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MMO News Wrap-Up

It’s been insanely busy in the world of MMO news this week, so this wrap-up of the top stories includes updates on Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, Star Trek Online, Mortal Online, Champions Online, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft, Aion, Global Agenda and Final Fantasy 14. I’ll give BioWare its due; that company knows how to keep the hype building for a game that’s still around a year away from completion; Star Wars: The Old Republic. There’s been yet more new info from the development team, firstly a video interview with the lead writer Daniel Erickson on the Bounty Hunter class (watch that one right until the end for epic Star Wars geeky giggles), then they talked about the advanced class systems, and released a blog on creating worlds. Finally, SW:TOR’s lead combat designer Damion Schubert spoke up in a thread on the game’s official forums, giving his opinion on why experience-based levelling will suit TOR better than skill-based levelling. He argued that, in a game which focusses so much on quests, it would be much more sensible to reward players for completing those quests and gaining XP as opposed to repeating the same task all over again, which is how skill-based levelling usually works. Speaking of hype-building, there was more from En-Masse this week regarding its upcoming MMO, TERA. New screens featuring some of the game’s beasts were released, giving players a good look at not just the creatures themselves, but their beautiful surroundings. The world in which TERA is set is very easy on the eye, following the excellent example set by another eastern-based MMO, Aion. Which brings me neatly onto news of NCsoft’s high-flyer; Earlier this week, Aion’s game producer Chris “Kinslon” Hager broke the happy news that the long-awaited patch 1.9 is now officially dated. Players will receive the update on 2 June, find out more about the patch here. But, the good news came with some bad. It’s been eight months since the game was released here in the west, but I’m sure many people still can remember the events surrounding Aion’s launch, as players queued for hours to access the game. NCsoft wisely started off with a moderate number of servers, then gradually added more as required, instead of launching the game with far too many then having to cut back later (Warhammer Online, I’m looking at you). Within a week of the launch, NCsoft had added more servers in the EU and NA regions, and all was good. However, it seems Aion’s high numbers have dropped off somewhat. When announcing the live date for patch 1.9, Hager also admitted that some servers merges are going to take place. This basically means there’s not enough players to sustain the number of servers, which ever way you look at it. Having said that, it’s good news for the players who find themselves on the quieter servers, often struggling to find others with whom to group up, or fight against. It’s certainly not a sign that Aion is on the ropes just yet, it’s likely that the huge influx of players at launch has simply dropped back to a solid user-base and NCsoft is adjusting to this, but it’s never nice to hear that a game’s community has shrunk instead of expanded. Later on in the week, it was announced that the number of Aion’s regular double XP weekends will be scaled back after patch 1.9. The patch will bring in many new ways to get XP, and will boost XP rewards on existing quests, so NCsoft feels that the frequent bonus weekends will no longer be necessary. Don’t despair though, Aion fans; they’re not being cancelled completely, just reduced. Star Vault finally announced a new release date for its sand box open-world MMO, Mortal Online. The game was originally due to launch in March of this year, but developers released a letter at the end of the month stating that, for technical reasons, the launch was to be delayed until April. Well, I guess the issues were a bit more serious than they anticipated because this week, the game was only just given a new launch date: 9 July. In all fairness, the game was suffering from some terrible server lag which, at times, made it almost unplayable. The graphics are stunning, though, if your PC can handle the max settings (mine couldn’t). Check out the cinematic trailer for a better look at the game, and see our character creator walk-through for a glimpse of the infamously nudey MMO in action. Don’t worry, we covered up all the naughty bits. The dates for BlizzCon ticket sales were announced this week. Two batches will be going on sale, the first one on Wednesday 2 June, the second one on Saturday 5 June. That’s good news for BlizzCon hopefuls because tickets to this event famously sell out within seconds – all 20,000 of them. If you’re not one of the lucky ones that do manage to get a ticket, there’s always the Direct TV offer, which is better this time; Subscribers will get a multi-channel option, allowing them to flick through the different panels. That’s almost better than the real thing – all the excitement of the big live announcements and atmosphere from the 2-day event, but from the comfort of your own armchair. Blizzard also released the first ever official images of World of Warcraft’s new female Worgen model. It’s been under wraps until now, but we got to see several images of the upcoming new race in each armour type in a variety of poses. Please note, it’s still a work in progress and the models shown have no hair, which there will be in the finished product. Check them out over on our WoW channel. {PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap-Up – Page 2}In other WoW news, Blizzard has unveiled the Remote Auction House feature. Players will be able to access the in-game auction house on realms where they have characters, to bid on or buy out items, put up new auctions from their bags, bank or mailbox and collect their earnings from sold auctions. This handy new tool is available throughWoW’s Armory page and/or an iPhone app, and it’s in beta right now so it’s free. When the testing’s over it’ll cost you $2.99 USD a month to use. As an ex-AH addict, I know for a fact that I would’ve been more than willing to pay that modest sum to take part in one of my favourite WoW activities when away from my PC. WoW’s patch 3.3.5 is now up on the test servers, so players can go and check out the upcoming new raid, The Ruby Sanctum, right now. Don’t forget, the new chat system I talked about before, the one that will allow WoW players to chat in-game with friends who are playing on not only other realms and factions, but on other Blizzard games, is also scheduled to go live in patch 3.3.5. It also means that your friends will be able to see you online on whichever character you’re on (is that a good or a bad thing?). Anyway, to me, that’s just as exciting as a new raid. Cryptic Studios stirred up their STO players by putting up a poll, asking which class of starship they’d like to see next in the game. Right from the start, the Excelsior has been the top choice of players. If my Star Trek knowledge serves me correctly, I think the Enterprise was an Excelsior at one point (the NCC-1701-B), so that might explain its popularity. Personally, I’d go for the Enterprise-J, the futuristic version of our well-loved ship, two miles in length, home to full-sized universities, entertainment zones, and so large that is has transporters instead of turbolifts. If you’re interested in STO but haven’t tried it out for a while, you might want to check out our short video that went up on Monday, where we go over some of the big recent additions to the game including a mission difficulty slider, the injury system, the Exchange revamp and my personal favourite, auto-fire for all weapons in space!!! While we’re on the topic of Cryptic Studios games, I’ll mention that we got a chunk of info about new content for Champions Online this week, when the game’s executive producer Shannon Posniewski took part in a Q&A. We learned that there are new features coming for supergroups like an event calendar and a recruitment tool. The difficulty slider that has just been implemented in STO will appear in Champions too at some point. There’s much more, check out our earlier article if you’re curious. A trailer for Champions’ next mission pack, the Serpent Lantern, was also released yesterday, that’s also over on IGTV. On Tuesday, our very own Jeff Hollis took a look at the way MMOs are reviewed, and asked if they should be treated differently to other games. He also noted a few recent incidents where developers weren’t happy with the results of a certain MMO review and complained until the reviews were either taken down or re-done. Should developers have that much power over online publications? Were they right to demand a re-review based on allegedly too few hours spent in-game? What’s the minimum time one should spend in an MMO to give it a fair review? Have a read and give your thoughtsThere’s been heaps of new facts about Guild Wars 2 lately, not to mention all the info we had last week. This time, we got to see some of the new outfits that will be available in the highly-anticipated MMORPG. The game’s designers have also been talking about GW2’s dynamic events, a lot. It seems this is one feature they’re really hoping will take off, and they might be in luck – it sounds amazing. Events that actually effect the game world and other players’ experiences, making it even more realistic, equals awesome in my book. In the latest interview, GW2 designer Eric Flannum explains that they’re even going so far as to try and move away from the term ‘quests’. Apparently, there are three main types of content in GW2; firstly there are these dynamic events, then there’s a personal storyline which is probably as close to the traditional meaning of ‘quest’ as the game will get, and finally there’s dungeons. Both personal quests and dungeons will be talked about more as time goes on. Consider me excited. Global Agenda fans are practically frothing at the mouth as they await the game’s upcoming patch 1.3, also known as Sandstorm. It’s likely Hi-Rez Studios had this in mind when it opened a poll this week, asking players if they would rather have whatever content from 1.3 that’s ready right now and get the rest as it’s completed, or just wait until it’s all ready. Unsurprisingly, the fans have spoken and it’s clear they’re pretty keen to get their hands on whatever Hi-Rez has to give. 80% of them want what’s ready now, so expect part one of Sandstorm to arrive shortly – this will contain the new weapon and loot system, the new special-op missions which players can play solo or as co-op, new level 30+ weapons and devices, the upgraded AvA system and two new PvP maps. Part two of Sandstorm will contain the open zones with quests, the big 64-player warzones, new 10-player PvE missions and new PvE special op missions. To finish up, I’ll just mention that Square Enix released 14 new screens of the new Final Fantasy MMO yesterday. The images are of the sea-faring town Limsa Lominsa, and show characters hard at work on various professions including cooking and blacksmithing. Ok that’s it for this week. Check back at the dedicated IncGamers MMO channel regularly for more MMO news as it happens!

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