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MMO News Wrap-Up

18 Dec 2009  by   Paul Younger
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Another week, another MMO News Wrap-up; Read on for the latest on Star Trek Online, Global Agenda, Aion, Age of Conan, Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV.

Final Fantasy fans were thrilled this week, when Square Enix began accepting beta applications for the fabled Final Fantasy XIV. So far there’s been a frustratingly thin trickle of information about this game since it was announced in the summer, but the fact that there’s likely to be a beta test so soon has got fans, and one or two of us here at IncGamers, pretty excited about getting our hands on a retail copy by perhaps as early as next summer, allowing for the four months+ SE said the beta test will last for.

In other MMO news, Felicia Day and a host of other actors appeared in a video about the voice casting of Guild Wars 2. Each actor speaks a little about the person they play, what motivates them, and what it’s like to put a voice to an animated character. The video gives a nice insight into Guild Wars 2 and the background of the characters. If you’re looking forward to GW2 as much as I am, you can see this new video over on IGTV.

As the video shows, in GW2 players will have a selection of races to choose from. The first Guild Wars game only allows us to play as human, and that’s something our Jeff Hollis looked at in this week’s MMO Weekly. In Jeff’s previous article, he proposed that GW didn’t do as well as it could have if it had offered more playable races, and that MMOs which only offer humans don’t do as well as others. This week, he looks further into that claim, listing several MMOs that fell into the “Humans-Only” trap – Hellgate: London, Tabula Rasa and The Matrix Online are perfect examples, all now out of business here in the west.

That’s Jeff’s opinion though, I’m not too sure. There are many games that limit race choice to human-only and they get by. Aion seems to be one of them. After a tremendously successful start, the shine was somewhat dulled, though, when players started to find that a fair bit of grind was necessary to progress through the levels. As I discovered while playing Aion for my review, which looks at levels 20-30, I hit that very problem in the early twenties before instances became available. However, after I put in a considerable amount of time to get to 30, the very day my review went up, NCsoft announced that it is introducing double XP weekends to reduce the grind issue.

Despite the issues with low XP rewards and a slight shortage of soloable quests, Aion is stunning. I’m sure that some people miss being able to play as Gnomes or Orcs, but one of Aion’s main attractions is looks, and people that like playing as angel-like beautiful beings are flocking to it. Besides, with the character creation options, you can make something that closely resembles a gnome and, if you really want to, you can make ugly people too (see pic).

Having said all that, one of the human-only games Jeff mentions, Age of Conan, is still struggling despite various offers and updates. The latest deal announced by Funcom this week is an unlimited trial. New players can play up to level 20, and there’s no time limit, so no need to rush. The offer is open until 31 December and you can get the trial by visiting Fileplanet’s AoC page.

{PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap-Up Page 2}I’ll point out that the main reason Jeff was so concerned about the failure of human-only games was because of Global Agenda’s approach. Jeff and a number of us here have high hopes for the self-titled ‘spy-fi’ MMO, which combines first-person shooter and RPG. We were lucky enough to sit down with two of the game’s developers this week, Todd Harris and Stew Chisam. We chatted about a number of topics, including the reasons behind their human-only choice of course. We also discussed the unique subscription option, whereby players can opt to pay a monthly fee to access exclusive content, or just buy the game and enjoy the main theme of GA cost-free.

You can see our interview, with complete transcriptions, in part one and part two.

Finally, as the release date of Star Trek Online gets closer, we’re seeing a bit more about the game each week. Cryptic treated us to another video of space battles, this time around Starbase 24. The news that was on everyone’s lips, though, was that Zachary Quinto, who starred as Spock in this year’s hit Star Trek film, is lending his voice to the game. Shortly after the announcement, a video of Quinto working on the game was released. He’ll be guiding players through the tutorial and will also be the voice of your ship’s holographic medical officer.

This is all pretty awesome news and fans are gearing themselves up for a fantastic game, however, last night we discovered that players who opt to play as Klingons will not have much to do besides PvP, when the game is first released anyway. During an interview, Cryptic’s Dan Stahl revealed that there’s next to no PvE content for the game’s second faction besides the Federation. Understandably, many fans are pretty upset that this hasn’t been mentioned before, but Jack Emmert was quick to release a statement, assuring fans that if they wanted Klingon PvE content, they would have it.

“We are trying to get some PvE in (there’s already a tad bit). And, if the players demand it, we’ll add more content (like episodes). I want us to be agile as a company and respond to what the customers want.”

We’ll see exactly what effect this has on the STO community over the next couple of weeks, but in the mean time, we’ll be checking out the beta test  this weekend and reporting our findings next week.

That’s all for this week MMO fans. I’ll return with another MMO News Wrap-up after Christmas, so have a good one!

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