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MMO News Wrap-Up

Welcome back to another MMO news wrap-up, where this time I recap on events and goings-on surrounding some big games including World of Warcraft, Age of Conan: Rise of the Godslayer, Guild Wars 2, LEGO Universe, Star Wars: The Old Republic and Star Trek Online. Yet again, things are heating up in World of Warcraft as Cataclysm gets ever nearer. Blizzard released a preview of another new area in the game, this time the Halls of Origination. This five-man level 85 instance is set in Uldum, located in southern Tanaris. Existing players will recognise the construction as Titan-made, like Ulduar and the surrounding instances, Halls of Lightning and Stone. There are seven Egyptian-themed bosses inside the Halls Of Origination to face down, check out screens of them in our earlier article. Blizzard wasn’t done there though. A few days later it revealed all the planned changes so far for professions. In addition to several new recipes and skills for crafters and gatherers in WoW, some big changes are being made to the way some of the primary and secondary professions work. For example, specialisations are being done away with completely so Blacksmiths, Leatherworkers and Tailors no longer have to choose one area of their craft over another. But before we even get to Cataclysm, Blizzard still has a couple of aces up its sleeve. This week, patch 3.3.5 arrived on the test servers. To keep WoW players ticking over until the expansion, a new raid is being introduced, The Ruby Sanctum, located at Wyrmrest Temple near to the Obsidian Sanctum. Most end-game players will find this the most exciting part of patch 3.3.5 but, personally, I’m rather looking forward to the other major addition it brings; The battle.net integration means that players will be able to chat with people on their in-game friends list regardless of which WoW faction they play on, even which server. That alone is impressive, but there’s more: Players on different Blizzard games will be able to chat with each other as well. It has a number of other benefits such as the ability to instantly see any new characters your friends make, and a status feature (think Facebook) which everyone on your list can see. Moving on from WoW, we had some news this week on a brand new MMO which is being made by the team who put together the Kingdom Under Fire series. A collection of developers have left Phantagram and formed a new studio, Inuca, to make this new title, which is said to be a unique MMO with the heart and merit of a console game. This is exciting news indeed, if the game bears any resemblance to the KUF games. If you’re not familiar with them, I’ll just say that, as a fantasy fan, I enjoyed the first couple immensely. The graphics were stunning and the storyline was engrossing. The action during the fights was mind-blowing, something no MMO has even come close to yet, which is why I was very excited to hear last year that the next KUF game was due to have an MMO mode. However, this new title isn’t related to KUF as far as we know (stay tuned for news on that), all we’re sure of is that it will feature high quality graphics, intuitive game controls and a storyline that is “deeper than any other MMO” apparently. I’ll be watching this one closely, trust me. Funcom launched the first expansion for Age of Conan, Rise of the Godslayer, this week. Players now get access the vast new land of Khitai, several new instances and some new game features like the progressive skills system. AoC is a different beast to the one we saw when the game launched back in 2008. If you’ve been thinking of going back to check out all the changes, or maybe even pick it up for the first time, you can now buy the expansion bundled together with the original AoC with 30 days of game time thrown in. Guild Wars 2’s lead content designer Colin Johanson talked about the dynamic events feature in the upcoming game, getting fans all worked up about what to expect when the finished product finally arrives. He was keen to impress upon fans that, when NPCs ask you to help them, they really mean it. Ignoring such requests may mean that the game world is changed permanently. Houses will be burned by invading monsters unless you stop them, dragons will attack villages and, unless you pitch in with fellow adventurers, these places won’t survive. However, it wasn’t just the dynamic world he described, but how developers are aiming to change the way we take on quests GW2. Don’t expect to be reading paragraphs of text when taking on missions; apparently, if something needs doing, you’ll know about it. Look for things like giant fireballs and civilians running towards you screaming for help. If you’d like to get a visual idea of these events from the game, check out the screens that were released yesterday. LEGO fans rejoice! From today you can pre-order LEGO Universe, the MMO where you get your own minifigure, customise it til your heart’s content, then launch yourself into the colourful game world where imagination and bricks are your currency. It’s currently still under a limited closed beta, but initial signs are very positive. If you need reminding of what awaits you, watch the cinematic trailer. We had a treat this week in the shape of some new assets from Star Wars: The Old Republic. We were lucky enough to get a batch of new screens of the class in action, as well as some particularly slinky concept art. As if enough people didn’t already want to play this class! There was a new video from BioWare too, almost four minutes of glorious footage showing all the classes in combat. We’ve seen some of it before, but you can never get too much of seeing a lightsaber slice through a drone, or a Sith lord fry his opponents with purple lightning. Lastly, I’ll just mention that Star Trek Online pushed its latest new content live today. End game players now have access to the Undine Terradome, where players are dispatched to investigate a some alien signatures and discover a ship that closely resembles DS9 on the inside, revealing the Undine’s plans to invade Federation space. That’s it for this week, watch out for my video later on Star Trek Online and all its recent updates.

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