Minecraft Earth Closed Beta Begins Today

The Minecraft Earth closed beta started today for those who preregistered and are lucky enough to live in either London, Seattle, Stockholm, or Tokyo. If like all of us at MMOGames you aren’t lucky enough to live in one of those cities you can go onto Youtube or Twitch and see people playing it. As you might expect, at the moment the gameplay isn’t all that exciting or interesting. People are just getting settled in and learning how the game works. But with time it is sure to get more grand and more interesting to watch.

One cute feature of the game that wasn’t highlighted in any announcements is that if you’re in a car while in the game your character will ride in a minecart. Because why wouldn’t they? It’s little features like this that will really make Minecraft Earth stand out.

There is no word yet when or even if Minecraft Earth’s closed beta will open up to other cities. There also hasn’t been a release date announced for the game yet. Mojang has warned players however that progress will be wiped throughout the beta process. So, from the sounds of it beta might be going for a while.

“The integrity of your builds and data is super important to us, making sure that your creations and collection stay intact is a top priority. That said, we will wipe everything at least once during the beta period- Inventory, stats and build plates. That is because this is a true beta designed to test a huge amount of things. After the beta period ends, what you collect, build and own will stay there.”

According the new FAQ Minecraft Earth does include some iOS only features. “Minecraft Earth will use Apple ARKit’s People Occlusion to show people directly inside their life-size builds, and Motion Capture to trigger pre-set character animations in the game. This is part of ARKit 3.0 in the upcoming version of iOS, version 13.”

Players will need to remain active if they want to stay in the beta. Players who aren’t actively playing in a 7 day period will be removed from the beta and go back into the beta pool.

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Astellia – A Familiar Romp with Cool Battle Pets

With nearly every other studio turning to the more profitable mobile devices, there is a disturbing lack of new full-fledged PC MMORPGs. Therefore, it’s good news when something like Astellia is bound to be released in western territories. A Korean game that sticks to the guidelines of every other fantasy MMORPG, Astellia’s biggest selling point is its advanced pet system.

Astellia is a free-to-play game in native South Korea. Here’s hoping that doesn’t discourage you right from the start, but the translation to North America and Europe is made with an accompanying price tag. It’s the same strategy that other games such as Black Desert Online and Bless Online used in the past, with completely opposite results.

Astellia Preview Prologue War

However, it seems that the intrinsic limitations of the F2P model are being obliterated, at least judging by the amount of cool costumes you earn without spending a dime. A cash shop is evidently planned but not available at the time of this Astellia closed beta, so we’ll reserve our judgment for a later date. Developer Barunson E&A promises that Astellia will be a play-to-win game without any cash shop trickery, which always makes for some nice press, but in the end these claims tend to fall on deaf ears. We’ve heard it all before, right?

Despite the studio’s best efforts with localization and plans to remove gender-lock further down the road, Astellia feels generic. It’s your standard cookie-cutter MMORPG where you go with the flow instead of actually experiencing a memorable journey. It’s shaping up to be a decent game, but it doesn’t bring anything remotely new to the table and is terribly similar to Aion, which was released nearly a decade ago.

But Astellia is no Bless Online, I can tell you as much.

Astellia Preview Archer Battle

Heroes in High Heels

Starting with the class selection, you’ll notice that you are setting foot in familiar territory. You have five classes firmly set within the known boundaries of the genre: Archer, Warrior, Assassin, Mage and Scholar, all of them gender-locked for this beta. The removal of gender-lock is planned for after the official launch, so it should take a while before you can get your male Archer doing the rounds.

By now you probably expect the Archer and Scholar classes to be represented by your traditional female characters of otherworldly beauty standards, purposely wearing high heels into battle and still managing to sprint like Usain Bolt on a good day. The Mage character is, also expectedly, the teenage-looking girl that is probably older than you and I combined, for story purposes, although she doesn’t look like she’s any older than 12.

Costumes seem to come out from the minds of the same fashion designer that worked in Aion or TERA. These are undoubtedly stunning creations that deserve to be admired in every detail, and are clearly designed with that intent, but the female armor is mostly about fanservice with the traditional “less is more” approach to body protection. Video game logic, right?

Luckily, Astellia’s character creation system is exceptional, filled to the brim with every kind of slider that you could dream of. After Black Desert Online, player expectations regarding character customization naturally rocketed, so it’s nice to see that Astellia at least tries its best to keep up with the current benchmark. It’s not on the same level, but you’re able to create whatever you want to, from a pretty character to a devilish abomination, if you feel so inclined. Sadly, there is no slider to remove those heels.

Astellia Preview Level 50 Gear

When the game starts, a vision of a freakish living doll with a huge cog serving as a hula hoop will introduce you to a world on the verge of chaos. Everything is going to hell, there is a really bad woman doing really bad stuff to innocent people. It’s the kind of prelude where the excitement ramps up to eleven, grabbing you by the collar, only to end in an underwhelming and predictable way; you are special and it’s your mission to save the land, going where the wind takes you and completing quests for anyone who has the audacity to ask. Fixing some fences? Sure. Picking up mushrooms? Why not, I know how to do that. Finding some escaped pigs? My life experience has led me to this moment. Will you care for the story? I doubt that many players will hesitate when it comes to skipping dialogue.

Astellia’s quests are bog-standard, with an overly straightforward approach consisting of clearing up the quests in one area before moving on to the adjacent region. The aforementioned quests are good examples of what awaits you and your greatness, with the occasional dungeon to provide a moment of respite once in a while. Granted, there isn’t much that can be done to spice up things for the entire duration of an MMORPG, but hopefully endgame will bring some added excitement to an adventure that feels like so many others.

Occasionally, you may feel tempted to explore the land in search of hidden chests, a little feature that is meant to distract you from the main questing. Finding these chests will unlock some achievements, getting you some little rewards for your trouble, but it’s more likely that you’ll stumble upon them by accident than design.

Astellia Preview Astel Cards List

Battle Pets

Astellia comes with a distinguishing feature in the form of the Astel system. More than glorified pets, Astels are the companions that you will meet and recruit during your journey. It’s like finding Pokémon and evolving them, with the added bonus of sporadic chitchat to push the story forward.

Before an Astel decides to join you in your adventures, you must convince it by means of a quest chain. These are usually simple and reward you with a brief cutscene showing the endearing design of these creatures. While most of the designs seem veered towards the usual cute small girl with a characteristic theme (fish, tea, music and so on), some are more clever in their approach. Such is the case of Tetrinio, a hyperactive duck with serious Don Quixote ambitions and equal levels of bravery and foolishness. Currently there are over 30 Astels of different classes and with different buffs to discover.

You can always keep one Astel with you, but you are able to summon two more when push comes to shove. Each additional summon speeds up the drain of your stamina bar, meaning that you’ll only be able to have three simultaneous Astels in battle for a few seconds. You can level up your Astels and raise their abilities with various Star Jewel stones. I enjoyed the Astel mechanics as it opens up the potential for more tactical battles, being a slight step up from your traditional pet or companion system.

Astellia Preview Dungeon Boss

However, it is held back by an outdated tab-targeting combat system. Chaining skills isn’t as smooth as it should be, and animation canceling is a feature that is still being worked on. Animation locking can also be a problem, preventing active dodges to be used to their fullest. This esults in combat that theoretically has some depth, but needs further polishing to make it feel smooth and enjoyable. I like that you can enhance skills and create interesting combos, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before and it is never going to feel like pure action combat.

Astellia comes with the remaining features that you would expect from an MMORPG, including gathering and crafting, or the mandatory arena for PvP. It’s a game with considerable depth that does enough to stand above other unsuccessful experiments, but it lacks that defining component that makes heads turn in awe. The core mechanics are in place and give you a reasonable idea of what it wants to be, but it’s definitely a work in progress.

The graphics aren’t a problem, but it’s not like the Unreal Engine 3 is going to make your game stand out from the competition. Astellia is above average by today’s standards and in some locations it looks truly pretty, but it’s not vastly superior to the likes of TERA, a game from 2011 that runs on the same engine.

Astellia Preview Archer Scholar Classes

It’s difficult to come up with a groundbreaking MMORPG, which is why I don’t want to sound overly harsh. Astellia is a game that tries to tick all the right boxes and is currently being improved in some of its more sensible areas, such as combat and classes. No matter how much it’s fine tuned or its rough edges are smoothed, it’s never going to turn into a shiny diamond. Switching it from free-to-play into a premium game will also place it under heavy scrutiny from players who are familiar with the practices of the Korean version.

Will it be a better game when the official launch time comes? It’s highly likely. However, gamers nowadays are known for their short fuse and unwavering demands, without any consideration for the amount of work that a certain task may require. Gender-lock is a good example of a pressing issue that must be solved as soon as possible, otherwise word of mouth may do some irreparable damage to this game. Astellia may be as familiar as they come, but there is some fun to be had exploring the huge world, if you’re not too demanding or looking for the next big thing.

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Astellia Closed Beta Begins Today

Today marks the day that the Astellia closed beta begins for those who are lucky enough to have access. It is being called a classical MMORPG that strives to return the genre to its roots. It’s set in a vibrant world where Astellians, heroes blessed by the stars, call upon magical allies known as Astels. If you’re looking for an MMO with the classic holy trinity then you may want to take a look at Astellia. They have the trinity then allow for customization with more than 30 Astels, skill combos, and ability powers.

To get access you either have to get lucky with a key giveaway on their official Discord or pre-purchase the game. The current closed beta event will continue for one week until July 2nd. Beta testers will be providing the studio with information on progression speed and some updated combat systems. They’ll be providing a baseline for how various systems are being used.

On Saturday players will have the opportunity to try out high-end gameplay thanks to a level boost in which they will get suitable equipment for the job.

For the sake of the beta test there will only be one server for North America and Europe but when the game launches they will be separate. According to their press release this is being done to apply as much pressure to the system as possible during beta.

So if you want to try out an old style MMO made in the modern age pre-purchase the game or head over to Discord.

 

Source: Press Release

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Minecraft Earth is Taking on Pokemon Go This Summer

Have you ever been playing Pokemon Go and said to yourself “I wish this had more Minecraft in it?” Well if you have then you’re in luck, and maybe a little weird, not that we’re judging. Microsoft and Mojang have announced a new Augmented Reality game that is going to be taking the world by storm this summer, Minecraft Earth. Minecraft Earth will be a free to play game on Android and iOS and a closed beta is scheduled for this summer.

As you explore in Minecraft Earth you can find treasure chests, clusters of blocks, or mobs which have been given the nickname of “Tappables.” You’ll also be able to come across Adventures, which overlay a full Minecraft-like area with resources you can collect and mobs you can take out. The studio has also promised that we will see new mobs and new variants that are unique to Minecraft Earth. Of course, it wouldn’t be Minecraft if it didn’t have some building component to it. You’ll be able to find Build Plates where you can put together small environments that become life-sized when they’re placed. Best of all, there will be multiplayer, unlike a certain pocket monster game that shall remain unnamed.

If you want a chance to take part in the closed beta you can head over to the official site for Minecraft Earth and register now. As a way of saying thank you for registering so early, you’ll be able to get your hands on a free skin for Minecraft Earth and Minecraft Bedrock. If you want to know more about the game, and let’s admit it, you kinda do. Mojang has been kind enough to provide a pretty extensive FAQ that includes information about player safety amongst other things.

 

Source: Minecraft Earth Official Site, Gamespot

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Fallout 76 Dates its Next Beta and Shows Off PC Pre-Order Goodies

Things are rolling right along for Fallout 76 it looks like. The next Fallout 76 beta test has confirmed its release date; the pretty darn generous pre-order bonuses for PC players have been officially unveiled; and there’s even a new live-action trailer that was debuted last night posted online for those who don’t watch American football.

fallout 76 beta

The next B.E.T.A. test for the game will run this coming Tuesday, October 30th from 7pm EST to 11pm EST, or 4pm PST and 11pm UK. This time around, the beta will also include PlayStation 4 and PC players as well as the Xbox One edition.

Speaking of the PC version, those who decided to pre-order the game on PC are going to get the complete Fallout Classic Collection, which bundles together Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout Tactics. This freebie applies to those who are either pre-ordering now or have done so previously.

In other Fallout 76 news, word from Gamespot has provided a little more insight into the game’s microtransactions model. Speaking with press at PAX Aus, Bethesda’s Pete Hines has promised that these microtransactions will feature cosmetics and will avoid pay-to-win. Additionally, those who would rather not buy funny money for shinies will receive “a sh*tload” of the game’s store currency for simply playing.

Finally, Fallout’s PR machine has spooled up with the debut of a live-action trailer for the game, which first premiered during the Saints vs. Vikings game. That can be seen below.

Our Thoughts

Plenty to digest there. We’re hoping that the game’s store does indeed keep out of the P2W bear trap, and we kind of wish the upcoming beta test was a bit longer. Still, we’re not too far removed from the game’s ultimate launch, so patience won’t be too hard of a virtue to follow.

Sources: press release, official site, Gamespot

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Fallout 76 Beta Dates Revealed

It’s been a slow but steady drip of information from Fallout 76, most of which involving the animated shorts that expand upon the game’s systems in suitable propaganda film form. One detail that many have been wondering about, though, is the Fallout 76 beta launch dates. Well, we now have an answer to that question.

fallout 76 beta launch dates

Beta, or B.E.T.A. (Break-it Early Test Application) as the game likes to call it, will arrive to Xbox One players on Tuesday, October 23rd. PC and PlayStation 4 players will get their shot a week later, on Tuesday, October 30th.

As one would expect, the game’s FAQ page has been updated with a number of important details about beta. Some of the more important highlights are the fact that PS4 and Xbox One players will need to be subscribers to each console’s online membership program to access the game, and word that beta will run at very specific time frames for approximately four to eight hours in order to stress test systems.

As for gameplay, the beta build will indeed be the full game, and the team is hoping that progress in beta will carry over to the full game as reported previously.

A new trailer has also come along for the ride with the beta launch date announcement, offering the first look at the game’s intro cinematic. That can be viewed below.

Our Thoughts

Well, at long last, everyone’s going to the Appalachian wasteland. While it would be nice to have the beta running 24/7, we appreciate the decision to run things at certain times in order to maximize opportunities to break the infrastructure. Here’s hoping testing goes successfully!

Sources: press release, official site

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When Did Early Access Start Meaning Launch?

Testing of games prior to their release used to look very different than it does today. Even now we seem to be in the midst of another change. It can be seen in the language and attitudes of developers and PR representatives. We are getting to a stage where Early Access means Launch.

It used to be game testing was done strictly behind the scenes. Studios would have in-house beta testers or hire professionals under a strict NDA to test the game for them. This is still done for single player titles today. Over time this changed and the general public was suddenly finding themselves invited to take part in beta testing, often for MMOs that studios couldn’t reasonably test on their own. During these early days of beta testing you would have to fill out a questionnaire about yourself and if you got in you would get a disc to install the game. This was back when you would actually be excited for the mail delivery to be made, much like waiting for an Amazon shipment these days. Of course, good things rarely come in the mail anymore.

Dauntless Beta Video

Open beta testing was introduced and suddenly anyone with sufficient hardware and the time could take part. This opened up the opportunity to test the strain on servers, catch more bugs, and get feedback from people who would actually be playing the game. From a marketing standpoint, it was fantastic as well. It got the news out about the game without the need for advertisement, and word of mouth from people who took part in the open beta was invaluable.

This is when we started seeing a shift. Games in open beta had to be more polished, they had to be nearly perfect and ready for launch if not completely. They became less of a testing tool and more of a marketing one. During the height of Facebook gaming, many games were in a perpetual state of beta with many never even formally launching. However, they were still playable by anyone and you could spend money in the games. They were well polished but insisting that they were in beta. This was a marketing choice.

MMOs started to catch on to the idea as well and the concept of a soft launch came into being. It was called open beta but there would be no progression wipes, the servers were always on, and the game ran as though it had launched. This idea didn’t last terribly long though because idea of Early Access soon came into being.

To this day developers haven’t really settled on what Early Access means. For some, Early Access means “I announced my game 5 minutes ago, it has half a map and only male characters.” For others it is the final stage of testing and a time when paying players can give input before the game launches. While others live in a state of perpetual Early Access and never show any signs that they’re progressing towards launch. These are often games that are still in development but people pay to play the game and in return development of the game continues. DayZ is perhaps the most famous example of this. The game has been in development for 6 years now and five of those years in Early Access.

DayZ

This year we’ve started seeing the words launch and Early Access together. Using DayZ as the example once again, at Gamescom 2018 Bohemia announced that the release date for DayZ for Early Access on Xbox Game Preview would be August 29th. Last week, Battle Royale game Battlerite Royale put out a press release that was titled “Battlerite Royale Release Date Revealed.” Further reading to the very first sentence of the press release showed that what they actually meant was the start of Early Access.

The line between Early Access, beta testing, and launch is becoming harder and harder to see, not only because of the language used but the way these stages are being used by developers themselves. Games that are in Early Access are making money and don’t require all the fine-tuned polish that is expected of a fully launched game. Come across a bug? Sorry, we’re in Early Access…bugs are expected. By the way, buy this sparkle pony for $5.99!

Battlerite Royale

From a consumer’s point of view, it looks like a great deal. It pushes those instant gratification buttons. If you could pay $10 to see Marvel’s Infinity War Part 2 right now, but maybe all the CG isn’t done yet…would you do it? I know I would at the very least give it some heavy consideration. Instead of having to wait, you would get to see a slightly less polished version right now. What if that became the norm? The next Guardians of the Galaxy movie (if there is one) doesn’t have Rocket or Groot as CG anymore. Instead, you’ve got Sean Gunn running around on his knees and a random dude in a blue suit wearing Groot’s head as a helmet.

This is what Early Access has become for the gaming industry. We think we’re paying for the privilege of getting our hands on the game early. At least that’s how it feels in our minds, but from a development point of view, it is seen much differently. Early Access grants them funding for games much sooner than they would have previously. This means more games are able to be made. This isn’t always a good thing though. How many bad Early Access games are there currently on Steam? How many games never reach the point where they’re polished enough to launch? Many games spend so long in Early Access that they have their peak during Early Access and then use launching as a marketing tool to bring people back after the game has started to decline.

The quality of our games is going down because of the way Early Access is used. Consumers are the ones paying the price for these industry practices. Sadly, there are only two options, continue to buy into games in the Early Access stage keep the trend going or stop paying from Early Access. Unless everyone does it together, the industry will always have someone willing to pay for an incomplete game.

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Camelot Unchained’s First Beta Test Goes Live

Camelot Unchained‘s RvR MMORPG is making a pretty sizeable breakthrough today. The very first Camelot Unchained closed beta test is online, letting backers of the game get some new hands-on time with the game’s latest build.

camelot unchained closed beta

According to a shared Beta 1 document from the devs, Beta 1 for Camelot Unchained will be arriving with a pretty broad amount of features, though it won’t be feature-complete as one would likely expect.

“Beta 1 should be more about the fun, whenever possible for the players, than Alpha was,” reads the Guiding Principles section of the document. “While it is still a Beta 1 test, having more fun things to do, such as the Saturday Night Sieges and other such tests/games, will go a long way toward making Beta 1 something that non-Backers as well as Backers will want to be part of over the remainder of the year.”

Fans of Camelot Unchained should bear in mind that this test will be under an NDA, so we’re likely not going to be seeing a lot of shared information from unofficial sources, or if you do they’re breaking the agreement. Additionally, testing will be at specific times, generally during one window on a Saturday or Sunday. EU fans shouldn’t worry, though; tests will run in a long enough window that Saturday night tests won’t just mean North America’s version of Saturday night.

A complete breakdown of the information available right now can be found here.

Our Thoughts

First thing’s first: congratulations to the folks at City State Entertainment for making it to this milestone! While the testing windows may seem small, we suspect that they will be valuable and hopefully will also be fun. We’re looking forward to seeing more developments in both the build and the scale of testing in the coming months.

Source: Camelot Unchained subreddit

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Realm Royale Begins Console Beta Next Week

I promise, I’m not being intentionally vague in that headline regarding the Realm Royale console beta launch date. That’s literally the best information the announcement provided; the fantasy-based battle royale shooter is starting its beta on consoles next week.

realm royale console beta

At some point next week, players on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 will get their opportunity to battle royally in 100-player fights to the death. Entry to the beta will require a key, which sounds about as simple as signing up on the game’s website., so perhaps it’s safer to call it a soft launch than beta. Who knows anymore, honestly.

“Since Realm Royale first released on PC, the top three questions on social media have been ‘Console?,’ ‘PS4?,’ and ‘Xbox?’,” remarked executive producer Rory Newburgh. “We understand our community wants Realm Royale on console, and we’re thrilled to announce console closed beta testing starts next week.”

As is often the way of announcements like this, there’s a trailer full of hype attached which can be seen below.

Our Thoughts

As loaded as the battle royale scene overall is, the console market for same doesn’t seem quite as crowded, so the arrival of Realm Royale to PS4 and XB1 could indeed be a good thing. In any case, we hope that fans of the game are looking forward to its console iteration.

Source: press release

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Bullet Hell MMO Survived By Heads to Closed Beta

The folks at Digital Extremes have had their heads down and hard at work on Survived By, a retro-styled bullet hell permadeath MMO. That work is now yielding some big results as the team kicks off a Survived By closed beta, releasing a new build with new features.

survived by closed beta

The new build of Survived By is bringing on the heat just in case “bullet hell permadeath MMO” didn’t already sound challenging enough with a new 10-player raid and hard-mode dungeons, along with updates to the MMO’s visuals and UI.

The raid, known as the Conduit of Fire, will feature new enemies, three bosses to square off instead of just the one like in normal dungeons, and (naturally) rare rewards including crafting reagents to build unique weapons and armor. The new hard dungeons, meanwhile, tweak existing locations with more rooms, more monsters, and more loot.

Survived By is also holding its first-ever in-game event called Prophecies of Sin. During this event, players will need to battle a new boss monster atop the Ziggurat of Sin in the Burning Sands area for a chance at exclusive skins, gear and titles.

Prophecies of Sin runs from now until July 25th, while the closed beta is taking in more players who sign up. While you’re there, you can also get some more details on the event here.

Our Thoughts

Sounds a lot like things for Survived By are moving at a nice, steady pace development-wise! We’re definitely looking forward to this next phase of this unique MMO’s growth and hope players in-game enjoy whatever bullet hellish challenges they take up.

Source: press release

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