Despite Certain Omissions, Here’s Why the EVO 2019 Lineup is Rad

Every year, the Evolution Championship Series- or EVO, as it’s known to some- enthralls the fighting community with its tremendous match-ups straight out of Las Vegas. And this year is no exception with EVO 2019, as the team behind the event revealed the games that we can expect this time around.

EVO 2019

And while there are some omissions that are a bit on the painful side (is Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite really that much of a letdown?), the inclusion of some favorites is a welcome sight. Although there is the question as to why a couple of fighting games that are debuting this year are being left out.

First, let’s take a close look at the games that will be included this time around, including a couple of big surprises that should be worth watching.

BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle: One of last year’s most engaging 2D fighting games, BlazBlue stirred up all kinds of attention when it released on multiple consoles, including the Nintendo Switch. So it no doubt will be a welcome addition to the EVO roster this year, with many fans picking favorites from a number of characters from various universes, coming together for one great superbrawl. We can’t wait to see how these fights go down.

Dragon Ball FighterZ: After being painfully left out of EVO Japan earlier this year (reportedly due to rights issues), it appears that one of last year’s strongest titles, FighterZ, will be making a welcome comeback. Now the real question is if the game will be getting more attention than the usual headliner Street Fighter V, which easily got overshadowed, despite the build-up to the finale back in 2018. We’ll have to see where the placement order is, but don’t be shocked if Fighter steals the show once more, especially with its second season of content in tow.

Mortal Kombat 11: Another newcomer that is set to take the stage in a big way, the newest Mortal Kombat will be a heavy-hitter at the fighting event, replacing previous fan favorite Injustice 2. That’s fine with us, as we get to see a number of ‘Kombatants’ mix it up across a number of arenas, spilling all kinds of blood and creating chaos from fatalities and brutalities. It may not be for the squeamish, but Mortal Kombat 11 will get its fair share of fans when it makes its debut this August. Fatality!

EVO 2019 samurai showdown

Samurai Shodown: Perhaps the biggest surprise that was announced with the line-up this year is SNK’s revival of its weapon-based fighting series, which will debut on the PlayStation 4 in early summer. Featuring a number of returning favorites (Haohmaru!), along with some new faces, and 2D gameplay along the lines of the King of Fighters series, Shodown should get a great deal of attention. Now give it to us already, SNK!

SoulCalibur VI: We won’t lie, we’re thrilled to see the newest SoulCalibur get the nod for the tournament scene this year. EVO fans will love what this weapons-based brawler has to offer, with favorites like 2B from NieR: Automata and Geralt from The Witcher included, along with a number of great characters we’ve become accustomed to over the years. Expect lots of great tactics and fierce battles when this game takes the Evolution Championship Series with a vengeance.

Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition: We’re not too surprised to see this game make its return to EVO, if only because it’s become one of its biggest staples over the years. Part of that is due to the undying support of Capcom, which actually makes custom skins and arena stages just for the EVO community. Now the real question is what it’ll be debuting with this year’s event. A new season of content, with more fighters joining the fray or perhaps new tournament options to keep the popularity of the game thriving? It could be anything, really but we can’t wait to see what they bring.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: We remember the days when Nintendo frowned upon the idea of including its Smash series in EVO events, and we’re perplexed as to why. However, it’s changed its tune, as the tournament will officially see the debut of Ultimate and, with it, some of the best match-ups we’ve seen on the competitive side. This should be a lot of fun, especially given the number of characters that are available. Plus, Nintendo could totally use the showcase as an opportunity to debut a potential new downloadable character as part of its season pass. Give us Banjo Kazooie already!

Tekken 7: The popularity of the latest Tekken game continues to be sky-high, mainly due to the two new characters, including The Walking Dead’s Negan, that will be debuting later this week. So we’re happy to see that it’s coming back to EVO alongside Dragon Ball FighterZ and SoulCalibur VI, solidifying Bandai Namco’s presence at the event. As for what we’ll see from the game, there’s a chance that even more characters could be introduced, along with potential modes that might keep things interesting. Or, hey, maybe we’ll finally get a glimpse at the oft-delayed Tekken vs. Street Fighter game that the team has been working on. Please?

Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]: Some of you fans may not have heard of this game, and, hey, a few of us are right there with you. But to ignore what Aksys Games has created with this sleeper would be criminal, even with BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle taking the spotlight first. Under Night has a favorable fighting community standing behind it and its many fighters, along with balance and tactics that many have come to embrace over the past few months. Plus, its arrival at a major tournament such as this is sure to boost its popularity, which wouldn’t hurt the publisher in the least.

So What’s Missing? Even though the line-up that’s coming to EVO 2019 is star-studded, there are a few games that are missing, although we have a pretty good reason why. Let’s take a look at some of the obvious titles that aren’t making the cut once August rolls around.

First off, no Super Smash Bros. Melee. A lot of fans have been wondering about this one, since it’s a staple fighting game. Well, with Ultimate on the scene, some feel that having two Smash Bros. games on the roster is a bit much, despite them being somewhat different. Indeed, its time has probably come, and Nintendo probably gave the go-ahead with the idea that Ultimate would be getting attention. So, sorry, fans, we know this one hurts, but there’s reasoning behind it.

Then we come to Dead or Alive 6. The fighting game, which is set to debut this Friday, is sure to be a big hit with its fans, but as far as EVO goes, it doesn’t fit into its “core values”. That’s an interesting decision, particularly after what went down when the game stream from EVO Japan was stopped, but it looks like it was made to keep focus on the more traditional fighting games. Don’t worry too much, though,as Koei Tecmo already has tournaments planned for the forthcoming sequel, and they’ll be freshly packed with competition.

There’s also Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite, and…sigh. Capcom has given this crossover fighter the cold shoulder, and it looks like Marvel has as well, despite the fact that its characters will be featured in upcoming films like Captain Marvel and Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame. So what’s the deal? Well, actually, there’s a slight chance that Capcom could bring this game back as Marvel vs. Capcom 4, adding new characters from the X-Men universe (favorites like Magneto, Wolverine and, of course, that Mango Sentinel) and a few other favorites. EVO would be a great relaunching ground for the series, if it doesn’t happen at E3.

Then there’s Jump Force. While this game has some engaging 3D fights going for it, there’s also a lot working against it, as you can see from our recent review. There’s just way too much loading time to go around, which could easily throw off the momentum of the tournament as we know it. On top of that, there are some folks that prefer to watch traditional fighting compared to, say, arena-style 3D tactics. That would explain why we haven’t seen games like the Naruto titles in the tournament in the past.

As for why Injustice 2 wasn’t included, the case could simply be the same as it was for Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 a few years back. As engaging and fun a game as it is, it’s time has simply come when it comes to the fighting tournament scene. Even though it’s bound to have some hardcore appeal with fan-held battles, its place on the main stage passed once NetherRealm was finished with its DLC plan. Besides, now Mortal Kombat 11 can get the focus, and that works best considering its popularity.

EVO 2019

Finally, where is Killer Instinct? Alas, probably waiting for a new season at this point. I do hope we get it, because this is a fun game to watch.

There are other titles we could mention here, such as Fantasy Strike, EX Fighting Layer and even SNK Heroines, but the fact of the matter is there’s only so much room for competition, and the EVO team did a good job with its selections this year. We’ll see how the event goes down when EVO 2019 takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada from August 2-4. See you in the fighting ring!

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WoW Wednesday: Dissecting The Echworthy Endgame

Battle for Azeroth has been a divided expansion for a lot of players of World of Warcraft. Understandably so, as it comes after the massive hit of its predecessor, Legion, which managed to almost unanimously encapsulate what a large majority of the player-base felt was their Class Fantasy. Some have referred to it as the, “Golden Age,” of end-game storytelling in Warcraft. Aside from it’s strong opening very few can say the same about Battle for Azeroth, where an incredible amount of its systemic problems revolve around its repeatable and shallow gameplay. All of this, however, we can trace back to the expansion most lauded for its wonderful design.

Taking a cross-section of the endgame experience in BFA, it is incredibly easy to see where a lot of player’s problems begin to develop. Everything up to this point in Warcraft’s endgame, from launch until 8.1, is chocked full of repeatable content with little substance. Part of this comes from the need for constant content streams in any MMORPG; that is simply an inescapable part of the genre. However, as we’ve seen with recent releases such as Anthem there is both a very good way to manage repeatable content and multiple very bad ways.

Battle for Azeroth has two primary content streams outside of the PvE scene (including the Island Expeditions, Mythic+ and Raids), and the Rated PvP brackets. These revolve around World Quests and the War Campaign, and each has its own series of systemic problems and deep rooted issues.

The War Campaign, of course, mirrors Legion’s longstanding Suramar Rebellion Questline. This was arguably one of the biggest draws to the endgame after level 110 and is still a piece of content I encourage every new player to go through. Opening up the inaccessible Suramar zone, this questline tells the story of First Arcanist Thalyssra, exiled from her city and people after the invasion of the Legion. Fighting alongside her, you establish the Dusk Lily Resistance, an underground group of Nightborne who seek to overthrow Suramar’s fascist regime and expel the Legion. Time, however, is of the essence as enemies from all sides race to an inevitable war in the streets as the gaze of the Legion’s master draws ever closer to Azeroth.
world of warcraft legion
Undoubtedly this is one of my favorite questlines in Warcraft’s recent history, even more so than the excellent storytelling found in Mists of Pandaria or the interwoven questlines found in Icecrown from the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. A high points was the way questing was paced out for Suramar, with its original huge amount of quests and a drip-feed of more each week until Nighthold’s release in late 7.1. Aside from the excellent long-term character development and storytelling through Thalyssra and the Rebellion’s long roster of characters, this was digestible new content for players each week that told an engaging story which linked back to Legion’s main plot point.

The War Campaigns for both the Alliance and Horde attempt to emulate this example, however, both fall incredibly flat. Part of this is simply due to the mentality of how these storylines are developed and where they fall into importance for the player. Feasibly you can start your War Campaign within the first few levels of Battle for Azeroth’s gameplay and can finish almost half by the time you complete both [Zandalar Forever] and [A Nation United] respectively. This eats up the available digestible content at the end-game for players, despite the fact that the War Campaign is simply shorter than Suramar’s [Insurrection] questlines.

It is quite hard to argue against that, while they may have close to the same number of quests if you squint a little, the War Campaign quests are simply far shorter. Whereas [Insurrection] saw you often traveling both within and without Suramar City for varied tasks, the War Campaign often takes you from Point A to Point B, doing five quests and then returning to your capital city for a brief break. This was no harder felt than at post-launch, with both War Campaigns ending incredibly abruptly with the theft of the Abyssal Scepter and the Incursion of Vol’dun. This was lengthened to a similar extent as the Suramar grind, where players needed to open up further quests through reputation grinding. Once again, this simply does not change the fact that there is not enough substance to these unlocked quests to make it worthwhile. This is not even comparing the quality of storytelling between the two questlines and their hosts of characters, who frankly just do not get the same level of development in Battle for Azeroth.


This leaves us with World Quests, which veteran players will know as the replacement for the old Daily Quest system. Ideally these quests and events are dotted throughout the world to keep you engaged and playing for just a few minutes each day, and work to unlock some of the game’s completionist content including Reputations. These existed in Legion just as heavily as they do in Battle for Azeroth, and they were just as much of a problem then as now. Each day a new quest comes up to perform four World Quests for one of your factions, which works wonderfully as an incentive to get out and grind. These quests, however, only last for three days each meaning you can quite easily fall behind not just on your World Quests, which also only often last eighteen hours each, but your reputations as well. After hitting Revered by completing each zone’s questlines, World Quests become the only manner in which to grind that reputation.

This is a long-standing problem that has existed well since before Battle for Azeroth, but most prolifically reared its ugly head in Mists of Pandaria. At the time, there was a large level gap between what you could earn through regular content versus what you could earn in Raiding and PvP content. The only manner in which to close that gap was to complete every single reputation and buy incredibly high item level gear.

This problem, thankfully, no longer exists in World of Warcraft, as with the introduction of Mythic dungeons and the Mythic+ circuit, gearing has a much easier curve. However this has only reduced the importance of these Reputations in the endgame, meaning you are far less likely to grind them to completion and do your World Quests.

Several of these Reputations in Legion were tied to unlocking Allied Races, but most were not.

Blizzard attempted to introduce a potential incentive to correct this issue in Legion with the Paragon System. Used as an additional reward tier, those who completed their factions could continue to grind additional Reputation and earn a Paragon Chest with additional rewards, including a faction-based mount. For obvious reason this system was not received well, chief among them being the incredibly low drop rate of the mounts, some having a chance of less than 1%.

This doesn’t mean the Paragon System stopped in Battle For Azeroth; instead each Paragon chest now contains a plethora of War Resources (the new mission currency), some crafting materials, Azerite for the expansion’s new Artifact, and that’s often it. While both the Honorbound and 7th Legion now have access to mounts tied to the Warfront System, the currency required that also drops from Paragon Chests is incredibly minimal. Despite religiously grinding my chests weekly, I have yet even a quarter of the rewards now available through this new currency. Aside from this, there is zero incentive to perform any extra work in the Paragon system.

This effectively neuters two main strips of endgame content in Battle for Azeroth. While most players will find themselves falling into Mythic+ content, Raids or the Rated PvP scene, others will float in this cycle of dry, repeatable content. It is no wonder why World of Warcraft’s endgame continues to be heavily criticized after the end of the [Insurrection] storyline in Legion. There is, plainly speaking, nothing here rewarding for players to engage in. While there are deeper incentives to completing the War Campaign or grinding out factions, there is nothing immediately rewarding for players undergoing these major aspects of the endgame.

In looking at both of these, there just simply isn’t enough here for players to bite into at the peak of Battle for Azeroth’s endgame content. Quality is king when we talk about hooking players into long term MMO consumption, and while every live service game or product does have repeatable content, there is a massive divergence in quality even between two separate expansions in World of Warcraft. The War Campaign is simply too short to fully enjoy and explore, while the World Quest and Paragon systems barely warrant that much about them. If Blizzard wants to keep players invested for the long term in Warcraft’s endgame beyond high-tier content, their most basic systems require a serious innovation that, if BFA is any indication, won’t be coming yet for some time.

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MMO Money: 6 Percent Drop in Spending Already This Year

If we’re being honest right out of the gate, the news this week isn’t great. The industry is shrinking a bit as was previously predicted and of course, we have to talk about all the layoffs going on in the games industry. There is a little bit of good news in the middle there though so be sure to read the whole way through for your weekly look at the MMO games industry.

 

SuperData Reviews January

While we may be about to enter the third month of 2019 we are now getting our first look at the first month of the year for the business side of gaming and it isn’t looking good so far. We started 2019 with a 6% drop in spending on all platforms year over year. Premium PC gaming had the biggest drop with a 29% decline.

Fortnite revenue dropped 48% month over month in January, but sales are still up year over year. Of course, a drop from December to January is somewhat unsurprising since December would have had the added benefit of the holiday season when people have more time off to play games.

Finally, a game we don’t get to talk about much anymore these days, CSGO, was in the Superdata report. You may recall that the game went free to play in December. While this transition has been great at bringing in new players, 8% growth year over year in January, this hasn’t translated into more revenue. Digital revenue is said to have fallen considerably year over year but exactly how much isn’t stated.

Taking a look at the top 10 grossing titles what is immediately obvious is the drop for Fortnite both in PC and Console. In the December report, Fortnite was in third for PC and first for console. In just one month it has dropped 2 places on PC and one on console. In both cases it isn’t being replaced by a newer game, FIFA 19 is the newest of the games above Fortnite and it came out in September. Meanwhile, what would have previously been considered Fortnite’s biggest competition, PUBG held steady on PC and dropped off the chart entirely for console. It’s also interesting to see DOTA 2 back on the list, having replaced Hearthstone (West) in the tenth position.

These charts will be very interesting to follow throughout 2019 to see if Fortnite continues to drop and if any newer game can climb its way to the top. The way things are looking right now we may well see those predictions of a shrinking gaming industry come to pass.

Source: Superdata

 

 

Tencent and NetEase Non-China Mobile Revenue Up 505%

Knives Out

Right, so bear with us on this one. Tencent and NetEase, two big players in the mobile gaming world saw their combined revenue last year go up 505% outside of China. This is important because it went a long way to helping the two companies get through a period that lasted most of the year when no new games could be released in China. Much of this was driven by one game, NetEase’s Knives Out, a game that has enjoyed massive popularity in Japan. Tencent’s biggest hits were Arena of Valor and PUBG mobile. So, while things looked very concerning for Tencent in 2018 with the 9-month freeze on new games it would appear that the two companies weathered the storm pretty well. With that crisis behind us, we’re sure that Tencent and NetEase will go on to have an amazing year this year. Assuming China keeps approving new games (more on this later).

All of this data came from a report from IHS Markit who also reported that mobile game revenue from Google Play and the App Store grew 5% year over year to $34.3 billion. While this growth is great, it is actually less than we’ve been seeing in previous years. The trouble with China certainly played a role in this but it wasn’t the only factor. The mobile gaming market in established areas has generally reached maturity, as has the adoption of smartphones. Plus, we’ve seen a decline across the industry that has had an impact on every aspect of the gaming industry.

The report also goes in depth about Battle Royale games but that’s something that is better suited for our Battle Royale column. So, expect to see more on this later in the week.

Source: IHS Markit

 

China Stops Game Approvals to Work Through Backlog…Maybe

There have been reports that China has stopped accepting games to be approved while it works through a backlog of games awaiting approval, according to an anonymous gaming executive in China. However, according to statements made by NetEase’s CEO William Ding, this may not actually be the case. During the Q4 2018 earnings call the following was said, “There were market news and rumors yesterday talking about alleged game suspensions. We would like to say that we do not see that. Some provisional and local regulators have modified the format of material submissions, but we do not interpret that as a shut-down of new game approvals.”

So, has there been a stop? The only way to know for sure is to wait and see if any new games are released in China or not.

Source: Games Industry

 

The Layoffs

Finally, we need to talk about the layoffs. Blizzard, Activision, GOG, Razer, ArenaNet…just a few of the names to have big profile layoffs in the last few weeks. Many of these layoffs are happening because of canceled projects, but we here at MMOGames wonder if the projections of decline this year are also having an influence. Are these projects being canceled because it has been projected that the games industry will shrink this year and as a result companies are bracing for the impact? As a result, is that prediction, in fact, a self-fulfilling prophecy? Will the industry shrink because companies that are otherwise very healthy and performing well are holding back? Or is there something more going on behind the scenes that we haven’t seen yet? I’m not saying a government conspiracy…but…something something Area 51, Flat Earth, Illuminati.

For all those who have lost their jobs recently, we hope you find yourself landing on your feet quickly and wish you all the best. We can’t wait to see what projects you get attached to next, but if you do decide to leave the games industry it is completely understandable.

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Three New Dune Video Games on the Way

Its been a while since the last Dune video games were released, 18 years in fact. The last one was Frank Herbert’s Dune in 2001 and was based on the 2000 Sci-Fi Channel miniseries. The game was such a failure that the studio that created it, Cryo Interactive Entertainment went bankrupt after its release. But, that was the early 2000s. Now, nearly 20 years on we’re getting a new Dune movie (with names like Dave Bautista, Oscar Issac, Josh Brolin, and Jason Momoa) and three new Dune video games as well.

These games will be made by a studio that has had a lot of success with older IPs, Age of Conan creators, Funcom. Legendary Entertainment and Funcom have entered into a six-year-long agreement that will see three Dune games being made at the very least. The games will be for both PC and consoles and at least one of them will be an Open World Multiplayer game.

So, if we look back at the Q3 2018 report Funcom gave when we saw six games in the pipeline for the company we can see things a little more clearly. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden launched on December 4th and currently has a 79% positive rating on Steam, plus a Metascore on Metacritic of 78.

The top-secret Conan game being made with Petroglyph is a strategy game called Conan Unconquered which will be released Q2 2019 for PC.

The Funcom IP game being made by Rock Pocket Games that is set to release on Halloween is still a mystery. Though looking at the studio’s official site you see that they’re working on a story-driven first-person horror game that draws elements from H.P. Lovecraft called Moons of Madness. This may not be the game they’re working on with Funcom, but it sounds like it would be right at home in the universe of The Secret World.

The top-secret Heroic Signatures game being developed in house is still a mystery. Though in the Q3 report it didn’t have a release date, now in the Q4 report it has been given a release date of 2020.

The top-secret Conan single player game is still top secret, but it has also been given a release date of 2020, so there has been some progress there.

Finally, from the Q3 2018 report, there was the top secret open world multiplayer game. We now know that this is the Dune multiplayer.

We also now know that Funcom has 13 total active projects that include 5 new projects plus 8 existing or prototype games. Which, according to my math…tells me we have some games that haven’t made it in the quarterly reports yet and haven’t been announced.

 

Please excuse the non-Dune images, we don’t have any of the new Dune games yet so we used Conan instead. That’s practically the same thing…right?

 

Source: Funcom Quarterly Report

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The Division 2 Open Beta Weekend Coming This Week

If you haven’t had a chance to get your hands on Division 2 yet you’ll be getting the opportunity very soon as there is going to be a Division 2 open beta weekend for all platforms. Even better, it is going to take place this weekend! March 1-4.

If you have had the chance to play The Division 2 thanks to their private tests there will still be something new for you to try out this weekend, so it is well worth logging in this weekend.

During the open beta weekend, players will have access to three main mission on Normal and Hard modes. Two of them will be familiar to those who took part in the private tests, Grand Washington Hotel and Jefferson Trade Center. The third one is new to this test, the Viewpoint Museum.

Along with a new main mission, there are a few other new additions. To begin with, the level cap will be raised to level 8. Capitol Ruins will also be introduced as another Skirmish PvP map. The skill Chem Launcher will be introduced with two variants; Riot Roam and Explosive Vapor. There will also be two new Settlement Projects and 5 side missions to tackle.

Finally, players who finish Jefferson Trade Center will get the opportunity to see The Division 2’s end game content. Once the Jefferson Trade Center has been completed three level 30 characters will be unlocked along with an end game mission. The mission begins as soon as one of those level 30 characters is logged in.

The open beta won’t be under NDA, so expect to see some people streaming it this weekend if you can’t get logged in. The development team also stressed in the announcement that the version of the game in the beta isn’t final and elements are subject to change. Check out the open beta trailer below.

 

Source: Official Site

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7 MMOs That Were Canceled Before Launch

Throughout the history of MMOs, there have been a lot of titles that have never come to be. Many of these are canceled for monetary reasons, but sometimes they’re canceled just because they aren’t as good as the developers had hoped they would be. We’re taking a look at 7 MMOs that were canceled before launch.

 

World of Darkness

World of Darkness

Its been 5 years since World of Darkness was officially canceled and lifelong fans of the IP still hold out hope that it will be revived. Every time there is news about the World of Darkness IP, gamers fall out of the woodwork asking if it will be the MMO. However, it never is an MMO and because trends have moved on it likely never will be. We know that the World of Darkness MMO had a troubled life from the very start. CCP was disorganized and often took developers off the project to work on their big money maker and studio darling EVE Online. In fact, an insider told The Guardian that there was one manager in particular who was problematic. They said he had no vision for the game and often couldn’t answer basic questions. It was a sad end to what looked to be a very promising, very dark MMO. Thankfully, the world has been able to see the game as it looked before it was canceled thanks to a beta player who leaked a number of screenshots and their playtest manual. Press E to Seduce.

 

Everquest Next

It was intended to be the next chapter in the Everquest saga. Everquest Next, a voxel-based MMORPG, was going to take the genre into the next generation, but around 2015 doubt started to be cast as to whether the game would ever be released. They had cut ties with Storybricks and layoffs were spreading throughout the company; they even laid off the forums. Then in early 2016 the game was canceled. It honestly wasn’t that much of a surprise at the time. News had been sparse and it was pretty obvious it was coming. Of course, that’s no consolation for all of those people who spent $100 on Landmark, which was only supposed to be a companion to the game. The loss of Everquest Next marked a big turning point for the genre. Since then we’ve been in a slow decline.

 

Kingdoms of Amalur: Project Copernicus

While fans of the Kingdoms of Amalur game were very much looking forward to Project Copernicus, the MMORPG based in the Amalur universe, it was the real world drama around the game’s eventual demise that it is best known for today. You may be familiar with the 38 Studios saga, which only came to an end this January, 7 years after the drama unfolded. This involves former baseball star Curt Schilling, the state of Rhode Island, and even the FBI. From the various investigations into what happened at the studio, it appeared that some studio execs knew the $75 million Rhode Island had given them wouldn’t be enough to finish Copernicus and that they failed to notify investors. Thankfully, not all hope is lost for Kingdoms of Amalur or Project Copernicus. THQ Nordic bought the IP which included the games late last year. While it seems unlikely they’ll make Copernicus that little bit of hope still remains.

 

Stargate Worlds

If ever there has been a TV series that deserves an MMO it was Stargate. The game was intended to revolve around the earlier story from SG-1 which involved the Tau’ri (humans from Earth) and the fearsome Goa’uld, aliens who had enslaved Humanity and scattered them across the galaxy. Playable races included Humans, Goa’uld, Jaffa (genetically engineered human soldiers made to serve the Goa’uld and treat them as gods), the Asgard (highly intelligent little grey aliens). Quite a lot is known about the game despite the fact that it was canceled before it ever left closed beta. Sadly, the company developing it went bankrupt and no public attempts to release the game were ever made. Clips of the game have been seen in other forms of media, however. Footage from the game was used in the opening sequence of 2008 film WarGames: The Dead Code. More footage was used in the first episode of the TV series Stargate Universe.

 

Shadow Realms

Before Anthem, Bioware was working on Shadow Realms, a 4v1 game that few people in the world ever got to see. Thankfully, we happened to be attending Gamescom the year it was shown and we have an article all about it. Sadly, Shadow Realms was canceled just a few months later. In the announcement, it was explained that Bioware was simply moving on to other projects. The game was a delightfully dark take on the 4v1 genre that itself didn’t seem to last very long. With all the talk about Anthem at the moment, it’s important to take some time to remember the game Bioware stopped making so they could make Anthem. One can’t help but wonder if things would have gone a bit more smoothly for them if they had stuck with Shadow Realms.

 

True Fantasy Live Online

The development of True Fantasy Live Online was nearly completed when this game was canceled. By that point, it had already gone through two years of complications. One such complication was the integration of voice chat, which Microsoft insisted was necessary. Level-5, the Japanese studio that was developing the game also reportedly struggled with online network coding. Relations between Level-5 and Microsoft soured as Microsoft grew frustrated by Level-5’s inability to meet their demands. Meanwhile, the Level-5 CEO said that part of the issue was Microsoft’s inexperience in dealing with Japanese developers. He also implied that the companies didn’t part on good terms. Looking back at footage of the game now it’s amazing to see how close we were to living our true fantasy live online (see what I did there?).

 

Imperator Online

Imagine a world where Rome never fell. That was the concept behind Mythic’s Imperator Online. The game was originally intended to be Mythic’s follow up to Dark Age of Camelot, but, as with all the other games on this list, that wasn’t to be. Sadly, while Imperator Online looked like it was going to be a very promising Sci-fi MMORPG Mythic opted to cancel it as they felt it wasn’t coming together as a AAA experience. They instead went on to make Warhammer Online.

 

Of course, all of this is a very incomplete list of games that were canceled before they launched. We also have an article on games that never made it out of beta and one on canceled MMOs if you’re itching to read more on the topic. You can also browse our Shut Down tag where you’ll find a whole lot of news announcing the shut down of beloved games.

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Play of the Fortnight: When Will We Get Overwatch Battle Royale?

In our last Play of the Fortnight, we talked about the potentially precarious future of Overwatch. Members of the community have speculated for some time about game modes Blizzard might release to keep things interesting. With that in mind, when will we get an Overwatch Battle Royale?

In this Play of the Fortnight, we talk about what such a game mode would look like, and whether it’s likely we’ll see it any time soon.

Apex Legends takes the BR genre by storm

Apex Legends, a game by Respawn – the same devs behind Titanfall – has been a delightful surprise to the gaming community. It’s also been repeatedly compared to Overwatch, with heroes who have varying abilities and ultimates. The art style is like a combination between Overwatch and something like Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 with its Battle Royale mode: Blackout.

It has people wondering: why isn’t there an Overwatch Battle Royale? As it turns out, Blizzard considered the game mode after its soaring popularity just over a year ago. Jeff Kaplan said in an interview with Kotaku, “There’s a lot of design and tech work to get us to that place and not just feel like a me-too game.”

However, Kaplan also went on to say that Overwatch is specifically about its heroes, and that it would be difficult to implement a Battle Royale game with this kind of gameplay. That statement hasn’t aged well, seeing as Apex Legends has done just that. So what is stopping Blizzard from doing the same?

What would need to change for an Overwatch Battle Royale to work?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Maps

There are certainly a few things that do prevent an Overwatch Battle Royale from being a fun experience, though. Blizzard would need to make quite a few changes, the biggest of which is the current maps. All Battle Royales on the market have relatively large maps, giving players options for where to drop and loot. Overwatch simply doesn’t have that style of gameplay yet: the maps are very small, however, Call of Duty is similar. Black Ops 4 has smaller arena style maps for its regular gameplay and a larger one for BR. Blizzard would need to develop a map specifically for the BR game mode, but it would be a step in the right direction.

The Overwatch matchmaking system would also need a few tweaks, as obviously right now it’s geared towards much smaller matches. Overwatch seems like it would make for a better “small” BR. Apex Legends, for example, has 60 players at the beginning as opposed to the usual 100+. Overwatch would benefit from going a similar route.

With Overwatch being a team-based game, it would also be a good idea to take a leaf out of Apex Legends’ book and not have a solo game mode. Whilst it’s somewhat frustrating to need a group of three to play, otherwise being forced into a pick-up, the team dynamic is what makes Apex fun. This goes for Overwatch too; the heroes work well together, but alone they can be frustrating.

How would looting work?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Looting

The big question is how Blizzard would implement looting in a game like Overwatch. Is it necessary for a Battle Royale to be able to loot different weapons and armor? With the way heroes work in Overwatch, and the fact that their weapons are key parts of their kit, it doesn’t really make sense to have different weapons available. Though perhaps there could be upgrades for weapons that drop. Other loot could include armor, with everyone starting with no base armor and items to heal or regenerate shields.

Ultimately, we feel that looting is a fairly core part of the BR genre, but it doesn’t have to be implemented the same way every time. There is room for innovation, which Blizzard has never really shied away from before.

What challenges does Blizzard face for an Overwatch Battle Royale?

Overwatch Battle Royale - Resurrection

The biggest challenge is one mentioned by Kaplan in the Kotaku interview: balance. “Our primary engagement distance is usually around 15 to 40 meters.” This is much, much shorter than engagement distance on a bigger BR map. Would Overwatch even translate well to longer ranges?

Another aspect of balance is that heroes are very specifically balanced for the state of the game currently. This may seem unimportant, but a Battle Royale game mode plays very differently. Blizzard would likely have to consider balancing heroes completely differently for BR and possibly even remove certain heroes from the mode entirely. For example, what purpose does Mercy have? Her range would be very limited and her resurrect would be unnecessary if everyone would be able to lift teammates.

Overwatch Battle Royale as a standalone game

One way to overcome a lot of the challenges Blizzard faces would be a standalone game. Perhaps a limited hero selection pool, one large map with loot spawns, and a separate balance pass would help immensely.

If Blizzard made the BR free-to-play, we’d likely see a rush of players giving it a try. We already know Apex Legends has driven up player numbers for Titanfall 2, so it’d have the added benefit of drawing attention to Overwatch’s main game.

However, this is incredibly risky. If Blizzard adds an Overwatch Battle Royale, regardless of whether it’s a standalone or built into the existing game, and it doesn’t do well it could only harm Overwatch’s popularity further.

Closing Thoughts

We think it’s fairly likely Blizzard is looking into the potential of an Overwatch Battle Royale. They were already thinking about it back when PUBG and Fortnite were the top dogs, but now that Apex Legends has shown a hero-based BR is possible and even incredibly popular, it’d be foolish for Blizzard not to consider the possibilities.

However, there are a few challenges to overcome first. Even so, we wouldn’t be surprised to see an announcement of an Overwatch BR in the coming year, assuming the genre maintains its current popularity.

Would you like to see an Overwatch Battle Royale? Let us know how you think it should work.

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Esports Medical Program Started for Smite Pros

You may not think that playing games is a physically demanding sport, in fact, many would be hesitant to call it a sport at all. But, for the professionals who are practicing up to 16 hours a day, it is physically draining. Injuries in professional gamers are a very serious problem and now, thanks to Skillshot Media and the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network Smite and Paladin pros will be able to have those injuries taken care of by experts. The two companies have teamed up to create an esports medical program to look after the professional gamers.

Thanks to the new program pro gamers will have access to pre-performance screenings, endurance training, sports nutrition training, a team/league doctor, access to experts for physical and mental health management, and an injury training room.

Talking about the new program Todd Harris, Co-founder of Hi-Rez and President of Skillshot Media had this to say.

“In discussions with the Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network, it became clear that they are not only taking early notice of the rising trend of esports injuries, but also aspire to serve our pro players just like athletes in traditional sports – benefiting from nutrition, exercise, rest, and best practices for optimizing performance and prolonging careers. We are thrilled to partner with Northside to provide complementary injury-prevention services for our players and also share ongoing research with the broader esports community.”

 

Dr. Vonda Wright MD, an orthopedic surgeon and chief of Northside Hospital Sports Medicine Network added this.

“As the convergence of technology expands our definitions of ‘athletes and competition,’ Northside Sports Medicine is proud to step into this unique role. Through preventive care and innovative research, we hope to maximize performance while minimizing injury for these pro players, while setting a standard of care for esports athletes at every level.”

 

The field of esports medicine is a growing one, in fact, it was just last week that team Magic Gaming signed a sponsorship and health service deal with regional healthcare network Orlando Health. It’s likely that we will see more of this happening in the future

 

Source: The Esports Observer

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Age of Wonders: Planetfall Hands On

If you’re a fan of strategy or turn-based battle games, then Age of Wonders should come to mind for a lot of you. The series has been a hit for a while now, handled by the team at Triumph Studios. But it’s been a while since we’ve heard from them and what they have planned next. This past week, we found out. The team invited us to a behind-closed-doors event in San Francisco to get a close look at the forthcoming Age of Wonders: Planetfall, which is set to make its debut on Steam starting on August 6th. But don’t worry, console owners- you’ll be getting a turn as well, as the game is slated to arrive on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One sometime during the year as well.

The game has been in development for around three years’ time, with Triumph taking however long it needed to pile on Planetfall with an abundant amount of content. And boy, it did not disappoint. Tactical fans will have a field day digging into the hours’ worth of battles available here, along with the various factions, each with resources that bring something new to the table.

The game stems some familiarity for those that grew up with the classic Age of Wonders games but also has some fresh ideas that mix in nicely with everything, so you feel like it’s something borrowed yet something new in the same shot. That’ll certainly pay off, especially for those of you that take the time to learn what your faction has to offer and take advantage of whatever they can produce for you.

Of course, as all things do, this game starts out with a story that sets everything in motion. For many years, the galaxy is kept at peace by The Star Union, who works with a variety of worlds through wormholes that are connected through a general hub known as the Nexus. However, thanks to The Collapse, an unexpected event that throws everything into chaos, the Nexus finds itself shut down, and each of the races now finds themselves fighting for survival. Considering that this isn’t an overnight fix, they now have to find a way to reconnect with certain races, while at the same time dealing with nasty forces that have emerged as a result of this Collapse.

Each of the races involved with the game has something interesting about them when it comes to backstory, as they have their own specific end goals in mind. For instance, the Vanguard- the most general race within the game- features a group of colonists that find themselves suddenly without a mission when they awaken from a cryo-sleep, mainly due to the collapse of the Star Union. Determined, their captain vows to help them re-establish a small but worthwhile civilization, one in which they can thrive again.

But that can actually cause a small rift with other races. For instance, there’s the Kir’Ko, an alien hive that hasn’t been fond of the Star Union, mainly due to working under their enforced rule. Now that they operate on their own, running roughshod into the Vanguard doesn’t come easy. There are negotiations available, but it’s up to the player to determine just how these will go- or, more importantly, if they choose to go to war instead. (With a click of the button, you can make it happen.)

But then you have races that aren’t so much interested in rebuilding with democracy, but with their own way of life. For example, the Amazon race comes to mind, using animals to their advantage whenever they can (like dinosaurs with lasers attached to their bodies- let’s see Dr. Evil imagine something cooler than that). They’re masters of bioengineering, and really know their way around building stuff with ease. However, very few men are involved in this race thanks to the experiments- and that leaves an interesting question about their future. Hmmm.

Getting started in Age of Wonders: Planetfall, you’ll find various customization tools available, giving the game a personable touch compared to, say, the usual tactics-based affair in which you’ve got everything laid out for you. You’ll be able to select how your commander unit performs in terms of skills and appearance, along with perks and vices to make their battle style more your speed.

But that’s not all. You’ll also utilize a Secret Technology, one that your group develops that will allow you to make special weapons and units to your advantage, including an all-out Doomsday Weapon that, once completed, can really clean house during battles. We didn’t get a chance to try this out with our hands-on, but it’s a promising end goal for those of you that don’t mind doing a little digging. (Or activating a Scholar skill for your commander, if that’s your speed.)

The options available for customization are awesome, to say the least. Want to make your commander leather-clad with a sweet handgun and a biker mustache? That’s your thing.

Once you’ve got everything to go in terms of choices, you can dive into the gameplay. It starts with your character’s ship landing in the midst of the world and you slowly establishing things within it. A tutorial walks you through every step, which is a good thing since the multiple systems and techniques featured in Age of Wonders: Planetfall can be quite overwhelming to newcomers. By a few turns in, however, you should have a pretty good hang of how things work.

At first, you won’t have to worry too much about opposition, save for some local nasty aliens that will give you a run for your money when it comes to learning about the turn-based battle system. This takes place on a real-time 3D portion of the map in which you can tactfully lay out where you want your team to go. It helps to find a good spot for cover, but also a possible range in which you can fire at enemies and do some damage. It never hurts to plan ahead, and, thankfully, Planetfalldoesn’t put too much of a time kibosh on your turn. Take your time and plan accordingly.

And it helps to plan ahead. Leaving your soldiers in the wide open could result in a quick death, as we learned from a couple of battles. For instance, in one spot of the map, we felt that it would be good to set up soldiers for a quick attack the next time around. But a few “bug” opponents got the jump on us, leaving just one to be rescued by the other squads.

Fortunately, that set up enough learning to put more of a powerhouse team in their place the next time around, mowing down one group of enemies while worrying about where the next one placed.

There are different units you can select as well, from aerial to melee to long-distance attack, And with each race, they differ extraordinarily, with some even able to deliver devastating alien-based techniques that, once properly leveled up, can really clean house. Or at the very least, leave colorful puke everywhere. Whee!

As you complete each battle, experience adds on, and stats become much better, so you grow more powerful over time. You can also do additional research and open up new skills and abilities for your characters, adding even further to the game’s growing replay value. It’s pretty cool. You can also use mods with certain characters- like your commander- which proves to be very handy.

Going out of battle and back into the main section of the map, you get a pretty good idea of how much you can establish within this world of Age of Wonders. This includes growing out your home base and creating new army members that you can spread across the landscape, along with establishing a colony with beings and homes, and growing food to keep things healthy. The more you establish, the more the colony grows, and the stronger you can become.

But that doesn’t stop the exploration factor of the game. You’ll have continuous new areas on the map that pop up, ripe for looking around and getting into battles every now and then. You can even up and move your colony around if you prefer, should you find an area that’s better suited for them. It could be a risky move, depending on who’s lingering- but so worth it for the experienced player.

Age of Wonders: Planetfall

You’ll need to be careful, though. Keeping your colony balanced is highly recommended, as they can easily go negative on you, forcing riots upon the land and throwing your potential group into chaos. You can declare Martial Law if need be, but, again, it’s a risk. If you’re prepared, however, you might just attain some good reward. Up to you, of course.

I’ll be honest- there’s a lot to take in here. But that’s kind of why Triumph took so long in putting Planetfalltogether. It wanted to recapture that spirit of Age of Wonders that players remember so well from earlier games, while at the same time delving deep into a battle system and race selection (again, we only tried three of the six provided in the final game) that will keep you busy for hours at a time.

And the smaller factors of the game really pay off as well. For instance, negotiation can be tough going at first, especially against a stagnant party that feels your relationship hasn’t established enough to get off the ground. But do a few things here and there and suddenly they’ll be back in touch, eager to do business and even partner up with you, should the situation call for it. Just be prepared, though- you never know just how much you need to trust your partner, especially when it comes to something as fickle as a joint war.

And the battle system, despite its learning curve, is very cool. You’ll learn tactics with each new go-around that you take, opening up new units that can do a lot for you. Mods and experience go a long way too, as your commander and company really hit the ground running in a number of ways. This will truly add up as later battles come around, as we learned after a couple of hours into getting into the game. Imagine how much crazier it’ll get when the endgame is revealed later this summer. Gasp.

One other noteworthy feature about Age of Wonders: Planetfall is its nature. While the game is serious in some cases, it’s also out to have fun in others. That doesn’t mean it’s a guffaw-filled affair, but you can see inspiration from other pieces of pop culture, from Star Wars to Dune to Fallout. We didn’t see too many of these in action over the course of our demo, but chances are Triumph is saving them for the finished product, so fans can find them on their own and see just how deep the lexicon truly digs. It’s nice to see that the company is holding back from letting too many spoilers escape before the final game releases.

There’s just…so much. We didn’t even dig that deep into the technology that’s available to you, or the parties that you can recruit outside of what your base produces, or even how much you can partner up with others, even if their nature doesn’t entirely mesh with yours. Age of Wonders: Planetfall looks to be packed to the hilt with the kind of content that turn-based strategy and role-playing fans will enjoy for hours. And who knows, it could have huge multiplayer potential as well, with others thrown into the universe and trying to grasp whatever they can grab hold of. (We’ll let you know as soon as this is incorporated into the game- for console owners, it’d be a vital feature.)

The PC version looks great thus far and plays really well with mouse and keyboard. It’s too soon to tell how the console ports will hold up, but the team is confident that they’ve got a winner on their hands. Again, there’s no release date for that version, but we’ll find out soon enough.

It’s nice to see Age of Wonders make a comeback with Age of Wonders: Planetfall, even if it did come a little later than expected. Hey, better than not at all, right, fans?

(Disclaimer: Triumph Studios provided travel to the event, and we appreciate their accommodations!)

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Tera and PUBG Crossover Event Announced

A month-long Tera and PUBG crossover event has been announced for Tera on PC, PS4, and Xbox One. During the event, you’ll be able to earn and unlock exclusive themed costumes and pets as well as getting daily login bonuses for the entire duration of the event. Of course, the sick rewards aren’t the only things you’ll find in Tera during the event. Tera players can look forward to dropping in and engaging PUBG-style BAMs. What that looks like beyond this one BAM, well we’ll just have to wait and see.

Decorative jeeps and planes will be littered around Highwatch and players will need to keep their eyes open for PUBG-themed consumables and air drops. While there will be things to grab and BAMs to take down the event is being labeled as a dungeon event so expect to do some dungeon diving too.

So if you need to gear up your Popori with a welder’s mask and a frying pan (and let’s be honest, everyone needs a frying pan) be sure to log in to Tera every day starting on March 5th.

Sadly for PUBG players, there isn’t a crossover event with TERA yet but I think it’s safe to say we all hope to get some of those amazing Castanic looks in PUBG. Or maybe that’s just me. If one does get announced we’ll be sure to update this post.

Crossover events like these are pretty common for studios with multiple online titles like Bluehole who run both Tera and PUBG. They’re fun, though a little bit immersion breaking at times. Of course, that isn’t a problem for Tera who already has things like comical little police cars and Hello Kitty items.

 

If you want more information about the Tera and PUBG crossover event check out the trailer below and the announcement on the official site.

Source: Press Release

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