WildStar: Choose your Adventure

MMORPGs are games that thrive on giving players memorable adventures and content that they can experience with their friends and share with their guildmates over and over again. In its upcoming MMORPG WildStar, Carbine Studios is taking this term quite literally and adding an actual gameplay type into the game referred to as Adventures!

If you’ve seen Carbine’s latest WildStar Flick, then you might have a good sense of what these dangerous trials may entail--other than knowing your life will be on the line every step of the way. Following the latest Flick, a few press members, including myself, got a chance to hangout with Carbine’s Senior Content Designer, Matt Tobiason, as we ran through one of these Adventures and got to experience first-hand what they were all about. So without further delay, let me jump right in and discuss exactly what these Adventures have in store for all of you would-be heroes coming to planet Nexus!

The Elder Scrolls Online Hands-On Preview

There are now less than two months to go before the official release date for Zenimax Online's newest edition to the Elder Scrolls franchise, The Elder Scrolls Online. After five single-player only games, TESO is the series' first game to not only include multiplayer (without a third-party mod), but also the studio's first entry into the MMO market. Many of us here at ZAM, myself included, are big fans of the Elder Scrolls series, with hours upon hours put into Skyrim alone. The question that remains is whether Zenimax can carry over the appeal of the single-player games and put it into an MMO that appeals to both fans of the Elder Scrolls series and veteran MMO players?

Over the past few weeks I've had the chance to sit down with the game and see more than the stress test weekends would allow. While there is still much more to the game than I was able to experience, I've seen enough that I can give my early impressions of the game.

Take a Peek: Call of the Forsaken - Hate Rising

"Hate Rising" is an extension to the storylines introduced with the Call of the Forsaken expansion, and it is expected to go live on Wednesday, January 22.

So, then, what's coming with Hate Rising? Here is a rundown:

  • New content (same Tier) expands upon current Call of the Forsaken storylines.
  • Tier 1 Breastplates, Vambraces, and Boots are in (finally finish those armor sets!).
  • Three new group missions (one in each of: Ethernere, Neriak Fourth Gate, Dead Hills).
  • Four new raids (one in each of: Ethernere, Bixie Warfront, Neriak Fourth Gate, Dead Hills).
  • 15 new heroic adventures (six in Ethernere; six in Neriak Fourth Gate; three in Bixie Warfront).
  • 15 new nameds spread throughout the heroic adventures.
  • Five new collection sets.
  • Lower level vendorbought gear (using the same Marks of Valor currency):
  • All heroic adventures (new and old) now scale down in difficulty to Level 85.
  • Note: There are no new zones, AAs, or spells in Hate Rising.
    • New sections of the Bixie Warfront and Neriak Fourth Gate are now open (accessed in heroic adventures).

And here are few more visuals (below the jump):

Call of the Forsaken: Feature & Zone Preview

With the Beta NDA now lifted, we take a closer look at two prominent features set to be added with the Call of the Forsaken expansion - Heroic Adventures and Mercenary Enhancements - as well as several screenshots of the zones being introduced at launch time (October 8, 2013).

Heroic Adventures

Heroic adventures are customized shared tasks (1-6 players) that take place in instanced zones and scale in level, difficulty, and loot quality (based on the highest level player in the group) down to Level 95. They are designed for groups of 2-3 players and their mercenaries, and shouldn't take an average group any longer than 45-60 minutes to complete.

What do we mean by "customized"? Well, instead of a standard shared task with an unchanging set of steps to run through, heroic adventures have a randomized component to them whereby there are multiple options (or 'possible directives') for each step in the task. In other words, you can complete one of these heroic adventures, and then the next time you run through the same adventure, you could have a different set of task steps and encounter different NPCs.

Loot-dropping nameds (such as the Dreadmole of the Bixie Warfront or the Monstrous Minnow of the Dead Hills) can also appear in these adventures, and completion results in group currency that can be used to buy gear (both player and mercenary) and spells from vendors in the Ethernere.

It should be noted that there is plenty of content outside of heroic adventures as they are but one facet of Call of the Forsaken (there are also regular partisan and mercenary tasks, as well as regular group missions), and every zone has a static (non-instanced) version.

(Mercenary Enhancements and Zone Screenshots can be found below the jump!)

EVE: Valkyrie: In the Cockpit

I’m staring down a metal tube, waiting for the launch signal. The brief respite gives me a chance to look around, and get a feel for the cockpit that surrounds me. I’ve sat in this seat before and, this time, I’m going to kick some ass. I might not know what lies outside the carrier’s launch bay, but I’m certain of one thing: there are noobs that need pwning, and I aim to deliver.

The klaxon sounds and, like a flash, I’m out there. Everything seems clearer, from the asteroids rushing past to the Caldari carrier spewing fighters of its own. I grin, punching the missile lock, and pivot my head to point at one of them. With the reticule switching yellow, I let loose a firestorm of missiles. Two more volleys and he’s toast. This is going to be easy.

Introducing EverQuest Next

As you read this, EverQuest Next is being unveiled to the world at large. Surprisingly, it’s not the only EverQuest game that fans are being introduced to.

Not only will EverQuest Next be a huge departure for SOE but EverQuest Next Landmark will be part of a completely new phase of MMO development that will make community input more important than in any other MMO.

More on EverQuest Next Landmark later; first, let’s take a look at EQ Next.

Heading to Wintertide

It’s time to pull out those thick coats and strong boots, as winter is heading to Auratia.  Earlier this week, Dragon’s Prophet was hit with Game Update 0.2, bringing the new zone of Wintertide, raising the level cap to 70, and more besides.

To show off everything arriving in the latest patch, SoE senior producer Todd Carson took me on a whistle-stop tour of Wintertide and the new features it brings – quite literally, as we arrived there by train. Carson also revealed that he’ll be announcing a release date at SOE Live next month, although there’s more to come as open beta continues.

Hands-On With The Mighty Quest

A few weeks ago Ubisoft decided to celebrate the start of Closed Beta for their new F2P dungeon crawler/manager, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot. They held an Open House event - everyone who had signed up for the beta before a cutoff date was invited in for a few days to try out the game. There were even prizes given away - a shirt and 1000 keys to stay in the beta once the Open House ended. I tried out the game some during the event, but not really enough to base my opinion on the game. Now that I have a key to the actual beta and access to the locked third class, it's time to dig in a bit further and see what TMQEL has to offer.

Take a Peek: Heart of Fear

The final chapter of the Rain of Fear expansion is expected to go live on Tuesday, July 16.

Here is a look at the new zones!

Heart of Fear

It's time. The desperate battles, relentless hunts, and cutthroat dealings of the past year have all been working up to this moment: the final confrontation with Cazic-Thule's terrifying power. The god of fear is dead, but brave adventurers must enter the final reservoir of his lingering power on Norrath, the Heart of Fear, to conquer its evil once and for all. But brave adventurers are not alone in their quest—a myriad of monsters both familiar and new inhabit the Heart of Fear, hoping to steal Cazic-Thule's power for themselves and ascend to become Norrath's new god of fear. Can you stop them all in time? Can you even find them? A betrayer in your midst is eager to teach you the new meaning of fear. Prepare yourself.

That giant shard in the middle of the Shard's Landing crater is looking a little healthier these days, and two emissaries of shadow have appeared at its side...

"Heart of Fear" is broken into three separate zones: The Threshold (the top level, a large mountainous area littered with creatures of fear and Alaran believers); The Rebirth (the middle level, a network of caverns that perhaps serves as the main "gestation" area for creatures of fear); and The Epicenter (the lower level, as its name suggests: The Heart of Fear).

(Screenshots of the new zones can be found below the jump!)

Final Fantasy XIV: Crafting and Gathering

With the rerelease of Square Enix’s second MMO, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, a few months away, a few of us here at ZAM have had the chance to try the beta and see what’s changed. We all tried out the combat and looked at some of the major system changes and you can find out more about those in Corey’s post. While I put in a good amount of time questing and fighting like the other writers, it wasn’t my primary focus this time around. What I wanted to know was this: did Square Enix finally give me full-fledged crafting and gathering classes like they were promising when the first version of FFXIV came out in 2010?

When Square Enix originally started talking about its second MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, one of the points it kept bringing up to show its game was unique was that crafters and gatherers were now true player classes. Players that wanted to dabble in crafting or gathering could still do so on the side, but those who were primarily interested in finding/selling crafting materials or in turning those materials into equipment and supplies for other players now had full-fledged classes to specialize in. There would be actual abilities you used, gear with crafting/gathering specific stats to get, and technique to learn beyond just clicking on an ore vein or hitting Create in a crafting window. When I played the open beta for v1.0, I was… well, I had a lot of less than kind things to say that are unfit for print, especially about crafting and gathering. Fast forward almost three years and a remake later, it was time to find out what had changed and if it was for the better.