Another busy week in the MMO industry means I have plenty to talk about in the wrap-up this week, which this time covers Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, TERA, Aion, Age of Conan, All Points Bulletin, and Cryptic’s secret new project. Cryptic Studios unveiled the rewards program and free demo for Star Trek Online this week. In an effort to get more people playing and keep them subscribing, Cryptic is offering STO players extra goodies including new titles, ships and ship slots, boosts, costumes and character slots in return for keeping up their subscription; Every time someone logs 100 days of playtime, they’ll be able to pick from some of these items, when they reach the next 100 days mark, they get to pick something else and so on. In addition to this, STO players who manage to recruit a friend into the game get a special title, a unique Tribble and some non-stacking skill points for their captain and officers. If the referred friend actually subscribes to the game, the referrer also gets another title and 400 Cryptic points to spend in the C-Store where more cosmetic items are available. If you tried STO but weren’t taken with it for whatever reason, during this weekend only you can give it another completely gratis. Cryptic is inviting back former players, allowing them to log back in with their existing characters and play all weekend free of charge. So I guess now is the time to try out all that new content Cryptic’s been pumping out, or maybe some of the recent changes to the game like the restoration of autofire (thank you!), quest difficulty sliders and a death penalty. You can take part in this trial from 10:00 PST today 7 May until 10:00 on Monday 10 May. Finally, new users can now download and play a free demo version of STO for as long as they want. This demo includes one of the first missions in the game, and is live from today. The private friends and family alpha test for World of Warcraft’s expansion ‘Cataclysm’ has officially begun. Blizzard made the announcement during the week and, as usual, within hours the files had been data-mined and unofficial images of the new zones and content were appearing on the internet. Aside from that, the release of the F&F alpha is a sign that the beta test is closing in on us which is exciting news, but until it has been announced, and trust me – you’ll know when it has, be aware of scam emails and sites that claim to offer beta access. Korean community managers for the upcoming fantasy MMO, TERA, sat down and answered a list of questions this week that fans put together after taking part in the recent focus group tests. Many players had issues with key areas of the game, such as the lack of difference between races, the lack of skills and skill customisation, repetitive quests, little variation between hunting zones and the difficulty of solo play. Each of the selected topics were addressed, and I’m fairly certain that fans will be pleased with the answers given. The Korean developers are well aware of players’ dislikes and seem keen to resolve them before the game progresses. Bear in mind, though, that the western version of the game is being developed separately to the Korean one, so there are likely to be several differences between the two clients once the game is released. Eastern and western playstyles vary and, like NCsoft’s Aion, the TERA we get here will reflect that. The release of the urban enforcers vs. criminals MMO All Points Bulletin is drawing closer, but Realtime Worlds still needs players to test the game before it goes on sale at the end of June/beginning of July. We teamed up with the studio and were given 5,000 keys for the EU beta test which takes place this weekend. At the time of writing this, there’s still a few left so hurry over to the sign-up thread and grab yourself a key before the kick off. See you in-game! Funcom released the launch trailer for its expansion to Age of Conan, Rise of the Godslayer to go alongside the beta test that is under way before the actual launch next week on 11 May. The expansion brings the new empire of Khitai, which contains several new regions for players to explore, which range from jungle, plains and mountainous landscapes. A new faction system has arrived in the game, allowing players to pick sides between the various factions of Khitai, which offer quests and rewards.  There are two new mounts available, the Tiger and the Wolf, which must both be trained and nurtured from young. Players can also look forward to gaining character levels even while they are logged out, thanks to the new offline levelling system we mentioned last week. Of course, as with most MMO expansions, players can also look forward to stacks of new armour and weapons, skills and other rewards in Godslayer. The western NCsoft studio translated and released the full notes for Aion’s patch 2.0 earlier this week, revealing many juicy details that fans are understandably excited about. Some of the main attractions include an increased level cap, a brand new land mass with two regions for players at end game, a new way to get around called windstreams, which carry players around through the air, updrafts and geysers (more air-based travelling), six new instances and loads of new quests of varying types such as repeatable, storyline and daily. Find out more in our summary articleIf you’re an Aion fan, you’ll also be glad to hear that we’re just about to enter another double XP weekend as well, so be sure to make the most of the bonus experience if you’re levelling a character. I’ll finish this week’s wrap-up with news on Cryptic’s unannounced MMO. Until now, all we knew was that the studio is working on a secret project. Rumour has it that the game is a Neverwinter Nights MMO, although this hasn’t ever been confirmed. But our first glimmer of info on the title is in sight, according to the company’s chief creative officer, Bill Roper. While speaking in an interview recently, the former Blizzard director revealed that there will probably be news on the project in the late summer. Mark your calendars people. That’s it for this week, if you know your MMOs and you like a good opinion piece about various elements of the genre, be sure to check out Jeff’s latest MMO Weekly which looks at Game vs. Meta Game, and the importance of each one when designing and maintaining a game.

Paul Younger
Founder and Editor of PC Invasion. Founder of the world's first gaming cafe and Veteran PC gamer of over 22 years.

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