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MMO News Wrap-Up

Welcome back to the MMO News Wrap-Up which is back after a brief hiatus over Christmas and New Year. With so much MMO news around, as usual, we figured you might like to see it all summed up in one place. Read on for the very latest on Star Trek Online, Fallen Earth, Blizzard Entertainment, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Kingdom Under Fire II and Global Agenda.

You might notice that there’s been a fair bit of coverage for Star Trek Online recently, as the launch date of 2 February approaches. There has been a flood of new screenshots and trailers for various aspects in the game since the launch of the open beta this week; There’s an overview of the Federation and the Klingons, there are also two brand new videos for the Starfleet ship classes, Discovery and Cerberus.

In the wake of all this excitement, we’ve had a stack of STO beta keys to give away. If you’d like a chance to try out the game before it launches, you can sign up for a key here. Best of luck!

I’ll finish up with Star Trek Online by mentioning that we made a couple of walk-through videos that cover the first section of the game. The first video looks at character customisation, interacting with NPCs and consoles, and ground combat. You can see it over on IncGamers TV. The second video shows you how to move around in space using impulse and warp, and take on multiple enemies. The video is also on IGTV here.

On the topic of Sci-Fi MMOs, Fallen Earth received a couple of hefty graphics upgrades in the last few days. The first upgrade bulked out shrubbery and improved fog effects, making the environment seem much more realistic and alive. The second one, which went live yesterday, drastically improved lighting and shadows on characters as well as the landscape. A number of before and after shots were posted, see the environment effects here and the new shadow technology here.

The Warcraft film has been on everyone’s lips again recently, after news of Spider-Man 4’s demise spread across the internet. The man who’s been confirmed as Warcraft’s director, Sam Raimi, was due to start on the game adaptation after completion of SM4, so now Spidey has been shelved, it’s unclear if the Warcraft production will move forward, or if Raimi will take on another new project before starting it. If he does get involved with something else, it’s likely to delay Warcraft because, at such short notice, we doubt a new film will be ready to begin production immediately as SM4 would have been. Either way, there’s been no word from Raimi or Legendary Pictures yet, but rest assured we’ll keep you informed as soon as there’s the slightest inkling.

Age of Conan has had its troubles, but Funcom still seems 100% behind the game. However, the strain of keeping it afloat has started to show. This week, players were informed that all characters under level 20 on accounts that have not been used for seven months or more will be deleted, unless the account is renewed shortly. Obviously, this didn’t go down too well, many gamers resented the choice Funcom had given them – pay up or we’ll delete your characters. It raised a number of questions in the AoC community; mainly, “Why?”.

{PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap-Up Page 2}The reason may be connected with the second announcement from Funcom, which came yesterday. According to the post, almost half of AoC’s servers will be shut down after a mass merge has taken place. 14 of the current 26 servers will remain, worldwide, after players on the doomed realms have transferred over to their new homes, which were hand-picked by Funcom. Spanish players will lose their localised servers and will be bunking in with English-speaking players, and many others will find themselves on a realm with a different ruleset, eg. PvE-RP instead of PvE.

Hopefully, these changes will help Funcom keep AoC running, and make it easier for the company to finance the upcoming expansion, Rise of the Godslayer, which looks pretty amazing.

Fans of the highly anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic got some news this week, although some were pleased and others were disappointed. It seems EA is aiming for a Spring 2011 release for the MMO, which is later than some expected. However, many of us are just glad to get an idea of when the game will be out.

The proposed launch date probably means EA will avoid the mistakes previously made with MMO launches. Warhammer Online launched only a few weeks before World of Warcraft’s second expansion, Wrath of the Lich King went live. This meant that, just after WAR’s free trial period expired, players were slammed in the face with all the advertising might of Blizzard Entertainment, as the Lich King arrived in WoW, drawing back thousands, if not millions, of players and gaining a bunch of news ones too.

The official SW:TOR site also had news on the planet Dromund Kaas, and the latest webcomic, which fills players in on the Star Wars universe in the events leading up the start of  the game.

At the start of the week, we sat down with Blueside, the developers of the upcoming Kingdom Under Fire II. We were keen to find out more about the MMO mode that will feature in the game, so we put questions to them such as “Will players on different platforms be able to play with each other?”. Be sure to drop in on that to find out more about this mysterious MMO mode. The original games were lots of fun though, with great action. I can’t wait to see how that’s going to cross over into a multiplayer situation, with hundreds of units fighting each other.

At the end of last week, we reported on a rumour that Blizzard’s top secret new MMO may be in a Sci-Fi FPS style. This is pretty much what many of us have suspected for a while. The company already has fantasy wrapped up, and we know they’re keen on Sci-Fi too (StarCraft). But can Sci-Fi MMOs be any good and, most importantly, will it be able to tear players away from WoW, or will it struggle on with less than a million subscribers like almost every other MMO has had to do since WoW was unleashed? We asked this question and more in the column, Why Blizzard’s Secret MMO Isn’t A Sure Thing.

So we’ve come full circle and are back on the topic of Sci-Fi MMOs, and another one that’s rapidly approaching is Global Agenda. The open beta kicked off recently and players have been suiting up to try out the futuristic shooter. The launch trailer was released yesterday which shows heaps of in-game action including Agency vs Agency as well as PvE content. If you like the look of this game, keep an eye out for out walkthrough video, which will go up next week. In it, we talk you through the first section of the game – it’ll be well worth your time, so stay tuned!

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