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MMO News Wrap-Up

Welcome to the latest MMO News Wrap-up, where this week I’ll be going over the usual selection of big stories surrounding some of the massively multiplayer online games out there, namely Age of Conan, Fallen Earth, Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Aion, Champions Online, Warhammer Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic.I’ll kick off with the colossal amount of exclusive information we received from Funcom regarding Age of Conan, and the new content in the upcoming update 5.6. There is an interview with game designer Carola Berens, where she talks about the new high-level dungeon, the Iron Tower. If you are still hungry for more info on that after the interview, we also have a feature on the instance which gives details on a few Iron Tower bosses, and even previews a selection of loot items.Something else that should be appearing in AoC very soon is the in-game event, Nights of the Lost Souls, which we also have a feature on. Take a look to find out what you will face once the event starts, and the gruesome goodies you might be able to get your hands on.AoC players have been hearing about the fabled Veteran System for a while now, and its finally within our sights. Read through our exclusive feature on this upcoming system, where players who have subscribed for certain periods can claim special in-game items. Hell, there’s even a breast enlargement potion, but it’s just for girls, sorry guys.Finally, read the article that discusses what’s in store for AoC in update 5.6 and beyond.Bioware released information about Balmorra earlier this week, a planet in the highly anticipated MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Balmorra, which is home to a healthy droid and weapon industry, was once a Republic ally but was abandoned when the Empire invaded. An Imperial occupation force is now in place, but the Republic want it back. However, do the Balmorrans want to go back to the Republic after they were abandoned? Swing by our article to read more and check out some screenshots.New players got a treat in Warhammer Online late last week, when the game’s starter experience was overhauled completely, and had several features added, with the implementation of patch 1.3.2. When a new character is created now, they share a starter area with every new character of that faction, regardless of race. Mythic decided the starting areas were too barren and players often felt alone. This way, players should be interacting with each other right from the start.To further encourage player interaction early on in the game, a number of other new-player features were introduced including the automatic invitation to a starter guild, and a new global channel where players can ask for advice.Another new addition to WAR was the apprentice system, where players can team up with each others regardless of level. Depending on which character is the apprentice and which the master, one character has its level scaled up or down to match the other, allowing players to complete quests and tasks together and benefit equally.The Halloween event, Daemon Moon Rising, is also starting today. Be sure to check out Mythic’s video walk-through to see what’s in store for you there.Another game to receive a substantial patch this week was Fallen Earth. Well, substantial doesn’t quite cover it. The patch notes are several pages long, and contain a multitude of changes and tweaks to the game, which only launched last month. The main alterations are a whole heap of bug and issue fixes, UI improvements, and the addition of the in-game event, Days of the Dead. Oh yes, they’re all jumping on the Halloween event bandwagon!Turbine unveiled some new screenshots and a trailer for the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online expansion, Siege of Mirkwood. The screenshots focus on battles in the area of Gathburz, with the fortress of Dol Guldur looming in the background. The trailer explains the background of the area, which was once a lush forest. Now Orcs, ghouls and ghosts roam the area that surrounds the dread fortress. Pop over to IncGamers TV to see the story behind this new area.In keeping with the Halloween theme that many games seem to have gone with this week, Champions Online opened its micro-transaction C-Store, allowing players to purchase several items including a Halloween costume set. The set contains skeleton and and spider web costumes, and a selection of spooky heads that can be worn on your character. The Halloween sets can be bought individually or in one package. Other items in the C-Shop include in-game action figures (non-combat companions), extra character slots and character retcons.If you’d like to find out more about Champions Online, look out for our review on the first 20 levels, which will be up on IncGamers next week.{PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap-Up – Page 2}Aion’s seasonal event, the Harvest Revel, was also announced this week. The annual solar eclipse has different effects on the two playable factions in the game; The sun-kissed Elyos have to deal with undead creatures rising from their graves, whereas the Asmodians relish the darkness and celebrate the period with special dishes and hunting parties. Harvest Revel begins on 25 October and ends on Halloween, see screenshots of the festivities in our Aion gallery.But that’s not the only reason Aion was in the headlines over the last few days; PC game sales figures revealed that Aion was the best-selling PC game in September, despite only being on sale for the last week of the month. It’s likely that the reported 400,000 pre-orders that Aion received helped towards its chart position, though. Champions Online, which launched at the start of September, took third position in the chart.Finally, NCsoft released a video of the Elysean zone of Heiron for players to check out. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about with Aion, you might want to take a look at this video to get an idea of the graphics quality. Despite what some people say about the game’s grind factor, there’s no doubt Aion is a beauty to behold.World of Warcraft’s own Hallow’s End event began at the weekend, sparking off another mad rush by players to get the achievement completed. Activities remain unchanged from last year, these include killing the headless horseman, opening all the candy buckets in the Eastern Kingdoms, Kalimdor and Outland (it takes about 3 hours to do it in one go, I speak from experience), and collecting a number of items such as the Hallowed Helm and the Sinister Squashling pet. This event also ends on Halloween.WoW’s huge Patch 3.3 is on the public test realms right now, and players are currently trying out the first few encounters inside Icecrown Citadel, the home of the Lich King. This week, our WoW reporter Medievaldragon tried out Lord Marrowgar and the revolting-looking Festergut. So far, the fights look to be extremely challenging. You can see videos of each encounter on our WoW channel, Lord Marrowgar here and Festergut here.Another new feature that will hit WoW in 3.3 is the new Looking For Group tool. The current system requires players to indicate which role they can fill in an instance, healer, DPS or tank. Then they select three instances they would like to take part in and either allow WoW to match them up with others looking for one of their chosen instances automatically, or they manually group with others also looking to run those instances. The new system allows players to sign up for as many instances as they want, and they’re not limited to instances suited to their own level either – you can sign up for dungeons designed for lower level characters too, handy if you have achievements you want to complete.The way groups are formed has changed too. Players can no longer see who else is looking for a group to specific dungeons, the tool automatically matches them up with others. When everyone is ready, the whole group is teleported to the instance – no more waiting around for people to make their way to the summoning stone. Read more about this exciting new system in our article. There’s also a video and screenshots of the new tool on our WoW channel.In two other WoW news chunks, it emerged on Wednesday that The9, WoW’s former operator in China, is being sued by investors for leading them to believe the company’s financial future was all rosy, while allegedly knowing that it was about to lose the WoW contract. NetEase took over the running of WoW in China in the summer, resulting in a massive drop in revenue for The9. Apparently, The9 never even began negotiations with Blizzard to renew the contract. Lastly, users of the SteelSeries WoW gaming mouse will be pleased to hear that the latest WoW patch, 3.2.2, introduced some new features. The game now recognises the mouse as a unique peripheral and each of the 15 buttons can be programmed in-game, doing away with the need for extra software and improving response time.Things are moving forward with Star Trek Online now that Cryptic Studios has released Champions Online. The first glimpse of life as a Klingon was released this week in the form of a trailer, showing the game from the other perspective. So far, we’ve mostly only heard about the Federation’s ships, but Cryptic seem to be gearing up to release a lot of new information about the other playable faction in the upcoming MMO.Cryptic also confirmed this week that STO is scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2010. The company had already said that the closed beta would be sometime before the end of this year, and earlier today it was announced that the CBT has indeed started. Stay tuned for more on that over the coming weeks. In the mean time, check out the 24 new screenshots that were released yesterday.That’s all for now, be sure to catch our podcast later today where the IncGamers team chat about the games we’ve been playing, the big headlines this past week and, of course, the bull (cough) story of the week.


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