If you’re not too familiar with Massively Multiplayer Online Games then, yes, there is more to the genre than World of Warcraft. In fact, new MMOs spring up every day, but only a handful manage to stay the course. So with no further ado, welcome to this week’s MMO wrap-up. It’s a compilation of all the big announcements about existing and upcoming games in one place, and this week we talk about WoW, Champions Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Darkfall, Funcom’s new project ‘The Secret World’, Star Trek Online, Aion, Lord of the Rings Online and EVE.We’ll kick off with the juggernaut that is WoW; a short time ago, Blizzard announced to players that it would be introducing a new paid service that allowed them to change the faction of their characters. Despite the fact that many players had been asking for this ability since the game began, an ability which Blizzard told them was unlikely to ever happen, many fans were unhappy with the news. Well, unhappy doesn’t really cover it. To use a gaming term, QQ fits the bill a little better. And QQ they did, as the official forums lit up like a Christmas tree, with disgruntled players crying foul, claiming that Blizzard was selling out the integrity of the game. Something that had always been sacred, a player’s choice of faction which they will be stuck with for the life of a character, was about to become ‘frivolous’.That’s how some players saw it, others rejoiced. You see, Blizzard’s reason for introducing this feature is to enable players that somehow ended up on opposing factions to play together. Before this ability to swap sides, the only option was to start again with a new character, which involves literally days of game time to get to the level cap.Other players were happy because they thought it would allow them a way to change the race of their character to something else within their own faction. Ok, stay with me here. Some assumed that by swapping sides, which requires choosing a new race on the opposite faction that’s applicable to the class of the character, then swapping back, they could take their pick of races on return to their original faction. However, Blizz were quick to stamp that possibility out. If you changed faction then changed back, only your original race would be available to you. Of course, more QQing ensued. It seemed Blizz wanted to maintain some consistency with characters after all. However, they soon saw reason because, at the recent BlizzCon event, it was announced that a race change service would be introduced after the Faction change service was implemented.The Faction Change service launched on US servers last week, however, here in Europe we have to wait a little while longer. Amazingly, or not, EU players were up in arms about that delay as well, despite originally complaining about the service. Blizzard gave localisation issues as the reason, and we should have it in around a week. The race change feature shouldn’t be too far behind now.Other big news last week was the release of the long-awaited superhero MMO, Champions Online. Bill Roper’s latest project got off to a cracking start, even before launch, as Cryptic Studios sold out of the special deals on lifetime and six month subscriptions. The deals were in such high demand that they were all sold almost a week before the offer ended. In response to the disappointed fans, Cryptic quickly re-opened the offer with an unlimited number of cut-price subscriptions.The launch itself went off without a hitch, however, a patch that Cryptic applied to the game on launch day wasn’t very popular with players. Reacting to feedback on the beta servers which indicated mobs were too easy to kill, Cryptic buffed henchmen and reduced defence on players’ characters. But, with no prior warning, players with early server access who had existing characters when the game launched were left with undesirable skill allocations following the changes. They argued that Cryptic should offer them a free skill retcon, considering the high cost of changing skills once they’ve been spent. And that’s just what Cryptic did, a nice bunch aren’t they?Just after the launch, the first Champions Online event was unveiled. Blood Moon will feature an ancient necromancer who returns to the world and wreaks havoc, spawning zombies and werewolves. Gather your friends and fight this new evil, but be careful in your dealings with these infected foes, lest you find yourself a mindless undead minion or baying hound too.{PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap Up – Page 2}Fans of the upcoming Star Wars MMO, The Old Republic, were excited to see information about the Sith Warrior class, which was revealed last week. These characters use a mix of deadly lightsaber fighting techniques and their strong control of the force to crush opponents. Their armour can be heavy and intimidating, and often uses experimental components to boost the wearer’s prowess. Sith Warriors also have no fear of biological upgrades, just take a look at Darth Vader for an example, so expect to see lots of implants and nasty-looking ‘improvements’.Some pretty hefty patch notes for the next Darkfall update were released recently, showing the latest round of changes to the controversial game. If you hadn’t heard about Darkfall before now, here’s a quick refresher; the PvP oriented sandbox game first caused a stir when digital sales of the game went on sale in batches to cope with demand. The website struggled to manage with the increased traffic when the shop went online, and servers apparently couldn’t hold the numbers of people that wanted to try the game, so sales were limited to short periods of time, once per day. This continued until the reportedly huge demand dropped off, weeks later.Since then, there have been reports of poor gameplay mechanics and mass exploitation issues, but developers have been quick to address many problems. This latest patch focusses on naval combat, graphic upgrades, new items and, most importantly, huge changes to the benefits of fighting computer controlled monsters over other players. The patch is due next month.FunCom, the makers of Age of Conan, are hard at work on a new MMO known as The Secret World. This week, they released several new images and a new video trailer for the game, along with news of the three ‘secret societies’, the three factions in the world. Players can opt to be in with the righteous London-based Templars who seek to cleanse the world of evil by exterminating every hint of it, the ruthless Illuminati, based in New York, who prize wealth, power and ambition above all else, or finally the more subtle but equally deadly organisation, The Dragon. This ancient organisation favours working behind the scenes, using influence to turn their enemies against each other, and the odd assassination, to get their way.The long-awaited closed beta for the upcoming Star Trek Online was announced during the week, and anyone interested (I’m guessing there might be just a few) can now sign up to take part. Champions Online players who bought one of the lifetime or six monthly subscriptions that I mentioned earlier will automatically be included in the STO closed beta, and will also have a couple of cool in-game items to play with too.Those of you that have been following our Aion coverage will be interested to see the news that the 1.5 patch notes have been released. This includes some massive changes to the game version we all played on the closed beta over the last couple of months. New zones, better localisation, more quests, new instances, and added character customisation options are just some of the features of this patch. Be sure to read our Aion previews to see what awaits you in this highly anticipated game. Patch 1.5 will be the version that hits live servers when the game is released later this month.A new Lord of the Rings Online expansion was announced just before the weekend, which will add a number of cool features to the popular MMO. Siege of Mirkwood will increase the level cap, add a new region, add legendary items and improve the game’s combat system. A new feature called ‘Skirmishes’ is also being introduced, which is a repeatable randomised instance where players can make and train NPC henchmen to take into battle with them.The conclusion to Volume II: Mines of Moria, will also be played out. Players must team up with Celeborn and Galadriel to fight through masses of Orcs with the help of the Elves of Lórien. This leads to Dol Guldur, the fortress of the Ringwraiths. The expansion is booked for the end of the year, so there’s not too long to wait.Finally, CCP proudly announced Dominion, the next expansion for its blockbuster MMO, EVE. Not much is known about this update yet, except that it will focus on EVE’s endgame, alliance warfare. CPP has taken note of player feedback and completely overhauled the sovereignty mechanics, which is set to benefit alliances. Other additions include the new social networking platform, COSMOS, new epic arcs for pirate factions and some improved art. Dominion is also due at the end of this year, so it will be a busy and exciting time for many you MMO fans.That’s it for this week’s MMO news wrap-up, check back next time for the hottest stories in the week to come!

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

      You may also like

      More in News