Welcome MMO fans, to another wrap up of the major announcements from the past week. This time the games in the spotlight include Aion, Global Agenda, LEGO Universe, World of Warcraft, Jumpgate Evolution and the newly announced Battlestar Galactica MMO.

Perhaps one of the biggest stories this week came from the GDC which is currently under way in San Francisco. German developer Bigpoint has teamed up with NBC to produce Battlestar Galactica Online, which will crossover with the hit TV series (the naughties version, not the seventies one).

BSG has somewhat of a cult following worldwide, so news of this development was received with great enthusiasm. However, don’t be expecting the next World of Warcraft; The GDC announcement revealed that the game will be browser-based, which likely means it will be free to play as well.

I’m trying not to jump to conclusions here, after all, Runescape, one of the biggest and most popular MMOs of all time, is browser-based and also free to play. But games like this tend to lack the decent graphics and high quality gameplay that we’ve come to expect from subscription games that have a whacking software installation such as Aion, EVE Online and the afore-mentioned WoW.

Having said all that, we have seen some fairly decent free to play games recently. Global Agenda gives gamers the option of playing for free or coughing up a monthly subscription in return for extra content, and the upcoming space-based MMO Black Prophecy, which has some stunning graphics and a rich lore-filled universe, will also be free. Neither of these titles are browser-based though, and that’s the main issue I have with BSG, but we’ll see.

Our very own Jeff Hollis took a ride on the wild side last week by breaking all former traditions and making a female character in a couple of MMOs. After hearing tales of male players falling over themselves to help a lady out, Jeff was expecting an easy ride, but he was surprised by the outcome. Find out what happened to poor old Jeff in this week’s MMO Weekly.

Invitations for the LEGO Universe closed beta started rolling out during the week, and I was lucky enough to get one. The rest of the IncGamers team had to endure my squeals of delight as I eagerly installed and loaded it up for the first time. It’s clearly aimed at kids, but any LEGO fan will enjoy this colourful interactive MMO, which has you building vehicles, collecting bricks and smashing baddies right from the get go. Stay tuned for more on this game, we’ll be exploring it through the closed beta and beyond. If you haven’t seen what it’s about, check out the brilliant cinematic trailer.

Hi-Rez Studios is continuing its work on the recently released spy-fi MMO Global Agenda, as seen by the patch notes for version 1.2, which hit the test server this week. A lot more content is being added to the Agency vs Agency side of the game, notably the part that players will have to pay a subscription fee to gain access to once the free period has ended. At the end of February, the game’s developers extended the free access to Global Agenda’s premium ‘Conquest’ game until the end of March, allowing all players to experience it until then.

Of course, in the mean time, we’re all enjoying the extras that come with Conquest and will suddenly miss it when it’s withdrawn in a couple of weeks, enough to put our hands in our pockets and pay for the subscription perhaps. It’s a good strategy – if I’d only had access to the extras for three weeks or so I wouldn’t mind losing them so much when the time came, but I’ve got used to not only the AvA content, but all the other bonuses like the ability to craft upgrades, use of the mail system and added customisation options. At first, I didn’t think anyone would bother with Conquest, but I’m not so sure now.

While still on the topic of Global Agenda, I will just point you to a video the developers released this week, showing that they are continuing with their No Elves campaign. I laughed. A lot.

Fans of the upcoming Jumpgate Evolution were given a treat this week when developers finally released some news on the game’s progress. It’s been quite some time since we heard how the game is coming along, but now we know that missions have been overhauled and are now more interesting and varied than ever, and the factions are better defined. There are new PvP maps and the AI has been tweaked to provide more of a challenge to players. Just seeing the fans’ response to this latest update shows how much anticipation there is for Evolution, lets hope there’s some news on a beta or release date soon.

Aion players will be glad to see that this weekend will yield yet more double XP, so it’s time to stock up on the energy drinks again to make the most of the event because it might just be the last one. Patch 1.9 is just around the corner and, along with several other updates, additions and changes, XP rewards are being increased. Find out more about the patch in our previous coverage.

Blizzard unveiled details on the Mastery system which will be introduced to World of Warcraft in the upcoming expansion, Cataclysm. Not only will characters gain specific bonuses through using certain talent trees, but level 80 – 85 gear will also provide a mastery rating. Drop by the article for an overview, or if you want to know specifics, see the full description on our WoW channel.

Finally, I will just remind you that you can be in with a chance to win a beautiful Crystal Dragon Egg ornament by taking part in our competition in association with Chang You, to celebrate the upcoming martial arts MMO, TLBB. Pick up a competition code here.

That’s all for this week, be sure to listen to our podcast where we discuss the Battlestar Galactica MMO announcement, the Jumpgate Evolution news and much more.

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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