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MMO News Wrap-Up

30 Oct 2009  by   Paul Younger
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Halloween is well and truly upon us, as almost any MMO gamer will know this week. Most of the in-game events have kicked off, so whether you’ve been killing headless horsemen, tackling demon pumpkins or hunting werewolves, I’m sure you’ve been enjoying the season. But, as usual, there’s a lot more than ghosts and ghouls been going on in the world of MMOs this week, so read on for the latest news and happenings regarding Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Pirates of the Burning Sea, Lord of the Rings Online, Runes of Magic and Champions Online.Last Friday saw the release of the latest video from Bioware, updating Star Wars: The Old Republic fans on more lore. The trailer tells the story of the battle of Bothawui, in which a small republic force held off a much larger Empire army in an attempt to defend the planet’s shields.Bioware release updates on the game most Fridays, and it’s usually a complete surprise what info we get, but today, sharp-eyed fans believe we may finally get news on the Jedi class.Update: They were right, read all about the Jedi class in our news item.If you signed up for the SWTOR beta on a 64 bit machine, news came this week that your application may not have gone through due to an error with the system. Bioware is advising everyone who uses a 64 bit Windows or Internet Explorer to re-submit their application.Mac users finally got a full Mac client for Warhammer Online this week. The client is free to existing subscribers or is available on a free trial. Mac users will notice no difference in the game to the Windows version, and will continue to share the same servers with everyone else.Blizzard Entertainment released an article this week warning players of the risks associated with buying gold and powerlevelling services for its MMO,World of Warcraft. The game’s social areas and trade channels are constantly bombarded with people offering the in-game currency and services, which are a violation of the game’s rules. Blizzard are keen to let players know where the majority of gold for sale comes from – stolen accounts – and the affect that has on the community. Players who hand over their accounts to powerlevelling companies often find themselves ‘hacked’ or out of pocket later on, when their WoW account details or, even worse, their credit card details are used without permission.World of Warcraft has recently got back on its feet in China, but the former operators, The9, aren’t doing so well. The game accounted for a huge percentage of the company’s business, so when it failed to renew the contract with Blizzard, The9’s share value plummeted. Share holders claim that The9 withheld the news it would no longer be operating WoW, in fact, they claim they were led to believe the future of the company was looking positive. As a result, they are suing The9 for a breach of the Exchange Act. The9 responded to these claims this week, saying they are “groundless”.On a truly positive note, Chinese gamers may finally get Wrath of the Lich King. Reports from China indicate that the approval is nearing its final stages and may be on shelves as soon as mid November. This would make WoW’s expansion in China around one year behind the west, possibly a reason behind this year’s change of operators from The9 to NetEase.WoW players in the west had a nice surprise this week though; the long awaited Race Change service finally went live and, unlike the Faction Change service, players in Europe got it the same time as North American players. This new feature costs £15.00 GBP, €20.00 EUR or $25.00 USD.Do you enjoy healing in MMOs? Do you have a class that CAN heal but you just hate doing it? Are you constantly called upon to heal for your guild and friends, despite the fact you would really rather not? Our writer, Jeff Hollis, discusses the issue in this week’s MMO Weekly, and how developers could make healing more fun. I like healing, personally. It’s a much more laid-back role, as it takes away the pressure of doing the most DPS or keeping the agro as a tank. Anyway… on with the news!{PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap-Up – Page 2}Several games released screenshots this week; firstly, a batch of Star Trek Online images were beamed down to us including some Klingon battle shots, plenty of away team action and there’s even a Cardassian thrown in.The tremendously successful free to play MMO, Runes of Magic, celebrated the release of yet another content patch (the game must almost be twice the size it was when it launched by now!) entitled ‘Storming of the Acropolis ‘ by releasing some images of the zone and encounters therein. Groups of high end players must make their way through bands of Naga to reach their goal, King Sharleedah. RoM’s Pumpkin festival also kicked off with the release of the patch, read more about that here.Lastly, Turbine unveiled more screenshots of the upcoming Lord of the Rings Online expansion, Siege of Mirkwood. The pics are of the Scuttledells area, and show a Hobbit making his way past a number of nasties.Members of the US Army got some relatively good news this week, when developers of the MMO ‘Pirates of the Burning Sea’ announced that, for a limited time, anyone who is a part of the US armed services can get the game for free. A further six months of free subscription to the game, which usually sets players back by $14.95 USD per month, is also up for grabs, to new and existing players.Age of Conan’s highly anticipated Update 5.6 went live on Tuesday, introducing the new Veteran System, the new high-level Iron Tower dungeon, the seasonal event ‘Nights of the Lost Souls‘ and more. Along with this release came the news that long-term subscription costs have been reduced, saving players up to 45% on the cost of the regular monthly subscription fee.Finally, it’s been a big week for Champions Online news. We secured an interview with the man himself, Bill Roper, to talk about the launch of Champions, how it went and what they could’ve done better. During the chat, he mentioned that after the winter in-game event, Cryptic has “something amazing” planned for Champions, which we’re all keen to find out more about. In the mean time, we’ll make do with the current in-game event that launched during the week, Blood MoonWith the kick off of the werewolf/zombie themed event, players were also granted another free power retcon to compensate for some downtime at the weekend. However, many fans were less concerned about their existing powers and more interested in the new Celestial powerset that arrived with Blood Moon. The powerset, which focusses on healing your allies while damaging nearby enemies, is currently unlockable by saving all 13 undead heroes in the event, but it will become selectable at creation after 10 November.More news on upcoming features was revealed in Bill Roper’s State of the Game report, where he talked about a free Retcon and extra character slot becoming available when characters hit level 40, and a new system called Flashbacks. This will allow players to go back and re-do missions they have already completed. A new repeatable lair with special villains and a particularly cool boss is also in the works. He also points out that a number of new features have ben introduced to the game recently as a direct result of feedback from players; Crossover missions allow team members to share missions with each other, regardless of whether they have completed them already, or are not eligible for them yet. As mentioned in our interview, the Celestial powerset was also designed based on player feedback.Cryptic is always asking players their opinion on the game in the aim of improving it further, and this is reflected by the poll it put up recently, asking which level bracket needs new content the most. The results have remained almost the same throughout the time the poll has been up, and as it currently stands, over half the people that voted want there to be more end game content, or for the level cap to be raised.Our Champions Online review, which looks at the first 20 levels of the game, went up yesterday. If you’re yet to try out the game or perhaps you want to see what others think of it, check it out here.You can watch the trailer for the Blood Moon event, which features the developers talking about what players can expect to experience during this period, over on IncGamers TV.  Also, there is a nice selection of spooky screenshots, which include images of the Celestial powerset in action, in our Champions Online gallery.That’s all I can squeeze in this time, but be sure to check back throughout the week to catch up on all your gaming news. Until next Friday, I bid you farewell. I’m off to crush more pumpkins and slay some zombies.

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