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Neverwinter Xbox One photo
Neverwinter Xbox One

Neverwinter is both a shallow MMO and a fun arcade-like romp on Xbox One

It's a net gain when the price is free
Apr 03
// Chris Carter
Back in 2013, Neverwinter hit the PC. No, it's not a continuation of Neverwinter Nights, that awesome RPG from BioWare. It's an MMO developed by Cryptic Studios that's light on the "massive" bit, but far more f...
ATARI photo

Atari's buggy, unfinished Asteroids MMO is out now

...on Steam Early Access
Mar 27
// Kyle MacGregor
Atari has taken a break from bullying indie developers to release Asteroids: Outpost, a gross and twisted cash-in on the beloved space shooter that first delighted arcade patrons in 1979. The "open world sandbox survival game...
Blizzard photo

Blizzard provides more details for WoW Tokens, the currency that can purchase game time

They'll be rolling out soon
Mar 25
// Chris Carter
In the near future, Blizzard will be rolling out a new item that allows players to purchase 30 days of game time. What's so special about that? Well, you can either purchase it for real-world dollars or in-game on the Auction...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online resorts to time travel to boost recruitment in April

Because war is coming
Mar 24
// Josh Tolentino
Ah, time travel. It's a staple of science fiction, and Star Trek has played host to more than a few yarns about tripping the light chronologic. Thus it's not unusual to see a few time-travel quests lodged into MMORPG Star Tre...
Deals photo

Grab 22% off The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited (now with no monthly fee)

Don't pay full price, yo
Mar 19
// Dealzon
The Elder Scrolls Online did a reboot of sorts earlier this week and the game is now subtitled Tamriel Unlimited. Gamers interested in the buy-to-play, no-subscription-fee version of the game can grab any old retail copy and ...
Final Fantasy XI photo
Final Fantasy XI

Final Fantasy XI shutting down on PS2 and Xbox 360, mobile version and spinoff coming

Final Fantasy Grandmasters and Final Fantasy XI Mobile
Mar 19
// Steven Hansen
Final Fantasy XI is 13 years old. As is the case with 13-year-olds, Square Enix is getting a bit sick of dealing with it.  The PS2 and Xbox 360 versions of the MMO will shut down in March of 2016. Final Fantasy XI's main...
Elder Scrolls Online photo
Elder Scrolls Online

The Elder Scrolls Online goes subscription free today on PC

Check out the new trailer
Mar 17
// Chris Carter
The Elder Scrolls Online hasn't made many headlines since its launch, but it certainly went back into the spotlight recently after the news that it would be dropping its subscription fee requirement. Like Guild Wars 2, ...
Wander photo

Wander by Wander lets you wander in Wander while wondering why you're a tree

Best dressed dev of PAX East 2015
Mar 16
// Jed Whitaker
At PAX East, I spent a majority of my time playing indie games but the one that really stood out is Wander, a non-combat exploration MMO about discovering the story of the world around you. The booth was an outlier...
Lineage II photo
Lineage II

Lineage II keeps on keeping on with latest expansion announcement

This thing will never die
Mar 12
// Robert Summa
The MMO genre is not what it used to be. That doesn't mean, though, that there still aren't thousands of players that enjoy the endless farming and miles of endless walking that these games provide. With all the other options...
FFXIV photo

Final Fantasy XIV's Heavensward expansion dated for June

June 19 for early access
Mar 09
// Chris Carter
Square Enix has announced that Final Fantasy XIV's massive Heavensward expansion will be released on June 23 (June 19 for pre-order access). When it arrives later this year it'll ship with a new race, new jobs, another ...
Star Trek Online photo
Star Trek Online

Star Trek Online establishes in-game memorials for Leonard Nimoy

In Memoriam
Mar 08
// Josh Tolentino
Leonard Nimoy passed away last week. Though his legacy is broad and varied, most people know him best as Spock, Star Trek's most recognizable Vulcan. The same goes for the MMORPG Star Trek Online, as developer Cryptic Studios...

ArenaNet: Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns 'is like Metroid and Zelda slammed together'

Mar 03 // Chris Carter
So how exactly do you tackle an MMO expansion? For the most part, developers will put a new level cap in place, and immediately make your old gear irrelevant within the first few quests. It's a traditional system that isn't inherently flawed for the right type of gamer, but ArenaNet is trying something different with the Masteries system in Heart of Thorns. I asked Johanson how they plan to keep people interested for longer periods of time. With a level cap that's a firm goal to reach for, but how is Guild Wars 2 going to entice players to get every Mastery? He responded with, "Well there's a lot of variety here. Combat masteries are needed for certain big bosses, like one foe that has thick bark -- you'll need one special ability to strip the bark, otherwise you'll have to run for your life. There's a lot of combat abilities peppered about, which will drive players alone. For the most part the story is not gated, but other parts will be." Going on, he noted that "We'll also be adding more Masteries and points. The system is not a one-off in the expansion. This is the message to players that this is the new system going forward as we build and progress the game. We'll continue to add more challenging content and new Masteries for players to play with. Each of these systems we picked is how we plan to build and grow the game in the future." Johanson was excited to talk about what influenced this system, stating, "We noted that this took a lot of progression from other franchises. In fact, the traversal systems like gliding are like Metroid and Zelda slammed together. Some day you'll be able to come back and do other things, like bounce up on a certain mushroom and go up into certain treetop areas. So how are they tackling exploration? Will players want to go to places other than the expansion? "We don't want to have empty, barren areas like other MMOs," he responded. "We want people to go back to everywhere in the game. We want strong core areas with lots of fun things to do. Inherently, there will be more people to play with in those areas, which is what MMOs are all about. So we want to make less areas and create more focused experiences." Johanson was mum about discussing dungeon or raid content, as nothing has been announced yet. But when coaxed, he stated, "Yeah, we're looking at all of that. Especially with raid content. We very clearly heard that people think we have a very fun combat system. Minute-to-minute it's exciting, but there are not enough creatures in the game that force you to use that whole skill bar or take advantage of that combat system. PVP has that, but if you love PVE you don't really get to experience that in the core game. So we're addressing that in Heart of Thorns. But that is all I can say today." I also asked how they plan on getting players to level 80, since you need to max out to play the new Heart of Thorns content: "We haven't discussed anything specific as to how we're going to help new players. Tying in to a previous point there's a compelling reason to go back to old content. With our sidekicking system you can also go back and play with lower-level players. In other words, there will always be people to play with. I think the jungle as a goal will be a great thing for people to work towards. We do have a lot of account-based systems, so we think it's okay to ask people to go back and level-up new characters." I also touched on the concept of the Revenant, noting that there's a propensity to claim that new classes are overpowered to entice players to level-up new characters and keep playing -- so I asked how they plan to balance it head-on. "I love that question! Even before we showed it people on our fan forums said it was overpowered which is amazingly funny. I think it's balanced because it has a balanced armor rating and balanced range. It has a lot of movement in combat, but outside of combat it has a tough time getting between battles. One of the things you can do to counter the Revenant is outrange it. It doesn't have a lot of blocks or counters. It can also be interrupted. It also has to control its energy bar constantly, which limits its skills despite the fact that it has more skills than most professions." I tried to get in a secret announcement for a new race, but had no such luck: "We looked at races but they don't really have a huge point in Guild Wars 2 from a gameplay standpoint. The content needs are much tougher, like more starting zones and voice-work. That doesn't give us a lot of content for the time we put in. There's some ones our fans would love to see, but I don't think that adds much gameplay-wise." Switching gears to PVP, I asked about the MOBA influences that the new Stronghold mode wore on its sleeve. Johanson was enthusiastically stated "Yeah! MOBAs and Dota-lites definitely were influences. Fort Aspenwood in Guild Wars provided some inspiration. We tried to take all of those things and put our own unique twist on it." When asked if there will be any disparity between World vs. World and Stronghold modes in terms of rewards, Johanson replied, "No, we're aiming to really strike the balance between the two. It will really depend on your personal skill level. For instance if you find a great guild for World vs. World, you'll likely reap more benefits than Stronghold. World vs. World has its own progression system, so there's that to keep into account." I continued to press PVP, asking if ArenaNet was interested in more "micro" type PVP modes similar to League of Legends' Dominion, and Johanson was pretty excited at the strong reception to PVP so far. "Definitely. We're looking at more modes like Stronghold, where people have roles to play, where everyone can help their team win, but you can constantly change roles. It has to be approachable. People in the office who didn't even play PVP were into Stronghold, so that's something we're looking at." All things said, I'm happy with the direction Guild Wars 2 is taking. Expect more coverage as Heart of Thorns as the year goes on. [Both lunch and dinner were provided at the event in ArenaNet's offices in Bellevue, Washington.]
Guild Wars 2 interview photo
An interview with lead designer Colin Johanson
Guild Wars 2 is one of the most accessible MMOs ever made. Eschewing the Holy Trinity of class builds, you can basically pick any character you want and still fulfill a role in any group. Everyone can heal, and everyone ...

Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns seeks to redefine MMO endgame progression

Mar 03 // Chris Carter
Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns (PC)Developer: ArenaNetPublisher: NCsoftReleased: TBA 2015MSRP: TBA At ArenaNet's offices last week, I had the chance to get some hands-on time with the expansion, and I'm pleased with what I've seen so far. There's an all-new zone, a new "Masteries" leveling system, the Revenant class, and another PVP mode titled "Stronghold." The heart and soul of the expansion is the Maguuma Jungle, an area that picks up mere "days" after the story in the original game. For those who aren't caught up, all of the combined armies in the land took off via airships to chase down the Elder Dragon Mordremoth, and the expedition ended in flames -- literally. The jungle came to life and tore the fleet apart, leaving most for dead. You'll start the Heart of Thorns content right after that, provided you have a level 80 character. Yep, you'll need to be max level to stand a chance in the new zone. Masteries are the new way ArenaNet is tackling progression, because there will not be a level cap increase. Instead, players will earn Mastery Points, which they can put into skills like additional creature languages, or more mobile skills like gliding or mushroom riding. For instance, I earned my first point at the start of the demo, and gained the power to use mushrooms as bounce pads to leap to new areas. Later on the tree may evolve to allow me to eat said mushrooms to gain a boost in speed, and so on. ArenaNet co-founder and president Mike O'Brien states that this is the ideal way to tackle an expansion, because typically in MMOs you'll leave way too much behind. He elaborates on the concept, stating, "With a new level cap, you'll instantly find new gear and items to replace. Saying goodbye to the old and in with the new can be great, but players are often attached to their old conquests. We didn't want to invalidate that, so I'm really excited about Masteries. It pertains to jungle-specific progression, but you can still go back to the old world and have fun." Masteries can be equipped to level them up individually, so if you're keen on becoming a better glider while roaming about the world, you can do that. Right now I'm excited for the concept, but I didn't see enough Masteries to convince me they will stay interesting for the long haul. When confronted about this, O'Brien noted that more Masteries will be added over time, which is great news. You'll need those new powers to get around in the jungle, because based on the demo, the difficulty has been ramped up. According to O'Brien, the jungle is "really vertical, and not like any other area in the game. With the vertical setup we really have a way to build it unlike any zone before, allowing players to get into the depths of the game world into more frightening areas." Lead designer Colin Johanson commented on the enhanced difficulty, stating, "playing with others is supposed to be fun. We're doubling down on that challenge in Heart of Thorns." I was able to see that in action with a wyvern mini-boss fight at the end of the demo, which required a decent amount of strategy and dodging typically not seen in other world events. I was able to tackle that challenge head-on with the new Revenant class, which is basically an undead warrior of sorts. Classic Guild Wars fans will be excited to know that according to O'Brien, the developer is excited to "bring back old lore and mechanics that we weren't previously able to add to Guild Wars 2." He goes on to say that "it's different than the other eight professions in more ways than one" -- a statement that I can definitely agree with. The Revenant has two different "states" -- one based on DPS (Demon), and the other, more tanky (Dwarf). You can instantly switch between them with a mouse click (or F1), which you'll need to do to maintain its energy levels to power its skills. The kicker? Both states do not share cooldowns, and it has two heals between them. It was a rush to switch to the tank and lay down a buff shaped like a spiritual pathway, then switch back to lay down some damage. Aesthetically, the profession looks unlike anything else in the game, with a very cool demonic feel complete with mist effects and a badass headband that extends over your eyes. It's easily my favorite class so far, and I will be leveling one as soon as Heart of Thorns hits. To alleviate any concerns, I do feel like the class is balanced -- and this is before users even give their feedback. Right now Revenants are scheduled to use the hammer, mace, and axe weapon types -- but Rytlock (an NPC) is wielding a sword, so we'll see. PVP is also getting a lot more enticing in my mind with Stronghold. To be blunt, over time I lost interest in the massive World vs. World scheme in the original Guild Wars 2. It just became too much to keep track of, and often times I'd be running around without a skirmish in sight for up to 10 minutes. It wasn't action-packed enough, and Stronghold will fix that issue. In short, it's a MOBA-like experience that aims to be 10-15 minutes in length. There are two teams that each have a lane with troops to go down, and a base at the end with a "Lord" to protect, who is behind two doors. If one team's Lord dies, it's game over. To facilitate your attack, you can embed yourself in random map events like the acquisition of a hero character (which buffs you while you're in proximity to them), or grabbing "supply" materials to create archer or doorbreaker units. Archers will help clear out the path to each door, and doorbreakers actually bust them down. Of course, players can attack either of them, and you'll definitely want to do so for the latter to prevent your Lord from becoming vulnerable. Because of the way it's set up, there's action at every turn. Whether it's battling over supply or doing some actual laning work, the map is small enough where you'll always find someone to fight. I'm sold. ArenaNet isn't done revealing what Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns will entail, but that's the gist of what you can expect. If you're interested in getting some hands-on time, the expansion will be available to play at PAX East. ArenaNet is also planning a number of different beta events just like the core game, so you'll have plenty of chances to try before you buy. [Both lunch and dinner were provided at the event in ArenaNet's offices in Bellevue, Washington.]
GW 2 expansion preview photo
No new level cap, just 'Masteries'
Guild Wars 2 is an ambitious project. While ArenaNet's initial offering of Guild Wars was more of a social dungeon crawler than an MMO (the company called it a CORPG, or competitive online role-playing game), the se...

World of Warcraft photo
World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft players will be able to pay for their subscription with gold soon

Pricing details to be determined
Mar 02
// Jordan Devore
In an upcoming World of Warcraft patch, Blizzard will introduce the WoW Token, an in-game item purchasable with real money that facilitates the exchange of gold for 30 days of game time. "The WoW Token was created to give pla...

Final Fantasy XIV's Gold Saucer is amazing if you like Triple Triad or Chocobo Racing

Feb 27 // Chris Carter
[embed]288289:57536:0[/embed] Getting to the Saucer is fairly easy, as it's just a stone's throw from Uldah's airship landing. Once you're there, you can attune to the crystal and teleport back anytime you want -- a perfect recipe for disaster when it comes to gambling. Littered about the Saucer are tiny minigames that are basically quick-time events, as well as a crane game and a few multiplayer activities. Keep in mind that if you went back every day and did everything but Triple Triad or racing, it would take you roughly 30 minutes to roam around, grab your daily lottery ticket, and finish a decent round of minigames. But if you're sold on the big two, they'll keep you busy for weeks on end. Triple Triad, as expected, is amazing. Not only can you challenge NPCs to your heart's desire, but you can also challenge other players that "flag" themselves for PVP so to speak. There are also different rulesets that can be used to mix things up for veterans, and plenty of cards to collect. It's just as glorious as you remember, and I'm glad it's back. Chocobo Racing is also fairly deep. There's a handful of courses to choose from, and you can name your bird from a pre-selected list of roughly 200 terms. You'll have partial control while racing, with the power to move left or right, boost (while watching your stamina of course), jump, or use Mario Kart-like powerups at your leisure as you pick them up on the track. To get into a race you'll "queue" just like a dungeon or a PVP match, and compete against other real players, which makes every race that much more fun. I have a legitimate desire to raise up in the ranks, train my Chocobo right, and become the ultimate jockey. I didn't think the activity would be this deep right from the get-go, but I was wrong. Take a look at the video above to get a full look at the Gold Saucer, as well as a quick Triple Triad match and a full race. I still need to work on my deck, as I'm using the basic tutorial cards above, but I'll get there. I'm full-on addicted again. Square Enix has the perfect opportunity to continue to build on this foundation as the game evolves, and I hope it does so.
FFXIV Gold Saucer photo
Everything else is minor
The Gold Saucer is finally a part of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and it's glorious. That classic music returns, as do the iconic Triple Triad and Chocobo Racing activities. It's amazing how much content Square Enix has...

Guild Wars 2 photo
Guild Wars 2

Guild Wars 2 adding first-person mode

Eat your heart out GTA
Feb 26
// Robert Summa
Typically, MMOs are third-person affairs and for good reason. Whenever you find yourself in any dangerous persistent world, you want a good idea of what's around you to have the best possible view of the battlefield. Well, so...
ESO cash shop details photo
ESO cash shop details

ZeniMax details The Elder Scrolls Online's upcoming pay-to-play store

The road to hell is paved with novelty skins
Feb 13
// Jason Faulkner
The latest MMO to go the pay-to-play route is The Elder Scrolls Online. Last month's announcement was a bit of a shocker to some, as going subscription free is an indicator of bad news for MMOs. However, ZeniMax is trying its...

Atari is making a new Asteroids game (Yes, really!)

Everyone freak out
Feb 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Atari just announced a new Asteroids game. No, you guys, I'm being serious. Stop laughing!  Asteroids: Outpost, as it's called, is described as an open-world MMO with survivalist gameplay. The experience casts players in...
Elite Dangerous Patch photo
Elite Dangerous Patch

Elite: Dangerous 1.1 patch brings pilots together and enhances gameplay

Todd 'Maniac' Marshall, at your service, ma'am!
Feb 06
// Jason Faulkner
Elite: Dangerous continues to mature with the latest 1.1 BETA update. The addition of Community Goals adds missions for groups of players to work towards, like destroying x amount of enemies, or hauling a certain cargo t...
H1Z1 photo

If you're new to H1Z1 and these guys show up, you're joining a fight club

I think I just broke one of the rules...
Feb 03
// Brett Makedonski
Like the Penis Brothers of yesteryear, some people in zombie survival games are less concerned with the undead, and more intent on messing with fellow humans. You know what they say: man is the real monster. This group in&nb...
Final Fantasy XIV photo
Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV kicks off its 'Valentione's Day' event

It'll run until February 16
Feb 03
// Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV likes it keep its players interested by running frequent events, and the latest one kicks off today. It's called "Valentione's Day," and is obviously themed after the real life celebration in mid-Februa...
Sony Online Entertainment photo
Sony Online Entertainment

SOE sold by Sony, sees a new dawn as Daybreak Game Company

Sounds like plans for Xbox are in the works
Feb 02
// Brett Makedonski
Sony Online Entertainment -- developer of popular MMOs such as PlanetSide 2, Everquest, and H1Z1 -- is no longer a part of Sony's stable of studios. After 20 years, SOE has been offloaded. Sony recently sold its subsidia...
Aion photo

Aion update looks to ease the devil's RNG

Really but not really
Jan 28
// Robert Summa
I have a dirty little not-so-secret secret to tell you: I was a GM for Aion for about two years. What did I learn in all that time? That gamers can be the most gracious and little pieces of shit on the planet Earth. One of th...
Guild Wars 2 photo
I've needed this for a while
Guild Wars 2 is a pretty great MMO. It's buy-to-play, which means you have to purchase the initial package first, then there's no subscription fees or nasty progression-hindering microtransactions. You buy the game, and...

Cheap Guild Wars photo
Cheap Guild Wars

At $10, yeah, Guild Wars 2 is worth playing

Your next MMO?
Jan 23
// Jordan Devore
As a casual MMO player, I've always liked the Guild Wars series -- no monthly subscription fits my lifestyle, you know? I don't have to feel guilty about wasting money by not playing "enough," whatever that is. If you're of a...

Review: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Patch 2.5)

Jan 21 // Chris Carter
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PC, PS3, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Square EnixPublisher: Square EnixMSRP: $39.99 ($12.99 per month)Released: August 27, 2013 (PC, PS3) / April 14, 2014 (PS4) In case you missed it, we've been covering A Realm Reborn since launch. Patrick initially reviewed the base game, then I covered up to patch 2.2, 2.3, and 2.4. For those unaware, Square Enix releases a massive update every three to four months, providing new encounters, dungeons, and raids for players to enjoy while they wait for the next batch of content. Patch 2.5, titled Before the Fall, is probably the most interesting delivery yet, because it's coming in waves. While the bulk of it (which will be covered here) is live in the game right now, the Gold Saucer, Chocobo Racing, Triple Triad, and the conclusion of the 2.0 storyarc leading into the expansion will come over the course of the next few months. It's an odd way to handle it, but it's ultimately acceptable because 2.5 is no slouch itself. And besides, the Gold Saucer has been hyped for so long it would be a shame if it was rushed. Full stop, the new storyline for Before the Fall is my favorite encapsulated tale since the original Realm Reborn plot. While it has been quite a ride to discover the origin of classic Final Fantasy summons like Shiva and how they impact the realm of FFXIV, the actual big-picture game world often took a backseat in favor of plotlines that felt secondary to the core narrative. Now in 2.5, the dragon arc that was set up with Bahamut in the intro is coming to a head, and the expansion is being put front and center. [embed]286422:56972:0[/embed] It's not just a tease of what's to come but an interesting look at the core cast, as they are put into situations that directly concern the kingdom. Instead of going off on what feels like a sidequest to quell Ramuh or some other god, the action comes to the city of Mor Dhona directly, with you in the middle of an age-old confrontation with the Wyrmking Midgardsormr. Square Enix has interestingly mixed in a Trial with the story on top of the traditional "new" dungeon, which is a thrill in and of itself. I usually find myself playing the story just to get to the other bits of content, but this time around I enjoyed the journey just as much. One of the biggest content additions is the Odin fight, which mirrors the encounter at the recent Fan Fest events across the world. He's not an Extreme fight, nor is he "easy," and players will have a really difficult time with him at the recommended item level, mostly because he has a hard damage-per-second check at 15% or seven minutes in (whichever comes first) that will cause you to wipe if you don't do enough damage. Odin takes you on in a rather boring circular arena in the forest, and fighting him mostly involves lots of dodging in addition to a very intensive heal check, since there's plenty of bleed effects afoot during the fight. It's fun to finally be able to fight Odin at will rather than chancing it with a random world event, but that initial awe and wonder wears off after you realize how simplistic the battle is. I've never wanted an Extreme mode so badly. The other big boss fight is Gilgamesh, who returns and seemingly closes out the joyous and goofy Hildibrand storyline. As the producers have maintained, this is a very casual string of content that will allow gamers of all skill levels to enjoy themselves. That ideology is encapsulated in the new "Battle in Big Keep" Gilgamesh encounter far more than it was in 2.4, which featured a rather complicated arena setting that relied on every player knowing exactly what to do. That previous fight ended up being a big problem for a lot of groups who couldn't figure out how to handle some of the more complicated aspects. Thankfully, 2.5 cleans things up a bit, and delivers a fun, simplistic battle that is pretty easy to pick up and play. Plus, with the closing of the story you also net Hildibrand's clothes, and his signature dance, which is a nice bonus. The last quest is titled "Her Final Vow," but the lovable character and his crew are expected to return in the expansion. At least, I hope so. Oddly enough, the new Trials Roulette, which picks a random boss fight for you to do daily for an increased reward, includes both the fun Gilgamesh encounter and the story Trial, but not Odin. Maybe it's because the developers realized that it was too difficult for casual players? Either way, it's disappointing that not every bit of content is put into the end-game hopper -- a concept Square Enix has handled perfectly so far. The three new dungeons include Wanderer's Palace (Hard Mode), Amdapor Keep (Hard Mode), and my personal favorite, Keeper of the Lake. The former two as expected don't look anything like their predecessors, and offer interesting boss mechanics. Square is learning when it comes to balancing dungeons, being careful to not make any one location that much "faster" than the other to complete, leading to the playerbase speedrunning one over all others. While some may find the arbitrary gating of checkpoints annoying, I understand the decision.Having said that, Keeper of the Lake is a standout winner for me as a dungeon. It has a very cool theme to it that hasn't been replicated since the Praetorium in the main story, and the setting, as well as the direct interaction with dragons, is an amazing lead-in to the expansion. Lore-wise it's one of my favorite locations, and the final fight is a really fun encounter with lots of dodging and a rather menacing feel to the main foe. Finally, the other big addition to 2.5 is the World of Darkness raid, which continues the Crystal and Syrcus Tower storyline and supports 24 players at once. Alliance-wide queuing was added to the game in 2.3, so you can go at it with a full guild if you want, but odds are you're going to be playing with random people so a balanced difficulty is important. In that regard, I think Square Enix nailed it. As a whole it feels easier to pick up than Crystal Tower, but more difficult than Syrcus Tower -- in other words, an improvement. World of Darkness is an incredibly cool-looking location, full of life and personality despite the fact that the realm is quite literally "dark." Plenty of iconic Final Fantasy villains return, and the last boss looks like she was taken directly out of a classic game like Final Fantasy III -- in fact, she was! There's relevance to the raid too with new gear to earn, which will help non-Coil players catch up and look cool in the process. In every way the gear is an upgrade to Syrcus Tower aesthetically.Before the Fall adds a ton of extra stuff too, like more personal and guild housing options. Hunts are relevant again after their massive downturn in 2.4, since the rewards have been increased, and the Unstained Mark Log drop rewards players with top-end gear. There's also some new hairstyles, mounts, and quality of life fixes, like an improved queue system and the ability to earn back all your cooldowns (ability timers) while in any Sanctuary, not just capital cities. My favorite addition is probably the introduction of a weekly raid quest, which earns players an endgame upgrade reagent for completing Crystal Tower, Syrcus Tower, and World of Darkness. This will funnel people into all the old 24-person raids all over again, which is a great thing. Like I stated earlier, Square Enix is the master of keeping things relevant -- a lesson many other developers could learn when creating new content for games like this. Patch 2.5 is definitely a table-setting update, but it's filled with good content while players wait for the expansion to get here. Since everything else will arrive over the course of the next two months, I'll be covering it as each portion drops, so stay tuned for that augmented coverage. While 2.5 may not be enough to woo old players back into the fray on its own, I have a feeling that all of the fluff coming before the expansion will be a perfect excuse to return. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
FFXIV review photo
Before the Fall
Final Fantasy XIV has come a long way. Although there wasn't any real endgame content to speak of when A Realm Reborn launched in its 2.0 incarnation, Square Enix worked hard to deliver in 2.1, and has continued to deliv...

Elder Scrolls drops subs photo
Surprise, right? Guys, are you surprised?
When I reviewed The Elder Scrolls Online back at launch I thought it had potential, but not enough to keep people paying for subscription time. Plenty of MMOs have enjoyed a subscription-based model, and games like ...

World of Warcraft photo
World of Warcraft

Blizzard's sending a seriously cool gift to World of Warcraft's ten-year subscribers

A replica of its headquarters' statue
Jan 19
// Brett Makedonski
A decade is a decent stretch of time by any account, but it's an especially long time to routinely play an MMO. Blizzard wants to recognize the dedication of the select few players that have stuck by World of Warcraft si...
H1Z1 kerfuffle photo
H1Z1 kerfuffle

Sony Online offered H1Z1 refunds after pay-to-win complaints

'No questions asked'
Jan 19
// Steven Hansen
H1Z1, Sony Online Entertainment's bizarrely-named version of DayZ, was the center of a kerfuffle over the weekend that didn't even have to do with the game not working at its Early Access launch. Rather, the community le...
H1Z1 photo

H1Z1 community feels that the game is pay-to-win despite being told it wouldn't be

The developers refute the claims
Jan 16
// Brett Makedonski
H1Z1, Sony Online Entertainment's zombie apocalypse survival simulator, has recently come under fire from its own community. On the day of its Early Access launch, many who had eagerly tracked the game's development for month...

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