style of a League of Legends one. Seriously, as ...
Aftermath photo

Want to play a zombie game by Romero? Check out Aftermath

The other Romero's son, that is
Sep 25
// Vikki Blake
Romero's Aftermath, George. C. Romero's MMO survival horror game, releases today in open beta. Film director George C. is the son of George A., who you'll know from feisty romcoms like Night of the Living Dead. The game offer...
FFXIV VR photo

I was face-to-face with Titan's crotch in Final Fantasy XIV on PlayStation VR

Clunky, but fascinating
Sep 18
// Chris Carter
One game I did not expect to see during my hands-on time with Project Morpheus PlayStation VR, was Final Fantasy XIV. I hadn't really heard anything about it being playable at TGS, so when I headed into the press section and ...
Blade & Soul beta photo
Blade & Soul beta

Blade & Soul getting closed beta just in time for Halloween

Nice art style!
Sep 09
// Steven Hansen
Korean MMO Blade & Soul was confirmed for Western release three years ago and it's finally coming to fruition. NCSoft has scheduled betas this year ahead of the game's early 2016 launch. The first starts October 30. Purc...
Free-to-play WildStar photo
Free-to-play WildStar

You won't need a WildStar subscription starting September 29

That's when it goes free-to-play
Sep 03
// Jordan Devore
Before WildStar released, I planned on playing it. Really, I did! But like so many other MMOs before it, when the big day arrived, I was preoccupied with other games and lost interest. With the relaunch closing in, I suspect ...

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