Saturday, April 6, 2013

Nostalgia in Reverse

It's Spring (though you might not believe it if you lived where I do) and new shoots are pushing up all over MMOland.

Neverwinter announced the start date for Open Beta. It's April 30th. Oh no, wait, it's April 27th. No, no it's April 25th! Make your mind up! There are no character wipes past the 25th, so this is an old school F2P soft launch. I'll be passing on the paid options and coming in with the Great Freeloader Horde on the thirtieth. I was mightily impressed by the city itself and I'm really looking forward to getting my hands on The Foundry but how sticky Neverwinter will be I'm not so sure. Find out in a month or two, I guess.

Jostling Neverwinter at the gates of May comes City of Steam, which seems to have been in development forever although it's actually only just over a year since I first wrote about it. The official website now has a prominent, taunting "PLAY" button, frustratingly greyed-out and Cogfather Dave Lindsay commented in a recent forum thread titled "When can I play City of Steam?" "It shouldn't be too long now. Probably about a month, maybe less. And we'll start with some exclusive access as normal"

I love City of Steam. I'll certainly be playing it regularly just as soon as I can make a character that persists, be that Open Beta or Official Launch. Still not feeling the need to pay up front for access, though. I'm not that impatient and anyway there's plenty of other stuff going on keep me busy. Too much, indeed. And then I have this teeny-tiny voice whispering in my ear, telling me maybe I liked City of Steam the best back in its very first iteration, the Sneak Peak. It's gotten a lot slicker and more polished, become much more the full service lobby MMO but is that really where it needed to go? Find out in a month or two, I guess.

 EQ2, which I actually played twice this last week, has a beta going on too. These days they beta Game Updates over there just like they were real expansions. Back when I played on Test as my main server that was kind of what we were supposed to be doing only there were never enough of us. Then they added a second Test server called Test Copy, where you could copy your Live character instead of having to level one up by playing it the old-fashioned way and eventually Test Copy sort of morphed into a general Beta server for Betaing things that don't need an NDA. Or something. No-one really knows.

The current Beta is for GU66 Scars of the Awakened and it looks pretty darned interesting. Cobalt Scar was always one of my favorite Velious zones and I spent an awful lot of time farming Molkors and Walruses (Walrii?) in Siren's Grotto, a zone everyone loved to hate. Thanks to GW2 taking up all our time, we haven't bought the last EQ2 expansion, Chains of Eternity and therefore don't have any characters over level 92. The current cap is 95 with the expansion. What level will the two new zones be tuned for? Will we be able to do anything there or use any of the drops at 92? Find out in a month or two, I guess.

 So much for Open Betas. Those at least we can talk about. I was also fortunate enough to get a couple of invites to closed betas recently, both of which came with fairly draconian NDAs. Do I have anything to say about those? Find out in a month or two, I guess.

 One MMO actually launched this week - real launch, not a beta! I missed it completely until it started popping up in news items. Given my interest in and enjoyment of Rift it's surprising that I haven't payed much attention to Trion's second entry into the MMO marketplace, Defiance, an MMO/Shooter hybrid whose U.S.P. is a real-time development link with a new TV show of the same name on the SyFy channel.

Since I haven't watched television this century I wasn't even aware we had the SyFy channel in the UK but apparently we do and the Defiance show premieres here on April 16th. If the experience of Chris at Game By Night is anything to go by it will take at least that long for Trion to get the servers into a playable state. This appears to have been a traditional MMO launch - half-finished, half-working, lots of potential and not much polish. Will Trion right the ship in time or will it be yet another MMO already holed below the waterline as it slides down the slipway? Find out in a month or two, I guess.

There's more. A bunch of supposed Sandbox MMOs are in some kind of beta; Earthrise, Pathfinder, The Repopulation, Origins of Malu to name but a few of them. I've picked one of those pretty much at random to have a look at but where's the time going to come from? I had invites for all the Firefall beta weekends and never managed to get to one. I don't regret that particularly. Firefall's another one where you can buy into beta if you're that fussed. I'm not.

I do regret missing Otherland, in which I certainly was interested. Again I had beta weekend invites that I didn't take up and now the game looks on the verge of extinction before it's even been born so I may have missed the only chance I was ever going to get to walk in Tad Williams's world. Oh well, I guess that frees up some notional time somewhere in the future, or maybe Gamigo will find a way to keep the game alive. Find out in a month or two, I guess.

Enough talk. Let's go play.


  1. I get exhausted just reading all these new game titles...and there I thought 2013 was gonna be a quieter year :)

  2. I don't remember you ever mentioning it, but what do you think about The Elder Scrolls Online?

    I loved Skyrim to death, so I'm definitely intrigued. There's very few info on it though.


    1. I thought Daggerfall was awful, I was initially impressed with Morrowind, for a few hours until I realized that all NPCs of a given type had the same dialog and the combat was terrible (for me). Twice bitten, I didn't play Oblivion or Skyrim and nothing I've read and heard about either has made me curious even to take a look at them.

      TESO is going to be harder to avoid. I haven't been following it so I don't know if they've announced a payment model. If it's F2P or B2P I may well give it a run, although if it uses the same combat system Morrowind had I doubt I'll bother.

  3. @Ursan - Good or bad TESO is probably not going to be as awesome as Skyrim (especially if you're a fan) so don't get your hopes up too much.

    On the plus side if you are into PvP you can and will probably run into Clan Thalmor. Almost for sure someone's going to name themselves that, even just for trolling purposes. :P


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