Blizzard Announces Diablo III Expansion: Reaper of Souls

Looks like BlizzCon is going to have something worth revealing this year: an expansion pack to the Diablo III world. They will have 300 PCs available for conference attendees to sink their teeth into the latest and greatest for the awkwardly troubled franchise and the expansion will debut on the PS4.


Reaper of Souls at BlizzCon® 2013 on PC and PS4

Malthael, the Angel of Death, grows restless. Having sieged the historic city of Westmarch, he now sets his sights on a new metropolis: Anaheim, California—the great gamer haven of the West. Soon, his forces will begin their march on the hallowed halls of BlizzCon and only you, mighty Nephalem, can defend its denizens and help put a stop to the coming apocalypse.

Are you ready?

Join the Crusade, November 8-9

Summon your allies, ready your best weapon, and prepare to make a stand against Malthael in Hall A of the Anaheim Convention Center.

With 300 PC demo stations at their command, attendees will have the opportunity to join the fight for Westmarch, seek fame and treasure in all-new Nephalem Rifts (previously called Loot Runs), and journey through Adventure Mode, where the world itself is your battlefield. All five of the original Diablo III classes will be playable, as well as the recently-unveiled Crusader, a fierce mid-range melee warrior who wields punishing weapons (and an even more punishing arsenal of spells and abilities).

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Looking for more Reaper of Souls screenshots? Click here!

Reaper of Souls Invades PlayStation® 4

We’re also excited to announce that Diablo III: Reaper of Souls will be making its public debut on the PlayStation® 4 at BlizzCon 2013!

In our action-packed single-player and same-screen co-op demos, players will get to explore the haunted streets of Westmarch as one of our five original classes or test their mettle as the unyielding Crusader. Attendees will also be some of the first in the world to take on Death itself using a DUALSHOCK®4 controller, featuring touch pad technology designed to help keep heroes out game menus and focused on what they do best: killing monsters.

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Click here to view the full BlizzCon 2013 floor map.

For those of you who are BlizzCon-bound, we salute you! If you can’t make the show in person, be sure to check out the Virtual Ticket, which includes over 60 hours of high-definition footage so you can catch all the action from the comfort of your home.

Head on over to BlizzCon.com for panel schedules, event maps, hotel and travel information, forums, and more, and be sure to stay tuned to diablo3.com for all the latest news for Reaper of Souls on PC and PS4!

The Seven Biggest Upcoming Console MMOs (IGN.com)

I get that MMOs want to extend their reach to add console gamers. For real MMOs (especially MMORPGs), that market segment is virtually untapped. However, I don’t see consoles replacing my mouse+keyboard experience. FFXIV:ARR is a good example of that, especially when looking at tanks. Almost all of the tanks that struggle with positioning that I’ve run with have been console gamers (or just new to the dungeon).

For MMOs like Defiance and those that offer first person views, the overall game would probably be similar between consoles and PCs, but communication will always be substantially behind on consoles and only a small percentage of gamers are using Ventrilo, RaidCall, or other VoIP software.
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As long as video game consoles have had internet connections, enterprising studios have been creating massively multiplayer games for them. Early notable efforts include Sega’s Phantasy Star Online in 2001 and Everquest Online Adventures in 2003.

Still, despite these groundbreaking games, there’s no denying that for most MMO experiences, PC gaming has always been where it’s at. Until now, at least.

Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are more PC-like than ever, and now talented AAA console development teams are finally wrapping their heads around how to create persistent online worlds and long-term character growth. As a result, next-gen might be the era that console MMOs finally come into their own. Below are the hottest console MMOs, both launched and upcoming, that you should be sure to keep on your radar.

Note: It’s still up in the air whether some of these titles will truly feel like traditional MMO experiences when they launch. The lines are blurring. Massive battles with hundreds of concurrent players might not constitute an MMO if the world isn’t persistent. A persistent world might not be an MMO if you can only explore it with small, controlled groups. However you define an MMO, these games are all, at the least, MMO-like experiences worth your hype and attention.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

PC, PS3, PS4
After a notoriously poor launch, Square-Enix doubled down on FF XIV, relaunching the game a full three years later, to critical and commercial success. It’s arguably one of the biggest turnaround stories in video game history.

Somewhat lost in all the headlines was the “small” detail that the relaunched game released not just for Windows, but on Playstation 3 as well, with a Playstion 4 version coming in 2014. The console version is fully playable with just a controller thanks to a completely revamped UI, or players can just plug a keyboard and mouse. FF XIV is the highest-profile MMORPG currently available on consoles and is an easy recommendation for console gamers.

DC Universe Online

PC, PS3, PS4
DCUO launched on PC and PS3 in 2011 to so-so reviews and managed to amass only a modest player base. But Sony Online Entertainment stuck it out, continuing to gradually improve and expand on the superhero MMO. The game gained notable momentum after switching to a freemium business model 10 months after launch.

The game makes excellent use of the DC universe via top-notch voice acting, an active, ever-expanding story, and hundreds of famous and not-so-famous characters and locations from the DC Universe. DCUO is tuned to get players to the level cap and into endgame content as fast as possible, making it a great MMO for superhero nerds to download and try out.

Planetside 2

PC, PS4
Sony Online Entertainment’s massive PC FPS hit Planetside 2 is due out on the PS4 later this year. Many were skeptical about Planetside 2’s massive scale and free-to-play model, but after trying it out for themselves, most came away believers. The payment model never gets in the way, and vehicular and on-foot warfare is always raging, with thousands of players all vying for territory control at once. Thanks to a solid class system and a steady stream of unlockables, Planetside 2 should have something for everyone when it hits PS4.

Destiny

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
For how much we know about Halo developer Bungie’s ridiculously ambitious “persistent world shooter” Destiny, there’s an awful lot we still don’t know. Bungie itself has refrained from actually calling the game an MMO, for starters. Instead, the game provides players with a feeling of constant connection via seamless matchmaking that all happens in the background, with other players entering and exiting your game world on-the-fly.

Destiny’s emphasis on dynamic world events and “loot drops” also contributes to its MMO feel. Players will be able to socket and customize their weapons with powerful items dropped from foes. Dynamic events will help keep the world of Destiny fresh and keep players on their toes. We’ll have to wait until 2014 to find out just how MMO-likeDestiny truly ends up feeling.

The Division

PS4, Xbox One, PC
When a man-made pandemic collapses civilization, ruthless gangs vie for power in the ruins of New York. Sounds like a good setting for an MMORPG to us! Like Destiny, at this point we still aren’t sure how genuinely MMO-like Ubisoft’s dystopian FPS/RPG hybrid The Division truly is. But what has been revealed looks extremely promising.

Players are plunked into The Division’s unforgiving game world with three days’ worth of food and supplies. From there it’s up for you to explore and scavenge what you need, leveling up your character RPG-style along the way. Although solo play is an option, The Division includes extensive options for player-run clans and groups as well as drop-in/drop-out multiplayer, encouraging and rewarding players who team up and work together to tame its persistent, dynamic online world.

The Crew

PC, PS4, Xbox One
Like Destiny and The Division, just how MMO-like Ubisoft’s persistent world racing gameThe Crew truly is still isn’t known. But what we’ve seen so far is extremely promising. The arcade-style racing action takes place across the entire United States. A condensed version of it, sure… but still. Racing from Seattle to Miami in a seamless online/offline game world filled with hundreds of racing challenges? Yes, please!

The game will seamlessly and constantly fill your game world with hundreds of other real world players, giving the game its “MMO” label. You can party up to compete in races or cooperative events like taking down a single superpowered opponent. Yes, almost like a raid.

Elder Scrolls Online

PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
Elder Scrolls Online, in development for six years, is finally nearing its 2014 release window. Set 1000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the game’s major claim to fame is that it takes place across the entire continent of Tamriel. Not just a single country or region like all the other modern single player Elder Scrolls games.

Early impressions were mixed, wih many describing the game as a World of Warcraft clone set in the Elder Scrolls universe. While that’s still a plenty exciting concept on its own, many gamers wanted more. Thankfully, Zenimax Online listened. The game now has a first-person mode, a new Skyrim-like UI, further refined storytelling and plenty more tweaks that truly allow the game to feel like Skyrim with (thousands) of friends.

Plenty more!

The seven games above aren’t the only ones to keep in mind, but they’re probably the highest profile console MMOs in the works. Other upcoming console MMOs include:

War Thunder: A freemium flight sim MMO that’s been making waves on Steam. Due out for PS3 and PS4 in November. Watch the gameplay.

Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade: Not due out until 2015, this MMO based on the classic sci-fi license is slated for release on PC and both Xbox One and PS4. Read the news.

World of Tanks: Wargaming.net’s notorious PVP-heavy tank combat game has been available on Xbox 360 since this summer. Read the news.

Phantasy Star Online 2: Sega’s PSO sequel is out now on PC and Vita… in Japan. A US release date hasn’t yet been announced. US Release News?

Dragon Quest X: Like PSO 2, Square Enix’s Dragon Quest MMO hit Wii and Wii U in Japan last year to critical acclaim. But a US release is still up in the air. Watch the epic trailer.

Sony Conference @ Gamescom: Announces PS4 Launch, Games

Thankfully for PS4 fans around the world, timers everywhere can begin counting down to launch day. Unfortunately for Europeans, Aussies, and New Zealanders, they have to wait two weeks longer than North America.

Today’s conference was ripe with tons of additional news. Thanks to GameSided.com, we have a full rundown of the big announcements from today’s conference.

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Today Sony held their gamescom conference, in which they revealed the release date of the PS4. Above is a link to the entirety of the conference, but here are some of the highlights from the event. There are a lot, so we’ll cover them in quick succession if you don’t have 90 minutes to watch the video.

-The conference started out with Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida showing off the UI of the PlayStation 4 while playing Killzone Shadow Fall. It looks really sleek and simple, a blessing for a Sony UI that has always seemed to falter. Yoshida sat in a chair onstage, with his back facing the audience. He then made this tweet using the PlayStation 4:

Shuhei Yoshida
@yosp
Let’s start the show 🙂 pic.twitter.com/R8nPJXJpqe

Gran Turismo 6 starts off the gamescom showcase, showing what appears to be almost real-life vehicles. It will be coming to the PS3 on December 6th, 2013. Also, a feature film is in production based on the Gran Turismo series.

LittleBigPlanet Hub will be a free-to-play game launching later this year to little appraise from the crowd. It will serve as free access, allowing you to create levels and maps, but also mentions that you can “buy other fun stuff at the touch of a button.” It seems like it will follow Project Spark’s F2P model in giving you an entry pack and allowing you to but further content as it is released.

Grand Theft Auto V will be coming in a PS3 bundle, which is not new information. What is news is that if you pre-order GTA V through the PlayStation Store, you will get 75% off of other Rockstar Games titles, as well as DLC. That’s a nice bonus.

PS Vita got a huge shout out at the proceedings. The biggest news from the discussion of the handheld is that the PS Vita finally got a price cut. It will run at $199 in North America and 199 Euros, as well as a drastic reduction of the price of memory cards.

Murasaki Baby was announced at gamescom as a PS Vita title that utilizes the Vita’s touchpad. It looks like the art style of Machinarium with a bit more color and plays like a platformer.

Big Fest was announced as a free-to-play music festival simulator for the PS Vita, with a twist. Sony has partnered with Jamendo to bring real, unsigned bands and their music catalog to the game. You can then promote these bands in your own festival and share it with friends and online strangers. Who knows, you could be responsible for helping the next supergroup reach fame through a video game. Both Murasaki Baby and Big Fest show just how varied the handheld’s games can be.

Mark Cerny, PlayStation 4 architect, spoke about the console. A graphic behind him displays “designing the world’s most powerful console” as Cerny states his drive to make a console 10 times more powerful than the PS3. It is also noted that the PlayStation 4 will support Unity for game development, self-publishing and have been working with innovative teams to make bringing games to Sony much easier to accomplish.

-The following games will be making console exclusive debuts on either the PS4 or PS Vita: Rogue Legacy, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth, N++, Volume, Guns of Icarus Online, Wasteland Kings and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number. A full list is detailed here.

Michael Denny announced that Sony Worldwide Studios and its 14 gaming subsidiaries will play a key factor in the growth of the PS4. Sony Santa Monica, Naughty Dog and Media Molecule are working on unannounced titles for the console. He also announced Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture with a short trailer. The game is a spiritual successor to Dear Esther, so expect a story-driven title. RIME was also announced to be coming to the PlayStation 4, which looks like a cross between Ico and Zelda Wind Waker, stylistically. Helldivers, Resogun, a PS4-exclusive re-imagining of Shadow of the Beast and Playroom information was all revealed in an onslaught of gaming news.

Twitch.tv will be coming to the PlayStation 4. You can use the in-system streaming device to stream gameplay directly to followers, reducing the potential need for capture devices like Elgato. Furthermore, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president Jim Ryan announced brokered deals with European ISP’s to bring exclusive internet bundles with gaming in mind, including 200 mb/s packages.

Sony Music Unlimited will be available on PS4 launch. It will allow you to play games and music at the same time.

PlayStation Plus will be given a 14 day free trial to all new PlayStation 4 owners. Doing so near launch will give you Instant Gaming Collection access to DriveClub and Resogun. PS+ will also provide Assassin’s Creed III for free in September.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag featured some gameplay footage, including remote play access using the PS Vita. They really wanted to show off the value of the PS Vita in coordination with the PS4, as “almost all PS4 games can be played remotely on the Vita.”

-A Watch_Dogs movie is apparently in the works. WHY? Nobody knows. They also showed off PS4-exclusive content in a trailer.

-Viewers were shocked to find out that Minecraft is coming to the PlayStation 4 at launch. It was assumed to be an Xbox One exclusive before. Also, War Thunder will be console-exclusive to the PS4.

-Andrew House hit the stage, which could only mean one thing. That’s right, he brought the thunder with a $199 12 GB PS3 bundle, PS4 cross-gen discounts for owners of the PS3 copies of certain games, over 1 million pre-orders of the PS4, a devilishly fun jab at the Xbox One’s constant changing of console message and a PS4 release date of November 15 in North America and November 29th in Europe.

With that, the event came to a close. IGN also happened to pick up on “Magma Red and Wave Blue” alternative PS4 controllers for sale at the end of the year. Now if they only provide multiple launch colors for the PlayStation 4! Either way, that’s it for a big day in video game conferences.

GameSiders, what was your favorite part of the announcement today? The November 15th release? PS Vita price cut? Let us know below!

Gamescom 2013: Live Streams and Product Announcements

Much like with other gamer and tech conferences around the world, Gamescom has tens of thousands of participants, all clamoring to play test their favorite upcoming games, see new tech, and be clued in on the latest product announcements from companies such as Microsoft, EA, and Sony.

Here are a few of of the livestream sites available to participate (in a long distance kinda way) in Cologne, Germany’s gamer fest, along with VG 24/7’s laundry list of what’s what and who’s who for Gamescom 2013.

Sony’s PS4 @ Gamescom

Engadget’s Coverage

IGN’s EA and Sony Coverage

EA’s Live Coverage

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It’s that time of year again, when the gaming press descends on Cologne to check out the biggest games the industry has to offer and ruin their colons with meat. Pat, Sam and I will be there all of next week to play the games, attend the showcases and speak with the developers.

To re-cap everything that we’ll be seeing at the show, I’ve compiled this handy guide to make sure you don’t miss a conference or title. (Note: we will be hosting Sony and EA’s streams in separate pages on the big day, so be sure to check back Tuesday!)

First up…

The conferences:

EA: Tuesday, August 20 – 3pm UK / 4pm Europe / 7am Pacific

We know that EA is bringing at least Titanfall, Battlefield 4, Need for Speed: The Rivals, FIFA 14 and Command & Conquer to gamescom following the publisher’s blog on the matter.

The publisher has made a bit of noise about The Sims 4, which it said will be revealed in full at gamescom, and our money is on an appearance during the EA conference itself.

We’re also expecting to hear more about Dragon Age: Inquisition at the show following its big reveal in this month’s issue of Game Informer, but we’ll find out at the show.

Sony: Tuesday, August 20 – 6pm UK / 7pm Europe / 10am Pacific

Sony has already confirmed that its gamescom event will focus on PS4, and we’re hoping to hear a solid release date for the console during the show. UPDATE: Looks like that will happen, yes.

There’s also the little matter of this rumoured PS4 and PS Vita bundle that may or may not make an appearance. Steph and I recently called round some retailers to ask if it was a real bundle and they had no clue what we were talking about, so it seems unlikely.

It seems likely that games like Killzone: Shadow Fall, inFamous: Second Son, Driveclub, The Order: 1886 will be there in some form although we can’t say for certain yet. We’re still waiting for that LittleBigPlanet 3 announcement too.

Who and what?

Microsoft: Xbox One will be the company’s big focus at gamescom and if rumours are to be believed Microsoft’s presence will yield at least one new game announcement. Gamers seem to think it’s either Crackdown 3 or Fable 4. Truth be told we have no idea yet.

Crackdown’s agility orb logo was spotted during Microsoft’s Xbox One reveal back in May and Phil Spencer has been harping on about it a lot lately. Could this be the elusive, mystery game?

Microsoft’s stance on self-publishing was also pegged for discussion during gamescom before details on the reversal were leaked ahead of time. Microsoft’s Marc Whitten confirmed that the company would issue more details on the policy in Cologne.

Were also hoping to hear more on the Xbox One release dates, which may or may not go down at some point during gamescom. With the console out before year’s end and a TGS announcement unlikely, this is the best place for Microsoft to drop a date on us.

Game-wise we’re hoping for Dead Rising 3, Kinect Sports: Rivals, Project Spark, Forza Motorsport 5, Ryse: Son of Rome, Killer Instinct and more, but we’ll have to wait for the gamescom’s doors to open to find out more.

Nintendo: The Japanese giant makes its return to gamescom this year with a suite of Wii U and 3DS titles on the public show floor. On Wii U Nintendo will bring, “Pikmin 3, The Wonderful 101, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, Sonic Lost World, Wii Party U, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, Wii Karaoke U, Mario Kart 8.

On 3DS Nintendo will be giving fans a chance to play Pokémon X and Pokémon Y, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. It’s a strong showing from the company which is something of a bounce-back after last year’s no-show.

Ubisoft: While the company isn’t holding its usual conference at gamescom this year, it is promising to bring a new next-gen IP to the show. Current rumours suggest it’s Child of Light by Ubisoft Montreal. There’s also these Fighter Within domain registrations to consider.

Seeing as the publisher isn’t holding its own pre-show event, you can expect this reveal to go down at Sony’s conference. We’re none the wiser on what it is, although we can also expect showings from Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag and The Crew.

Square Enix: Final Fantasy is a big focus for Square this year. The company recently spilled details of its Gamescom 2013 showing, which will give the public plenty of hands-on and demo sessions to look forward to.

We know that Thief, Murdered: Soul Suspect, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, Final Fantasy X & X-2 HD Remaster, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy 13, Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 ReMIX and Deus Ex: The Fall will be there. There’s no word on Final Fantasy 15 however.

Activison: Blizzard has confirmed it will announce something to do with Diablo 3 at the show, which we’re going to guess will be news on the first expansion or something about the PS4 build.

We’re also expecting to hear more about Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer following its big August 14 reveal and of course we’re hoping to get another glimpse of Destiny on the show floor.

Konami: Sorry Metal Gear Solid 5 fans, only Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 and PES 2014 are playable at this year’s gamescom, but that’s still something to get excited for.

Bethesda: The company has confirmed that The Elder Scrolls Online will be playable at gamescom and we wouldn’t be overly-surprised if Wolfenstein: The New Order and The Evil Within were to rear their heads at some point too.

Deep Silver: The publisher will bring it’s newly-announced MOBA Dead Island: Epidemic to Cologne, and Wasteland 2 developer inXile has confirmed it will bring the game to the show floor.

Other games we’re hoping will be at the show, but haven’t been confirmed at the time of writing:

  • Batman: Arkham Origins
  • Eve Online
  • Dark Souls 2
  • Dust 514
  • Half-Life 3 (totes jokes yo)
  • Hawken
  • Hotline Miami 2
  • Payday 2
  • Mad Max
  • Space Hulk
  • Star Citizen
  • War of the Vikings
  • The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
  • World of Tanks Xbox 360
  • WWE 14

No-shows:

  • Capcom

Elder Scrolls Online: Ask Us Anything at QuakeCon 2013

Although the big reveal at QuakeCon 2013 for me was the 30-minute solo and group dungeon play over on Twitch, ESO also has a nice “Ask Us Anything” from the event that covers death penalties, “mob glow”, LFG tool, teleporting to friends, and a couple lore questions.

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Last week’s live gameplay stream at QuakeCon created a lot of excitement—and plenty of new questions about The Elder Scrolls Online. Check out our answers to some of them here.

We had lots of fun presenting our very first gameplay stream last week, which included a dungeon run and a close look at ESO’s combat. If you missed it, you can still enjoy the full replay. After the stream, you had lots of new questions, and we’ve selected some to answer right here. Are you wondering about something in ESO? Send us an email atcommunity@elderscrollsonline.com and we may feature your question in an upcoming Ask Us Anything. Enjoy!

Which level were the monsters in the QuakeCon stream compared to the characters? I saw them cutting through their enemies quite easily, but the health bars went up and down a lot. Did some monsters hit that hard and is healing that effective, or did your characters have that little health? – By Andrew Markton

Fungal Grotto is a level 12 – 15 dungeon. I believe we had two level 13 characters and two level 16 characters in our party during the stream. Since players can put points into health, magicka, or stamina, it’s likely that some characters’ health totals were lower than others. However, what you saw is a pretty good indication of health fluctuation and the need to heal when taking on a dungeon.

Will there be an option to turn off the glow around enemies? – By Nate Collins

Yes, you will be able to turn it off. I will say that the glow is much more apparent when you’re watching than it is when you’re playing. It’s very effective at helping with target selection, and you may find it useful in some situations, but it’s up to you whether to enable it.

You said that my armor will degrade when I die. Can I repair it, or do I have to pay an NPC? – By Jen Hauser

We have repair kits for repairs in the field, and you can visit an NPC to have all of your gear repaired.

I noticed the compass in the stream. Does it replace the mini-map or is it another option? If it does replace it, will it show more than points of interest, like guild and group members or enemies? – By Karen Tengart

The compass will replace the mini-map. Actually, this is a good example of how we use information from our beta tests. When we had a mini-map, we noticed many testers felt like they should just follow quest markers, and they were less inclined to explore. This ran counter to our intent of being a game that emphasizes exploration. When we introduced the compass, players became much more likely to explore and less likely to just “follow the quests.”

As for putting group members on the compass, we’re trying to avoid having too much clutter on the compass. We do have in-world indicators for group members, though, which are proving to be very effective.

When a class says nothing about the playstyle of another player, how will the dungeon finder still allow me to look for healing or damaged focused players? – By Tommy Reed

Players will pick the role they think they can best perform when they sign up to find a group.

So many mudcrabs—where did they all come from? I am confused. – By John Raighley

Only Lorkhan knows, and his secrets died with him.

How much of the footage and animation we saw on Twitch is finalized? – By Tom Gregor

We’re polishing everything in the game, and that will continue as we head towards launch. First-person mode, which you saw quite a bit of in the video, is one of our more recent additions, and you can expect to see improvements to it as we continue development.

Will the transportation system—and especially porting to group mates—work in PvP, too? If so, how many “safe” locations are in Cyrodiil? – By Pete Jameston

The fast-travel system is very different in Cyrodiil. We don’t want to have battles where each side can instantly transport in reinforcements, assuring no clear winner. You will be able to fast travel to points clearly secured by your alliance. That said, with the size of Cyrodiil, I will say that mounts are a pretty good thing to have.

Is the instanced loot random for one person or will everyone receive the same item / crafting component / amount of gold? – By Jean Despar

Instanced loot is random per person.

Can you explain the equipment and skills from the gameplay stream a bit more? Which armor did he wear? Which skills did he use? – By Mira Yump

Nick was playing a ranged DPS Templar for most of the session. He was in a combination of light and medium armor, going for protection and an increase in the efficacy of his magic use. His alternate weapon set was dual-wielding. Nick was able to heal himself and the group as sort of a backup healer, even though he only put one or two skill points in his healing line. The spear you saw and “light” abilities are signature abilities of the Templar. The spear knocks enemies back as it damages them, and the bright ball of light applies a damage-over-time effect and a snare. Nick also had some weapon abilities he used, depending on the weapon type he was currently wielding.

Gina played a Sorcerer using sword and shield and wearing heavy armor. Rich was a Nightblade in light armor who helped keep the party alive with a restoration staff, and Eric chose a dual-wielding Dragonknight with medium armor.

Hello, I am wondering if other Daedric Princes are in the game (besides Molag Bal), since I am a big fan of Mehrunes Dagon. – By Austin

Yes, there are definitely other Daedric Princes. Sheogorath comes to mind … [AuA disappears in a cloud of butterflies.]

Remaining Places to Pre-Order Xbox One & PS4? (DigitalTrends.com)

Four of the biggest names in console sales (Best Buy, Amazon.com, GameStop, and Toys R Us) are already sold-out for both the Xbox One and the PS4. So where does that leave you, especially if you’re looking to pre-order either/both as a present for end-of-year holidays? It appears you  have five remaining options, plus buying directly from either company. Read on!

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If you are hoping to pre-order a PlayStation 4 or an Xbox One, you might want to hurry. All around the country, major retailers are listing the consoles as “sold-out,” leading up to what is looking more and more like a shortage on launch day. That may be good for Sony and Microsoft (and their stock prices), but it’s bad for a consumer hoping to get their hands on what are shaping up to be two of the hottest items this holiday season.

… you may have to go a little deeper down the rabbit hole of online shopping…

With stores like GameStop and Best Buy both listing Sony and Microsoft’s consoles as sold out, you may have to go a little deeper down the rabbit hole of online shopping leading up to the as yet unannounced launch dates. The PS4 is listed with a generic release date of December 31 (in other words, sometime this year), while the Xbox One is listed by several retailers as November 27. Whatever the exact dates, expect them both to release before the yearly shopping Super Bowl that is Black Friday, which this year lands on November 29.

Sony and Microsoft are still hoping to meet all launch day demands, although that probably isn’t going to be possible. At the moment, several stores are still accepting pre-orders but you should expect stock to disappear quickly. We’ll try to keep this list updated throughout the coming months, but don’t be surprised if the stores below sell out, and soon.

(If you find that a store on this list has changed its status to “sold out,” please let us know and we’ll update it accordingly. We’ll also add more stores in the weeks to come.)

Both Systems

Fry’s Electronics: The national electronic giant is not offering in-store pickups, but it will ship to you. You will need to pay shipping, so factor that into your budget. There is also a limit of one PS4 and Xbox One per household.

Kmart: The PS4 and Xbox One are both available for pre-order, and both are available for free shipping. As with most retailers, there is a limit of one per household.

Sears: Although not generally thought of as an electronic store, Sears has both the PS4 and Xbox One for pre-order, along with all the accessories and launch day titles announced. Free shipping is available, and there is a limit one per household.

Walmart: Walmart is the largest video game seller in the world, so you can expect two things: one, they will have a huge allotment from both Sony and Microsoft; two, they will likely sell through their pre-orders quickly. You can also add a three-year warranty, which isn’t quite as comprehensive as Target’s (it doesn’t cover accidental damage beyond wear and tear), but it is cheaper at $44 and lasts a year longer. It is also offering free shipping. No limit on the number of units you can buy.

PlayStation 4 Only

Sony StoreSony’s own store is offering the PS4, of course, along with free shipping and no apparent limit on the number of units you can pick up. You can also finance directly through Sony.

Xbox One Only

Microsoft StoreYou can purchase an Xbox One from Microsoft’s own store, and that also extends to the Xbox 360′s dashboard. If you are an Xbox 360 user, just connect online and look for the Xbox One icon, and you can pre-order directly from there. Free shipping, and a limit of one per household.

Elder Scrolls Online: New Beta Test Invites

This is the third (?) wave of beta invites for ESO. Cross your fingers and F5 the heck out of your inbox over the next few hours. Good luck!

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New Beta Invites – July 9th

Check your email! We’re sending another round of invites to The Elder Scrolls Online beta.

We’ve started to send another wave of invitations to the ESO beta, as we continue to ramp up our beta program. Invites will be going out over the next few hours, so check your email periodically to see if you’ve been invited to the test. Don’t forget to check your spam folder! We’re looking forward to the next beta session and can’t wait for more of you to see the game.

If you don’t receive an invitation, don’t worry. The ESO beta continues to grow, and we’ll let you know when we send new invites. Thank you for your patience and enthusiasm; we can’t wait to see your feedback.

Discuss this on the official ESO Facebook page.

Original ESO Article

Elder Scrolls Online: Interview with Lead Gameplay Designer Nick Konkle (TenTonHammer.com)

This is a nice article that covers first person view, alliance wars, endgame theorycrafting, and next-gen consoles.

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ESO Interview with Nick Konkle

We recently sat down for a candid discussion about the unstoppable MMO juggernaut in the making, Elder Scrolls Online, with lead gameplay designer Nick Konkle. Topics of discussion included the implementation of first-person view, cross-platform gameplay considerations, and the ways character builds will be a constantly shifting component of Alliance Wars PvP.


First-Person View in ESO

For a lot of gamers, the seminal Elder Scrolls experience involves playing in first-person view. While plenty of MMOs give players the option to zoom the camera into first-person, few really factor in the visual aspects of seeing equipped weapons and the sizable impact it can have on feeling truly engaged in combat. In other words, it’s kind of like playing an FPS, only without seeing the assault rifle you have equipped so the bullets just magically appear from somewhere off-screen each time you pull the trigger.

Earlier this year we were given a sneak peak at how this aspect of ESO was shaping up, but at that point it wasn’t a playable option in the press demo builds. It certainly looked badass, but we were curious about how has that aspect of the game’s development been progressing, and if there were any unexpected hurdles in the implementation process.

Lead Gameplay Designer Nick Konlke explained, “It came together much faster and better than I was expecting. Sometimes when you go from prototype to playable, it’s pretty good but then once you get to mass production it can introduce 75 new issues. It didn’t go that way this time. Instead, it was suddenly two months later and it’s in and we’re done, so that was good.

A thing that did surprise me is that I’m not really a first-person gamer, though I do play Elder Scrolls interchangeably. For example, I played Skyrim in first, and Oblivion in third-person. So when first-person went in our game I was expecting it to be similar, like I could play it this way, but I probably won’t. But I do. It’s absolutely my preferred way to play now. It’s just super immersive and cool, and it’s the only way I play now. We’ve noticed with MMO purists, they start liking first-person with a ranged weapon like a bow or staff, and then after they get used to the basics of the perspective change they take the whole thing on that way.”

Alliance Wars and the Character Build Metagame

While I’m more inclined to stick to third-person in most MMOs, it’s rarely a matter of immersion for me so much as the heightened spatial and situational awareness. Even having gone through a fairly hardcore period playing first-person shooters, I want as much visual feedback as possible in competitive situations. This will no doubt hold doubly true when it comes to the size and scope of Alliance Wars PvP in ESO.

Speaking of Alliance Wars, we were really interested in learning more about how that slice of the game is progressing given it’s a major component of the long-tail gameplay and endgame for Elder Scrolls Online.

Nick explained, “All the testing is still internal, but we’re pretty excited to get that part of the game into the beta. We just had a big office-wide PvP test that was quite a bit of fun, and there are any number of anecdotes that I could share from that experience. But let’s just say it’s pretty big; there are some epic battles going on with 50 on 50 groups meeting on the open field.

The main thing that I’m really happy about as a result of this is that we’re getting a lot of builds tested. We’re in the middle of a lot of balancing and adjustments in development, and a lot of times even a small balance tweak will lead to whole shifts in the metagame around the office in terms of what build is now the popular one.

The three or four builds that are really popular changes every couple of months, and they don’t always align with what you’d expect. So what’s the coolest to me is that people will have their weird random builds that they make out of their Elder Scrolls characters and they go into PvP and they make them work. That’s my dream.”

One of the signs of a great elder game competitive system is that you never reach a point where things feel static. As new flavor-of-the-month builds rise to prominence, the system needs to offer enough flexibility for proper counters to those builds to be formulated.

Nick was quick to agree. “Any particular build needs to have a counter. Similarly, with any ability that’s more powerful or possibly sets up a sequence for a style of play, you need to make sure that there’s something you can do when you fight against that. As long as I don’t think the counter system comes down to A beats B, B beats C, and C beats A and that’s the metagame. You want a really big wheel that no one can actually map all the way out so that it constantly shifts. You don’t want it to be cookie-cutter at any level.”

Simple rock-paper-scissors systems definitely don’t cut it when it comes to metagame balance. With the three factions present in ESO there is potential for that layer to be present, but that’s on a much grander and more tactical scale as opposed to the drilled-down character build level. In ESO there will no doubt be certain builds that are considered a bit more iconic. A pure healer build where you focus on the healing staff and full light armor would be one such example.

We were also curious if there were any team-level build concepts that have come into play so far in the office play sessions that were either unexpected, or have in some way helped influence how different counters have been introduced. A perfect example here would be in any MMO that has PBAoE abilities, you’re bound to see character stacking occur; the idea being you stack a bunch of DPS and healer builds in one big clump and they can be extremely difficult to take down unless proper counters exist.

Nick noted, “It’s funny you should mention that, because early on that was a very common thing where people would essentially create a giant PBAoE bomb. That was actually super popular in Dark Age of Camelot.

To counter that, there’s a skill called Anti-Magic Field that drops down a bubble where anyone who tries to cast a spell will get zapped: they’ll be silenced and take a bunch of damage. So if you’re an opposing sorcerer and you’ve got that on your bar, and see a group getting ready to do a PBAoE bomb, you drop that down and all they do is stun and silence themselves.

Anti-Magic Field is interesting in that it provides a strong counter for that, but it’s also an Ultimate, so it takes a pretty long time to charge. But then there’s kind of that risk vs. reward layer about using it. So you can potentially bait it and get a player to use it too early and then do the bomb immediately after.”

ESO and Next Gen Consoles

The launch delay announcement for ESO during E3 2013 caught a lot of people’s attention, and became one of the biggest news stories out of the event for MMO gamers. What’s interesting is that there hadn’t necessarily been any specific dates previously announced, other than a loose target window for the latter part of 2013.

That said, the other major part of that announcement involved Elder Scrolls Online being developed for the upcoming PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles, keeping with the cross-platform release model that helped both Oblivion and Skyrim become such huge commercial successes. While that announcement obviously needed to be held back until after Sony and Microsoft had their grand reveals, we couldn’t help but ask Nick how development on the new consoles had been going so far.

“I think the main thing we discovered was that we were already headed in a certain direction with the style of game we were making in terms of a lot of things that are in common with modern console RPGs. So the technology just happens to line up really well with where we are in our schedule. So the technology is there and we can do it, and the design of the game didn’t have to change. It was more a case of making a few tweaks here and there, but fundamentally the game is identical. That allows us to present the same game across all platforms.”

In terms of any special considerations that needed to be made for things like the pacing of combat or the active dodging mechanic, Nick went on to note, “For someone like me who is into the nitty gritty details of it sure, but for the majority of players, not so much. There are some things like locomotion or run animations where you have to make those a bit smoother to account for joysticks. Then you also have to make sure the keybindings work across everything.

So there are some minor things here and there, but we haven’t had to adjust any major mechanic as we intended it to work in the PC version of the game.”

Still no word on whether a special netbook client for ESO will be made available, but we’ll keep you posted on any new developments in that department.

Original TenTonHammer Article

Amazon.com: $10 Pre-Order Credit for $10 Game Trade-In

This is a pretty great deal. We have a few months yet before the PS4 and Xbox One launch, so why not trade in some of your current (“old”) games for pre-order credit on the latest and greatest just around the corner? Use their website to search for games you own, see how much they’d pay you for them, send ’em in, and reap the rewards! Pretty easy. The only big catch is that this applies one per customer. Booh.

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Trade $10, Get $10

Trade in $10, Get $10 Pre-order Credit

Until June 30, 2013, trade in $10 worth of video games, consoles, or accessories and get a $10 bonus credit toward select pre-orders in addition to your trade-in value.

How to redeem this offer:
1. Search for your qualifying item using the search below
2. Select the item(s) you’d like to trade
3. Send in your item(s) for processing following the instructions provided
4. If your trade-in is accepted, the promotion will be applied automatically to your purchase of qualifying video games items.

Terms and Conditions

To receive the Promotion:
• Initiate a video game trade-in between June 13, 2013 and June 30, 2013.
• If the trade-in is accepted, you will receive a confirmation email.
• Add a qualifying item described in the offer to your Shopping Cart.
• The discount will be applied automatically to your purchase of the qualifying item.

Terms and Conditions:
• The promotion is limited to one per customer. If there is more than one eligible item in your Shopping Cart, the promotion applies to only the lowest priced item.
• The discount is valid until August 31, 2013. Amazon reserves the right to cancel it at any time.
• If your video game trade-in is not submitted in accordance with the instructions, or is not accepted, you are not eligible for the promotion and you will not receive a promotion.
• If you do not purchase the qualifying item when the promotion is in effect, the discount will not apply.
• The promotion applies only to qualifying items sold and shipped by Amazon.com. It does not apply to items sold by other merchants on the Amazon.com web site.
• If you return the qualifying item purchased to obtain the promotional code, we will subtract the value of promotional code from your return credit.
• Does not apply to orders placed with 1-Click. The offer may not be combined with other offers.
• Shipping and handling charges apply to all products.
• Offer good while supplies last.
• Void if copied, transferred, or prohibited.

Original Amazon Article

Elder Scrolls Online: 2-Hour E3 Gameplay Review (TenTonHammer.com)

As TenTonHammer mentioned last week, more coverage of their E3 gameplay was coming and here’s the second part of that. Basically, it’s a 99.9% approval review. I’m hoping we start to see over the next few weeks some more pessimistic posts that offer some kind of “cons” for the game, but we’ll have to wait and see.

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The last time I got my grubby little hands on The Elder Scrolls Online was during a press event Bethesda hosted a few weeks ago in Santa Monica. This time, they were showing off the game at E3 and rather than play the same areas I had at the previous event, the team was kind enough to let me break the rules and start a brand new character to see the beginning of the game. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity because it was, in a word, awesome.

The Elder Scrolls Online starts off in a similar manner to the other games in the series, in which you’ve had something happen to your character and need to make your way to civilization to begin the completion of an epic destiny. Being the eternal RPG player that I am, I immediately hopped on that rail and followed it through to completion. Oh, I’m sorry. Actually I meant to say, “Hell no! I’m going my own damned way and there’s not a thing you can do to stop me.” And that, my friends, is exactly why I love The Elder Scrolls series of games so much. After you complete a very short period of mandatory gameplay, you are completely free to pick whatever direction you want and just go. In my most recent play through, I even took this to the extreme by jumping off the dock walkway rather than even go into the first town the moment I got off the boat the game starts on.

ESO-Screen-E3

Splashing my way through the water, swimming around the island and hopping up onto a mound of rocks, I was immediately set upon by a starving wolf. Easily enough (thanks to the combat lessons given to me by Combat Designer, Maria Aliprando, during my first play through), I made short work of him and was quickly on my way. Whether it was bandits, assassin beetles, wolves, or any number of other manner of death dealers, I was able to handle the situation with my character. As a quick hint, I advise always choosing at least one skill that allows you a bit of crowd control capability, no matter which class you choose to play. It will make all the difference in the world when you find yourself taking on more than one opponent at a time.

Quests are scattered throughout the land and easily found by checking the mini-map and heading to any gold dots. Those dots on the map correspond to people or items that will begin a quest line for your character. As you may have already guessed, you are free to accept them or not, all depending on your particular whim of the day. Even though I’m a huge fanatic for free roaming in any game, I went ahead and did a few of the quests I came across just to check out the writing to see if it lives up to the excellent lore-filled tales and exploits that we’ve become so accustomed to over the years. I’m happy to report that you won’t be disappointed.

ESO-Screen-2-E3

Within the first 30 minutes of following one quest, I had donned a costume to pass unscathed through a town of bandits, poisoned a maid and let her die (there was an option to save her), stolen a gem for one quest giver, and then betrayed them by giving that same gem to a completely different NPC that asked for it. After that, I spent another 30 minutes assisting a mage gain entrance to an ancient ruin that had been sealed for an untold number of years, battling machines of ancient power, bypassing traps, and unlocking puzzles to reveal magic knowledge not seen in centuries. These were only two quest lines out of nearly a dozen I saw within the very beginning areas of the game. Considering the fact that The Elder Scrolls Onlineis bigger than any other game in The Elder Scrolls series, I can’t imagine just how many quests are actually in the game.

The most amazing thing to me during my play time was the fact that I not only didn’t notice how long it took to get from level 4 to level 5, I also didn’t care. It probably took almost an hour to gain that level. The entire time I was playing, I wasn’t paying attention at all to what level I was, whether I was gaining experience at an efficient rate, or anything of the like. I was just out there playing, having a good time, and getting into all the trouble I could manage. And dear gods, is their more than enough trouble one can find themselves buried neck deep in.

ESO-trailer-screen

So what’s my verdict after getting my hands on The Elder Scrolls Online for only the second time (once again, playing for nearly two hours thanks to the kindness of the Bethesda team)? Plain and simple – I can’t wait for the game to come out. Between the complete freedom to engage in or ignore any quest I choose, the return of open dungeons (see more about them in my previous ESO article here), and the amount of just plain fun I’ve had while playing, it’s impossible to state just how good the game is looking so far. At the end of the day, I know everyone wants to know if The Elder Scrolls Online genuinely feels like an Elder Scrolls game, and the answer to that is a resounding, “YES!” The game certainly isn’t perfect right now, and there are some issues the team continues to work on, but it is incredibly fun and in the end should prove well worth the wait!

Original TenTonHammer Article

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