Features Archive

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Next Stop, Nexus: A Primer on Upcoming MMO Wildstar’s World and Races

 

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Wildstar, a crazy, fun MMO from Carbine Studios and NCSoft will be bursting onto the scene this June (June 3rd to be exact.)  Pre-orders are currently in process and Open Beta weekends have kicked off, so if this is a title that interests you don’t delay in getting in on the ground floor!

Needless to say, I am excited about this game; probably the most excited I’ve been since I was waiting for Skyrim to drop.  What has drawn me to it has been how well it’s put together and presented to the public.  Visually, the stylization reminds me of a tongue-in-cheek graphic novel featuring breathtaking art, witty emoticons and a pleasing color palette.  Lore-wise, it is incredibly friendly to a new player who’s interested in learning about the world they are entering.  Spend twenty minutes on the Wildstar website and you’ll have all you need to know about the basics of what the game and the universe it takes place in are all about.  But if you want a quick breakdown, I’ve got you covered after the jump.

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Animals of Tamriel: The Elder Scrolls Online Top 10 Animal Appearances

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The developers of Elder Scrolls Online have gone to great lengths to create a highly detailed and delightfully immersive universe for players to explore. This attention to detail makes for a rich game texture and gives the environment a more realistic, substantial feel. One of the most prevalent (and charming) details is the in-game biodiversity of non-enemy animals. These critters are both wild and domesticated, and can be found all over the map. Here’s a countdown of my top ten favorite animal appearances. Just some animals going about their animal business while the chaos of war and the threat of daedric invasion ensues around them…no big deal. Click the images to enlarge them for detail.

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Review: Valve’s New DotA 2 Movie “Free to Play”

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Valve took another step forward this week in their apparent quest be in the vanguard of all things video game related with the release of their new movie “Free To Play”. This seventy-five minute documentary, available to all through the Steam client, covers the lives of three players during the first edition of The International gaming competition in 2011.  I have to admit that I was predisposed to like this movie from the start and because I didn’t really get into DotA until 2013, the story was completely new and exciting to me. But this movie stands up well as both a primer for someone new to competitive gaming and as a retrospective for those who have been there from the beginning.

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Project Spark Beta Hands-On Impressions

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Project Spark is a new game, currently in beta, from Team Dakota. It is a game developer’s game in that Project Spark allows you to take your creativity and make your own game using their assets. There are plenty of world editors and development kits that offer far more than Project Spark ever will in terms of  game development, however, if you want a fun, user friendly game making experience that has shallow barriers-to-entry and quick, rewarding point and click content creation, Project Spark is for you. It has received a lot of hype since its debut at Microsoft’s E3 2013 and I have had the awesome opportunity to test out the game on the PC platform. So, let’s dive right in, starting with what the game did right.

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The Elder Scrolls Online PvP Emphasizes Teamwork, Results Can Be Hit or Miss

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PvP is arguably one of the more intense and satisfying aspects of many MMO games, and The Elder Scrolls Online is no exception to this. Set in the Imperial Province Cyrodiil, the PvP map is a sprawling expanse with over 40 discrete locations to explore, battle over, and eventually capture through victorious conquest. However, unlike in other MMOs, PvP is integrated directly into the Alliance War story arch. The outcomes of PvP campaigns and control of Cyrodiil locations can have consequences in the realm of PvE questing. Please note that although PvP does influence certain content in the main story, participation is not mandatory, so fear not if PvP isn’t your thing. There are some quests and PvE content within Cyrodiil, but caution is advised, since you can still be killed by other players even when you’re not directly participating in a battle.

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Additional Video from Our Elder Scrolls Online Media Beta Playthrough

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Elite Monster dropped multiple stories Friday detailing our time with The Elder Scrolls Online ahead of its April 4 release. EM writer Lauren Martina Fosco gave you her in-depth impressions of the game along with exclusive video taken from her play time. Turns out there’s more where that came from.

We’re posting 10 more videos showing quick glimpses into some of the more notable quests from Lauren’s playthrough, as well as links to all six of our stories from Friday covering the game’s combat, crafting, skill trees and more. You can find it all after the jump.

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The Elder Scrolls Online Hands-On Preview. Is it April 4 yet?

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As the release date for The Elder Scrolls Online approaches, collaborators Bethesda and Zenimax Online Studios invited members of the press for an exclusive preview of what was to come. I was lucky enough to get a key to the media beta and so my week full of adventures in Tamriel commenced. I will be accepting questions through the comments section, so please feel free to post and inquire if there’s something you want to know or need clarification on.

You’ll find my overall impressions of the game below, but be sure to check out Elite Monster’s extended coverage including additional features on the game’s combat, crafting and questing, as well as overviews of ESO’s character builder and expansive skill tree and leveling system.

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Elder Scrolls Online Combat is Smart and Satisfying, Loot Disappointing

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As we all know, engaging combat that excites the player is a vital component of all MMOs. Game developers must create enemies that are challenging enough to keep the game interesting, but not so difficult that combat is overly burdensome or interrupts the flow of the game. Although it’s not perfect, ZeniMax Online Studios has managed to strike a good balance in The Elder Scrolls Online for the most part.

As a member of the Ebonheart Pact alliance, I was immediately introduced to a wide variety of standard enemies, including polar bears, skeletons, giant spiders, and human/humanoid members of rival alliances. There were also some enemies that are unique to the Elder Scrolls universe like Kwarma and the Clannfear. My character has the ability to summon a clannfear minion, so these encounters lead to some awesome clannfear-on-clannfear action (imagine two miniature dinosaurs bashing each other with their tails).

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The Elder Scrolls Online Crafting System Encourages Experimentation and is Key for End Game Gear

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My first impressions of the crafting system in The Elder Scrolls Online were not favorable. Elements of the interface seemed obscure and un-intuitive, there were numerous ambiguously named panels, and each new panel contained multiple paragraphs of text, which seemed somewhat laborious for something that I thought should be as straightforward as crafting, based on my previous experience in MMO games.

However, I should know by now that ESO is not your run of the mill MMO. Once I was able to look past these issues, exercise some patience, and actually take the time to read up and explore crafting, I began to appreciate the amount of time and thought that went into creating such an intricate system that will play a pivotal role in the economy and structure of the game.

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Questing in TESO Provides Varied Objectives, Mix of Elder Scrolls and Classic MMO Gameplay

Questing is the easiest way to gain XP in The Elder Scrolls Online so if you’re looking to level up quickly, it’s one of the more efficient uses of your time. The mechanics of questing in ESO are typical of most MMOs, but the devs have still done a nice job of preserving aspects of the more unique format found in earlier Elder Scrolls games. I will do my best to describe the quests in a spoiler-free manner, so please bear with me if I seem vague.

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The Elder Scrolls Online Character Builder is Typical for the Series But Unprecedented for MMOs

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Despite the fact that character creation comprises only a fraction of the total time gamers spend playing any given MMO, it has a prominent role in shaping their first impressions of the game. Good customization features will often dictate how attached players feel to their characters and therefore, dictate their initial level of investment in the game universe itself. The Elder Scrolls Online development team clearly had this in the forefront of their minds when they designed their character builder.

At the character selection screen, once you select an alliance, a race, and a class from the right-hand panel, you can use the ‘preview’ menu on the left of the character to toggle between several display options: Novice Gear, Veteran Gear, and No Gear. It’s worth noting that many of the Veteran Gear outfits come with awesome helmets that either partially or completely obscure the character’s faces and make it difficult to see the effects of your face customizations, so I recommend switching to one of the less epic display options before you begin customizing your character’s appearance.

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Expansive Skill Trees in The Elder Scrolls Online Add Unique Customization to Leveling Experience

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ESO’s skill trees and leveling system are reasonably straightforward, and while they are simple to understand, they are fairly expansive and thoughtfully designed. The combination of the different skill trees does yield very original customization options, and the choices you make will influence your gameplay on a very unique level.

There are a number of ways to earn XP, including combat, questing, and crafting. Upon leveling up, you will be awarded 1 Attribute Point and 1 Skill Point. Attribute Points may be spent on Magicka, Health, or Stamina. Ideally, you will want to strike a balance between the three that is most suited to your character. For instance, if you’re playing as an un-arcane, melee tank, that character will have very little use for Magicka, so you would do better to alternate spending your Attribute Points between Health and Stamina. Whether you max out one attribute or distribute them more evenly is completely up to you, but keep in mind that whatever you decide will likely have an affect on your play style.

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Warlords of Draenor: Everything You Wanted to Know About Garrisons

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With Hearthstone finally out of closed beta and information confirmed about pre-orders for Warlords of Draenor, Blizzard fans have turned their attention to the upcoming beta for World of Warcraft’s next expansion. Warlords will offer a free boost to level 90 and new character models, but perhaps the feature that could be most game-changing is the addition of player housing, known in WoW as garrisons.

In anticipation of the upcoming beta, Elite Monster has put together everything we currently know about this hotly anticipated addition to World of Warcraft.

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Review: Path of Exile

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Independent developer Grinding Gear Games has always claimed that Path of Exile was going to be the gritty sequel that Blizzard’s Diablo II deserved. After seven years of development and beta testing, the game was recently released to the public via Steam.

Path of Exile carves out a spot a bit darker in tone than its competitors and provides plenty of old-school action-RPG gameplay with a couple of fresh ideas tossed in. But is this game the Diablo 3 that hardcore Diablo II players wish Blizzard would release?  Find out after the jump.

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Star Citizen Continues to Raise Funds and Player Expectations

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Star Citizen, the new MMO title from Chris Roberts, the man behind Wing Commander, is expected to update the legendary space simulator style of gaming, first popularized in the nineties. The early word on this expansive game is that it promises a wealth of planets and stars to discover, all the space-based PvP and PvE action you can handle, a rich story in which players assume the role of a naval pilot and an economy to rival the vaunted Eve Online.

But perhaps the most interesting concept behind the game so far is that its development is being funded by a passionate player base that continues to hand over its wallet even though it hasn’t yet played the title.

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NSA Survival Guide: 10 Signs You’re Being Spied On in World of Warcraft

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The games industry is buzzing this morning over new NSA spying allegations that may include government meddling in games like World of Warcraft and Second Life. The story, first reported by The New York Times, claims that NSA agents may log on to virtual worlds in an attempt to monitor terrorists who use the game for communication. The story also states these games have been used to try and get foreign operatives to become informants for the U.S. government.

For its part, Activision Blizzard went on record stating it was not aware of any spying going on in Azeroth. But we here at Elite Monster feel you can never be too careful. That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to help you spot a potential NSA spy in World of Warcraft.

Here are the top 10 signs the NSA is spying on you in WoW. Be careful out there, folks.

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The Spike VGX Awards Summed Up in One Photo

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This year was supposed to be the year the Spike VGX Awards (formerly VGA) got it right. The show has always been a bit of an easy target for those within the hardcore gaming community. Who can forget the many past years when Spike trotted out celebrities like Samuel L. Jackson who often mispronounced or otherwise butchered the name of the games they were supposed to be promoting?

But this year was going to be different, if you listened to Spike.  This year, the VGX was said to be doing away with the Hollywood glitz in exchange for more focus on the actual games and the developers who make them. And honestly? They probably could have pulled it off.

But then someone invited Joel McHale.

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Five More Classics That Should Be Games in Light of the Jane Austen MMO Hitting Its Kickstarter Goal

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Fans of Jane Austen’s books are rejoicing today with news that the proposed game, Ever, Jane has hit its Kickstarter goal.

The idea that a game based on such classic works as Sense and Sensibility could bring home six figures in funding in an era that’s been dominated by the likes of Call of Duty is pretty amazing.

The success of Ever, Jane had me brainstorming about what other classic titles should be converted into digital form. Admittedly, with somewhat questionable results.

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Farewell to Ghostcrawler: A Picture For Every Time He Nerfed You

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With World of Warcraft’s lead system designer Greg Street announcing his departure from Blizzard today, we can’t help but feel a little nostalgic here at Elite Monster.

Sure, the man known on the WoW forums and his personal Twitter account as “Ghostcrawler” was sometimes a lightning rod for criticism. But that’s only because Greg went out of his way for more than five years to give players a behind the scenes look at how the sausage is made in Irvine.

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