PS3 Soul Calibur: LOST SWORDS closed November

You play Bandai Namco’s free-to-play Soul Calibur: The Lost Sword in PlayStation3? If you do not, then you’d better jump back, you can shut down for two months because of Bandai’s game, and research.

According to the website Lost Sword (translation and polygon description), the game will stop at some of the items sold on September 30, stop selling all items Oct. 27 and away better than November 30 obviously, this is only ever be a single-player game, pitting the player against CPU controlled opponents, which for a fighting game, so I think: “Huh?”

But hey, at least it has a sweet melancholy farewell video to go with the announcement. It looks like the game is downloaded since the launch in 2014 of more than 2 million times. Your guess is as good as the rest of what numbers mean.

I think back to the early World of Warcraft

Yes, I went back to wow. I spend several hours just for the past four days, have to say, I began to really, really like leveling experience in warlord Delano. In fact, that I regret not from the start. Technology never give me busy wedding, and so on, but it is certainly “ah I missed the heyday of pain.”
This article is to simply go for my experience, so far, in my experience, so far, can even get a little bit of your feedback and help some of the problems, in order to provide a place.
I decided to roll a hunter. I plan to put him into a melee hunter, when the army fired. I like a hunter because I play a I mainly through the change from the wrath of the Lich King vanilla. In particular the pet’s advice?
I love is the key knowledge and stories. From the beginning, we have a really big game player, Durotan and Khadka. So early RTS legend was thrown at me. However, I am a little confused. So, uh, where is he from? He is not in Outland in Shattrath? Why does he have atiesh, the guardian of the greatstaff?! Shi Bushi employees there?
“Indeed you may,” Cressen answered. As if he would ever deny her. She had been denied too often in her time. Her name was Shireen. She would be ten on her next name day, and she was the saddest child that Maester Cressen had ever known. Her sadness is my shame, the old man thought, another mark of my failure. “Maester Pylos, do me a kindness and bring the bird down from the rookery for the Lady Shireen.”
There is a useful function, place, promotion and job is a welcome change of scenery
The garrison system is great. I want to add is called “the last home”, is certainly a very need to change places, everyone running around in a city. The hypocrisy of social contact Moshou Shijie. We never chat there. It is the best, it is checked and painful gear envy. There is a practical and useful place, produce project, income, and do a log Shi Bushi as daily tasks – welcome.
The region itself seems more than a typical wow. A very dull legend and the atmosphere is relatively. I really feel that the “world of Warcraft” here.
In cream ridge fire task very well. I love that movie and led me through the story. In a story in the main map of the index, it is good to have a look, how should I through the development zone. So far, the story has put all my outpost, I feel like I’m in cream ridge fire story brought me to the next area time to complete all.
when the spoilers ahead of ga’arn told his brother to their tribal chiefs and Durotan eyes…… Then ga’arn sacrificed himself shouting “Lok’tar!! “I have the best goosebumps nerd, in an emotional edge. Oh…… Start again…… Feel good, continue to.
The task itself is not bad. Yes, this is an old thing, but when you go to the other game, do their job, you come back oh it’s like a warm chocolate chip cookies to give you a hug. As for the theme park, oh king, no one should try to.
Wow, a rare mob spawning
“Rare treasure hunting and gathering mob” add to the fun
I absolutely love to add a map of treasures and rare monsters / items. I like to explore elements, even if I deceive the user interface model, shows everything in me. As far as I am concerned, see these rare map is driving me out of my comfort zone. I also like how they need a little bit of effort and acrobatics.
Really cool, I just found out that stochastic gear upgrades. I got a reward, I swear from green to epic. I now have 5, than the epic quest rewards will be the better way. Such a task model and dynamic elements are very old.
Now I’m into second areas: gorgrond. I set up outposts, is also a “cool, it is clean,” moment. Those moments will allow me to continue to engage in, and I hope to continue to login on the level.

HEART OF THORNS: HOW EXCITED SHOULD I BE?

My initial reaction to a GW2 expansion was one of positive surprise. This is going to be a slow year for MMOs, so it’s nice to have something to follow and look forward to. Of course I have no experience as far as Guild Wars expansions go, so I read the announcement details with some interest.

Turns out, the things that I would naturally look for in an expansion aren’t featured in HoT: there’s no new big world, level cap raise, new race or player housing. Instead, the horizontal progression which has proven to be no less grindy in GW2, continues with sub-professions and more gear. There’s a new class, guild halls and erm, hang gliders. That last one scared me right away.

And then there’s the much inquired mastery system which I didn’t really understand until I read this article about how “GW2’s Mastery System could change MMOs Forever“. Now it wouldn’t be ArenaNet if they didn’t aim for some type of innovation and am certainly not opposed to that, but after reading several times over how the progression approach for Maguma Juungle is basically an MMO spin off Zelda or Metroid, I cringed a little. The map is designed to be vertical, with different levels your character can only access by unlocking certain skills and well, gimmicks really. It sounds like the Bazaar of the Four Winds on steroids.

And hey, skill-based progression is great and all but in the end it’s just another word for grind of a different kind. MMOs that want to be successful, unless they’re called Wildstar, don’t alienate their player base by making things too hard and random for you not to learn by heart, via trial and error. All the while I am with Bhagpuss here in wondering: what is there in HoT for explorers and potterers like us? Where is the whole new world, the carefree straying off the path to end up in a random event or epic dragon encounter?

MMO MASTERCLASS: STORYTELLING IN FFXIV – A REALM REBORN

Tamrielo from Aggrochat has recently been looking at storytelling in FFXIV in his two-part post, where he’s analyzing the different content seasons and story archs in the game, how they have improved over time and immersed him as a player. If you’ve been playing a Realm Reborn for any decent amount of time since FFXIV’s relaunch, you know that there’s no way around the main storyline in Eorzea. In fact, there is probably no MMO out there right now that is more dedicated to its storytelling than this one. The narrative is front and center and accomplishes the remarkable feat of including its audience. After Yoshida took over the reigns for ARR, the player character was brought back into the narrative fold.

Naturally, many MMOs turn the player into a nearly omnipotent hero of the story and much has been criticized in regards to that particular trope. However, FFXIV does it in such an unconditional, dedicated and traditional way, that it’s kind of a big deal. Telling stories has always been the forte of the FF franchise and finally, there is a classic MMORPG that not only manages to rise from the ashes but combine the linearity of JRPG storytelling with an MMO environment. As much as I tried to care about the politics of Azeroth or Tyria in the past, no other MMO has managed to include me, make me care about NPCs and the greater course of events, the way FFXIV has done.

Ever since the early beginnings of the FF franchise, Squaresoft’s much beloved JRPG titles followed a very clear and narrow path: the player gets to control a powerful hero, more often than not a person of unknown origins or obscure past. The hero is not the player, since the player has no real agency over the character’s story and there are next to no choices. An equally important ingredient to this formula is “the party” which is one of the most central aspects of all FF games; your very own gang of specialists, distinctly defined by their class and different abilities that will mostly align with a holy trinity concept, despite the fact that FF is all about round-based combat. Down the line, you and your gang will probably find out that you are all related or were raised in the same orphanage. You are never truly alone in a FF game.

Add to this very straightforward setup a linear storyline with next to no branching; the point is not to write your own story or find your own path but rather, to immerse yourself in a tale told by an invisible puppet master. The tool you’re given to accomplish your goals is a customizable, complex round-based combat system with random encounters. Your driving force is a world struck by tragedy or impending doom that only you and your A-Team can save (most likely by help of some sparkly crystal or other). Along the way, you will face one or two ambivalent villain figures as well as lots of wacky side-kick characters.

Now imagine all of this being crafted with an outstanding sense of aesthetics on a graphical and musical level, and the result will always be the same: your next FF title. In the past, Squaresoft have consistently pushed narrative RPG standards for at least 15 years, during a most pivotal time for gaming and not just with the FF franchise either. A Realm Reborn, although set in an online world where choices and interactions with other players are possible, follows most of this old textbook to a fault.

A great many heroic tale comes with a doomsday prophecy: it will be the end of the world as you know it, or alternatively the end of the world full stop, unless significant obstacles are overcome and evil is vanquished. While this can be a tiring setup in RPGs and MMOs, it is still popular enough in getting audiences engaged. I don’t really mind this trope personally, what I really care about is execution. Am I presented with an uninspiring tale of clear good vs. evil or a much more complicated world where loyalties and intentions change constantly?

Squaresoft JRPGs have often introduced such nuances, despite their linear plot. Over the course of a playthrough, you’d learn about the background stories of your adversaries. You would have to rely on characters of questionable allegiance, you’d see mercenaries turn altruistic or allies turn traitor. Faced with warring factions unwilling to unite for a greater cause, you’d find yourself drowning in petty schemes and side-politics. Even villains may be worth saving in the end.

MMORPGs have a hard time delivering such complexities, given that they try to achieve a certain degree of open world freedom and accommodate various playstyles. A Realm Reborn doesn’t compromise much on that front; players who want access to dungeons or endgame, will need to engage in the story. But since the story is the driving force behind the entire game, rather than an afterthought, things feel different.

Now I’m with Liore in that there’s still some “goofy MMO writing” and delivery going on at times, the cutscenes sure can get tedious while your character is silently nodding along. But I’m impressed at the different issues the story has touched on thus far – from immigration poverty and class warfare to interracial politics (and racism) and even environmentalism. That’s just to name a few themes. Down the line, you realize how you’re being pulled into twisted intrigues and machinations by multiple players on a chess board Game of Thrones-style, while SE take full opportunity to send players all over the world (including so-called old zones and dungeons) to chase their story’s tail, simultaneously serving the social engineering of the game. For an MMORPG, that is one noteworthy use of narrative.

Joining a band of brothers of sorts, the player soon establishes a steady home-base to return to in between missions and before long, gets attached to the NPCs that share the story with him. It’s safe to say that not many an eye was left dry at the conclusion of ARR before the expansion.

The Heavensward Trailer and The Adventurer

The official launch trailer for Heavensward is another example of storytelling done right. Instead of the usual showcase of random locations and encounters without obvious connection, the trailer takes over from the moment your character finished his/her main story. The Adventurer, an unnamed character who represents the player in FFXIV is back, while the ending of the Seventh Astral Era as well as some future events flicker over the screen. The trailer concludes with the player arriving in Ishgard, which is where your journey in Heavensward begins. Talk about trailers bridging content.

In Conclusion

While I am praising FFXIV’s storytelling here, that doesn’t mean its delivery isn’t without issues. As mentioned above, the cutscenes and loading screens can get too long and it’s a bit of a tragedy that SE didn’t invest in more voice acting for Heavensward. For your daily grind, uninspired fetch&delivery quests are a dime a dozen. When it comes to the main storyline however, ARR has achieved greatness by virtue of omitting branches and player agency. This might present a bit of a downer for some players but in my personal experience, most consequences in MMOs come down to an illusion of choice rather than the real thing anyway.

If there is one advice I would dare give to game developers in charge of big franchises, it would be to play to their strengths and also, not to fix what ain’t broken (okay, that was two pieces of advice). You can mix up some things and you should definitely improve on your weaknesses, ARR is a prime example of that – however, it is a mistake to abandon franchise-defining elements and to throw your greatest virtues overboard for the sake of innovation. Too often have we seen over-hyped sequels crash and burn because they strayed too far from the established path, rather than to widen it just a little. FFXIV has conserved its JRPG traditions and legacy masterfully and for the most part, with little compromise. Storytelling is this developer’s strong suit and they have had the good sense to embrace that.

Ironically, other developers never overcome their struggle with the fourth pillar in MMOs: how to include the player while not making him the center of attention? How to manage that balance of player agency and choices versus narrative chaos and insignificance? Square-Enix’ answer to that would be, not to go there at all. Better to have a solid, engaging and linear story the way it’s told in a book or movie, than to fail epically with the best of intentions. I can’t help but agree with them on that one. The proof is in the pudding.

MANY SUBS, HANDLE IT!

This last week may well have been the weirdest in 2013 MMO news: EQNext surprised (me) with its cartoony graphics, Wildstar announced a 2014 launch and not-so-hybrid sub-PLEX model and today, The Elder Scrolls Online is officially on board with the olde subscription model, too.

So there we have it. 2014 is officially loaded on AAA-MMORPG goodness. What a springtime that will be, it’s fair to say I shall be planning a vacation. While WS just got completely uninteresting to me on account of both its recent announcements, I will be playing both EQN and TESO, hoping they won’t launch too closely together. Assuming SOE stick with their free-to-play intentions, that seems like a fair undertaking. As for the two sub-based MMOs; bets are open which one will convert to f2p sooner (as this seems to be a fast growing trend) and how they will fare competition-wise. The “race” is on and it’s safe to say the MMO blogosphere is going nowhere – sharpen your pens, comrades!

I WANT MY GLOBAL VILLAGE!

It’s the new old latest achievement: global servers and they all have them – The Elder Scrolls Online, Everquest Next, Shroud of the Avatar. Or so it is said. One of the biggest, if not the biggest item on my personal MMO wishlist right now, is global servers across regions so I can play with fellow bloggers and friends no matter what side of the Atlantic. In these modern times of online gaming and communities, nothing feels more overdue than the removal of one of the last barriers in gaming: regional servers.

Who has them truly? While everyone (minus Carbine who need to make everything complicated) is speaking of smart mega-servers pairing friends via friendlist features or other mechanics, it doesn’t seem like global MMO servers, as in global global (not regionally global) will see the light of day anytime soon. I’m no expert on state of the art world servers and cloud technology, so I can’t judge how much of the old “ping issues” argument rings true in 2013. I’ve played on both Japanese and American servers before and it was never an issue but that’s not to say that what works for few (willingly sleep-deprived) individuals, would work with everybody on board.

All is not lost though; like GW2 and FFXIV, TESO will feature free server choice no matter your game version. The folks over at the official @TESOnline twitter account were so kind as to actually shed light on this matter and clarify the question for me and others –

It’s a start and who knows, maybe one day at least guesting features will become cross-regional in MMOs. For my part, this means rolling my future main character(s) on NA, or both NA and EU if such should be possible, to be able to join many of my blogging friends out there. I really look forward to explore Tamriel in some proper company although I won’t likely be around much for prime time. Ah well.

At this point I’d also like to whine a little bit in public (who knows who’s listening!) for still not having received my TESO beta key – surely something went wrong there?? Pfft.

Two more things before the weekend

Before we’re all off to our weekly panem and circenses, two more tidbits from the world of bleeps and blurbs for all the resistant non-twitterers out there:

– The NBI is back! Head over to CMP and become a sponsor once more or for the first time! Let’s keep the MMO blogosphere alive!

– Handwriting memes are fun and everyone should do them (yeah yeah, life/world whatever)! Happy weekend global blogosphere!

Hyrule Warriors Coming To New 3DS

rand E3 hasn’t even started yet and we are seeing a plethora of new game announcements already. Add one more to the list: Hyrule Warriors on the New Nintendo 3DS!

As you can see in the video above, the popular Wii U title is getting a full port to the portable console. Knowing how big of a game this is, it seems likely that this will not be playable on the original 3DS models. The trailer also shows two new characters: Tetra and Daphnes Nohansen Hyrule, also known as The King Of Red Lions. Both characters are from The Legend Of Zelda: The Wind Waker, and from what it looks like at the end of the video, these characters will be able to transfer over to the Wii U version of the game.

Mind you there has not been an official announcement for the game yet aside from this video, so more details are sure to follow soon.We are likely to see more about this as well as many other games in the next couple days and next week when Nintendo starts their digital event during E3 this coming Tuesday. Stay tuned for more with our extensive E3 coverage throughout the week!

 

MGS5: The Phantom Pain Special Edition PS4 Bundle Sneaks Into Europe

Recently Sony announced on their blog that Europe, Australia, and New Zealand will be receiving a special limited edition Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain PS4 bundle. This bundle includes a unique 500GB Playstation 4 painted red and black with gold accents modeled after the color scheme of Big Boss’ new bionic arm. In addition to the console, the bundle also consists of a metallic grey wireless controller colored after Big Boss’ handgun and adorned with a Diamond Dogs insignia. The bundle will also come with the Day 1 Edition of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain which will include special yet-to-be-announced downloadable content.

If you can’t get a hold of the fancy limited edition, there will also be a Jet Black PS4 bundle that also comes with the Day 1 version of the game.

Both the limited edition bundle and the Jet Black bundle will be available on September 1st alongside the standalone release of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. There are currently no plans to bring these bundles to America, but perhaps if we wish really hard we can make it a reality.

 

Why We Love Valve’s New Purchase Policy for Steam

The rise of free-to-play mmo games has been both a blessing and a curse. On the good side, gamers get access to quality online games and are able to significantly play them without spending a dime. On the negative side, the lack of any mmo price barrier can lead to a great deal of disruption as trolls can flood the game as it only requires an internet connection and downloading the client. The same pros and cons are found in the popular gaming platforms, such as Steam, that millions of gamers use every day. Valve has seen enough abuse on their platform that they’ve instituted a new policy that restricts the Steam features that users can use unless the spend $5 within the Steam store. Allow us to explain why we love Valve’s new purchase policy for Steam.

A short time ago, Valve posted that they were limiting quite a few user accounts. Valve says that they did this by stating, “Malicious users often operate in the community on accounts which have not spent any money, reducing the individual risk of performing the actions they do. One of the best pieces of information we can compare between regular users and malicious users are their spending habits as typically the accounts being used have no investment in their longevity. Due to this being a common scenario we have decided to restrict certain community features until an account has met or exceeded $5.00 USD in Steam.”

So what Steam features are locked off from those who haven’t spent $5? They include: sending friend invites, opening group chat, participating in the Steam Market, posting frequently on the forums, gaining Steam Profile levels and trading cards, submitting content on the Steam Workshop, posting in an item’s Steam Workshop discussions, accessing the Steam Web API, using browser and mobile chat, and voting on Greenlight, Steam reviews, and Workshop items. That’s quite a bit of features, but as an mmo gamer, I love those restrictions.

As anyone who’s played an f2p mmorpg knows, the lack of an mmo price barrier means that scammers, phishers, and trolls are free to swarm into the game. I love playing my various games on Steam, but I don’t love getting a ton of unsolicited invites and spam thrown my way. When I log into Steam or any online game, I want to play and have fun, not be bombarded by the virtual equivalent of junk mail. This monetary restriction is a smart idea that ensures that scammers that make up dozens or hundreds of fake accounts are unable to access the Steam features they need to work their scam. The Greenlight facet of Steam should improve as well as these jerks won’t be able to skew the voting results with their fraudulent accounts. I don’t know about you, but quite a few Steam Greenlight decisions have been rather shaky in what was approved.

Of course, as soon as the new Valve policy was announced, some players went ballistic and accused Valve of going on a money grab. One common complaint is that they now have to spend $5 when they’ve already bought games in the past. The truth is that the new policy affecting Steam features applies ONLY to those accounts who have never spent $5 within the gaming platform. I haven’t bought anything recently, but I’ve dropped quite a bit over the years picking up various games (like Left 4 Dead), so I’m not affected. On another note, it’s not like Valve is asking you to drop $50 or $100. The reality is that $5 is practically nothing. Heck, you can probably buy two games for that price during one of their legendary sales.

I have no problem with companies enacting an mmo price barrier to enable certain features. Quite a few online games, such as Champions Online, place restrictions upon free players that are lifted when they either subscribe or reach a certain purchase level in the game’s cash shop. For the life of me, I don’t understand why people get upset over such policies. If I’m paying money to enjoy a game, I shouldn’t be bothered by the trollish actions of those who aren’t spending a dime. People tend to act in a more responsible manner if they actually have skin in the game (i.e. actually paying to play in the game). The people that complain the most about such policies are those that want something for nothing. Personally, I have zero issues monetarily supporting a game that I enjoy playing.

In the end, the new Valve policy placing restrictions on Steam features will enhance the gameplay experience of players. It’ll cut down on the spam invites and phishing that occurs on a daily basis. The price barrier is also really low, so any person will have no problem paying it. Who can complain about spending five bucks when they’re likely spending fifty bucks a month for their smartphone’s plan or have spent more by buying a couple of energy drinks?

Things We Want in the Neverwinter Underdark Module

Cryptic announced last week their roadmap for the next few module releases for their Neverwinter online rpg. What really sparked my interest was the tidbit that there would be a Underdark module coming later this year, and everybody’s favorite drow, Drizzt Do’Urden, will be along for the ride. Even better was that a quest line would be written by R.A. Salvatore, the creator of Drizzt. There are no details as of yet, but that won’t stop yours truly from speculating on what he wants to see. Let’s take a closer look at the things we want in the Neverwinter Underdark module.

As someone who’s played the pen-and-paper D&D game for over thirty years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time campaigning in the Underdark. Nothing could wipe the smile off my face faster than hearing the word “drow” popping up, especially if it was first or second edition drow. The first feature I want to see in the Neverwinter Underdark module is a true rendering of that forbidding domain. This means that the developers will have to deviate from their standard zone design, which is one facet of the mmo that I’m not fond of. I would love it if Cryptic followed the example of the Underdark expansion for Dungeons and Dragons Online. That game featured a large expanse that encompassed multiple levels and required a bit of effort to fully explore. I don’t want the standard Neverwinter linear zone design. The Underdark is supposed to be vast, disturbing, and dark. I want players needing magic or special items to be able to see in the stygian darkness. The ability to get lost due to the epic scope of the Underdark should be a must. The player should always be one step away from disaster, whether from running into some horrible creatures or stepping off a cliff.

Another thing I want to see in the Neverwinter Underdark module is a lot of storylines that feature intricate plots. I know that the module is timed to coincide with the Rage of Demons plot for the pen-and-paper rpg, so we’ll see players questing to help deal with the powerful demon lords (Demogorgon, Orcus, and Graz’zt) rampaging around. That being said, I want the world of the drow to be more fully delved into, especially in Menzoberranzan. That city of evil should be huge and fully able to be explored with all its twisted nooks and crannies. The drow of Menzoberranzan are fascinating with their schemes, rivalries, and political intrigues. The player should be caught up in those byzantine plots woven by the drow. Another facet of the quest line should be that the player spend a good number of adventures with Drizzt. It would be a huge shame if the player only had a limited interaction with him for just a quest or two. The world of the Underdark is just brimming with possible adventures, so I want the developers to take full advantage. There should be a wide variety of NPCs for the players to interact with and immerse themselves more fully in the setting. Personally, I can’t wait to see what players will do with the Foundry to create new Underdark-themed adventures.

Some possible Neverwinter Underdark features that I’m looking forward to is the possibility of a new race, class, companions, and mounts. The thought of being able to play as a mind flayer makes me giddy with glee. (I know that’s a long shot, but a man can dream.) There are a number of possible classes that could be included with the Underdark module, such as the Psionic or Bladesinger. (I cannot tell you how much I hated second edition drow Bladeslingers back in the day in the AD&D campaign I played in!) Heck, you could even bring in a Drow Judicator, but the chances of that are slim as they’re a third edition prestige class. As for mounts, the Drider is the obvious choice for the discerning evil player, or they can serve as an erstwhile companion. Another possible companion choice is the mighty hook horror. If that happened, I could see many mmo players naming theirs Clacker after the character from the Drizzt books.

Lastly, one possible thought of what would be interesting to see in the Neverwinter Underdark module would be guild-versus-guild battles. The previous module, Strongholds, will introduce guild housing, so it would be fascinating to see guilds vie against one another as one would expect the noble houses of the drow to do. Perhaps guild-only quests to either attack the drow or demon lords, or help them if the mmorpg would allow evil actions. Speaking of evil, it would be incredibly refreshing if players could actually work for the bad guys with the introduction of the Underdark module. Could you imagine the storyline of serving a priestess of Lolth as she schemes and murders her way to the top? Again, I know that this is wishful thinking, but I think it would be tremendous for Menzoberranzan-based adventures that featured players’ evil drow characters. It’s the Underdark, so why not go to the dark side? A drow character could even have the ability to have a slave companion.

In the end, the introduction of the Neverwinter Underdark module could really push the mmo to the next level. My hope is that we get a truly expansive zone that we can explore and actually get lost in. The Underdark should not be a linear progression of quest areas, but rather a dark, menacing zone that promises a gruesome death to the unwary. Players should never feel safe adventuring in the Underdark as my characters never did in the pen-and-paper rpg. The harsh and evil world of the drow should also be fully realized in the expansion. They’re one of the signature evil races in the game’s setting and have been terrorizing players for decades. It’s time they got their due in the game.