Phantasy Star Online 2 Beta Begins Today

The initial Phantasy Star Online 2 Xbox One Beta will begin on Friday, February 7, at 5pm PST and end on Saturday, February 8, at 11:59pm PST.


Phantasy Star Online 2 is a free-to-play, action RPG developed and by Sega that was initially released in Japan in 2012 on PC. Eventually, it made its way to PlayStation 4, Vita, and the Nintendo Switch, but it never made its way out of Japan. However, there were a few tricks that allowed outsiders to play, but there has been a constant demand from Westerners for their own servers and access to the game.

Players outside of Japan will finally get that chance starting with the Closed Beta that begins this afternoon. Those granted access to the Beta by signing up through the Xbox Insider Hub will have the opportunity to complete Urgent Quests and receive special rewards.

Here is the Urgent Request schedule (PST) for February 7:

  • Cradle of Darkness – 8:00-8:30pm
  • Giant Automata: The Awakening – 10:00-10:30pm

February 8:

  • Cradle of Darkness – 7:00-7:30pm
  • Giant Automata: The Awakening – 1:00-1:30pm
  • Cradle of Darkness – 5:00-5:30pm
  • The Raging Obsidian Arm – 8:30-9:00pm
  • Elder of the Unfathomable Abyss – 9:00-9:30pm

Participating in these quests will grant special rewards, such as Photon Halo accessories and Triboost consumables.


Source: Official Site

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Phoenix Labs and Dauntless Purchased by Garena

It was recently announced that Dauntless developer Phoenix Labs has been acquired by Garena, which is the digital entertainment extension of Sea Limited.

dauntless founder's alpha

Dauntless is a free-to-play, co-op action RPG in the same vein of Monster Hunter. Early in development, Dauntless received significant hype due to being one of the first multiplayer-focused, ‘Monster Hunter’ style games of the current generation. While Monster Hunter: World did temper this hype slightly, Dauntless has still been successful on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch and it is one of the few games to feature crossplay between every system.

“Our partners at Garena have been our most steadfast supporters since the early days of Phoenix Labs, and we are excited to join forces with a global games leader,” said Jesse Houston, CEO and co-founder of Phoenix Labs. “With this next step, we’re able to ensure that we can provide the best possible experience for Dauntless players around the world. We’re extremely excited about what the future holds for Phoenix Labs, as we continue to support our ever-growing Dauntless community and explore future games.

Garena is a leading game publisher and developer in Singapore with more than 320 million active users in the third quarter of 2019.

Source: Press Release

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Bandai Namco Announce New MMORPG: Blue Protocol

Completely out of the blue Bandai Namco announced their new MMORPG Blue Protocol today. The game is being made by a team known as Project Sky Blue with members from Bandai Namco Online and Bandai Namco Studios. The action MMORPG is being created using Unreal Engine 4 and has been announced for PC.

The only thing we really know about the story comes from a bit of text under the game’s logo. It reads “The world is on the brink of devastation, now is the time to unite. March on with friends and strangers, and defeat foes beyond your might. Travel through space and time, to change the future beyond this fight.” Some pretty heavy stuff there, though it could mean any number of things.

It should also be said that Project Sky Blue is working on other games as well. More information about Blue Protocol has been promised at a later date. It should also be said that while MMOCulture is saying it is an MMORPG other sites are calling it an ARPG. Which one it is we can’t say as we don’t have anyone who can read Japanese and no one should ever use Google Translate for business purposes.

The fact that an English press release wasn’t given does suggest that perhaps the game won’t be released in the west, at least not initially. It’s also quite interesting that this game is for PC. Bandai Namco, and indeed many other developers have jumped on the mobile bandwagon. It is good to see that people are still making multiplayer games for PC that aren’t just Battle Royale. Still, we’ll keep an eye on this story and when there is more information released you’ll be able to find it on MMOGames.


Source: MMOCulture

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Wargaming Announces OARPG Pagan Online Will Launch in 2019

Today we got our first glimpse of Wargaming’s newest game, Pagan Online in an all-new gameplay trailer, which you can see a little further down. It is being created with Mad Head Games who are well known for Rite of Passage, Shadowplay, and NeverTales. The game will be launching in 2019, but, before it does there will be a series of pre-launch tests they’re calling trials. Registration for these trials is available on the official site.

In Pagan online heroes come face to face with hordes of enemies and battle bosses based on pre-Christian mythology. They use a combination of procedurally generated arenas along with multiple choices to make every encounter feel unique and give the feel of a living world.

Talking about Pagan Online the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Mad Head Games said, “With Pagan Online we’ve worked hard to deliver a fast-paced and intense combat system that’s easy to pick up but difficult to master. We took inspiration from MOBAs to create unique characters with specific skills and specialties, and when you put them into this type of combat system you end up with a family of fighters that do different things well in different scenarios.”

Finally, they boast difficult missions, high replayability, a ton of customization options, and intense combat. Having watched some of the immensely satisfying gifs they provided in the press release it isn’t hard to see why.

So, if you want to take part in the beta tests, sorry…trails for Pagan Online next year be sure to head over to the official site and sign up now. Also, no, we aren’t really sure what pre-Christian mythology includes either. But it will certainly be interesting to find out as they reveal more about the game!

Source: Press Release

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Torchlight Frontiers Wants to Wreck their Servers

If the bluster from Torchlight Frontiers is any indication, then the MMOARPG is ready to have a whole lot of people into its first major test. A Torchlight Frontiers server stress test is beseeching potential players to wreck the servers.

torchlight frontiers server stress test

The morning of Friday, November 16th will mark the first closed alpha test, but the devs appear to want to ramp things up at 3pm PST/6pm EST in the hopes of putting the game’s server tech through its paces.

“Melt them down to their very cores until nothing remains but blistered silicon,” urges the post. “Make sure our ancestors whisper in hushed tones about the day the Torchlight Frontiers servers fell – and rose again stronger than we could ever imagine.

What’s not made immediately clear in the post is whether or not this server stress test will mean that closed alpha has a very large pool or if there will be an open alpha period. We’ve reached out to the folks at Perfect World Entertainment for some clarification.

Server stress isn’t the only focus of the closed alpha. The devs are also looking to get feedback on a number of things like gameplay balance, horizontal progression, loot economy, Forts, and multiplayer mechanics.

Meanwhile, a recent trailer showcasing the Forged class has gone online. That’s available for viewing below.

Our Thoughts

Here’s hoping that this stress test – and everything else associated with the closed alpha of Torchlight Frontiers, for that matter – is helpful for the devs and entertaining for the players. And here’s also hoping that the server stress test actually means that launch won’t be a complete dumpster fire.

Sources: official site, press release

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Torchlight Frontiers Details its Free to Play Monetization

The Torchlight Frontiers folks have been pretty busy, releasing little bits of information every little while, but today they’ve released a pretty significant one: confirmation of a Torchlight Frontiers free to play model as well as their philosophy behind the monetization.

torchlight frontiers free to play

While the game’s free-to-play model is going to do its best to sell items “that you want to buy, but do not need to buy,” the game also offers a nod to the fact that some people don’t have time to earn everything via purely in-game means. As such, certain items that accelerate earnings like gold or luck will be on offer. There are also plans to include cosmetics like Fort decor.

The team is also considering selling special items like Relic Weapons on its storefront, though normal gear will always be earned from in-game pursuits. The blog suggests the addition of Relic Weapons is not finalized, but if it ever is there will be “reasonable” means to craft or find those same store Relics in-game.

Finally, the blog post states that content will not be paywalled and that its store items won’t be pay-to-win by virtue of the fact that Torchlight Frontiers isn’t a game you can win.

“We want you to be who and what you want to be in our world,” reads the post. “We know that killing a boss and finding that cool rare item is immensely satisfying, but buying that same item from a store or auction house is less so.”

Our Thoughts

Consider ourselves extremely leery of the addition of Relic Weapons to the in-game store, especially since those are literally means to buy power. Which can be seen as paying to win to some, semantics aside.

Source: official site

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Wargaming Enters the Online ARPG Scene with Pagan Online

When one thinks of Wargaming, they usually think of historically recreated vehicles of war blasting away at one another in online combat. That perception is changing just a bit with the company’s Pagan Online announcement, which is Wargaming’s first publishing foray into a whole new genre: the online multiplayer ARPG.

pagan online announcement

Set in a world of “dark pre-Christian mythology” according to the presser, Pagan Online looks to combine the grand tradition of action RPG gaming with combat mechanics from the world of MOBAs. Players can look forward to carnage-filled missions with multiple game modes and difficulty levels, as well as a single-player campaign that will receive episodic Battle Chapter updates.

“With Pagan Online we’ve modernized how combat in a top-down action RPG works,” claims Uros Banjesevic, co-founder and creative director of developer Mad Head Games. “[We’re] taking cues from MOBAs to create something that’s fast-paced, overwhelming with enemies, and super challenging.”

Pagan Online is due to arrive sometime in 2019 and is taking names to join in its pre-launch tests known as Trials. You can get a teasing CGI trailer for the game below.

Our Thoughts

Well…it certainly sounds good, and if this game’s MOBA/ARPG combat feels as good as that which was used in a game like Master X Master, then this could be one to watch. Still, we’re going to have to stay sat here on the fence until we see some actual gameplay on display.

Source: press release

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Path of Exile Confirms its PS4 Release

Well, it looks like the early portents were true. A Path of Exile PS4 release has been officially announced by Grinding Gear Games with details and all of the pomp and circumstance that an announcement like that brings.

path of exile ps4 release

Path of Exile is making its way to the PS4 some time in December, opening up the MMOARPG to an all new audience. Naturally, it will be arriving with all of its usual bells and whistles like its crafting system, procedurally generated dungeons, and seven classes, each with three subclasses and that absolutely monstrous skill tree. The game will launch as a free to play title and promises to avoid pay-to-win tactics.

The PS4 version will also include content in the upcoming 3.5.0 update, which is said to be the game’s largest yet. More information about that is due to arrive next week, but the devs have posted a forum thread detailing one of the update’s features: Private Leagues, which will let players put together their own punishingly difficult Leagues for their friends.

As one would expect, the Path of Exile PS4 release has an accompanying trailer that sets the scene for the uninitiated, which you can see below.

Our Thoughts

Based on our time investigating Path of Exile’s F2P model, we can pretty confidently say that this one is indeed a fair free to play release while also being an excellent MMOARPG. It’s certainly one fans of the genre should look forward to on the PS4.

Sources: press release, official forums

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Lost Ark Debuts a Lengthy Open Beta Trailer

We’ve discussed before about just what the in-development MMO Lost Ark has been doing all this time, but a new Lost Ark open beta trailer has provided perhaps an even tighter look at where things stand right now with 13 minutes’ worth of gameplay to showcase.

lost ark open beta trailer

The video covers pretty much everything one would want to know about Lost Ark, from a look at the game’s different classes, to its gathering professions, to PvP and PvE pursuits. There’s even a brief look at some of the game’s social hubs, house building and sailing around the game world. The trailer is in Korean, however, so you’ll have to use your own context clues about what’s being showcased, but honestly it’s not difficult.

According to MMO Culture, Lost Ark is working on first stabilizing the game in Korea before pursuing a larger release, and even then China will be the first territory to see the game outside of Korea assuming the country’s ongoing games freeze thaws out by then. For now, you can take in the complete look in the embed below.

Our Thoughts

That is some pretty spiffing MMOARPG gameplay, to be sure! Lost Ark certainly ticks many of the right boxes for a Korean action MMO, including flashy classes and interesting locations and set pieces. We’re hoping to hear more on whether this game will be coming further West, but as our writer noted, that likely won’t be a development we’ll see until sometime in 2019. Maybe.

Source: MMO Culture

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Torchlight Frontiers’ Horizontal Progression System is a Potential Game Changer

The first couple of Torchlight games were some of the best examples shaped by the Diablo school of action RPGs. As far as hack-and-slash titles go, you can’t go wrong with this series if you want a game that is easy to pick up, a blast to play, offers hours on end of content and plenty of exciting loot.

When Perfect World Entertainment announced the closure of Runic Games, I died a little inside. The developer of the acclaimed series was no more, and while there was some vague reassurance about future titles in this franchise, who would eventually carry the torch? As it turns out, Torchlight Frontiers was announced as the first game developed by a new studio, Echtra Games, founded by Max Schaefer, former co-founder of Runic Games. It all seems to come full circle.

Torchlight Frontiers represents the next step in the series, learning from the previous games while venturing deeper into online territory. Torchlight 2 had amazing multiplayer co-op, and it’s no secret that, for years, Runic Games sought to take the series into MMO territory. The plan was eventually put on the back burner, but clearly it was never forgotten.

There is a fundamental reason for all the excitement surrounding Torchlight Frontiers. It’s not the accomplished art style, nor the exciting combat that it luckily has inherited from past titles; the real reason lies on the Torchlight Frontiers’ horizontal progression system that aims to change the way that players delve through content in an MMO.

In most MMOs, your challenge consists of going through the game in the customary means, a vertical system, let’s put it that way. You level up your character, become stronger and ultimately reach the endgame, the place where you belong from then on. Past content soon becomes obsolete, irrelevant, leaving you with no reason at all to return to old dungeons or raids and one-shot hordes of poor, defenseless enemies. Echtra Games wants to give you a good motive to go back to previously explored locations and have fun doing it, while still finding it somewhat challenging and, above all, picking up some valuable loot and gold along the way. As the developers said it, it’s not about sitting on top of a powerful mountain, but more about building different kinds of power that will have a purpose through the entire game and not just endgame.

Torchlight Frontiers horizontal progression system

But how will they achieve this? Through a system that focuses on each specific area – the Frontiers from the title – and the tools that are best suited to succeed in these areas. Dynamic gear scaling is the name of the ‘magic trick,’ and Guild Wars 2 players may be able to identify its inner workings. To put it simply, your gear is temporarily scaled down accordingly to the lower level zone that you will be tackling. This is made in a way that retains some sort of challenge as to not feel like a boring task, and you won’t be wasting your time as you can still earn some precious rewards such as gold and skill points – don’t expect any rare gear or materials, but there will be enough to keep you coming back for more.

Not only that, but this system is also a great way to team up with a friend that joined the game late and is still going through the earlier areas. This way, you can join your friend in zones where your characters behave in similar ways, despite you being way more powerful when all is said and done. Your friend levels up, you get some nice extra rewards – it’s a win-win situation.

However, it wouldn’t be fair if your superior character was reduced to the level of any other new Torchlight Frontiers player, and this is where the dynamic gear scaling system plays another interesting card. Each zone drops specific equipment and it is up to you to use it in your favor. For example, the gear that you earned playing in the Goblin Frontier is aligned to that frontier, so you will be scaled favorably against the creatures in that area. On the other hand, use that same gear in the Hyvid Frontier and it will scale worse, as the monsters in the area are aligned to a different set of equipment. The scaling differences are slight, but as you surely know by now they can make all the difference when you are facing a powerful boss. Changing gear is extremely simple, with the press of a button taking you through the various sets at your disposal.

Torchlight Frontiers horizontal progression system - classes

Torchlight Frontiers is a game with no levels, so your power relies on your equipment sets, your pet’s abilities, your active and passive skills and a couple of other things that Echtra Games is keeping close to its chest.

There are a few other things that the Torchlight Frontiers developers are keeping secret, including the highly anticipated character classes. Apart from some glimpses from the announcement trailer, there is very little to no info on the classes apart from the two that were officially shown: Dusk Mage and Forged. Fingers crossed for a reasonable number of classes at launch, as the meager four from Torchlight 2 simply won’t cut it in a game with MMO ambitions.

The Dusk Mage (apparently classes aren’t gender-locked, thankfully) is a magic-based character with powers split between light and dark. The former is comprised of accurate and sharp shots, while the latter lean towards a disordered area-of-effect style of attacks. As for the Forged, this is an inventive four-legged automaton and the first fully robotic class in the series. It is capable of firing missiles as well as using a sword to swipe enemies up close, and is able to change its parts just like the other classes change their equipment. The interesting bit comes with the heat gauge, which replaces the mana sphere from other classes. Using skills increases heat, and when it is full, you must vent steam with a scorching area-of-effect attack. It’s a curious mix of regular skills and releasing steam that needs to be carefully balanced to obtain the best results.

Torchlight Frontiers horizontal progression system - goblin with mount

With its resolute goal of finding a place in the ever tough MMO market, Torchlight Frontiers tries its best to bring something new to the genre. However, you can expect to find some tried-and-tested mechanics as well, including instanced dungeons where you will find the precious loot and deadly enemies. The definitive number of players that will compose a party is yet to be revealed, but four is the figure that is currently thrown around for good measure and to keep the playfield from becoming too cluttered. While in the persistent towns, the number of players radically increases in pure MMO fashion, with all the interactions that you can expect, including shopping around, gathering and crafting.

Perfect World Entertainment has a catalogue where free-to-play games abound, but also operates some buy-to-play games such as Livelock. When asked about the business model for Torchlight Frontiers, the publisher wasn’t ready to reveal any details, postponing such info for a later date. I can see Torchlight Frontiers working with any of the business models, if the inevitable cash shop is faultlessly tailored to each scenario.

Torchlight Frontiers is scheduled for 2019 on PC first and soon followed by PS4 and Xbox One releases.

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