Tag Archives: MMO Expansions

Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire Launches Today!

Today is the day.  At some point around noon [or now], here on the first day of Autumn in the northern hemisphere, the Path of Fire expansion for Guild Wars 2 goes live.

Guild Wars 2 – Path of Fire

As an outsider to the game… never got much past level 40… the expansion looks to offer up some standard sounding fare for players; New story, new zones, new skills/specs, guild halls, and the seemingly now mandatory character level boost.  I think the new feature I can most related to is the addition of mounts.

Some very Tyria mounts

There is, of course, a whole page dedicated to the expansion over at the GW2 site if you are interested.  More than one actually, as there is a FAQ and such.

Expansions remain a mixed bag for me.

On the plus it brings in revenue for the game.   Expect a big spike on the GW2 chart when NCsoft releases Q3 2017 results.  It also gives players more content, gets players who have lapsed a reason to return, and can invigorate the whole game.

But expansions always bring about change.  Sometimes the change is minor and the spirit of the game remains true.  That caters to the core base but won’t attract anybody new.

But sometimes expansions change the core of the game.  I am reminded of Rift; I played the hell out of the base game, but then the first expansion changed design philosophy of the game and killed it for me.  And, of course, new gear, new mechanics, new skills, and what not also have a habit of changing the old content for the worse as well.

Then there is the ever growing gap between the new stuff, where the center of gravity of the community is playing, and where any new player will start.  I become more convinced as time goes along that level boosts are mixed blessing, a flimsy bandage applied to the gushing wound of linear, level based progression.

But I am also old and cynical and in a down cycle when it comes to fantasy MMORPGs right now.

Enough grumbling.  Today is a fresh new day in Tyria and a lot of people will spend the weekend and beyond exploring the new things that Path of Fire brings.  I wish them well on their journeys.  Among other things ANet rolled out some stats to celebrate the launch.

Also, a launch trailer:

 

EverQuest Launches Empires of Kunark

After decades if slumber, Imperator Tsaph Katta awakens and vows to reform the Combine Empire – the progenitors of much of the human race – by any means necessary. He will lead them into a renewed age of prosperity. Tsaph Katta focuses on rebuilding the coalition between the races of Norrath in order to cement his place in the annals of history as The Great Unifier. But not all are ready to bend to the will of Katta and his allies, least of all the current inhabitants of Kunark. Will a unified Norrath prevail, or will the Combine’s arrival in Kunark lead to a war of catastrophic proportions. Find out in Empires of Kunark, EverQuest’s 23rd expansion!

-EverQuest Empires of Kunark promo text

The fourth new expansion this week (following Minecraft, EVE Online, and EverQuest II), which went live yesterday, is the Empires of Kunark expansion for EverQuest, the 23rd expansion for the game.

Everybody loves Kunark

Everybody loves Kunark

This is a nostalgia play by Daybreak as it returns to the setting of one of the most fondly remembered expansions, Ruins of Kunark.

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

The only fully good MMO expansion ever

It has actually taken them a while to get back to Kunark, given that the first expansion came out back in April of 2000.  I think they’ve done pirate themed expansions twice since then.

Anyway, without a site like EQ2 Wire covering EverQuest, I do not have as expansive a list of new features to steal as I did with yesterday’s post.  I have to make do with the official site, which isn’t always as helpful as you might imagine.  The latest item in the News section on the forums is an announcement that Daybreak branded game cards are coming, game cards which have since been discontinued.

From what I can glean, the expansion is the standard fare of new things to do with no rise in the level cap.

  • 7 Expansion Zones
  • New Quests and Missions
  • 8 New Raids
  • 24 New Collections
  • Familiar Key Ring – Access to your familiars in one easy location! Store up to 10 familiars per character, with the ability to buy additional slots to handle all of your familiar storage.

And, as with the previous day’s EverQuest II expansion, Empires of Kunark is available at various prices, depending on your need for fluff.

The Broken Mirror? Try the broken gaming budget!

I loved Kunark and all, but is any form of Kunark worth $140?

Unlike the EQII return to Kunark however, I am not at all tempted to pick up Empires of Kunark.  I follow EverQuest mostly out of a sense of nostalgia these days.  I haven’t played it in any serious way since the release of the Fippy Darkpaw progression server, when Skronk and I set out to relive old times… which we did for about 30 levels and then SOE got hacked, everything was down for a couple of weeks, and then we never really went back.

That was actually a good time… really, about as successful a nostalgia tour as you could probably get for us…  but if you scroll back through the Fippy Darkpaw tag on the blog, it was also over five years ago, and every attempt I have made at the game since has ended very quickly.  I am over playing EverQuest I think, preferring to just watch it from a distance these days.  But nostalgia remains a draw for others.  Look at this snip of the game’s server status, which looks about the same every time I check it.

Not so many servers as the old days

Not so many servers as the old days

The most popular servers are Phinigel, the true box nostalgia server, Ragefire, the progression server before before Phinigel, and Firiona Vie, the RP server where all the cool kids hang out and actually have a community.  I am actually a bit surprised that the Fippy Darkpaw server, and its sibling Vulak’Aerr, are still around.  I have lost track of where they stand, but they must be getting close to current after more than five years, at which point it would probably make sense to just roll them into a live server, as they did with the first round of progression servers, The Combine and The Sleeper, years ago.

Hell, with the zone spawning tech they put in for Ragefire and Phinigel, they could probably merge a few of those live servers together as well… maybe a lot of those live servers.

Still, I am happy to see that it is still alive and well enough to be getting expansions.  That it is still there lets me imagine now and again that we might someday form another group and return to old Norrath for one final adventure.  We certainly don’t seem to be in danger of getting a new Norrath anytime soon.

Kunark Ascending Goes Live in Norrath

Norrath remains in danger from Lanys T’Vyl and her pursuit of power! It is up to you to keep Lanys T’Vyl from acquiring the third and final Chaos Stone. Return to Kunark to stop Lanys from ushering in a new age of power. Will you stand against the Tenets of Hate? Adventures await you in Kunark Ascending, EverQuest II’s 13th expansion!

-Kunark Ascending promo text

Next on this week’s list of new arrivals (and the second to derive a title from the root word “ascend”) is Kunark Ascending, the 13th expansion for EverQuest II (plus 4 adventure packs along the way as well), which landed yesterday, close to the game’s 12th birthday.

Launched November 15, 2016

Launched November 15, 2016

As the name indicates, the expansion returns to one of the “classic” locations in Norrath, the island of Kunark, which was the setting for the first EverQuest expansion, Ruins of Kunark, more than 16 years ago.

The expansion gets you the following:

  • 1 New Overland Zone
  • 12 New Heroic zones
  • 1 Challenge Heroic Zone
  • 8 New Solo Zones
  • 4 New Advanced Solo Zones
  • 6 New Raid Zones
  • More than 50 New Solo and Heroic Quests
  • More than 65 New Collection Quests
  • 4 New Archetypal Epic 2.0 Quest Lines
  • 4 New Ascension Classes
  • New Wardrobe Function
  • New Mercenary Gear Feature
  • Level 100 Character Boost
  • Access to All Previous Expansions

I borrowed most of that list from the top of the EQ2 Wire Kunark Ascending FAQ which goes into the features of the expansion in great detail. (Feldon also has the expansion deployment patch notes available as well.)  You should at least browse that if the expansion interests you.

I was actually considering purchasing the expansion due to the level 100 character boost and my current disinterest in the WoW Legion expansion.  The character boost would vault me into the current content at least, though there is no doubt some complexity in that.  Plus I would have to figure out which character to boost, since I used the free level 95 character boost they were handing out a while ago on what I would consider my “main” character already.  Would be a bit silly to use the new boost to jump him just five levels.  And then there is the question as to whether my disinterest in WoW at the moment is just WoW or would it apply to any fantasy MMORPG.  Some days you just don’t want to don your tabard and go swing a sword in any fantasy world.

Still, it is there and waiting, level 100 boost included, should I want to join in.  The expansion comes in the usual three levels of excess, with a 10% discount if you are an all access subscriber… and if you’re serious enough about the game to buy the expansion I have to figure you’re down for all access as well.

Premium packages available for premium prices

Premium packages available for premium prices

The standard edition will be enough for me when the time comes.

There is also a launch trailer, if you need that to tempt you.

Meanwhile, a couple of bloggers have already dipped their toes into Kunark Ascending.

Ascension Day in EVE Online

It is the day, the day the Ascension expansion hits EVE Online.

Today is one of those dividing points, a time when everything changes, a point from which will be reckoned a brand new era in New Eden.  For many long time subscribers, everything before today is now history, and everything after will be the new shit that ruined the game the grand experiment that changed the universe.

Coming in November

It’s here, it is finally here!

Free to play has come.  CCP has opened the door and invited everybody in without a cover charge or a two drink minimum.  And seriously, this can be a game where two drinks often aren’t even enough… literally or metaphorically.  Clones states are here.

We can split hairs over what *really* constitutes “free” in “free to play,” whether the restrictions on Alpha clones make this more of an unlimited trial or a bonafide free experience.  All I know is that you can make a character, fly in space, shoot people, and never be asked to pay a dime.  That sounds pretty damn free to me.

Well, you will be asked to pay a dime.  Many dimes.  In fact, I am pretty sure you will be pestered to do so incessantly.

Can't touch that!

Upgrade to Omega

It would be remiss of CCP to not throw some of that Candy Crush Saga-esque “Oh, you want more? Well pay up!” persuasion in the game.  But you will not be obligated in any way to do so.  You can choose, as I do with Candy Crush Saga, to look at free to play as challenge mode where anything you accomplish is all the sweeter because you did it the hard way.

If all Ascension had for us was free to play and things related to that, it would be a huge deal.  That alone could be the biggest thing in a long time for EVE Online, a game that thrives on having more players.

But that is not all that Ascension brings with it.  What is left would still be a super feature packed expansion even if the whole free to play thing was not part of the deal.  That list includes:

That is most of the list from the Updates page, but there are also the Patch Notes for the expansion, which include many smaller items going into this release.  And little, of any of this, is non-controversial.  EVE Online is like any MMORPG where every feature is somebody’s favorite so changing any feature pisses somebody off… and Ascension is changing some fairly substantial features.

But there it is, deployed already.

I am excited… but also a bit anxious.  There will be bugs… there is already a patch set to drop at the next downtime.  And then there is the whole New Player Experience, the fourth since I started playing the game.  It is a directed story line that gets players involved with the empires and their lore, different for each of the four empires.  That is a fairly radical departure from the opportunities system that was in place until today.

So, if you have been waiting to try EVE Online… erm… maybe wait for the weekend to jump in, once there have been a few post expansion fixes deployed.  Or just jump right in.  Sometimes a good bug can be a formative experience in a game.  But CCP wants you to come give it a try.  There are many things you can do with an Alpha clone.  I expect all groups catering to new players will have Alpha clone compatible doctrines.  I even have my own Alpha clone trained up.  His skill plan wrapped up yesterday (though I had already brought him out for a trial run), at which point I started on a second one.

Others are talking about Ascension naturally enough, and while the focus is on Alpha clones, there is a lot of other things in play today as I noted above.

Finally, it wouldn’t be EVE Online if there wasn’t a new song for a new expansion.

 

WoW Legion Sales Numbers Stacked Up Against Past Launches

Today, Blizzard announced that players have forged a truly formidable defensive front—as of the expansion’s first full day of launch on August 30, more than 3.3 million copies of Legion had sold through, matching the all-time record achieved by previous expansions and making it one of the fastest-selling PC games ever. In addition, World of Warcraft’s launch-week player concurrency climbed to its highest point since the 2010 launch of the Cataclysm expansion…

Blizzard press release, September 8, 2016

WoW Legion launched, which almost requires that there be some celebratory press release in which Blizzard referred to itself in the third person.

WoW Legion coming to a server near you

WoW Legion has been up for a week now

My guess is that they had that press release ready to go for a bit now, as they didn’t even bother to fill in the date before they posted it.  I imagine they will fix that before the day is out, so here it is a screen shot for the record.

Roman numerals maybe?

Roman numerals maybe?

So we got some numbers.  Blizzard kept to its promise not to mention subscription numbers ever again, so they had to make due with vague claims about concurrency. (No numbers = vague in my book)

The number we did get was 3.3 million copies sold in the first 24 hours. (Yes, they said “more than 3.3 million” in the press release, but if it had been 3.4 million they would have run with that number, so it is likely 3.3 million and change.)  As usual, with any number standing alone, I start looking for context.  Fortunately, the internet provides context if you look for it.  The first day sales track record looks like this:

  • WoW Legion – 3.3 million
  • Warlords of Draenor – 3.3 million
  • Mists of Pandaria – 2.7 million (first week)
  • Cataclysm – 3.3 million
  • Wrath of the Lich King – 2.8 million
  • Burning Crusade – 2.4 million
  • World of Warcraft – 240,000

So, for first day sales, WoW Legion ranks with… I don’t want to say “the best,” since its peers at that level are not my favorite expansions… past top sellers.

Warlords of Draenor did just as well according to the Blizzard press release from its launch, which included a mention of exceeding 10 million subscribers, a mark that would soon drop precipitously.

Mists of Pandaria, which in hindsight was a pretty good expansion, maybe my second favorite, and which held on to the player base admirably compare to WoD, had to go a full week to get to 2.7 million sales, which put it below every expansion save Burning Crusade.  The pleading for a new expansion towards the end of Mists of Pandaria now seem almost quaint given the mass exodus from the game that came with WoD.

Then there was Cataclysm, which I am going to say was probably the first point when digital sales made up a significant portion of the first day sales, setting a record as yet unbeaten, with 3.3 million sales.  There were some good things in that expansion, but the destruction of the old world still stings.

Then Wrath of the Lich King and Burning Crusade check in at 2.8 and 2.4 million units sold on the first day.  That was back when Fry’s was open at midnight to sell you a copy and they had pallets of boxes out on the sales floor.  That was the era of growth, which Cataclysm put paid to.

And finally, just for completeness, there was World of Warcraft back in 2004, which sold 240,000 copies on the first day, which was a record at the time.  No digital sales in that number I bet!

So that is how the list stacks up.  WoW Legion sold well enough, though judging from what I have seen… or not seen… on store shelves, it was almost all digital. (I was at Best Buy on Monday and they had a single standard edition, wrapped up protectively in an anti-theft device and sitting alone at the bottom of a shelf.  No display.  No signs.  No big deal.  How times have changed.) That likely means WoW Legion sold directly into the currently subscribed base in the US/EU.

It would be interesting to know what the subscriber base jumped up to with the launch.  I suspect that if it had passed 10 million, Blizz might have mentioned it.  But maybe not, and we’ll likely never see a number to prove it either way.

I will have to hang on to the two WoW Legion boxes we got at our house.

Retail Boxes! Old School!

Retail Boxes! Old School!

Given the state of the retail channel for the expansion, those might be collectible in a few years.  I mean, a DVD for WoW Legion?  I am not sure why they even bother.  The patcher had everything in place already.  All I needed was the code off the label and I was upgraded and playing.  Modern times.

Citadels Arrive in New Eden

The long awaited, anticipated, feared, speculated over, and otherwise examined Citadel expansion arrives on the Tranquility server today.  Seriously, we’ve been all over this since EVE Vegas last year.

Coming Spring 2016

Now Available

Citadels, the new structures in New Eden are here and will likely change the game in unexpected ways.  There are four citadel types:

  • Astrahus (Medium)
  • Fortizar (Large)
  • Keepstar (Extra Large)
  • Upwell Palatine Keepstar (Extra Large, Extra Special, one per New Eden)

And there are all sorts of details that players will need to sort out as time goes along.

For me, one of the more interesting items is how players will attack citadels.  In what I can only see as something of a rebuke of Fozzie Sov, players will actually shoot things rather than fly around them in circles running an entosis link module.  To my mind, shooting something is always the best option.  CCP has tried to give us a feel for shooting them in its cinematic trailer.

So a huge change there, with CCP relenting somewhat at the last minute on the whole tax thing meant to drive people to use citadels.  I expect the unexpected and for comedy to ensue.

And, if that were not enough, there are a range of capital ship changes going in today as well.  Starting off there is the introduction of the Force Auxiliary capitals, already commonly called “Fax Machines.”

Fax Machines

Fax Machines are all Vertical

They come in four flavors, one for each major NPC faction, and replace the triage role that carriers used to perform.  They are:

  • Apostle (Amarr)
  • Minokawa (Caldari)
  • Lif (Minmatar)
  • Ninazu (Gallente)

Carriers and super carriers will no longer use drones, but will restricted to fighters.  Fighters themselves will have new functionality and controls.  A lot of things will transform with the expansion drop, triage carriers into fax machines, old fighters into new, and drones into some location you may not have considered.  The transition is covered in a forum post.

I have a carrier that will still be a carrier after the update and which will be pretty empty since all the drones will get dumped out and I never bought any fighters for it.  But, then, I have only ever used it to haul around subcaps.

In addition, dreadnoughts are getting rebalanced in order to turn them into the gun platforms they ought to be.  Titans are getting a rebalance and new doomsday weapons.  Carriers are getting a rebalance too, and so are supercarriers.  There are also pirate faction capital ships and capital level escalations for anomalies and new anti-sub cap weapons for capitals and the removal of ewar immunity for supers.

And then there is the usual round of fixes and updates and changes to various aspects of the game, most of which (but never all) are summed in the patch notes and on the updates page.

There are enough things going on with this expansion that if it were the old days I would have started training a long skill.  Even CCP is running long on just the deployment.

But, since my skill queue already goes out past 500 days right now, I am not so worried about that.  Still, I suspect there will be issues and some patches coming pretty quickly given the scale of things.

Wait, there it is, the announcement… the expansion is live and the server is up… for now.

The official launch announcement, complete with links for feedback, is up on the CCP site.

But even if the server goes down we will at least have a new theme song to listen to.

EVE Online and the Mardi Gras 2016 Release

CCP has given up on naming their seemingly now monthly releases (though I think YC 118.2 might be an option), but that doesn’t mean I can’t give them names myself.  Happy Mardi Gras 2016 release!  Laissez les bon temps roulez, such that they are.

Anyway, the baby in CCP’s king cake today is likely a skill point extractor, as that is the big thing coming with today’s drop.  CCP riled up Noizy by doing their first reveal on Twitter, but they were also having some logon issues, so maybe that went out prematurely.  In any case, they followed up in the manner to which we have become accustomed and put out a Dev Blog-like post on the prices and the various methods by which you may obtain skill extractors.

Skill Extractors - Base Price

Skill Extractors – Base Price

If you want to skip the Aurum or ISK route and aren’t interested in the bonus extractors with subscriptions and what not, there is also a straight up cash price for them as well.

I can remember it for you retail...

I can remember it for you retail…

And, as is the way of things, all the essential information is spread out over three sources.  So in addition to the above post, you need to look at the Skill Trading Dev Blog and the Release Notes for today’s update.  The release notes give the most conscience round up as to how things work, including a short list of skills which may not be extracted.

While I am still not sure how I feel about the whole skill stripping thing, as with so much in the game these days it seems like a lot of complications for a limited amount of benefit, I am, as always, fascinated to see how this plays out.

The eventual pricing for skill injectors, once things settle down, seems to be contentious, with Noizy calling 300 million ISK a floor for the pricing (with a final price estimate of 720-750 million ISK per based on the injector pricing post) while Gevlon has declared that the ceiling price.

We shall see how that plays out.

Other than that, there are just small items in the release notes.

Wrecks, which uniformly had 500 hit points, will now have hit points based on the size of the ship which the wreck represents.  This is the new break down:

  • Frigate, Rookie Ship, Shuttle, Small NPC: 700 hp
  • Destroyer: 1000 hp
  • Cruiser, Mining Barge, Medium NPC, Generic NPC: 1500 hp
  • Battlecruiser, Industrial: 2500 hp
  • Battleship, Large NPC, Officer NPC: 3500 hp
  • Carrier, Dread, Rorqual, Orca, Freighter: 15000 hp
  • Supercarrier, NPC Supercarrier: 25000 hp
  • Titan: 30000 hp

If nothing else, nobody will be popping a titan wreck before it has been looted on accident.  I wonder how much extra ammo will be expended destroying wrecks now, something occasionally done to deny the enemy loot.  Somebody call CCP Quant.

Strategic Cruisers have been given the Pabst Blue Ribbon (Physical Based Rendering) treatment, so they will now look a little different… expect shiny gold trim on your pimp Legion now… display kill marks and may some day be eligible for SKINs.

T3s and cheap beer do mix...

T3s and cheap beer do mix…

Deep down in the list of user interface tweaks is a notice that the beta camera is now an opt-out option.  If you want to stick with the old, reliable, and slightly boring camera view we have grown used to over the years you will have to find that option in the setting.  Otherwise you will be using the new camera when you log in today.  If you want to use the new camera, there is a dev blog about that.

And there are some new skills on the market for the upcoming FAX machines (Force Auxiliary capital ships) and the fighters which carriers will use when the big capital ship change up comes in the spring.

There are a bunch of the usual tweaks and fixes in the Release Notes (and not much at all on the now somewhat neglected Updates page) but those are the things that mean something to me.  Well, all that and the usual musical number, the hallmark of every update.