Guild Wars 2 Content Developer Lays out Plans for the Year

Andrew Grey, the Lead Guild Wars 2 Content Developer took to the game’s forums today to discuss some of what players can look forward to in the year to come. But he started by saying that “2019 was hard. I’ve been with ArenaNet since 2004 and I can say without question that 2019 was the studio’s most challenging.” And it was indeed a difficult year for ArenaNet with layoffs and a few major departures.

The post also mentions that they are laying the groundwork for an exciting future and that details they can reveal right now are a bit sparse.

To start with though, they’ll be revealing more information about Visions of the Past at PAX East, which takes place at the end of February.

The map for episodes three and four will be meta focused with a push and pull feel similar to WvW. This also makes it sound a lot like the Silverwastes which is to this day a popular zone to play in.

He then went on to talk about what the Living World would be like after episode four. “After episode four, again I’m going to be somewhat vague here, but we want to revisit some of the types of content we pioneered in the past. We learned a lot with Living World Season One and one thing it did very well was to bring the community into the story, and make their actions drive the plot forward. The Nightmare Tower, the election between Evon Gnashblade and Ellen Kiel – these things are memorable experiences because the community’s combined efforts had an impact on the world. As you may have noticed, we’ve been testing tech with things like the boss rush event, that we hope to leverage later on in The Icebrood Saga to create a unique, community experience. But, learning lessons from Season 1, the bulk of this content will be built in a way that it is still playable after the Icebrood Saga comes to a close.” ArenaNet will also be focusing more on repeatable content.

On Fractals, he said that “Reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated” and also apologized for the silence on the topic. Cameron Rich, the designer of the Fractals from Season 3 will be working on a new Fractal and the studio is still very committed to making them work.

What he says on raids though is a little bit less optimistic. “Raids are a trickier beast. They’re a unique experience and community that we want to find better ways to support, the biggest challenge in creating more is the small audience they attract. We gathered data to determine why, and the most common answer was that there is a giant leap in difficulty between raids and other endgame content, and there isn’t anything to help players work their way up.

Our intention was for Strike Missions to be that intermediary step into 10-person content. As we’ve mentioned before and you’ve likely noticed, strike missions are getting harder. Once a full suite of strike missions is complete there should be a graceful ramp up to the existing raid content rather than the imposing leap that previously existed, and our hope is once that ramp is in place, the number of players participating in raids will go up. In addition to that, we’re striving to make improvements to Strike Missions themselves to make grouping easier, and to improve the rewards. We hope this will help introduce more people to 10-person content, which will in turn increase the number of people interested in Raids.

Regardless of if that succeeds or not, we understand the importance of balancing our efforts between accessible content with broad appeal, and content that appeals to the more hard core audience, and recognize that we need to do a better job of supporting the latter.”

 

Source: Official Forums

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How Amazon Can Foster PvE in New World

Amazon’s New World is one of the more promising new MMOs to be announced in recent years, but from the start it’s been bogged down by worries it will have nothing to offer the PvE player. Initially, it sounded like a pure PvP game; now they seem to be spending more time hyping its PvE aspects, but we still don’t have a clear picture of how the balance will work out in practice. Let’s look at some of the things Amazon could do to foster PvE in New World.

A party of characters ready to pursue PvE in New World.We know the PvP will be optional, seemingly with some kind of a toggle system that will allow players to opt out. That’s a great start, but we don’t really know how viable PvE play will be. If all of the best rewards are only available through PvP then PvE players will be left begging for scraps and probably lose interest quickly.

If Amazon really wants to foster PvE in New World, they need to make meaningful progression for PvE players. It doesn’t need to be perfect parity with PvP in all areas, but there should be options for the monster-slayers among us to have rewards that feel satisfying and attainable.

Something that particularly concerns me right now is housing. Housing seems to be tied to PvP territorial wars, and I think I speak for a lot of PvE players when I say I don’t want the existence or affordability of my in-game home to be beholden to warring factions. I’d accept a smaller or limited home if it meant I could also have safety and stability, regardless of what guild is presently ascendant.

Something else that’s important for PvE in New World to flourish is for the PvE content to actually be fun and engaging. It can’t just can be picking flowers and mindlessly mowing down trash mobs.

PvE could be a great way to flesh out the intriguing lore of the setting of Aeternum. Being more of a sandbox title, I don’t expect New World to be flush with story quests, but there’s still room for occasional narrative adventures, or perhaps environmental puzzles to uncover snippets of lore about the previous failed colonization attempts of Aeternum.

World bosses could also be a great option for PvE in New World. It doesn’t seem like a game where an emphasis on instanced dungeons and raids would make much sense, but open world boss fights similar to those of Guild Wars 2 would be an excellent option to give PvE players an interesting endgame beyond simply farming.

Something like this has already been announced in the form of world events called Corrupted Breaches, in which players face hordes of monsters warped by the magic of Aeternum, so it seems Amazon may be on the right track.

It’s still too early to say with certainty how well PvE in New World will be handled, but the fact that Amazon has already done such a good job of listening to feedback and providing options for PvE players as well as more competitive types is, in this writer’s opinion, a very positive sign, and as a PvE player myself, I feel a cautious but growing optimism toward the game.

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Pokemon Go Battle League Begins Rolling Out

We’ve mentioned it before but now the Pokemon Go Battle League is finally here! It is being rolled out slowly based on Trainer level in order to ensure stability as the new system stretches its legs. It’s all starting with a preseason that will act a bit like a beta. During this time playing won’t be competitive but you will be helping to balance and optimize the Go Battle League. It will also give Niantic the opportunity to learn how the league is being used. This will help them determine the length of seasons, thresholds for ranks, and more.

The preseason will begin in the Great League then go to Ultra and finally the Master League. Leagues will rotate every two weeks. You will also be able to rank during the preseason, however, once Season 1 begins your rank will be partially reset. You will also still earn rewards. As you battle you’ll earn a large amount of stardust. How much is determined by your rank and how many of the five battles you win. You’ll also be able to earn important battle-related items like rare candy and TMs along with exclusive Pokemon Encounters. That includes Pikachu Libre. There will also be Pikachu Libre themed avatar items that you’ll be able to unlock.

Premium Raid Passes are turning into Premium Battle Passes. This will allow players to enter the premium track in Go Battle League. The premium track is even more rewarding than the normal track. Though it won’t help you increase your rank or rating any faster.

But, before you can do any battling you’re going to have to walk 5 kilometers to unlock a set of 5 online matches. Or if you’ve walked 2km you can instead purchase your way to battling with Pokecoins.

 

Source: Press Release

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WoW Wednesday: What’s New in Season 4?

Ny’alotha awakens and with the rise of N’zoth comes Season 4 for Battle for Azeroth! As the last Old God begins to unfurl the lengths of his millennia spanning plans, champions of Azeroth gird themselves for a war for the fate of the world. With Season 4 officially beginning this week, we’ll be diving into everything that’s new with its release.

Ny’alotha, The Waking City

First and foremost is the release of Battle for Azeroth’s fourth and final major raid tier, Ny’alotha, The Waking City. With its newfound freedom, N’zoth has begun his long awaited siege on the waking world. Enroaching upon the Forge of Origination, Azeroth’s land-scouring reset button, and the Engine of Nakk-Shalak, its power source, it is only a matter of time before the Old God removes all hope. Desperate to end the threat before everything its lost, Magni Bronzebeard, the Speaker for Azeroth, and Wrathion the Black Prince prepare a desperate gambit. In order to destroy N’zoth forever, they must besiege his very seat of power and hope that the corruption does the hearts of its heroes…


Following the previous raid tier, Azshara’s Eternal Palace, Ny’alotha, The Waking City continues to follow a linear progression system in its boss encounters. While there are several ‘choice’ encounters that players can rotate through, each of the raid’s twelve boss encounters are mostly linear in their progression.

Following previous concepts from the final raids of Mists of Pandaria, Warlords of Draenor and Legion, Ny’alotha features an immense host of cosmetic rewards including one that will only be available until the Shadowlands pre-patch. Rewarded for defeating N’zoth on Heroic and Mythic difficulties only, the Uncorrupted Voidwing will close a loop with the Black Prince that remains unanswered. With the corruption of Twilight Dragons and their servitude to the Old Gods, what future does the doomed flight have in Azeroth?

New essences will also abound for players venturing into The Waking City. Similar to the Aqueous Reliquaries of the Eternal Palace, Encrypted Ny’alotha Texts can be combined to form the raid’s Heart of Azeroth Essence. These Texts will only drop from five bosses, including The Prophet Skitra. Like previous raid-progression systems the amount of Texts you can collect per week will increase with higher difficulties. Mythic will reward the most week-to-week.

Looking for Raid Wing 1 and Mythic Difficulty will open the week after your region’s particular launch of Season 3. Players are advised to complete the introduction storyline and gain the first few ranks of their new legendary cloak, Ashjra’kamas, Shroud of Resolve, before entering. You can read up on that and the Horrific Visions systems from our previous coverage.

Step Into the Arena!


Battle for Azeroth 
Season 4 brings a new and glamorous title to the mix, “Corrupted Gladiator.” With the rollover into the next season of Rated PvP, both personal and matchmaking ratings will normalize and return to zero. This means a fresh start for all players seeking to carve their name into the halls of conquerors.

Returning to Season 4 is the graduated Elite Gladiator System, rewarding players who advance their rating with progressive unlockables for your Elite Notorious Gladiator sets, as well as the seasonal tabard, enchantment, and cloak. Those looking to claim the Gladiator Title and the Corrupted Gladiator’s Proto-Drake must also win an additional 50 games in the Elite bracket (2400+). Those looking to claim the “Corrupted Gladiator” title must place in the top 0.1% of rankings in their region, as well as claim 150 victories in 3v3 Arenas during Season 3. The returning Gladiator’s Dreadflame enchantment appearance will still be attainable for those who hit 2100 rating in Season 4.

Returning to Season 4 are temporary seasonal “Elite Class” titles. These titles will be awarded to players who reach the Elite bracket. Several PvP exclusive Essences will continue to appear in Conquest Chests at week’s end, including Conflict and Strife. Others such as Blood of the Enemy can be unlocked through several PvP encounters. Like their PvE counterparts, these Essences have various ranks and may require improving your personal rating to unlock higher tiers.

At this time, Gladiator PvP sets from Seasons 1, 2 and 3 will be unavailable to purchase until a later date.

Marvelous Mythic+

With the start of a new season comes a plethora of adjustments for the Dungeon Delvers of Azeroth. Whereas there is no scaling adjustments akin to Season 3’s brutal changes, difficulty and health will increase more in line with what players are used to from previous seasons. Key depletion will, however, be far more intense, and failed dungeons have the potential to scale down by multiple ranks. A host of Mythic+ dungeon mechanics, including several found in King’s Rest and Freehold, are seeing nerfs due to the heavy and punishing damage they can rapidly deliver. The Quaking Affix has also received a massive change; no longer will players be able to damage themselves but the damage increase for their fellows has increased from 20% to 40%!


With N’zoth’s growing reach across Azeroth and the waking world, a new Mythic affix has been introduced as the Seasonal Affix: Awakened. Similar to last season’s affix, Beguiling, each Mythic 10 dungeon and higher will have a series of pylons scattered around the instance. Whenever these pylons are interacted with, you will be dragged into the dreaming world where a Lieutenant of N’zoth and his minions are contained. After they are defeated you can return to the waking world, allowing you to potentially skip large swaths of the dungeon! But beware: each Lieutenant left alive will join the final boss when you face them.

Additionally, the Season 2 affix, Bwonsamdi’s Bargain, will return on dungeons that are Mythic 9 or lower to encourage you to play depleted keys. Mechagon, 8.2’s megadungeon, also enters the Mythic+ rotation with its two major halves divided up. The Junkyard will feature the exterior portions of Mechagon and its first four bosses. The Workshop will feature all encounters inside Mechagon City itself, and is more boss heavy than it’s predecessor. Hard Mode will not be eligible for players engaging either wing in Mythic+.

Upgrading Gear Tables!

Alongside the opening of Ny’alotha, The Waking City, players will find new loot with increased item levels in their weekly activities. Baseline rewards in Normal, Heroic, Mythic and Mythic+ content have been increased by 30 item levels, putting them on par with previous raid tier rewards.

Gladiator PvP Gear now begins at item level 430 in both the Conquest Chest and regular rewards from Rated Player vs. Player activities. Like last season, players will be able to choose from at least four different rewards in their weekly Conquest Bar. On weeks when the gear rewarded is neither a piece of Azerite Gear, trinket or weapon, players will be able to choose between two different item slots of gear.

Emissary rewards for World Quests have likewise been increased and several items may re-roll or update their stats with the star of the Season. Throughout Season 4, gear may have the chance to become corrupted by N’zoth’s growing influence, and bring with it dangerous new rewards. These can be mitigated by venturing through Horrific Visions, which are vital to your progression in the new Season. You can read more about it here!

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Hordes.io Preview – New .io on the Block

Hordes.io is the latest block party aiming to become all the rage. This is an MMORPG undressed of all the superfluous aspects of the genre, sticking to the basics and immediacy that make it a must for PvP fans. Furthermore, it’s awfully cute, with its quaint World of Warcraft meets Minecraft looks. Every time that I see a block do a flip, nostalgia reminds me that there may be a bit of Dizzy in this game as well, minus the eggs. If fortune continues smiling upon Hordes.io, we may be about to witness the coining of the Block versus Block term.

A one-man project created by a developer simply known as Dek, Hordes.io can become addictive thanks to its simplicity and focus, traits that some players may mistakenly confuse for lack of depth. Io games are renowned for their virtuous and persuasive design, often resulting in unabashed attention grabbers, with Agar.io and Slither.io being two of the prime examples.

Simplicity is what makes Hordes.io tick. This is an MMO that even someone who is only remotely familiar with the genre can pick up and play in minutes, with no unnecessary bells and whistles to hinder the experience. Just as it happens with other .io games, Hordes.io has a gameplay loop that is refreshingly simple and compelling, but inherently repetitive – that shortcoming can be said of most games in the genre. However, it is a work in progress and the developer has big plans to add more features, turning it into more like a full-fledged MMORPG, while never letting the freshness of a .io game out of sight.

Hordes.io Base

War of the Blocks | Hordes.io Preview

In pure MMO fashion, your adventure in Hordes.io begins with the class selection. There isn’t much to sink your teeth into right now, but the four options should cover the basic needs of any MMORPG enthusiast. Warriors are the tanks that will keep the enemy busy, as Archers strike from a safe distance. Meanwhile, Mages deliver heavy AoE damage and other magic skills that hinder their foes, while the Shaman class provides support to the group by means of heals, buffs, and debuffs. You have probably spotted your favorite playstyle in there, but that doesn’t mean that other class variations won’t be added as development progresses.

The village is your sanctuary, the place that you and other players frequently return to in order to get some rest from the endless skirmish. Hordes.io is an MMORPG with no old-fashioned quests, as odd as that may sound, although the developer has admitted that he will add quests to give players some much-needed relief between battles. However, quests shouldn’t stray too far from the essence of the game, as the plan is to create simple kill quests to make players level up faster and give them an additional reason to return to base.

When your backpack is overflowing with spoils of war, your best bet is to use the Conjurer’s Recall skill to teleport back to base. Head over to the Trader and sell any goods that you don’t need, or make the best of the player-driven economy of the game by chatting with the Merchant NPC. Besides purchasing items from other players, you can set your price, post your item, and wait for the in-game currency to come rolling in. Well, that depends on the rarity of the item and whether the price is reasonable or not, but I won’t be the one to crush your virtual entrepreneur dreams.

Hordes.io Close Up

There are a couple of other NPCs that you should resort to. The Blacksmith is the man… I mean, the block for all your gear upgrading needs, as long as you have the coins and runes to make it happen. The higher the item level, the riskier it is to upgrade it, but every MMORPG fan knows by now that this is a necessary evil. The Sage is willing to lend you a hand in case you need to respec those character stat points and take a different approach to your progress.

Every character level that you gain gives you stat points to allocate in various attributes. The consensus is that since Hordes.io is mostly a PvP-based MMORPG, you should focus on areas that will pave the way for faster returns. One way to do so is by boosting the attributes that help you eliminate PvE mobs in a speedier way, leading to better loot and an improved leveling speed. Here’s our Hordes.io tip for you: get those Strength and Dexterity stats up to interesting values, and then slowly but surely focus on the rest of them.

The way that you learn skills in Hordes.io is a mix between leveling up to unlock new skills, finding skill books, or purchasing them from the Trader. Skill books come in different levels as well, which means that if you find the Swift Shot Level 3 book but you haven’t learned Level 2 yet, you can’t learn this one right away.

Despite the substantial mention of PvP combat as the focus of Hordes.io, this is a game that also offers PvE combat, as you may have correctly inferred by the hints above. It is by destroying blocky worms and other AI-controlled creeps that you earn most of your loot and coins, leveling up to a point where you won’t be crushed when you stumble across another player in a PvP area. There are many locations in the map where you can fight massive bosses for greater rewards, in a continuous and familiar progression system that is going to give you many additional options when you are forced into a PvP showdown. Believe me, that is going to happen quite often, and every death is going to cost you a few coins.

Hordes.io Party Rush

Block Party | Hordes.io Preview

Hordes.io truly shines when dozens of players engage in furious battles, with a myriad of visual effects and spells bringing color to the screen. Either against stronger PvE creatures or in an epic clash between rival clans, the game feels alive and exciting, with a player base that many big-budget MMORPGs would kill for. Besides, it comes with a feature that may sound ridiculous to even mention, but it deserves praise from every player with a keen eye for detail and a decent knowledge of the inner workings of MMO games: here, you don’t just ghostly traverse other players or enemies, your character has an actual physical space to it. This feature works correctly for most of the time, and I can already imagine the intense clan contests to see which team manages to make the higher block tower.

Before speaking about clans, you should know that it’s extremely simple to join a party in Hordes.io, even during this open beta stage. The game automatically pairs you with other players of a similar level, and you can easily spot your teammates using the mini map, showing you the places where the action is hot. Joining a party in this game may be optional in theory, but it is a straight up requirement if you want to go anywhere. Furthermore, it’s the best way to level up, since you’re not going to make a dent on those bigger monsters all by yourself, and the stronger creatures are where the better loot drops can be found.

Clans are the real deal and where the meat of Hordes.io lies, in case you have big plans for your blocky avatar. You must be invited for a clan or, in alternative, create your own clan, but for this you’ll need a large amount of coins. If you want to increase your chances of being invited, you need to work on your Fame score, as this is often used as a gauge for clan leaders to scrutinize potential new members. Fame is increased based on your number of PvP kills, and it also acts as a screaming signpost for other players in search of the greatest threats to challenge.

Hordes.io Outnumbered PvP

For those fearing the interference of pay-to-win mechanics, the Hordes.io open beta seems adamant in proving that this is a fair and leveled battlefield. You can purchase Elixir to contribute to the development of the project while getting some perks in return, such as extra bag slots and additional stash storage. You also remove ads with your payment, which can be a monthly or yearly spend, roughly varying between $7 and $60 respectively, although you need to pay a bit more due to the set package prices.

At risk of jumping into conclusions, Hordes.io is far more than a promising game – it is destined to be successful. It dares to tackle a very different genre from other .io games and does so with finesse, delivering a simple but addictive experience that is hard to put down. As you may recall, that is the heart and soul of a fantastic .io game, and while Hordes.io has plenty of room to grow, it is already an expansive and fun game that no PvP fan can miss.

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Albion Online Queen Update Coming January 20th

Sandbox Interactive has announced that the Albion Online Queen Update will be released on January 20th. It is the 8th update the game has received since it launched and the also the largest.

A standout feature in Queen will be Hideouts. These are underground bases that can be placed throughout black zones and allow guilds to live in the Outlands. Speaking of The Outlands, the game’s high-end PvP zones have been completely reworked. Higher tier zones will be at the center of the continent while lower end zones are along the edge. This will allow guilds of all sizes to be competitive.

Territories are now claimed in open-world battles and there are zerg debuffs that encourage quality over quantity when it comes to building an army.

There is also a new Crystal League which will allow players of all levels to participate in 5v5 battles.

New high-end dungeons are also being introduced along with the incredibly powerful PvE NPCs the Avalon.

Finally, there will be a number of quality of life updates new cursor icons, updated world boss icons, keyboard shortcuts to inspect players, and wardrobe skins. These wardrobe skins will allow players to display costume items while they’re wearing armor. Of course, there will also be incredible new armor for you to obtain as well. A variety of new costume sets will be available for purchase on the marketplace or unlocked in the appearance section of the player menu.

Right now this incredible update is just a little bit under two weeks away from being released and we can’t wait to jump in and give it a try.

 

Source: Press Release

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Classic MMORPG Mirage Online Makes a Comeback

Classic MMORPG Mirage Online is making a comeback on Steam as Mirage Online Classic. The game was created by two developers in 2001 and has been on quite a journey since then. After some time Mirage Online was given to new owners who made it an open-source project. Eclipse Engine, Xtremeworlds, Mirage Source, Playerworlds, and Secrets of Mirage were all games that came out of that open source project. In 2016 the two original developers of Mirage Online decided to bring the original game back using modern gaming language.

After a few very successful friends and family beta tests, Mirage Online has now properly returned. It launched on Steam on December 24th, which kind of explains why we previously missed it. The game is free to play on Steam and the developers have vowed not to have any gameplay impacting microtransactions.

The beginning of Mirage Online Classic is a primarily PvE experience until you create or join a guild. Once you’re in a guild the game shifts focus and becomes entirely PvP focused. If this sounds like your sort of thing you can find the game on Steam right now. The population of the game isn’t massive, but that isn’t the point. In an email to Massively, they said, “Our goal is simply to have 100 players (we’re at around 30 on average). This is a labor of love and is something we’ve put our heart and soul into.” So, if you’re looking for a small scale PvP game with a tightknit community then you might want to check out Mirage Online Classic.

 

Source: MassivelyOP

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WoW Wednesday: A Classic Community Debate

I find myself in a very odd and unique position this year.

I’m one of a few select players that has had the pleasure of playing both Vanilla, what we now call Classic World of Warcraft, and current live World of Warcraft. We covered the distinctions between the two in may of this year, as well as why I never really wish to return to it. Recently, however, I’ve seen particular discussions surrounding major differences between the two that I thought were interesting enough to share. While we briefly discussed this particular point in ‘A Classic Take,’ this week let’s discuss about the ties of community and how they impact both Classic as we knew it and Live as we know it now.

So what is a community, at least as it pertains to the World of Warcraft? For the purposes of our discussion, we’ll define it as a group of like-minded individuals. These days that term is used interchangeably between the Community Feature, your group of RealID friends, your guild, your faction, your server, or even your particular gameplay fashion. In Classic’s day it was often used to refer to one of three things.


First you would have your collection of friends. Due to Classic’s higher string of difficulty in comparison to modern, or Live, Warcraft, you would often be forced into socializing and cooperating with other players frequently. Playing alone was simply a slower, if not often unsuccessful, method of questing and playing Warcraft. Finding a few people to connect with and make memories made the experience more entertaining overall.

Secondly, you would have your guild community. As Classic only had one major source of endgame at its launch, your guild was a major part of the experience. Often your group of friends would morph into a guild of its own. This was the vehicle for which to move through Warcraft’s higher-level challenges and, for some aspects like raiding, was necessary. That being said, Guilds were not mandatory aspects of the Classic community.

Instead that was relegated to your Server or Realm Community. This was an indelible part not just of your Warcraft experience, but the very identity of who you were as a player. More so than faction, more so than class, your Realm was your world. Word could quickly explode in your community if you were a competent tank or if you were a particularly dastardly player. Some stories, like those of Angwe or Leeroy Jenkins carry on long after their Realms have been reshuffled and forgotten. Here is where you went when, failing friends or a guild, you wanted to engage in content beyond what you could as a solo player.


Each part of this ‘community ladder’ that Classic had was an extension of its social hierarchy. As one couldn’t simply race change or server transfer you were, to an extent, inflicted with that Server Social hierarchy. As most players are often playing with good faith, very few had anything to fear from their server. Instead these self-contained communities were so closely tight knit due to gameplay progression. Classic’s high difficulty throughout forced players to cooperate or suffer, thus forging community bonds that reached throughout a realm and, in some cases, could last a lifetime.

These days, in Live Warcraft, the concept of community is different. While the concept and indeed the practices still exist throughout Azeroth things have changed. Server community, with the implementation of Cross-Realm Zones, had been significantly reduced to little more than a curse word for Frostmourne-US. While Roleplay Servers and communities self-identify still to this day, this practice is far more reduced than it has been.

In reality, the concept of community overall is indeed far more reduced in current Warcraft. That isn’t due to any failure on the part of the community, though there are certainly horror stories to share. There isn’t an organization digital or otherwise that could remain exactly the same over the course of fifteen years. People get older, change their lives, and eventually leave their communities behind.

From a gameplay perspective, there simply isn’t a reason for players to truly band together anymore on a wider scale. Content throughout Warcraft is now easily soloable. Group content can be forged quickly through in-game group finders and Pick-Up Groups. Only the absolute cutting edge of Warcaft’s challenges require a strong community base. But if you find your community not up to your standards, you can simply go elsewhere with no recompense or issue. It is now easier than ever to be a free agent in the raiding scene.


Ironically enough, there are really only two major gameplay elements that require a strong community base. Roleplaying and Rated Player vs. Player gameplay. Two communities of such vast difference in ideals that most would never expect them to be mentioned in the same sentence. However, they share much more in their common ideals than one would believe.

Roleplaying, by its nature, is a cooperative activity. In World of Warcraft roleplayers are often segregated by Classic’s social hierarchy. You may play with a handful of friends, just within a guild, or you may be a server figurehead. However, due to the nature of attaching an identity and proverbial face to your avatar, your name is far more easily identifiable. You can quickly make a good or bad name for yourself on a server, much like Classic in a sense.

Rated PvP, once more by its nature, is a cooperative activity. While this is magnified even more so in the Rated Battleground scene, players looking for any major sort of progression spend an unbelievable amount of time working with vast combinations of other players and classes. Your name can quickly get around for both poor performance and bad, certainly if you join one of several communities for casual RPvP. This is only exacerbated for those who are Gladiator level players; PvPers that have crossed the 2400 rating threshold and reaped elite rewards in either being the top 0.1% or claiming their Gladiator’s Mounts. Your name quickly gets around, and as such you get access for good playing, to all of the players in those brackets.


So, where does this leave us in the differentiation between Classic and Live? Community, frankly, no longer exists for the casual player. If you log only a handful of hours a week, you’ll never need to get to know anyone ever. In contrast community was such a vital part of Classic that its hard to think about questing or preparing for dungeons alone in the time. Elements of that still exist, to an extent, but even then those are communities and play-style you can easily opt out of.

The differences between Classic’s and Live’s communities are simple. The former’s exists purely by necessity, while the latter’s only exist when players see fit to make one. It makes the game as we know it today less social, but without that reliance on community other gameplay designs have flourished. Warcraft is more accessible to the casual player than ever without needing to pass arbitrary community bars. The experience, however, is far more detached and impersonal than it has ever been. After all, why would you want to try as hard as you can in a raid lest you face social backlash when one can simply PuG Heroic Azshara and sit in a corner?

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Neverwinter Uprising Introduces a New Playable Race

Neverwinter has announced that their seventeenth module, Neverwinter Uprising will be releasing on August 13th for PC. This update will introduce a new 10-man endgame trial, new PvP content, a recrafted early game experience, and of course as mentioned in the title…a new playable race.

The new playable race is the Gith, a race of psionic warriors who are seeking retribution against the Illithid. The conflict between the two races erupts within the cavern of Undermountain, offering players the opportunity to challenge Halaster Blackcloak in an endgame 10 man trial.

Thanks to adventurer’s efforts in Undermountain Protector’s Enclave is getting renovated. The new influx of money means that big changes will be coming to this beloved city. The changes don’t stop there though! Adventurers leaving from Protector’s Enclave will find an updated early game experience. This includes several changes made zones and stories.

Of course, these things are all just the start. A Tales of Old event will revive more dungeons from the past. The fashion system is being overhauled. Plus there will be a ton of class optimizations to prepare for an all-new PvP map with new gear that can be earned.

All of these things, plus much more will be available in Neverwinter on PC on August 13th. Upon the release of Neverwinter Uprising a release date will be made for when it will be playable on all other platforms. This is pretty standard for Neverwinter and longtime fans of the game are well used to this model.

Check out the trailer for Neverwinter Uprising below.

 

Source: Press Release

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WoW Wednesday: The Gatekeeping of the End Game

World of Warcraft is a deceptively easy game to pick up and play. Despite all of its issues in pacing and progression throughout the leveling experience just about every single class is intuitive enough in Battle for Azeroth to quickly grasp. I myself can personally attest to that fact; despite maining a Priest for most of BFA, I’ve recently made the transition to a Hunter alt that I’m enjoying and slowly polishing my skills with. While I’m certainly nowhere near ready to begin pushing the arena rating I want with it, I’m more than prepared to start hitting for the lower aspects of the ladders. However, even with more skilled characters players can often find themselves facing down particular situations in Warcraft that can slow if not bar their progress in the end-game entirely. Gatekeeping is a problem in WoW.

Now what is gatekeeping? Gatekeeping is a method identified as barring or controlling people from participating in or using certain things. In Warcraft this occurs primarily in two major streams of the endgame both in Mythic and Heroic raiding, but also predominantly in Rated Player vs. Player content.

Why does gatekeeping occur? For one simple reason: content is hard.


In the Raiding scene Mythic (or Cutting Edge) raiding is the most mechanically difficult content in
World of Warcraft. A perfect example of the intensity raiders have to mitigate can be witnessed in the Gul’dan encounter in Mythic Nighthold from Legion. The encounter begins with Gul’dan’s fully powered-up state from previous difficulties at the beginning of the fight, further increasing already high damage numbers due to difficulty. Gul’dan then empowers himself to a further state over the course of the battle including a move that can instantly kill players during a phase transition at 66% health. After his defeat, the fight then continues with a unique encounter against a new boss enemy, with new abilities and difficult mechanics. All of this falls on top of increased boss health, enemy mobs spawning in, increased damage percentiles and people managing 20-man groups to pull off the encounter flawlessly.

It’s not hard to see why players involved in raiding want to settle for their best teams possible. This form of self-curation has existed since Vanilla Warcraft, where players could become both famous and infamous within their server community. Later during Wrath Gearscore became the mark that players measured each other’s skill level, as most classes were incredibly gear dependent to a certain extent. Up until Battle for Azeroth with the release of Raider.IO, item level became the big determining factor for player recruitment.

Rated Player Vs. Player content features similar issues across the board due to its reward systems and tiers. In Battle for Azeroth rewards are now gameplay oriented, however, throughout RPvP’s history impressive cosmetic rewards have been synonymous with elite status. Those rewards are tied directly to your Rating, a publicly viewable score that actively adjusts based on your performance. Your personal rating will go up and down as you win matches, increasing and decreasing at a higher rate depending on who you participate with. If you win games with players with a higher rating, yours will skyrocket. If you lose matches while playing with those who have a lower rating than yours, it will plummet.


As such, players naturally only want to compete and play with those of a similar rating and perceived skill level. Some will only want to play with particular, guaranteed proven compositions of classes. With RPvP rewards being restricted to the highest echelons of players, of course others only want to compete with the best of the best. At any moment you could find yourself on a losing streak and your rating could drop between fifty points or five-hundred points depending on your partners’ placement.


Thus comes an incumbent problem with these aspirations of the end-game. Whether you want to be the Gladiator or the killer of Mythic Jaina, players naturally only want to work with those on their skill level to minimize their wasted time. As such, the bar is set high to disqualify those without either the experience in completing lesser difficulties or the equipment and higher gear on their character. Some face fewer issues depending on their server population, some higher. Being based on an RP server, we have one super-sized PvP guild and as such I need to form pick-up-groups if I wish to progress in Rated Battlegrounds. A personal friend based on a PvP oriented realm faces a similar issue with only a handful of raiding guilds and none forming any additional teams.

As such, here’s where we find the problem with gatekeeping magnified. Is gatekeeping inherently wrong? Absolutely not. As a current player in the RPvP circuit, forced exclusivity has forced me to play better in compositions and learn as much as I can. Certainly, I just lost 20 rating with a bad team but now I can recognize the differences between a very good Rogue and a very bad one. Of course, my friend lost a night raiding a Mythic PuG and wiping on the first boss, but now they recognize what really doesn’t make a good raid leader. Failing is as good a teaching tool as playing beside higher-level competitors. Is it frustrating to want progression and effectively take three huge steps backwards? Absolutely.


So what is the solution to this issue, at least in the World of Warcraft? Surely its to get a team of your own together, and on the surface this is a good solution. However, for higher player content, such as Rated Battlegrounds and Mythic Raiding, this becomes innately more difficult. It’s a simple task to rally a few friends for Arenas, despite the fact that high-level rewards are now only afforded to top-tier 3v3 players. However, the often more expansive and broader gameplay is instead even more difficult to breach into due to sheer numbers. Cultivating a cohesive team in the long term is a task that most players simply do not have the time to engage with, nor the skillset to maintain.

 

So here’s my question to you: Gatekeeping seems to be a necessary part of culling the chaff from the wheat. But when that chaff is really some of the most eager and healthiest bushels of the plant, where do we as players have to go against our gut and give people a better chance?

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