Why it seemed like just yesterday that we were giving away access to this weekend's beta test for The Elder Scrolls Online, because it was. But earlier a portal to the plane of Oblivion opened, spaffed another thousand keys onto our laps and then disappeared, leaving only a faint hint of Draenor aftershave hanging in the air. It is our grave duty, then, to pass this sudden boon onto you with another beta key giveaway! Read on for details.
Lion's Arch has had a hard week. Since its destruction as part of Guild Wars 2's Escape from Lion's Arch update, the game's capital city has been beset by baddies, filled with a toxic miasma, and periodically populated by players on a map-wide hunt for civilian survivors. The next update, Battle for Lion's Arch, will encourage those players to take the offensive. A teaser trailer released by ArenaNet sets up the assault, and hints at what they're calling "the final battle".
Back in November 2013, Blizzard announced that World of Warcraft players who buy the Warlords of Draenor expansion will get to boost one character to level 90 for free. It said that it would sell the same boost after the first freebie, but didn't name a price. Following a recent update, several users reported they saw the service offered for $60.
If you're not yet running through Wildstar's colourful, deadly Nexus, creators Carbine Studios are giving away 40,000 keys for this coming weekend's beta test. From this Friday through to Monday, you'll be able to explore, loot and kill your way through the upcoming MMO. How exactly do you get one of these keys? Reading the rest of this post would be a good way to start.
Announced last year, Guild Wars 2's "Living Story" has provided a regular series of temporary events, zones and combat encounters. Today's update, titled Escape from Lion's Arch, is the penultimate release of that story's first season, and one that's set to have a dramatic effect on Tyria's capital city. Log in after the update goes live and, instead of the colourful market square, the repurposed pirate-ship houses, and the grand central statue, you'll find chaos, fire and destruction. This isn't an instanced event, but a full scale invasion. Lion's Arch is going to fall.
It's not just that one of the game's safe zones is about to be overrun. This is a symbolic strike at the heart of the game. Lion's Arch is, for many, the centre of Guild Wars 2: providing both a trade hub, meeting point, and a spot to ambiently idle while an NPC Asura attempts a Sylvari salad joke. For ArenaNet, though, this is precisely why it makes such an exciting target. "Players are Tyrians themselves," associate game director Steven Waller tells me. "This is a hub for all races to come together, and so I think that one of the things is the question: how does Tyria respond?"
The recent press beta weekend for The Elder Scrolls Online left us concerned about the game's mix of Skyrim-like action and MMO-like mechanics. Phil criticized the combat, while Evan and I lamented the lack of exploration in the game's early areas. But just saying that we're worried isn't enough—it's better to show than tell, with this video of a typical TESO dungeon delve.
After I reached the highest level in Star Wars: The Old Republic, I ran into a problem: I had seen and done everything the endgame had offered to me. I completed all the dungeons, conquered all the available raid encounters, and then I was essentially stuck in a content drought until BioWare released something new—and then the cycle would repeat again. It's a pattern most MMORPGs of today run the risk of falling into as players tear through at a faster rate than ever before. In a blog post, Sony Online Entertainment CEO John Smedley examines these content-driven tendencies of the MMO genre, calling them "unsustainable" for the industry in favor of more sandbox experiences.
Guild Wars 2's main city of Lion's Arch has seen plenty of drama across the Living Story. Over the last year, there's been an assassination attempt, an election, and a hidden pirate airship. Mostly, though, there's been those two jerks by the Leatherworking station endlessly repeating their infuriating conversation about outhouses and sewage disposal. Why, if I had my way, I'd burn the whole damn place to the ground.
If this video teaser for the next update is anything to go by, ArenaNet might be granting my wish.
Multiplayer mechanised battler World of Tanks is getting a new update this week. The memorably named 8.11 patch brings a new map, new crew management features, and, most notably, Confrontation mode. In this, tanks forego the usual inter-nation free-for-all, instead becoming divided along territorial lines, with countries fighting countries in a match-up that's directly inspired by actual wars, probably.
SOE have released a new Building Blocks video, rounding up the foundations of their construct-'em-up MMO alpha. This time, it's to introduce the desert environment; "environment" being the oldey-timey word we used to use before "biomes". As you can see from the video, deserts are big fans of cacti and weird looking trees. I'm sure it won't take long for players to put their own spin on the theme. As I type, someone's sure to be drawing up the blueprints to a raggedy RV, to be placed inconspicuously in the badlands.
The Elder Scrolls Online is a gorgeous game, so much so that we had to see how it looks on the Large Pixel Collider. We cranked every setting to maximum, but it was no match for the world's most dangerous gaming rig. Here are the results, along with gameplay impressions from Editor-in-chief Evan Lahti and Managing Editor Cory Banks.
The EverQuest Next Landmark alpha packages—$60 and $100 Founder's Packs—don't buy a complete game, and Landmark hasn't been a very functional incomplete game until the most recent patch. But despite four days of server outages, crashes, bugs, and wiped data in the voxel building MMO, EverQuest Director of Development David Georgeson is optimistic about Landmark's first public play test, and even wishes it had started earlier.
CCP recently introduced an in-game monument to recognise the massive destruction that can occur in EVE. Now they want to introduce a real world monument to celebrate everything that has happened in-game. The EVE Universe Monument will stand at five meters tall, and have the name of all of the game's "main characters" etched upon it. For info: those main characters are all of the players that have contributed to the game.
Humans are pretty boring, especially in a fantasy setting. When Bethesda announced that The Elder Scrolls Online was restricting the Imperial race to its more expensive Digital Imperial Edition, I assumed they'd done it knowing that very few people would care, far preferring to indulge in the high fantasy of being a reptile, or a cat, or a Norwegian. Actually, it turns out that they're pretty popular - with fans left disappointed that not only would they not get the option, but fearful that those that did would be gaining a significant bonus. In a new post on the Elder Scrolls Online blog, Bethesda have responded to those fears.
Star Wars: The Old Republic's latest expansion, the space combat mode Galactic Starfighter, has joined the MMO's free-to-play content. The dogfighting game-within-a-game had until today been playable for subscribers and "preferred status players" only, but now throws open its cockpit doors to anyone ready and willing.
You'd expect the studio behind The Secret World to be a fan of mystery and conspiracy, but I doubt this is what the game's developers had in mind. On Wednesday, Funcom were temporarily suspended from the Oslo Stock Exchange, and they were charged under "suspicion of infringement of the provisions of the Securities Trading Act," regarding Secret World finances reported from August 2011 to September 2012. The charges also led to Økokrim, the Norwegian economic crime unit, raiding Funcom's Oslo office and seizing boxes of documents.
Despite these events, Funcom say that things are back to business as usual. In a statement to Massively, director of communications Erling Ellingsen explained that yesterday's events were not expected to have an effect on either The Secret World or any of the studio's other games. Ellingsen also confirmed that Fumcom were fully co-operating with Økokrim's investigation.
If life does exist in the far reaches of the galaxy, then for all we know they're knocking the hell out of each other with colourful lasers right now. Less unknown are the conflicts of fictional space, which, thanks to APIs, video feeds and the internet in general, can be reported on in all its bewilderingly immense detail. Internet spaceship fights don't get more immense than the battle of B-R5RB. CCP have collected up, totalled and explain what happened, providing a final battle report on the carnage.
The big numbers then. First, 75 of the colossal Titans fell across the 21 hours of fighting. For an idea of how one sided the war was, know that N3/PL lost 59 Titans to CFC/DTF's 16. While they were the biggest and most expensive losses, the battle also saw the destruction of 13 Supercarriers, 370 Dreadnaughts and 123 Carriers. In total, 11 trillion ISK was lost - with more than 8.5 trillion of that coming from N3/PL. CCP note that, according to some PLEX conversions, that's between $300,000-$330,000 of damage. You can see some of this damage in action, thanks to the video footage of one third party pilot.
Ugh, customisation? As someone with only a couple of dyes and no-frills armour in Guild Wars 2, the aesthetic expression side of MMOs just doesn't do it for me. Still, that's what the new Wildstar dev diary is about, so I guess I'll suck it up and... what's that? They've got granular item customisation allowing for stat-boosts on weapons. Well in that case, what are we even waiting for?!
Ooh, I get it. Bethesda are doing Brewster's Millions. They've got to spend all the money they have for complicated reasons possibly involving an inheritance. So in addition to The Elder Scrolls Online's star-studded voice cast, they've also released another CGI trailer to showcase how the game won't play. Interpretive it may be, but it's still a nice way to spend the next eight minutes. Assuming your idea of "nice" involves flab-monsters, demons, fantasy smackdowns and swishy green spells.
I couldn't live in a fantasy world. It would be exhausting. Even traditionally sedate jobs would be constantly upended through world-changing events. Just imagine being a civil servant as the new territory of Guild Wars 2's Edge of the Mists update suddenly appears. You're going spend months dealing with land disputes, planning application and mountains of paperwork. Luckily, instead of civil servants, the game is full of warriors, thieves and an assortment of wizards. For them, conflict resolution involves... well, conflict.