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MMO


Korean MMO photo
Korean MMO

Black Desert Online launches March 3


For North America, Oceania, Europe*
Feb 01
// Kyle MacGregor
Black Desert Online, the Korean MMO famed for its extravagant character creator, is launching in North America, Oceania, and some European regions on March 3, Daum Games announced today. Until then, prospective players can do...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online kicks off its 6th anniversary celebrations


With a 50th-year birthday soon-ish
Jan 29
// Josh Tolentino
Star Trek Online turns six years old this week, and it's time for developer Cryptic to celebrate the fact as is the custom: By holding its yearly anniversary event. Players that log in between now and February 24th can p...
Blade and Soul photo
Blade and Soul

Get ready for free new Blade and Soul content next month


Rolls out February 10
Jan 29
// Vikki Blake
New end-game content is heading to MMORPG Blade and Soul on February 10. The free update, Rising Waters, will include three new max-level PvE content, including a 6- or 4-player Heroic dungeon called Bloodshade Harbor, Mushin’s Tower, and Hongmoon Level 5.
Blade and Soul photo
Blade and Soul

Blade and Soul hits one million active users in just one week


It's been 'tremendous,' says NCSoft
Jan 26
// Vikki Blake
NCSOFT's new MMORPG, Blade and Soul, has reached one million active players in just a week since launch. Blade and Soul was originally released in Korea in 2012, but it took four more years to reach North America and Eur...
Elder Scrolls Online photo
Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online: Thieves Guild's trailer is the least sneaky thing possible


Steal everything... with explosions!
Jan 22
// Joe Parlock
One of the coolest questlines in both Oblivion and Skyrim was the Thieves Guild. Sure, it’s never been as memorable the Dark Brotherhood, but I always find planning heists and dealing with the politics of a band of thi...

Blade & Soul reminds me of TERA, which is both good and bad

Jan 21 // Chris Carter
From the screens alone, it's easy to see that Blade & Soul is a beautiful game, and that has translated very well into the localization. The western version even features fully-voiced cutscenes in English (even the screenshot feature gives you a vocal confirmation, with widescreen support to boot), which is a nice touch and adds to the already impressive in-game engine. I actually don't even mind the voice acting at all, but it's nice that said scenes can be skipped. Everything on the UI can also be customized, for those of you who yearn for full control. It's important to note that this is a free-to-play game, where real money purchases will net players items, more skill build slots, and extra character slots. "Premium Memberships" grant you increased XP, more gold, and in-game discounts. For reference, a 365-day membership costs roughly $125, and many bonuses are not cosmetic in nature, including faster death recovery time, crafting items, and the aforementioned XP and gold bonuses. The game is playable in its free incarnation without feeling like you're entirely missing out, but keep that all in mind. I'm surprised at how smooth the game runs in general, which helps as the combat system is more action-oriented than most games in the genre. Combat is much, much faster than most MMOs, sporting a full-on action system inspired by fighting games. The default control scheme uses left mouse button for standard attacks with a built-in combo of sorts, with right-click and additional buttons (1-4 by default) reserved for alternate abilities. Blocking and dodging is a key mechanic in Blade & Soul, which gives combat situations a lot more weight than your average MMO (just like TERA). Playing as the Blade Dancer class, I had to time my two-second block to essentially counter and riposte at the exact moment, which allows for even small skirmishes to be pretty engaging. Grinding for abilities actually has more of a point, as you're not just gaining new powers that are essential for a slugfest-based rotation, but situational abilities that can be used to gain a tactical advantage. I particularly enjoy sprinting, as it's done by pressing the shift key, instantly putting a pep in your step, while triggering an impressive super leap when jumping. The fact that you get a flying squirrel-like glide after a few minutes really drives home how mobile this game really is. The endurance meter is rather generous, too. [embed]335735:61948:0[/embed] Controller support exists, but it's not ideal. Face buttons are tied to abilities by default, which works, but additional tasks like talking to NPCs is triggered by pressing RB+RT on an Xbox controller. It's strange, and the developer really needs to take note of how well Square Enix translated Final Fantasy XIV with its cross-hotbar system for gamepads. After acquiring just a few new abilities, I promptly switched back to mouse and keyboard -- which thankfully can be done instantly without having to swap between the two in the main menu. Xbox One remotes work by the way, wirelessly and wired. Did I mention it looks great? Because from the very first moment I stepped out of the starting area I gazed up at a gigantic floating monolith, complete with breathtaking eastern architecture and flowing waterfalls. The designs for the supporting cast don't really stand out to me per se, but the actual models have so much care put into them it's crazy. Under that glitzy surface, however, is a tried and true old school MMO. Hours upon hours are going to be spent questing for menial items, and gathering bear pelts for some dude. It's...exhausting after doing it for years, but as someone who is always playing at least one MMO, it's something I'm willing to put up with to enjoy a good combat system, and possibly spark up some dungeon runs with friends. Like most MMOs these days there have been massive launch issues, though I first jumped in shortly after NCSoft added more servers to the game. Players are still experiencing long queues for the more popular choices and maintenance is happening on a daily basis now, but expect things to get better as more people trickle out of the game. In fact, it's noticeably better now if you haven't created a character yet and want to play on a new server. One thing that hasn't been fixed however is the major gold spamming problem in chat -- it's actually one of the worst cases I've seen in years (since the launch of Aion Online, actually), and NCSoft needs to address it immediately. At the moment I'm enjoying myself, but I'm wondering if I'll hit a grind wall like I have with many other Korean MMOs. Time will tell, but for now, it's fun.
Blade & Soul photo
First impressions
Do you have time for another MMO? NCSoft sure hopes you do, as the long awaited localization of Blade & Soul has finally arrived this week. It was released in Korea in 2012 and took the country by storm, and now, nearly four long years later, it's available in the West. I took it for a spin, and found a mix of both fresh ideas and stubborn legacy concepts.

Black Desert Online photo
Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online gets a second beta and a standalone character creator


Character creator out now, beta Feb 18
Jan 19
// Joe Parlock
Did you miss Black Desert Online’s first English-language beta test? If so, I have some good news for you, as Daum Games has announced that a second and final beta test will be kicking off February 18. For those who&rsq...
Blade and Soul photo
Blade and Soul

Blade and Soul releases today


Blade & Soul, I fell in love with you...
Jan 19
// Joe Parlock
Blade & Soul is a rare example of a game that managed to completely slip under my radar. Before I saw a few people excited about it yesterday, I had literally never heard of the game. Well, turns out it’s out today...
SEGA photo
SEGA

Japan gets Phantasy Star Online 2 PS4 release in April, and you get nothing


Sigh
Jan 17
// Kyle MacGregor
The PlayStation 4 edition of Phantasy Star Online 2 will begin service on April 20, Sega says. Of course, the Sonic Boom company has no official plans to bring the new port to western shores, and it still has yet to make good...

I'm a regular Jack Nicholson at Winning Putt

Jan 14 // Steven Hansen
[embed]334326:61872:0[/embed] First, remedying a legitimate problem I had when I was just playing Hot Shots, Winning Putt has an incredibly in-depth character creator, as often seems to be the case with Korean games (their regional MMOs, at least). Aesthetics aside, you also choose from two classes: power and accuracy. Beyond the character creator, Winning Putt leans into the MMO classification with tons of stat-heavy gear and clothing. Different balls produce different visual effects, but also affect things like shot distance. You basically, "craft, enchant, and reinforce" gear picked up from digital pro shops accessed from a town square sort of area you can chill in, talk to other golfers, or start a round from. You can even create guilds, nab private guild quarters to post up in (some proper country club exclusion!), and earn guild-wide bonuses. The actual golfing is straight forward and mostly realistic (made in CryEngine) and "faithful to all the rules of golf." Click the mouse to start a meter, try to click it at 100% (without going over, resulting in a bad shot), and then try to click again for accuracy to avoid slicing the ball. There's also a Stamina and Mentality meter that drains as you play, but particularly when you use skill shots. The Fade Shot, for example, is good for curving your shot around obstacles (like trees). Using these shots eats at those two meters, and also makes them more difficult to execute by, for example, speeding up the power and accuracy gauge. Taking advantage the minimal boost things like skills offer will probably separate dedicated and casual players (and a stroke or two off handicaps). Every swing nets you experience, which levels your character. Gold (for buying things) and experience are also granted for doing certain "missions," like shooting for birdie on a particular course. And things get granular when you talk about expanding inventory slots in your golf bag for more consumables, applying patches to clothing for additional stat boosts, or upgrading clubs for benefits like a slower meter or wider accuracy range. Paying gold will permanently increase base stats and I imagine that's a big part of the monetiziation plan as the team promised unlimited play. Having never played a golf game with a mouse and keyboard, it felt a bit wonky switching between the golfer's view and GPS view (to estimate where your shot will land), but the golfing itself is all solid. The MMO elements don't appeal at all to me -- I prefer antisocial golf that's 100% skill-based rather than mired in RPG/experience trappings -- but it seems like it'll function as a free, easy to jump in golf game for anyone who just wants that, too. Winning Putt will launch with seven courses at the start of today's open beta, four of which will need to be unlocked. You can also specify how many holes you want to shoot or time of day. The team was particularly proud of an upcoming course that's set on an alien planet and even has weird mechanical platforms to tee off from and small trash drones wandering around cutting grass and whatnot. There's also an "instanced speed run" mode where multiple players play the same hole in real time and you see shot arcs for all the other players while you're shooting in a race to finish the hole first, which is a neat idea.
Preview: Winning Putt photo
New golf MMO from Bandai Namco
Bandai Namco had us drive all the way out to San Francisco's Presidio for its latest game announcement this week. That's the National Park at San Francisco's northern tip overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge, which is red, actu...

DCUO on Xbox One photo
DCUO on Xbox One

DC Universe Online is headed to Xbox One this spring


PC/PS4 cross-play goes live this month
Jan 11
// Jordan Devore
Five years ago, DC Universe Online debuted on PC and PlayStation 3. Much has changed since then, including a transition to free-to-play and a PS4 port, but there's still more to be done. Daybreak Games (formerly Sony Online E...
Runescape Old School photo
Runescape Old School

The old version of Runescape has a new expansion


Yeah, I don't get it either
Jan 11
// Joe Parlock
Adding new content to Runescape Old School, the server which aims to recreate when the game was in its glory days, seems kind of weird to me. If the whole point of it is that it’s a nostalgia-fueled romp through the gam...
Elder Scrolls Online photo
Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online will launch in Japan in June of 2016


Uh
Dec 28
// Chris Carter
The Elder Scrolls Online has found a decent niche as a subscription-free game (several of my friends on all three platforms play it), but will it find success in other regions? ZeniMax is seemingly hopeful, as publisher DMM h...

Black Desert Online has a lot of promise trapped in humdrum MMO conventions

Dec 23 // Joe Parlock
You may have heard of Black Desert Online thanks to its character creator getting some coverage over the last couple of years. Over the course of the beta test, I made two characters a mountain of a man as a berserker, and my frankly awesome-looking sorceress. Everything from their physical proportions to the angle of their philtrum could be dragged, stretched, rotated and sculpted, resulting in by far the most detailed character creation I’ve ever seen in an MMO. However, that detail comes at a cost. Having so many sliders to muck around with means that each individual option often barely has any effect. Sometimes making a character that looks good requires loads of minor tweaking, and Black Desert often crosses the line between detailed and needlessly convoluted. A much bigger problem is that each class has its own locked gender. If you want to play as a male ranger, or a female berserker, then tough luck. In a game where you’re able to rotate your character’s zygomaticus minor to just how you want it, the lack of gender options feels either entirely contrived or a massive oversight when basically every other MMO ever allows for it. My favourite part of Black Desert Online was easily the combat. Considering my favourite MMOs are Neverwinter and DC Universe Online, I felt right at home with the action-based combat. It’s fast, engaging, and each class plays massively different to the others. My berserker could literally just stop through a horde of enemies and they’d all drop down dead, whereas my sorceress required a more surgical approach, taking on enemies one at a time in the flashiest way possible. The best bit is that which class you pick doesn’t just give you different abilities on the hotbar that you have to wait to tick over, it actively changes how you engage in the combat on an input level. Some attacks are bound to various key combinations, which requires you to learn how to play a class in a very different way than merely reading ability descriptions. For example, my sorceress had one ability, a short-range pulse of magic, which activated when I pressed back and the F key together. On top of that, pressing either left or right with the F key would make my character perform a large, sweeping kick attack which didn’t do much damage, but let you keep multiple enemies at bay. Having to really learn the class in this way made dishing out damage all the more fun. I’d go as far as to say it’s potentially the best combat I’ve ever seen in an MMO. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t really give you any interesting scenarios to use that combat in. Across the 12 or so hours I played during the beta period, almost every single quest I did was simply going to a random spot on the map (usually a field, sometimes a forest if you’re lucky), killing X amount of a certain enemy, and then repeat. The loot I got from those quests was also incredibly dull, with it usually being either potions or just XP. There wasn’t anything keeping me to the game other than knowing I had a limited amount of time with it. Neither Neverwinter nor DC Universe Online had the best quest structures either, but they mixed things up with interesting locales, neat minibosses, and decent enough loot to keep you pushing through the next questline. As it was, the only two bosses I saw in Black Desert were bigger versions of the standard mobs I’d spend hours wading through. On the plus side, as far as MMO closed betas go, Black Desert is a technical masterpiece. In the most crowded areas, I very rarely noticed my framerate drop below 30. The game is absolutely gorgeous and is easily one of the most visually appealing MMOs I’ve seen yet, with plenty of optional visual and post-processing effects to make it look even better. While Black Desert holds up incredibly well technically, the translation was sometimes completely ineligible. Work on the translations has been going on since I became aware of the game over a year ago, and even then some of the totally unvoiced lines felt like they were simply fed through Google Translate and rammed in. Sometimes this results in some story not making sense, or dialogue feeling wooden, but it also has an impact on quest instructions themselves. One particularly frustrating example was where a quest told me to find and destroy an "amulet." Except this "amulet" wasn't a piece of jewellery, or anything even vaguely resembling what anyone else would call an "amulet," it was a flag or a shrine of some sort. I spent the better part of an hour killing enemies hoping they'd drop something that would never come thanks to a bad translation. After the four-day closed beta, I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of Black Desert Online. I didn’t get a chance to see everything the game currently has to offer, but even then I lost interest well before then. Repetitive quests, fiddly character creation, poor translation, and totally underwhelming loot cover up an utterly fantastic and hugely enjoyable combat system and gorgeous visuals. I really hope by the time it gets a full release they’ve managed to iron out my problems, because if they do, Neverwinter may have a contender as my favourite MMO. While Black Desert Online is going to be free-to-play in Korea, Russia, and Japan, it will be released as a single purchase without a subscription fee elsewhere. There currently isn’t a confirmed release date. You may have heard of Black Desert Online thanks to its character creator getting some coverage over the last couple of years. Over the course of the beta test, I made two characters a mountain of a man as a berserker, and my frankly awesome-looking sorceress. Everything from their physical proportions to the angle of their philtrum could be dragged, stretched, rotated and sculpted, resulting in by far the most detailed character creation I’ve ever seen in an MMO. However, that detail comes at a cost. Having so many sliders to muck around with means that each individual option often barely has any effect. Sometimes making a character that looks good requires loads of minor tweaking, and Black Desert often crosses the line between detailed and needlessly convoluted. A much bigger problem is that each class has its own locked gender. If you want to play as a male ranger, or a female berserker, then tough luck. In a game where you’re able to rotate your character’s  zygomaticus minor to just how you want it, the lack of gender options feels either entirely contrived or a massive oversight when basically every other MMO ever allows for it. My favourite part of Black Desert Online was easily the combat. Considering my favourite MMOs are Neverwinter and DC Universe Online, I felt right at home with the action-based combat. It’s fast, engaging, and each class plays massively different to the others. My berserker could literally just stop through a horde of enemies and they’d all drop down dead, whereas my sorceress required a more surgical approach, taking on enemies one at a time in the flashiest way possible. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t really give you any interesting scenarios to use that combat in. Across the 12 or so hours I played during the beta period, almost every single quest I did was simply going to a random spot on the map (usually a field, sometimes a forest if you’re lucky), killing X amount of a certain enemy, and then repeat. The loot I got from those quests was also incredibly dull, with it usually being either potions or just XP. There wasn’t anything keeping me to the game other than knowing I had a limited amount of time with it. Neither Neverwinter nor DC Universe Online had the best quest structures either, but they mixed things up with interesting locales, neat minibosses, and decent enough loot to keep you pushing through the next questline. As it was, the only two bosses I saw in Black Desert were bigger versions of the standard mobs I’d spend hours wading through. On the plus side, as far as MMO closed betas go, Black Desert is a technical masterpiece. In the most crowded areas, I very rarely noticed my framerate drop below 30. The game is absolutely gorgeous, and is easily one of the most visually appealing MMOs I’ve seen yet, with plenty of optional visual and post-processing effects to make it look even better. While Black Desert holds up incredibly well technically, the translation was sometimes completely ineligible. Work on the translations has been going on since I became aware of the game over a year ago, and even then some of the totally unvoiced lines felt like they were simply fed through Google Translate and rammed in. After the four-day closed beta, I feel like I’ve only begun to scratch the surface of Black Desert Online. I didn’t get a chance to see everything the game currently has to offer, but even then I lost interest well before then. Repetitive quests, fiddly character creation, poor translation, and totally underwhelming loot cover up an utterly fantastic and hugely enjoyable combat system and gorgeous visuals. I really hope by the time it gets a full release they’ve managed to iron out my problems, because if they do, Neverwinter may have a contender as my favourite MMO. While Black Desert Online is going to be free-to-play in Korea, Russia, and Japan, it will be released as a single purchase without a subscription fee elsewhere. There currently isn’t a confirmed release date.
Black Desert Online photo
All fur coat and no knickers
Despite there being closed betas for it in Korea since 2013, Pearl Abyss’ Black Desert Online only recently finally made its way to the West, with its first English-language closed beta test. With an appealing action-based combat and a hugely detailed character creation system, I took a look to see whether this will be an MMO worth sticking with by the time it fully launches.

Here are some of the best in-game winter events running right now

Dec 21 // Joe Parlock
Neverwinter: The Winter Festival The Dungeons & Dragons MMO for PC and Xbox One has already launched its winter event on December 17. This year sees the return of the Winter Festival of Simril, a lovely little snowy fair full of mini-games and prizes. Claiming a present each day from the Giftmaster in Twilight Tor will nab you a whole load of free stuff, including new mounts and clothing, without having to do much work. While this event also ran last year, some new quests and areas have been added to celebrate the recent-ish release of the Underdark expansion, so there’s more to check out if you thought you’d done everything last year. The Winter Festival will run until January 7. World of Warcraft: Feast of Winter Veil Feast of the Winter Veil is a long-standing tradition in World of Warcraft, and once again the event brings with it new quests and loot up for grabs. If you’re Alliance head to Ironforge, and if you’re Horde head to Orgrimmar. There, you’ll find a whole load of characters needing help setting up the festivities. Greatfather Winter needs help doing his totally-not-Santa thing, and the Jinglepocket Goblins want you to go and save Metzen the Reindeer. But best of all is some dungeon bosses will be wearing little hats which you can take for yourself. Little. Freaking. Hats. Some of the others rewards you can get include new pets, such the Clockwork Rocket Bot and the Tiny Snowman, as well as new toys like the Train Set. The Feast of Winter Veil started on December 16, and will be running through to January 2. Hearthstone: Winter Veil World of Warcraft isn’t the only one who gets the Winter Veil festival, as it’s also come to everybody’s favourite collectible card time-sink, Hearthstone. The boards have been all decked up with snow, fireplaces and fancy lights, and even the heroes are getting a bit festive with their new holiday greetings emotes.  However, the big thing is the Gift Exchange Tavern Brawl mode. Greatfather Winter drops presents and crates onto the board, and whichever player manages to destroy them will get a new 1-mana card that will grant them a card either for their own or for their opponents' class. Winning a game of Gift Exchange will net you a very festive Winter Veil Wreath card back. Unfortunately, you don’t have much longer left with the Gift Exchange, as it ends on December 21, which at the time of writing is tomorrow. If you’ve missed that though, don’t worry. The wintery boards and a holiday sale offering 50 classic packs for $50 will be running until January 6. Rift: Fae Yule Rift’s winter event is probably one of the longest ones this year. It started on December 10, and will be running all the way through to January 6. The Fae Yule event returns once again with everything players are used to from previous years, with quests being found in Sanctum, Meridian, Iron Pine Peak, and Draumheim. However, this year there’s some pretty big changes to the proceedings. There’s a new instant adventure in the Iron Pike Peaks, a new questline for the Minions, as well as a reworking of the Sparkle Quest. There’s also a sale running on the in-game store, featuring weapon and item skins, mounts, and backpacks. Depending on how much in-game credit you buy, you can also nab either a Jolly Hellbug Pet or an adorable Jolly Hellbug Mount. RiftGrate has a great (heh) guide on getting the most out of the event too, for those who don’t want to miss anything. Final Fantasy XIV: The Starlight Celebration If you head to the upper deck of Limsa Lominsa and talk to Collys before December 31, you’ll be roped into a fairly long questline to help her set right the celebration plans for the Starlight festival. If helping save Starlight out of the goodness of your heart wasn’t enough, you can also nab some goodies too: Christmas trees and glowing wall decorations, as well as costume pieces to make you look like Santa or his Reindeer. This isn’t the biggest or longest event running, but it’s definitely one of the most adorable that I’ve seen. Rocket League: Snow Day Probably one of the best multiplayer games to come out this year, Rocket League introduced a hockey mode to its roster. It comes as part of a mutator called Snow Day that replaces the usual ball with a huge puck, which changes the game almost completely. As well as the new mode, a variety of cosmetic drops are available until January 4, including the ‘Xmas’ rocket trail, various toppers, and two new antennae. Azure Striker GUNVOLT: Christmas in Gunvolt Land Indie platformer Azure Striker GUNVOLT went full-out this year and added in a whole new mode for its winter event. Christmas Mode gives the game a wintery makeover, and tasks players with collective as many presents as they can on the slippery ice. The mode also has its own leaderboards too, for those who want to prove they’re officially the best at Christmas. Christmas NiGHTS Okay, this isn’t technically an event in the same way the other games are because it’s been available for almost 20 years now, but it’s still totally worth checking out. If you have a copy of either the PC or PS2 rereleases of NiGHTS into Dreams, you’ll currently find the menus have taken a much more festive tone. NiGHTS is decked out in red, there’s an awesome version of Joy to the World blaring, and even Dream Dreams, the game’s main theme, has a lovely a capella cover. It’s all one big reference to one of the coolest demos ever released for a game, Christmas NiGHTS.  Christmas NiGHTS was a demo released NiGHTS back in 1996 on the Sega Saturn. If you played for nine months of the year, it was just a standard preview of the game, showing off Spring Valley and the boss Gillwing pretty much exactly how you’d find them in the full game. However, if you played it from November to January, the entire thing took on a festive vibe. Spring Valley is covered in snow, NiGHT’s podium turns into a giant cake, and the Ideya containers are transformed into Christmas trees. Even Gillwing changes, turning his lair into a glittery Santa’s grotto around a huge Christmas tree. The whole thing was really cool. I always play whatever version I can find at this time of year, and so should you. That should be more than enough gaming to tide you over the next couple of weeks. However, remember that this week sees the start of Christmas sales on Origin, Green Man Gaming and Steam, as well as basically every console’s digital store too! Neverwinter: The Winter Festival The Dungeons & Dragons MMO for PC and Xbox One has already launched their winter event on December 17. This year sees the return of the Winter Festival of Simril, a lovely little snowy fair full of minigames and prizes. Claiming a present each day from the Giftmaster in Twilight Tor will nab you a whole load of free stuff, including new mounts and clothing, without having to do much work. While this event also ran last year, some new quests and areas have been added to celebrate the recent-ish release of the Underdark expansion, so there’s more to check out if you thought you’d done everything last year. The Winter Festival will run until January 7. World of Warcraft: Feast of Winter Veil Feast of the Winter Veil is a long-standing tradition in World of Warcraft, and once again the event brings with it new quests and loot up for grabs. If you’re Alliance head to Ironforge, and if you’re Horde head to Orgrimmar. There, you’ll find a whole load of characters needing help setting up the festivities. Greatfather Winter needs help doing his totally-not-Santa thing, and the Jinglepocket Goblins want you to go and save Metzen the Reindeer. But best of all is some dungeon bosses will be wearing little hats which you can take for yourself. Little. Freaking. Hats. Some of the others rewards you can get include new pets, such the Clockwork Rocket Bot and the Tiny Snowman, as well as new toys like the Train Set. The Feast of Winter Veil started on December 16, and will be running through to January 2. Hearthstone: Winter Veil World of Warcraft isn’t the only one who gets the Winter Veil festival, as it’s also come to everybody’s favourite collectible card time-sink, Hearthstone. The boards have been all decked up with snow, fireplaces and fancy lights, and even the heroes are getting a bit festive with their new holiday greetings emotes.  However, the big thing is the Gift Exchange Tavern Brawl mode. Greatfather Winter drops presents and crates onto the board, and whichever player manages to destroy them will get a new 1-mana card to work with. Winning a game of Gift Exchange will net you a very festive Winter Veil Wreath card back. Unfortunately, you don’t have much longer left with the Gift Exchange, as it ends on December 21, which at the time of writing is tomorrow. If you’ve missed that though, don’t worry. The wintery boards and a holiday sale offering 50 classic packs for $50 will be running until January 6. Rift: Fae Yule Rift’s winter event is probably one of the longest ones this year. It started on December 10, and will be running all the way through to January 6. The Fae Yule event returns once again with everything players are used to from previous years, with quests being found in Sanctum, Meridian, Iron Pine Peak and Draumheim. However, this year there’s some pretty big changes to the proceedings. There’s a new instant adventure in the Iron Pike Peaks, a new questline for the Minions, as well as a reworking of the Sparkle Quest. There’s also a sale running on the in-game store, featuring weapon and item skins, mounts, and backpacks. Depending on how much in-game credit you buy, you can also nab either a Jolly Hellbug Pet or an adorable Jolly Hellbug Mount. RiftGrate has a great (heh) guide on getting the most out of the event too, for those who don’t want to miss anything. Final Fantasy XIV: The Starlight Celebration If you head to the upper deck of Limsa Lominsa and talk to Collys before December 31, you’ll be roped into a fairly long questline to help her set right the celebration plans for the Starlight festival. If helping save Starlight out of the goodness of your heart wasn’t enough, you can also nab some goodies too: Christmas trees and glowing wall decorations, as well as costume pieces to make you look like Santa or his Reindeer. This isn’t the biggest or longest event running, but it’s definitely one of the most adorable that I’ve seen. Rocket League: Snow Day Probably one of the best multiplayer games to come out this year, Rocket Leagueintroduced a hockey mode to its roster. It comes as part of a mutator called Snow Day that replaces the usual ball with a huge puck, which changes the game almost completely. As well as the new mode, a variety of cosmetic drops are available until January 4, including the ‘Xmas’ rocket trail, various toppers, and two new antennae. Azure Striker GUNVOLT: Christmas Mode Indie platformer Azure Striker GUNVOLT went full-out this year and added in a whole new mode for their winter event. Christmas Mode gives the game a wintery makeover, and tasks players with collective as many presents as they can on the slippery ice. The mode also has its own leaderboards too, for those who want to prove they’re officially the best at Christmas. Christmas NiGHTS Okay, this isn’t technically an event in the same way the other games are because it’s been available for almost 20 years now, but it’s still totally worth checking out. If you have a copy of either the PC or PS2 rereleases of NiGHTS into Dreams, you’ll currently find the menus have taken a much more festive tone. NiGHTS is decked out in red, there’s an awesome version of Joy to the World blaring, and even Dream Dreams, the game’s main theme, has a lovely a capella cover. It’s all one big reference to one of the coolest demos ever released for a game, Christmas NiGHTS.  Christmas NiGHTS was a demo released NiGHTS back in 1996 on the Sega Saturn. If you played for nine months of the year, it was just a standard preview of the game, showing off Spring Valley and the boss Gillwing pretty much exactly how you’d find them in the full game. However, if you played it from November to January, the entire thing took on a festive vibe. Spring Valley is covered in snow, NiGHT’s podium turns into a giant cake, and the Ideyacontainers are transformed into Christmas trees. Even Gillwing changes, turning his lair into a glittery Santa’s grotto around a huge Christmas tree. The whole thing was really cool. I always play whatever version I can find at this time of year, and so should you. -- That should be more than enough gaming to tide you over the next couple of weeks. However, remember that this week sees the start of Christmas sales on Origin, Green Man Gaming and Steam, as well as basically every console’s digital store too!   What other events do you think are worth checking out? 
Winter Events photo
No Scrooges are allowed to take part
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Mince pies, gingerbread men, last-minute panic buying of presents, and, of course, shutting yourself away from your family for the entire time to take part in some of the many i...

Giveaway: Armored Warfare

Dec 03 // Mike Martin
 photo
30 codes up for grabs!
Our friends at Obsidian Entertainment have given us 30 special codes for their tactical MMO: Armored Warfare! The codes are for the special Black Friday Wolfli Merc packs that include: LAV 150 90 (Tier 3 Premium tank) AMX 1...

Black Desert Online photo
Black Desert Online

Black Desert Online is getting its first English-language beta test this month


Previously only in Russia and Korea
Dec 02
// Joe Parlock
Upcoming Korean MMO Black Desert Online has been making waves for quite a while now. The game is already in closed beta in Korea and Russia, and so the trickle of information coming from it has meant people have been eager fo...
Final Fantasy XIV photo
Final Fantasy XIV

Play Final Fantasy XIV for free for four days


96 wonderful hours of big burly pirates
Dec 02
// Joe Parlock
Are you a lapsed Final Fantasy XIV player? Did you try it out, only to find it didn’t quite click with you, or maybe you clocked hundreds of hours and, unfortunately, have been unable to renew your subscription? Well, t...

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 vanity...in 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
MMO PvP

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

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
WoW

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


Info appears on Battle.net
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 Battle.net (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...

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