Friday, July 31, 2009

MMO Roundup: 7/31/09

Champions Online: I really want to be a part of this hype train, hopefully it starts up soon. As it stands, I can't really say much because of the NDA.

They've begun outlining the powersets on the Champions website. This is a great idea. The powers are one of the main attractions. I really can't wait until someone codes a web-based character planner (are you listening undoubtedly-overworked CO web team?) Then again, I'm exactly the kind of geek who can pass half an hour playing with a WoW talent calculator, though I wonder if I'm the target audience.

I had been wondering what the end game would be, and a recent interview with lead designer Bill Roper revealed that, at launch, the endgame will mainly consist of a randomized series of 5 daily team missions that can be completed to unlock a 6th, more epic mission. These missions will reward tokens that can be redeemed for rewards. So in the fashion of the Champions so far, they've taken an idea from WoW and rebuilt it from scratch to fit their game. And it's right up my alley: randomized, small group, alternative reward system . . . it's like they read my post about endgame grinding! Or at least part of it.

Beyond that, the Nemesis system sounds like good fodder for mid- and endgame content. At level 25, you can design your hero's own arch-enemy, and then get special missions where you face him and storyline seeds such as ambushes from his minions (whom you also designed). And these are all shareable with other players, so for instance you could be doing a 3- player mission and run into a supervillain who turns out to be your teammate's nemesis.

But this is all speculation, it remains to be seen how this will play out in reality. I'm looking forward to the beta becoming open next month, when I'll be able to talk a lot more about this game.

Cryptic recently announced their pre-order bonuses as well.
Puzzlingly, Amazon and Wal-Mart do not offer head-start access (log into the live game a few days early), while Gamestop and Best Buy do. So ordering from GS or BB seemed like a no-brainer. Since I'm not a fan of Gamestop, I wanted to pre-order from Best Buy. Unfortunately, Best Buy doesn't have any preorder bonus details up on their website, and in fact even has the wrong release date for the game. Rather than risk missing out on the open beta or early access or even the first week of the game due to BB's lack of interest, I ended up swallowing my distaste and pre-ordering from Gamestop. Hopefully Cryptic can get BB to get their shit together. Champions recently topped GS's sales list, and I'm betting that's because they were the only retailer to offer early access and detail the preorder bonuses on their website, so GS is probably receiving the bulk of the preorders.

Retailers, take heed. Paying attention to the MMO audience pays off.

Aion: Surprisingly slow simmer on this front. Voices were added to the game for this weekend's beta event, which is nice because the first version of Hatch ended up with a hilariously high-pitched voice when I was forced to choose without being able to preview them (and they were still using the Korean voice acting). Still on the radar, but I have to say that while this one looked solid to begin with, the more polish Cryptic applies the Champions, the more it looks like Aion won't be getting my full attention this September.

WoW: As we await Blizzcon, a few things of interest have popped up.

By now, you've all heard that Sam Raimi will be directing the WoW movie. This announcement makes me think 2 things:

1) Cataclysm might be the name of the movie, not the xpac. I hope it's the xpac, because nothing short of a world-changing revolution is going to keep me interested in WoW for another 2 years.

2) Sam Raimi is not to my taste, so I'm disappointed by the pick. His direction is serviceable for the most part, but I find a lot of his unconventional camera work to be more annoying and unprofessional-looking than creative (see the scene from Spider-man 2 where Doc Ock first wakes up and kills the medical team that was about to remove his tentacles for an example). It feels cheap. And though I enjoyed some of the humor in Army of Darkness, that's largely due to the writing and acting; I don't think the directing helped it along much. Though Spider-man is my favorite comic book character ever, I was disappointed with the films overall, and most of that can be attributed to the directing (and the casting and the acting, except for J. Jonah Jameson). This news is almost as bad as Shia LaDoof getting cast as Y the Last Man (sidebar: DEAR GOD WHYYYYY?!?!?!!?)

Other than that, the WoW zeitgiest is focusing on the patch. Evidence is mounting that the patch will be released this coming Tuesday rather than the post-Blizzcon release I predicted.

1) MMO-Champion pointed out that the current PTR patch is labeled "Retail", a sign that it's almost ready to ship.

2) Blizzard released a Q&A today about the two major new features in the patch: the pve instances and the pvp battleground. As we know, PR is done when a weakness needs to be covered. I think they are seeing a lot of confusion from players about how things will work, and the fact that they chose NOW to clear it up rather than later points strongly to an impending release.

As a player, I don't really care either way. As a blogger, I'd like to be proven right. :)

We'll see how it goes. Until then, have a great weekend!

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