Tag Archives: mmo

Neverwinter review – part one

Neverwinter-logo

Finally the time has come for the heroes of Neverwinter to rise up on Xbox One. Neverwinter is a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) free-to-play MMORPG or massively multiplayer online role-playing game for those unfamiliar with the term. If you’ve never heard of this, think World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. Developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World, it was released back in June 2013 for Windows PC and March 31st this year for Xbox One. Based in the fictional Forgotten Realms city of Neverwinter, Neverwinter is a standalone game and not part of the previous PC series Neverwinter Nights.

Being what I would call a typical MMORPG, there is an awful lot to cover in a review so I’ll be breaking our review down into three parts. The first, the one you are reading, will look at the setting, races, classes and in-game currency model. The second and third parts of the review will look at some of the more in-depth game play mechanics including the detailed profession and crafting system, the economy including the Auction House and various currencies (excluding Zen) and banking. We’ll also take a look at Guilds, Skirmishes, Dungeons and much more. These will all be released over the next few days.

Moving on, let’s start by dealing with the elephant in the room which is the free-to-play model the game has adopted. Being a cynical person, I always cringe when thinking about any MMO that states it will be free-to-play but to be fair, it’s not as bad as I originally thought. The game itself is completely free to download and play (an active Xbox Live subscription is required). You can play for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so on and so forth. Never a charge.

Neverwinter 3

The game makes profit through the sale of in-game currency called Zen. This is used for purchasing a number of items in-game from booster packs, armour, weapons, companions, mounts and more. What is nice about this system however is everything available through the Zen store is also available to players that don’t want to spend real money, they’ll just need to play through the game and work a little harder for it. If you’ve ever played a Perfect World game before, you’ll be more than familiar with the Zen currency. You can earn Astral Diamonds by completing normal missions and in-game activities. These Astral Diamonds can then be used to purchase items in the game or exchanged for Zen on the Astral Diamond Exchange.

As with most MMORPGs the gameplay revolves around playing as a character you create. This character is leveled up throughout your time playing in a large open world. Neverwinter has a strong storyline, which weaves together different events and happenings in the open world. Most of the action takes place in instanced areas which can be open outdoor locations, dungeons, caves, sewers, crypts etc. There are other large open world locations where players compete with each other for contests and spawning monsters. However, Protector’s Enclave – the starting area where most of the earlier events take place – is a safe area without any enemies. It is here you’ll learn the basics of the game as well as find various vendors and class specific NPC’s who will set your missions and objectives.

There are a total of seven classes to pick from; Control Wizard, Devoted Cleric, Great Weapon Fighter, Guardian Fighter,  Hunter Ranger, Scrouge Warlock and Trickster Rouge. Each class has two Paragon Paths you can progress down once your character has obtained a high enough level. The Control Wizard for example can choose from Master of Flame or Spellstorm Wizard whereas the Trickster Rogue can follow either the Master Infiltrator or Whisperknife path. The progression tree for each class is extremely large and varied meaning other player characters you bump into will be slightly different based on their play style. Each class has a role to play. As with the likes of World of Warcraft, your class will either be suited to a Tank, DPS or Healer. A Tank’s responsibility in dungeons is to control the onscreen enemies and gain their attention to allow the DPS (damage per second) players to deal large amounts of damage. The healers hold back providing not just healing for the Tank and DPS, but also area affect spells which will benefit the players but also hinder the enemies.

Neverwinter 2

In addition to nine classes there are nine playable races in Neverwinter. You can pick from Human, Half-Orc, Wood Elf, Sun Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Half-Elf, Tiefling, and Drow. Compared to the PC version, the Xbox One release has a couple of races missing from this line up including Dragonborn (playable via purchasing an in-game booster pack using Zen) and Menzoberranzan Renegade. Your class of choice comes with unique traits and abilities. For instance I chose a Half-Elf which gave me two racial abilities including increased stats and ability points. Each race is different so it is well worth spending time reading through each one in turn to find your favourite.

The game’s setting takes place in a time when the city of Neverwinter is plunged into chaos after the disappearance of the last Lord of Neverwinter. In the aftermath of the Spellplague and a Primordial Fire Elemental almost destroying Neverwinter, as seen in the novel Gauntlgrym, the remaining citizens form factions and struggle for dominance over the populace as the dead begin to rise and attack the city they once called home. For those not familiar the Dungeons and Dragons universe, the game’s setting can seem very complex and overbearing, however there are a number of books, scrolls, logs and other items dotted throughout the playable regions to help explain the history and lore.

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Reading these items will help you towards unlocking and achieving the 48 Xbox One Achievements totalling 1,000 gamer score. This is however in addition to the 100’s, yes HUNDREDS, of achievements available in-game for completing a variety of tasks. Again for those of you familiar with World of Warcraft, these achievements are very similar in nature and can be gained from doing things like raising a profession to a certain level, completing a side quest, finishing a dungeon, partaking in an event or killing a set number of enemies. Some of these in-game achievements come with rewards in the form of Rare or Epic items or Titles that your character can proudly display while exploring the open world. Currently my level 23 Trickster Rogue is proudly displaying the ‘Orc Slayer’ title having recently ditched my previous title of ‘Hero of Blacklake’ which was gained during one of the introductory quest lines.

So ends part one of our Neverwinter for Xbox One review. Part Two is coming up in the week and we’ll be taking a look at the various gameplay modes Neverwinter has to offer including questing, campaigns, PVP, dungeons and skirmishes. I’ll be streaming some Neverwinter gameplay throughout the week so make sure you are following me (@KrisWB) for alerts. Thanks for reading and see you in Part Two.

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Final Fantasy XI servers shutting down March 2016

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Square Enix has announced that the online servers for Final Fantasy XI on the Xbox 360 will be coming to an end in early 2016.

The popular MMORPG launched back in 2006 on the Xbox 360 and launched to a relatively popular reception from both critics and players.

The game has consistently received content updates to keep its monthly paying subscribers entertained. If you’re looking for one last ‘hoorah’ you’ll be pleased to hear that the final Rhapsodies of Vana’diel scenario will be launching in May, which will hopefully keep players busy until its unfortunate closure next year.

Don’t be to sad though, the PC servers will still be available! It’s just the console servers being disconnected.

Elder Scrolls Online – Xbox One Version Delayed by Six Months

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This morning the above screenshot, taken from the official support site for ‘The Elder Scrolls Online’ by Bethesda, did the rounds signalling a possible six month delay was going to fall upon new generation console versions of the game including the Xbox One.

This afternoon Bethesda has officially confirmed the delay, and has posted the following statement:

We know from the frequent questions we get that many of you are excited about playing ESO on the PS4 and Xbox One, and today we’d like to share an official update on the status of these releases. Read on for the latest information:

We’ve been grateful to our fans for the wonderful response to our recent launch of The Elder Scrolls Online for PC/Mac, but we know many of you are eagerly waiting to play the game on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

We continue to work on the console versions of ESO, and game development has been progressing steadily, but we are still working to solve a series of unique problems specific to those platforms. Integrating our systems with each console manufacturer’s networks—which are both different from the PC/Mac system as well as different from each other—has been a challenging process. It has become clear that our planned June release of the console versions isn’t going to be possible. Though we have made great progress, we have concluded that we’ll need about six months to ensure we deliver the experience our fans expect and deserve.

We know that the news of an ESO console delay is as disappointing to many of you as it is to us. We want to do what we can to make it up to our fans who want to start playing now, so we have worked out the following arrangement with Sony and Microsoft:

Via a special offer, anyone who purchases and plays the PC/Mac version of The Elder Scrolls Online by the end of June will have the opportunity to transfer their character(s) to either console version when they are released. The offer will allow you to begin playing immediately on the PC/Mac, and then add the PS4 or Xbox One version and transfer the character(s) you have created and developed. And, you don’t have to pay full price for the game twice. For $20, eligible PC and Mac players will have the option to add a full, digital version of ESO on either the PS4 or the Xbox One with your character transfer(s), and another 30 days of included game time. 

Whether you decide to take advantage of this offer or not, we promise to do everything we can to get the game released on both consoles as quickly as we can. We will keep everyone updated with additional details regarding character transfers, specific offer dates, when you can expect console beta to start, and of course, when ESO on consoles will launch.

Thank you for your patience and loyal support

The Elder Scrolls Online: Fact sheet

Elder Scrolls Online Feature Image

 

Bethesda Studios have released a new fact sheet in preparation for the release of The Elder Scrolls Online, the most highly anticipated MMO of 2014. It doesn’t reveal anything new, but check it out below with a new screenshot thrown in for good measure.

Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: ZeniMax Online Studios
Release Date: Spring 2014
Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC, and Mac
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing

Description – The Elder Scrolls Online is the latest chapter of the award-winning franchise – and will bring the legendary experience online for the first time. Whether you play with your friends or adventure alone, the game’s innovative combat system allows you to focus on action and tactics, not the UI. Use any weapon or armor at any time and customize your abilities to play the way you want as you uncover the mysteries of Tamriel and seek heroic quests on your own terms. Explore the far reaches of Skyrim, the mysterious lands of Morrowind, the sprawling metropolis of Daggerfall and beyond. The choices you make, from the alliance you join to the battles you fight, will shape your destiny and the world of Tamriel.

Story – The Elder Scrolls Online is set roughly 1,000 years before the events in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and the coming of the Dragonborn, and just before the rise of Tiber Septim, the first Emperor of Tamriel. Three Alliances have emerged across the continent, each struggling for supremacy over the land. As these great powers battle one another for control of the Imperial City – and with it all of Tamriel – darker forces are moving to destroy the world.

Key Features – The Elder Scrolls. Online. After 20 years of best-selling, award-winning fantasy role-playing games, the Elder Scrolls series goes online. Experience this epic adventure on your own or together with your friends, guild mates, and thousands of alliance members. Explore dangerous caves and dungeons, embark upon adventurous quests across Tamriel, and engage in massive player versus player battles, where the victors reap the spoils of war.

The Elder Scrolls Online Skyrim

Play the Way You Like – With an enhanced Elder Scrolls combat system, engage in real-time targeting and strategic attacks and blocks. Use any weapon or wear any armor at any time, no matter what type of character you play and develop your own style with deep character customization and abilities.

A Connected Game World – With ESO’s Megaserver technology you no longer choose a server, but instead play in one connected world. The game automatically places you with friends, guild mates, people you’ve encountered before, and other like-minded players. Simply jump in and begin your adventure.

Your Quest to Save Tamriel – A stolen soul. An undead army rising. A quest to recover that which is uniquely yours. Explore the hidden secrets of Tamriel at your own pace using the game’s compass to guide you to areas of interest. Save the world from the evil machinations of the Daedric Prince Molag Bal and his henchman, the first necromancer, the Prince of Worms, Mannimarco.”

Elder Scrolls Online Release Date

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Why couldn’t they give us a Xbox One image?!?

So today Matt Firor; Game Director on The Elder Scrolls Online took to the official ESO website to deliver the following message:

We long ago promised that as soon as a version of the game is ready, we will launch it. So we’re happy to announce that the game will launch worldwide for PC and Mac players on Friday, April 4, 2014, while PlayStation 4 and Xbox One fans will see the game arriving on consoles in June 2014.

So yes that’s right we console gamers have to wait a couple of months, but to be honest I am cool with that. This is one of the reasons I purchased my Xbox One, this is the game I have been dreaming about and looking forward since the announcement.

Firor went on to talk about the massive success of the BETA currently in progress:

As some of you know, we’ve been in beta testing for about a year now, leading up to our most recent test in late November where we had over 300,000 people in the game over a 48 hour period. We’ve had approximately 4 million people sign up for beta and that number continues to grow. We hope that just about every one of you who have signed up for beta will get an invitation to play sometime between now and the weeks before launch. These tests are very important, not only for gameplay feedback, but also to test our infrastructure. Beta tests can sometimes be a little rough when we are testing some systems for the first time with large numbers of players. So thank you to all who have participated for your understanding and support. It is very much appreciated.

To commemorate the announcement, Bethesda has released a new gameplay trailer titled ‘War in Cyrodiil’ which focuses on the PVP aspect of The Elder Scrolls Online.

June 2014 will see me disappear from ThisisXbox, be declared MIA from work and completely vanish from social media. June 2014 I say goodbye to Bournemouth, United Kingdom and hello to the world of Tamriel.

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Keep your eyes open on TiX over the coming months for more news and updates in the build up to release date.

 

The Japanese entry into World of Tanks

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Wargaming, the leading free-to-play MMO developer and publisher, today announced that its highly acclaimed action game, World of Tanks, will soon be joined by war machines from Japan.

The introduction of Japanese tanks allows us to explore the design and innovation of a number of legendary armored vehicles and give players the chance to experience their technological evolution throughout the mid-20th century. Tank models based on original designs of Japanese engineers will offer players a wide selection of authentic upgrade schemes, each tailored for particular combat objectives.

said World of Tanks Producer Mikhail Zhivets

The Japanese line will initially field two branches with nine medium and five light machines, including such fabled models as the Chi-Ri prototype, the first post-war Japanese design Type 61, the light Type 95 Ha-Go and the medium Chi-Ha tanks. Developed during the late 1950s, the Type 64 (STB-1) will become the Tier 10 medium model.

Along with existing armored vehicles from the USA, China, France, Great Britain, Germany and the USSR, the new tech tree coming one of the forthcoming updates will become the 7th national line introduced into the game.

World of Tanks Japan Tanks

Defiance Crossover Event – Free Content Update

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Players of Defiance will notice that a mysterious illness has arrived in San Francisco, and it is up to players to defeat the infected ‘enemies’ and find a cure before it reaches the town of Defiance in the show. In the latest crossover event from Trion Worlds and Syfy, beginning on June 3rd, players will be challenged to eradicate the infection that is afflicting San Francisco’s residents and work through all new content to discover a cure in order to send it to the town of Defiance before the outbreak there gets any worse.

In the Defiance episode airing June 17th, word of the infectious plague has reached the town and fear and paranoia are rampant among the residents. Town doctor Doc Yewll sends a distress call to a former colleague in the Bay Area who might be able to provide a cure, having spent weeks working on an anti-virus following the outbreak affecting residents in San Francisco.

Today’s free TV tie-in game update is packed with new content including The Plague Sieges – an all new game mode, 8 new emergencies, 2 new pursuits, a new data recorder, and an all new mission series that runs from June 10th to 17th.

Defiance Review

Defiance LogoYou may have heard of Defiance before. A new science fiction show debuting on the SyFy network is bound to turn some heads. Usually any game tying in with a TV show or movie is doomed from the get-go. However, Defiance is a fully fledged third-person MMORPG. This has piqued the interest of many as it is also a third-person shooter. Can Trion Worlds’ second MMO become a mainstay in a genre that already has millions committed to their respective titles? Let’s read on and find out.

The place is Earth. The year, 2046. Earth has been forever changed by the arrival of different alien races. The land has been scavenged to all hell and resembles nothing more than a desolate wasteland. War has changed Earth, and not for the better. More of the story becomes apparent as the plot of the TV show will actually change the storyline in-game. It has been said that your actions in-game will actually have the ability to change the plot of the show itself. That still remains to be seen, but it does sound pretty nifty.

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Now immediately upon booting the game, you are asked to install the game to the hard-drive. This was confusing at first as I already installed it to the hard-drive via the dashboard. Confusion, be damned. We got it done in a record 17 minutes! The game then demanded that I search for patches and install them. This is inherent with MMOs and expected so no biggie. Another 19 minutes go by and I’m ready to play the game. No? Oh, another patch. So 10 minutes go by and I’m into the gameplay. No, I’m not (there is a slight pattern forming here). So four patches later and approximately an hour gone by, I was ready to jump into the vast world of an MMORPG for the first time.

The very first thing to mention about the game is the bad connectivity. Random disconnections and server downtime comes in abundance here. Trion Worlds have been extremely vigilant in their efforts to correct the situation. They’ve even sent out emails with extra in game incentives and an apology to their faithful consumers. Scenery pops in and out as well as the players and weapons like an old PS One game that hasn’t quite loaded yet. The frame-rate is as erratic as Kanye West at an awards show. Although, despite all of its problems, Defiance is not a bad game.

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You’ll start off at a character creation screen where you will choose all the defining features of your ‘Arkhunter’. After choosing your look, race, and traits, you will set off into the wasteland that Earth has become. Right into a tutorial! The game plays quite well in comparison to other MMOs. Judging this game against other shooters will make you notice that Defiance just doesn’t stack up, however. Enemy AI is as gormless as anything. They will spend a lot of their time ignoring the fact that you are even running up their backside firing rounds off like nobody’s business.  The lack of any kind of cover based gameplay does make some of the missions a trial. But if you happen to be in the vicinity of any other human players in the world, it won’t be a problem at all for you.

The missions in the game are abundant. A large campaign will certainly keep you busy for a good few days. However, all missions consist of “go here, shoot this, press this”. There is literally no deviation in that process whatsoever. The side missions are plentiful, although these lack just as much diversity as the main missions. There are survival challenges in which you will be forced to use a specific weapon type. There are also time-trial race missions in which you must make your way through various checkpoints and beat the time to your destination. Random events can pop up, however. Most of them demanding that you rescue civilians that have carelessly gotten themselves surrounded by wretched alien hordes.

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There are these things called ‘Arkfalls’. Randomly generated missions that only appear at a certain time. Again, these don’t vary at all. A giant red icon will appear on the world map, and every human controlled player in the area will be dashing towards the event. This means excessive lagging, dropped frame-rates, and an annoying amount of people driving around in circles to pick up the free XP. The majority of these will see you and dozens upon dozens of other chipping away at a giant bug’s health for up to 10 minutes until a giant explosion sends him packing. Yet again, no variation and no sense of any unique gameplay whatsoever.

There are some competitive modes that will keep the game fresh for those who will become tired of constantly performing the same menial tasks over and over again. There are deathmatches on a decent amount of separate maps. Then there is also Shadow War. It is almost a domination type game-mode that takes place on the game’s main map.  Neither is all that captivating as again, the game just doesn’t stand up to other shooters on the market in the slightest.  Although there is a nice little piece of innovation that other games can learn from. Whilst you sit in the lobby waiting for the matchmaking to do its thing, you are actually still on the main game map playing just as you were. It will transport you into the competitive modes once the lobby fills. When the matches are finished, you will be transported to the last checkpoint you were at on the main map.

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Getting around war-torn San Francisco can become a chore even with a large variety of vehicles at hand. The controls are stiff and clunky when driving. It’s not like a GTA game where driving is a chore until you get used to it. It is just flat out bad. You might even find yourself using your various fast travels rather than opting to drive.

The ranking system in game doesn’t work like other MMOs. Heck, it doesn’t even work like other RPGs. You will earn EGO for each mission and task that you complete. EGO is an alien implant that allows you to see your hud as well as use your special abilities. Special abilities like invisibility and using decoys would be useful. However, they’re just not necessary at all. Unless you are doing a mission yourself, enemies will largely ignore you if you pick your spots. You can just mow them down without a care in the world for the most part. Defiance is not very good at all at explaining the game to you. You get weapon mods right from the start of the game. However, you won’t be told that you can’t use these mods until you’re a higher level. You either need to be told by someone else who has figured it out, or randomly find out that it finally works much later in the game.

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Defiance is a game that has a hell of a lot to do. Albeit unvaried and with almost no sense of accomplishment.  It is however nice to see a company pushing boundaries and bringing the first real free-to-play MMORPG to consoles. It’s not the best MMO, but the constant patching leaves plenty of room for improvement. The gameplay is barebones and could use a little work on hit detection and frame dropping. The connectivity issues will continue to be a huge problem for a while. However, Trion Worlds has assured their fans that they are painstakingly working on the issue.

I do have one major gripe with the game. For all the effort that you go through to level up your character and upgrade your weapons and abilities, your character is never yours. There’s no defining characteristic that makes people think “hey, it’s that guy”.  Every event and mission you do is awash with a sea of green and brown camo. Hell, the only reason I could spot my friends on the battlefield is because their names are highlighted with blinding neon green. MMOs are supposed to be about defining yourself. It’s the reason people become so enamoured with them.

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For all the negativity shrouding this review, I bear no ill thoughts about Defiance. It will continue to get better. A season pass totaling at 3200 Microsoft points almost guarantees that. This was a tough game to review. The game is hilariously bad, and then all of a sudden it’s not. I guess it all comes down to one thing. I had fun when playing Defiance. This in the end is what gaming is all about. For a first console outing on the MMO plane, Trion Worlds show that they have a lot to learn, but they are definitely on the right track.

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Will Bungie’s Destiny Bring The MMO Genre To The Next Xbox?

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It really is an exciting time to be a console gamer. Not only has the Xbox seen a recent run of incredible games, the platform recently proved that gaming experiences that are slightly outside most people’s regular comfort zones such as the turn-based squad tactics in X-COM can actually succeed. Now, Bungie has revealed its next project – Destiny, a huge-in-scale MMOFPS that will bring the MMO experience to console in a far more accessible way than, say, Final Fantasy XI.

In a similar approach to developers designing titles for iOS that are actually tuned to a touch-screen gaming experience, Bungie are aiming to bring a full-bodied MMO experience to your Xbox console, whichever one you may be using by the time the game is released. While it’s likely that Destiny will blow the minds of many gamers, it may also open the floodgates to massively-multiplayer gaming as a regular part of the future Xbox line-up.

They may not all be MMOFPS titles, either – while the MMORPG tends to involve a considerable amount of buttons, it’s not entirely necessary – combinations of button-presses and the triggers potentially allowing you access to up to twelve face buttons for commands at once (and that’s before you count the bumpers), gamers need not reach for a USB keyboard any more. It’s a shame Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning never made it to MMORPG status, as its huge world and Fable-esque approachable control scheme made it the perfect basis for a console MMORPG.

The MMO genre is branching out on the PC currently, titles appearing that opt for massively-multiplayer real-time strategy, shooters, even purely social games. It’s also worth noting that Destiny isn’t alone in appearing as a console MMO in the near future – Defiance is also a shooter making tracks towards the Xbox and PS3. However, it’s also coming to PC, and given it’s a shooter, those without a mouse and keyboard may find themselves frustrated should they go up against those who are in possession of these superior FPS peripherals.

This is the problem with the approach of some developers who are bringing the MMO gamer back to consoles – that they’re targeting PC alongside the Xbox and Playstation platforms. The issues this causes are numerous: That either the controller isn’t enough, or the keyboard is underused. That the graphics won’t match between platforms. There are endless issues with facing off the PC and console crowds over a single game, and MMOs tuned for a specific platform will always outperform because neither side is lacking in their experience.

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(Photo courtesy of gameinformer.com)

Destiny also needs to prove its ability to operate subscription free, and to keep consoles clear of the free-to-play elements that have plagued people’s PC and iPhone game libraries as of late. Subscription fees tend to elicit much hissing and spitting when it comes to new MMOs, big releases like Star Wars: The Old Republic soon to include a free-to-play model to stop the game from failing completely, but unfortunately sabotaging itself by locking off many of its crucial features behind pay-walls.

None of these approaches will fly with console users. They’re used to a down payment at the start and that’s that. Now, DLC prices make them feel like they’re being milked for content that would’ve come as an expansion, or on the disc at release, ten years ago. Console MMOs will be no different – while expansions will keep the game financially solvent, any hint towards sucking extra money out of players in a “pay to win” environment may push a lot of gamers away from an otherwise fantastic game. Destiny has thrown the doors open to console-only MMO titles, but unless the other games walking through it are willing to adapt to a console environment, nothing may change.

 

David Thompson is a fresh and upcoming technology and entertainment blogger who enjoys the challenges of creativity and attention to detail. His specific areas of interest include film, gaming and the mobile industry, encompassing everything from manufacturer-specific news from Apple to industry announcements from the likes of O2.