This dynamic voxel MMO has evolved through the roof since I first jumped into Alpha way back at Christmas time. I was a little reserved then, not having been drawn to any voxel game beforehand. I thought maybe I was taking my love for Trion games a little too far. I have been blown away more times than I can count ever since then– not only thanks to the Trion team but especially because of the friendly Trove community.
Quickly following the beginning months of testing, open world cornerstones (previewed below) were implemented, then dungeon making took effect along with homeworlds and now clubs.
Building is only a fraction of your adventure in Trove, setting it apart from any other similar games. The game offers three class choices so far with more to come including Knight (feature image), Gunslinger, and Faetrickster (previewed above).
Adventuring out in the world, killing bosses in dungeons, and trading among other players is how you gather weapons. Man, there so many to choose from, but if you want to build or decorate to your imagination’s content you’ll also be killing mobs, mining ore, and breaking down the earth and all its structures for parts. After that you’ll be hunting recipe lairs and smashing pinatas to get recipes in order to use all of your materials.
Crafting in Trove is so engaging. Additional ways to get items to soothe your creative genius multiply every hotfix along with weapon choices. We’ll go into more detail in separate articles including community creations, biomes, block textures, fun parts, mounts, crafting tools, and shadow arena. Plus most importantly– Corgis (Yes, this character has on a corgi mask)! Trove not only has a Corgi mount but also Corgi guns. I’m totally going to go hunt for those in the next few days!
Oh, one parting note. I should mention lava. There will be lava and dragons… so many dragons!
It seems as though there is always fervor on the internet, and most recently this has been surrounding Marvel’s recent announcement of the changes in their Avenger’s lineup. Comic book fanboys (and those who appreciate the Marvel cinematic universe) were surprised to hear that the company had made significant changes in two of their titles—Thor and Captain America.
You may have heard the complaints that Marvel’s made Thor into a girl and Captain America is now African-American—but these complaints aren’t entirely accurate, so let’s clear that up before we move one. Marvel hasn’t decided to re-write these characters (as, say, DC did when they decided to give Amanda Waller more sex appeal). It’s just that Thor and Steve Rogers are being replaced by other characters, who will carry on their mantels. Thor has become unworthy to wield Mjolnir, so he is being replaced by a yet-unnamed female character. She is now worthy to wield the power of Thor and, thanks to some tweaks of the Thor myth, now carries his name. As for Cap, Steve Rogers is experiencing some dramatic effects from his super-serum, and is aging rapidly as well as losing his powers. His friend (and the Falcon) Sam Wilson is stepping in to fill his shoes.
Those who support these changes—mostly in the name of diversity in comics—point out that Thor and Cap have been replaced before. Bucky Barnes, another friend, took Cap’s mantle when Rogers was thought to be dead. Thor has been replaced by a horse-like alien named Beta Ray Bill. It can’t be any stranger to replace him with a woman, can it? The comic book universes are lacking fully representative character, and all steps toward remedying that are good steps.
While debate on the internet seems to be dramatically split between those who love the changes and those who hate them, I want to point out another potentially valid criticism. As a woman who reads comics, I feel like I should have been thrilled that a woman was going to replace Thor. I wasn’t, though. If anything, I rolled my eyes—and I became even more cynical when the announcement on The View was followed by the Cap announcement on The Colbert Show.
I’m definitely a supporter of diversity in comics. I sometimes get overly vocal about it. Two things, though, struck me when these changes were announced. The first was that these were going to be very temporary changes. They revolve around two of the most famous Marvel characters—both of whom have been replaced before. I expect somewhere around five issues each for both our new Thor and our new Cap. They may stretch the changes into a year, but I doubt it will go much longer than that. Are temporary changes like this really supporting diversity, or is it just throwing a bone to those who want it. I feel like Marvel is getting ready to say “Remember Cap and Thor? Now you can’t say anything bad about our diversity for a long time.’
The second thing that struck me was that Marvel seemed to treat these like gimmicks. They made these announcements on two popular and strategically chosen TV shows. Due to the fact that they’re likely to be short-lived, it seems like a publicity stunt. If Marvel really wanted to support diversity, why not increase the roles of many secondary and tertiary characters (who are more diverse than our main hero line-up)? Why choose temporary changes, unless you don’t truly support them?
I can’t help but think that when they make changes like this—especially with Thor—they’re not looking for diversity. They’re looking for publicity and sales. Especially when they announce these changes in a media spectacular. So I say to the fanboys—don’t worry. It’s not going to last. And to those who support an increase in diversity in comics, well, we still have a long, long way to go.
I like swords. I suppose I can’t help it. I was raised with Final Fantasy and other JRPGs like Suidoden where swords weren’t only awesome– but they were a key to victory of sorts. Required. Just like cool victory poses! Which, of course, also included swords.
Swordsman Online is Perfect World’s latest free-to-play addition to the martial arts/wuxia MMORPG scene. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. Perfect World comes out with a lot of martial arts MMORPGs, and well, most of them kind of suck and have cash shops that swerve farther towards pay-to-win than I’m comfortable being anywhere near.
But there was something about this one that drew me in. Swords maybe. And a colorful art style that immediately seemed to grab my attention. So, what about Swordsman Online? Does it join the legion of “crappy Perfect World games (but with lots of swords!)” or does it rise above the F2P rabble? Let’s break it down.
Note: Reviewing an MMORPG is still a daunting task, but my earlier format from my FFXIV:ARR review seemed fairly decent. Scores are based off 10 points. The categories for this review are slightly different due to the fact that Swordsman Online is still in beta. That also means, of course, that some of my scores may change once the full game’s released.
The Leveling Journey
Like many of Perfect World’s MMORPGs, leveling is very straightforward and simplified– especially during the early levels. The story in Swordsman Online is fairly interesting and I found myself more attracted to it than I initially predicted. This might be because the game’s based off a novel written by one of the most popular Chinese novelists– Louis Cha. The novel in question, The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, is based heavily off Chinese history and mythology. The English translation is a little clunky in parts (especially when it comes to word choice), but it’s somewhat better than a lot of locally-translated Eastern MMOs.
There are quite a few cutscenes (voiced in Mandarin and subtitled) which add to the story. The story’s filled with nuances of classic, overblown martial arts action and slapstick-like comedy, which I rather enjoyed. Between those nuances and the colorful cutscenes I couldn’t help but be reminded of some of my favorite anime shows. No, Swordsman Online isn’t on the same level as Naruto, One Piece, or Rurouni Kenshin, but the flavor of the story definitely feels familiar and I have to give Perfect World a nod here.
I will say, however, that the first 25 levels or so drag considerably in comparison to the leveling experience once you get around level 30. This is largely due to how simple combat is until around level 25. Enemies die ridiculously fast. Quests are extremely simple. Around level 25 combat starts to become a little more interesting due to additional style unlocks and questing areas that offer more than a single on-rails quest.
The good news? The first 25 levels are over quick. There are also some neat perks for leveling including auto-pathing and double EXP rewards. Don’t feel like figuring out where the dang quest NPC is? Click on the NPC’s name on the quest tracker and you’ll run right to him (even mounting when appropriate!). It’s great for lazy leveling and AFK breaks. You’re also able to leave your character farming mobs while offline using a feature called self-cultivation. There are 89 levels total in the game, and similar to most Eastern MMOs, the last chunk of levels does require a fair bit of grinding.
Score – Leveling: 6
Endgame Options/Alternatives to Leveling
One of the game’s most prominent features outside of the leveling process is its PvP features. Between levels 30-40 is when you’ll start to see world PvP (players below level 30 are protected from PvP actions). Yes, every server in Swordsman Online is open for world PvP. Surprisingly, I saw very little ganking during my time in beta, but it will be more readily found in the live version of the game I imagine.
PvP is a large part of Swordsman Online for better or for worse, but the game’s combat mechanics lend itself to PvP quite well. A martial arts MMORPG that’s centered on action-based PvP combat makes a lot of sense. I have to give Perfect World props for being willing to leave that part as-is for the Western audience. Sometimes niche is okay.
There are multiple PvP battlegrounds and arena modes, some of which offer players the option to have their stats normalized. This encourages PvP that’s a little more skill-based. Unfortunately, since this is Perfect World we’re talking about, I wouldn’t recommend leaping into PvP expecting that every world PvP match will be fair as a result. The cash shop gear isn’t as ridiculous as many of their other titles, but players can pick up some gem packs that can make a huge difference in world PvP later in the game.
Besides PvP, Swordsman Online also has a robust guild feature that separates players into two factions offering unique challenges and instanced combat. Instanced combat including dungeons and solo-style instances are available both for endgame players and leveling players. The solo instances are actually a great way to pick up new gear while leveling and they’re quick to complete. Without a strict class/trinity system in place, it’s fairly easy to group up with other players.
It’s difficult to judge endgame while beta’s still ongoing, but for now I would imagine that there will be nothing truly world shattering here. Players will have PvP options, dungeon options, crafting, and well, that’s probably about it. Fairly standard? Yep. Terrible? Not necessarily.
Score – Endgame/Other Options: 4
Swordsman Online is one of the better Perfect World games I’ve seen aesthetically. It’s bright and colorful– very anime-esque. The combat animations are fairly over the top, but again– that’s the anime style coming out to play. If you’re into that sort of style it’s quite lovely.
The music’s somewhat limited, but gorgeous if you’re a fan of classical Eastern/Chinese music (yeah, I admit I totally am). The variety between the environments is somewhat lacking, but some environments still manage to shine above others.
I do have one small gripe with the sounds in the game. What’s with the World of Warcraft noises? Seriously. I can’t be the one person who noticed that monkeys in Swordsman Online sound like WoW‘s kobolds. I suppose it’s possible I’ve just been playing WoW for too many years and the sounds are just similar. But… I’m pretty sure I heard the male draenei death noise at some point. I suddenly wondered if my paladin was massacred by monkey-looking enemies. It was odd.
Score – Aesthetics: 7
I’ll briefly talk about the combat in Swordsman Online in this section. There are three control modes that blend mouse/keyboard movements and controls. You can flip between them at any time. I found the action-based setting to be the most enjoyable overall, but questing while using this setting was a little frustrating due to the need to constantly hit CTRL to use the mouse to target NPCs and quest objectives. With a little tweaking I imagine a better combination could easily be found, but without that adjustment period the controls can seen quite clunky.
Combat itself is quite fun and action-based. It’s sort of similar to WildStar where most abilities are aim-based. Some even require skillshots. You’re able to double jump and even triple jump in most areas (which is insanely fun). You can also dash, sprint, and dodge. As part of some areas of the game you’re also allowed to jump between building rooftops and whatnot in much-appreciated wuxia fashion. These instances in the game don’t appear nearly as often as they should (other instances of fun wuxia movement are left to cutscenes sadly), but they’re still appreciated.
Your average battle won’t be nearly as chaotic as a random fight in WildStar, but double jumping to avoid nasty AoE attacks and dodging to avoid launching sword attacks is still very much a part of Swordsman Online‘s combat system. Combat isn’t quite as fluid as I would have hoped given the action-oriented system. It’s extremely easy to get tangled up in the hit boxes of enemies unless you’re careful. Still, the system’s fun– especially for a completely free-to-play game.
There are 10 schools of martial arts in the game that you’re able to choose between once you reach a certain level. This is the game’s class system of sorts. It’s a fairly involved system where each school uses a particular type of weapon, multiple styles, and various strengths/weaknesses in regards to going up against other schools. The system seems fairly rock/paper/scissors at first glance, but given the fact that you can actually blend together various styles within schools, there are definitely some interesting options here for PvP.
Some schools are tankier/more support-y than others, but there’s no real trinity system in place. Also, despite the fact that Swordsman Online is obviously about swords, there are a few ranged schools. You can also get pretty detailed with setting up customized combos and ability setups which is nice to see in a Perfect World game. Similar to WildStar and Guild Wars 2, Swordsman Online gives players a lot of abilities to choose between, but only a limited amount of ability slots. It all boils down to choice, my friends.
The cash shop– as mentioned above– isn’t perfect, but it could be worse in all likelihood. I’d say the same about the crafting system and upgrading systems. They’re not spectacular, but they’re fairly standard for a Perfect World game. Oh, and there’s also a combat-based pet system, of course, since most Eastern MMORPGs seem to also have one. You can run around with little followers (called “Younglings”) who will randomly whack at whatever you whack. And yep, that’s all they do.
Score – World/System Depth: 6
Final Verdict: 5.75/10
It’s a bit early to judge how popular Swordsman Online will be, but it’s pretty safe to say that the game will be extremely niche, not hugely popular (in comparison to AAA titles at least), and mostly populated with fans of martial arts/wuxia MMOs and fans of action-based PvP gameplay. Not there’s anything wrong in a niche, martial arts/wuxia MMORPG, mind you. Quite the contrary. The game’s developers know their audience and that should be applauded.
Despite its flaws, Swordsman Online has potential. For a very niche game, there’s a surprising amount of class/school depth, enjoyable combat, and a story that’s full of over-the-top fun. It’s kind of like one of those fun anime shows that doesn’t make your Top 10 list, but is still worth an afternoon romp. You can find out more about Swordsman Online here. It’s currently in open beta with a launch date of July 29th.
Welcome to Junkies Nation’s cosplay review, Weekly Cos-day! Here, we will highlight some of the best cosplays we saw on the internet this week (including those submitted by you, dear readers!). We end each article with a link to a cosplay tutorial so that you can finally make that perfect cosplay you’ve been dreaming about.
The Best Cosplay We’ve Seen This Week
Hawkgirl, by Kyra Wulfgar of Cosawesome Studios. Photo by Thomas Spanos.
Vivi, from Final Fantasy, by Ken Hopkins.
Ulqulorra Schiffer, from Bleach, by Luce Cosplay.
Back in our first Weekly Cos-Day article, we shared the cardboard method of making helmets. This week, we’re sharing another method. It’s a little more advanced, and uses craft foam, but it’s still very approachable with this tutorial by YouTube user Evil Ted Smith.
Do you have an awesome cosplay you’d like to share with your fellow Junkies Nation readers? Or maybe you have a tutorial that can help other learn the ways of cosplay. Submit photos, links, and other relevant information to email@example.com and you could be featured in a future Weekly Cos-day!
During last year’s San Diego Comic Con, Quantum Mechanix and Spark Plug announced a new strategy-based online RPG in development that had Browncoats everywhere already planning a space travel hijinks or two. Yep– none other than Firefly Online. In December 2013 we found out more information about the game’s systems and goals. Customization will be a huge component of Firefly Online– everything from your ship’s crew to your starship and the quarters inside can be completely customized.
This year’s SDCC also brought us a bit of news. According to PC Gamer, the development team announced that members of the primary cast of the TV show will be returning and reprising their roles for the MMO. This is a pretty exciting bit for fans, but there’s more!
Firefly Online released its first gameplay trailer today. Various areas of gameplay footage are showcased including space exploration, starship customization options, and even a bit of saloon brawling. Check it out:
If you’ve been playing WildStar for a while as a level 50 player or have recently hit level 50, there’s a good chance you’re already aware that some of the stat and itemization systems in the game could use some adjusting. Assault Power is currently stronger than any other stat by a huge margin for DPS classes. This makes most other stats– and a great percentage of possible alternative gear choices– practically unusable for many classes.
The random nature of runecrafting is also not working out quite as intended. Runes are next to useless while leveling, and during endgame the random nature of the runecrafting system makes runes more of an annoyance than anything.
There is some good news, however. Carbine is well aware of the itemization issues players are facing. The team’s looking to adjust AP/SP as well as completely rework the runecrafting system. Here’s what was said regarding both on the official forums:
While it’s a little frustrating that Carbine is taking a while to fix many of the bugs still prominent in WildStar, it’s good to see that the team is communicating with the community on issues like these that affect a great deal of endgame players. Having a road map of some sort is essential. And on a random note, it’s probably no coincidence that the last line of this dev quote was posted on Batman Day. We believe in you, Batman-dev.
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Being a judge for the recent RIFT Summer Wardrobe Contest wasn’t an easy feat. The reactions to the event itself and winners were mixed which was expected not only because of the nature of community-led projects but also because the sunny theme of summer isn’t simply defined– especially in an MMORPG where design animations don’t include an extensive array of summer-style attire or shoes at this stage of the game. These factors aside it’s always heart warming to see players receive rewards or recognition for their efforts.
There are so many wicked items to please all tastes, but these eyes flew straight to the cloaks with wings (previewed above) setting off feverish scheming and plotting to create an epic 3.0 underwater themed wardrobe. I’m curious to see if we will see some one-hand concepts hit the store along with even more slots to add to the 20 already available for the wardrobe system!
Do you even Trove?
What was perhaps the sweetest way to log in this week was to find my mail icon alight with a new cloak. If you have a character Level 10 or above in Trove Alpha, you’re granted a new cloak in RIFT. Don’t worry– I’ll be talking more about Trove real soon, but for now enjoy Fashion Week in RIFT until Wednesday, July 30th!
The folks over at MineThon are running a pretty cool charity event for AbleGamers starting tomorrow. AbleGamers is a non-profit organization that provides news, reviews, and support for disabled gamers. Participants will take part in a 72-hour Minecraft marathon to raise money for AbleGamers.
The event will be streamed on Twitch and there are a variety of ways to participate through donating, taking part in the Minecraft action, or by simply getting involved in the community. There will also be raffles, auctions, and guest appearances from Minecraft celebrities during the charity event. It’s a good weekend to be a Minecraft fan.
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Transparent seems to be the trend of gaming developers mid 2014 and it is exciting to see.
Trion Worlds is no exception to this rule as they bring us the next closed beta testing announcement for next week including the “meat and bones” of any game testing with back-end and server load information.
During the first beta event weekend, it took players 18 minutes to fill servers and it was a load of fun enjoying watching everyone pile on the Eastern Continent Harani. In anticipation of the next event, here are some thoughts from the last beta event, alpha, and the current development stage of the game:
Closed Beta Traffic Flow
Patch 1.2 and Labor Points
Prepared for scarce resources and curious about Labor Point regeneration at these early levels, players were ready to test Patch 1.2 and craft up a storm. There was very little discrepancy that will get further tested as each closed beta event occurs and if Trion Worlds sticks to their usual pattern of listening to players it will be interesting to see how Labor Points will become a fun part of ArcheAge– not just a necessity.
The Marketplace went into full effect with Patron rewards, bonuses, and items inside the Founder Packs becoming available. Playing alpha without the founder pack/Patron bonuses then taking this a step further and playing one character in closed beta with and without store items served as a reminder of how useful the bonus items will probably be. The mount and glider from level 1 are handy, but it’s also encouraging that everyone can get these items before level 10.
Being able to attain extra bag space is an absolute bonus for wardrobe and farming lovers so this was the only Marketplace query I personally sent to Trion developers to see if non-patrons would be able to gain extra bag space with in game currency.
With or without the cosmetic store gear, ArcheAge is stunning. Both the default gear and the glorious costumes are well-designed and set a perfect look for the game (two examples previewed above).
See you all in closed beta Event 2 10:00 AM PDT (GMT-7) on Wednesday, July 30 which runs through 10:00 AM PDT (GMT-7) on Monday, August 4.
I won’t lie. After a few reviews I’d read, I had written off Wii Sports Club, and not just because of the pricing situation. Several stated that the game requires more skill, which is good for gamers but bad for the people we might be trying to convert. Worse yet, for me personally. boxing, which had always been my favorite, has not received kind reviews. I’m one of the few fans of it though, so maybe that’s part of the problem. I’ve heard good things about baseball, but that never interested me too much.
However, with news of a currently available 48 hour trial care of Nintendo’s PR mailer, I figure it might at least be worth checking out. Maybe, since I lack a second motion controller for boxing, which I’m reading is required in place of the nunchuck. Dang. Full details after the break.
Online Multiplayer, Enhanced GamePad Controls and High-Def Graphics Among New Features in Wii U Game
REDMOND, Wash.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– It’s a full count. One more out will win you the game. Standing on the pitcher’s mound, you study the batter and aim for the outside corner. You take a deep breath and unleash the baseball toward home plate. The ball curves just as you planned. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the bat cracks and the ball soars into the air. You thrust your arms in the air, poised to catch the fly ball. Catch it and the game is over. You win. The ball falls closer and closer to your outstretched hands …
Wii Sports Club includes updated and reimagined versions of Tennis, Bowling, Golf, Baseball and Boxing from the original Wii Sports game for Wii, with each sport using Wii MotionPlus technology and new GamePad features for enhanced control. (Photo: Business Wire)
While this sounds like an intense game of real-life baseball, it is actually the experience anyone can have using the GamePad controller in Wii Sports Club, which arrives in stores on July 25. The Wii Ugame includes updated and reimagined versions of Tennis, Bowling, Golf, Baseball and Boxing from the original Wii Sports game for Wii, with each sport using Wii MotionPlus technology and new GamePad features for enhanced control.
The implementation of the Wii U GamePad controller brings some surprising and fun features toWii Sports Club. In Baseball, for example, the pitcher aims a fastball, curveball, screwball or splitter by simply moving the GamePad around in real space and pressing a button to throw. If the ball gets hit in the air, players use the GamePad to follow and catch the fly ball – just like they would with a baseball glove. In Golf, players place the GamePad on the floor to see the ball they are about to hit on the screen of the GamePad. It will appear on the same surface shown in the game – on the fairway, in a sand trap or in the rough. After players swing their Wii Remote Plus controllers like a real golf club, the ball will “fly” from the GamePad screen to the main TV screen and toward the virtual pin. The added GamePad features elicit the same “You have to try this!” reactions generated after playing the original Wii Sports game.
“With so many features packed into Wii Sports Club, players of all ages will feel like they are playing the game for the first time,” said Scott Moffitt, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “Wii Sports Club is the definitive version of Wii Sports and the perfect showcase for the unique game-play experiences enabled by the Wii U GamePad controller.”
In a new online multiplayer mode, gamers from the same region who own the game and have a broadband Internet connection can play Wii Sports Club together. Players also can join a club to represent their regions and build online communities with fellow club members by sending tips, pep talks and other messages via Miiverse.
The retail version of Wii Sports Club launches in stores on July 25 at a suggested retail price of $39.99. The digital versions of all five sports are now available and can be purchased in the Nintendo eShop on Wii U. A 48-hour free trial of all five sports is also available in the Nintendo eShop on Wii U until Dec. 31.
For more information about Wii Sports Club, visit http://wiisportsclub.nintendo.com.
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