The internet got introspective in the past couple of months when it wasn’t arguing over exactly when the decade ended. Setting pedantry aside for a moment, let’s discuss changes to the concept of early access over the past ten years and whether or not it it has a positive effect on games. Back in the day, most games were released to the public at launch, and only folks who knew someone was able to finesse their way into a closed beta, with a rarefied fewer getting alpha access, both of which were frequently covered by non-disclosure agreements.
While it wasn’t a supremely transformative year for MMOs, in 2019, the industry has started to see more and more of a paradigm shift in the kinds of MMOs being released, worked on, or even theorycrafted. For years, players and the general public equated MMO to games that followed World of Warcraft’s model, which was a more cemented version of EverQuest’s model, and the industry shied away from innovation because that was risky.
With Neverwinter bringing the Undermountain update to the PC version of the title, we have once more teamed up with our friends at Perfect World and Cryptic Studios for a new giveaway.
Bless Unleashed is a free-to-play action RPG MMO imported by Bandai Namco from the Asian market with the tagline ‘Make Them Pray’. It’s coming to Xbox One at first later this year, and to other platforms at some point in the future. We had the opportunity to have a go at their combat demo at PAX East in Boston this year, and it seems to be getting ready to provide some button-mashing fun to Western audiences.
Dauntless remains an unusual action RPG, using a small-party mechanic to group people together to hunt Behemoths of various abilities, then taking the spoils back to the hub town of Ramsgate to complete quests and level up one’s gear through crafting. While the demo on the floor didn’t truly give a good view of this other behavior, what we got was the main gameplay loop, which was to go a-huntin’.
At PAX East, we got another look at Citadel Studios’ indie MMO Legends of Aria, a sandbox with a completely player-driven economy that has been given a visual overhaul since last year’s PAX. I sat down with CEO Derek Brinkmann and had another go at their updated game. The first thing he said after mentioning the visual update is that the game has had its final beta phase character wipe, so that players are playing it for real now.