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Final Fantasy XIV:ARR First Impressions

Dating back to Final Fantasy I, II, VI, VII, VIII, IX and some of the more recent titles, Final Fantasy has always held a special place in my heart. With its great stories, tactical combat and mystical environments; it was like a series that could never be tainted. Then came Final Fantasy XIV.

Into the Dragons' Den

In most MMOs I’ve played, the gallant hero is asked by a desperate kingdom to slay the wicked dragon. Not so for upcoming MMO Dragon’s Prophet. In this latest free-to-play creation from Runewaker and published by Sony Online Entertainment, you get the chance to tame, train and ride dragons of your very own.

For all those eagerly anticipating raising a clutch of magical reptiles, the good news is that open beta starts in North America on May 30. Founders with VIP access will get a 24 hour head start, giving them early access into the world of Auratia. Closed Beta testers will also be pleased to know that the NDA has been lifted from today, freeing them to share their tales of daring draconic deeds with friends.

During the weekend I dived back in, mainly to see how development had progressed since my first look last month. Joined by ZAM regular Chris Rainey, we livestreamed our progress (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) from character creation to the giddy heights of level 20. As an extra bonus, I’ll be streaming a special session on ZAM's Twitch.TV channel from 4pm Pacific on Thursday May 23, where I’ll be joined by senior producer Todd Carson to answer all your Dragon’s Prophet questions.

WildStar: Postcards from Arkship EU

What does it feel like when a developer rolls out the red carpet? WildStar’s European fans were treated to their own Arkship-style fan gathering down in Brighton, UK recently, and I was incredibly lucky to snag an invite of my own. With the promise of plenty of hands-on playtime, some in-depth Q&A panels and a first look at both PvP arenas and instanced dungeons, I was drooling with anticipation from the moment it hit my inbox.

Dragon's Prophet: Exploring Beta

The world of Auratia is crammed with dragons. Legend has it that Elder dragons arrived many years ago, breeding with other creatures and creating hundreds of new species. From soaring fliers to graceful swimmers, each of them is blessed with a unique set of abilities that adventurers will be eager to make use of.

Dragon’s Prophet has a slogan: “Their Strength is Your Power”. But, as Senior Producer Todd Carson explained, this is about more than just a fighting companion or convenient steed. In this upcoming MMO from Taiwanese developer Runewaker and published by Sony Online Entertainment, dragons impact every aspect of the game, from questing to crafting.

Take a Peek: Chelsith Reborn & Plane of Shadow

Soon to be unleashed on live servers is the Shadow of Fear...

An extension of the Rain of Fear expansion, Shadow of Fear brings about two new zones: Chelsith Reborn and the Plane of Shadow. Here is a look!

Chelsith Reborn

While the shards of fear were falling on Norrath, a significant shard landed in a remote part of The Grey. It was discovered by one of the undead Shissar stalkers who delivered it to a Shissar, Vyzh'dra (one of the more prominent figures among the Shissar).

Not too long after this, a new city emerged in the middle of The Grey. It is a massive and pristine city reminiscent of ancient shissar architecture and designs, and outsiders seem confused as to how it came to be. No one has come out of the city since it arrived...

(Check out the Plane of Shadow below the jump...)

The Elder Scrolls Online: Hands On

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The Elder Scrolls Online has caused frothing at the mouth for many gamers, either those who started flinging their money at the screen as soon as it was announced (hence an upswing in monitor sales before E3 last year), or those who found the whole idea of an Elder Scrolls MMO sacrilege.

Either way, interest for this game is higher than any upcoming MMO and it was with suitable anticipation that I visited ZeniMax Online Studios in Maryland last week. As part of the visit to the impressive locale, I was afforded the privilege of playing The Elder Scrolls Online for a few hours (for my first impressions back in October, read here).

Partly to overcome the staggering number of misconceptions that follow the game around (seriously, if I had a cent for every time I’d been asked if it had a reticule like Skyrim I would have $2.56), the ZeniMax team wanted to put the game in our hands. Whether that would mean the fears of some were assuaged or confirmed would be down to the game itself.

Neverwinter: Beta Weekend Two Impressions

I'm a bit of a D&D nerd. I may not have quite as many years of experience with the game as some other folks reading this site (my first pen-and-paper game was a 3rd Edition campaign in college), but I love the game all the same. When Dungeons and Dragons Online came out, I thought it would be a perfect match for me, since it was an MMO set in Eberron and I'm a sucker for Warforged. Unfortunately, the game failed to grab me - the mechanics didn't click with me enough to switch from World of Warcraft and I didn't care for the art style. Fast-forward seven years and we have another D&D-based MMO in front of us, this one set in Neverwinter and the Forgotten Realms. Will this game fix the issues I had with DDO? Will it do justice to the setting and provide some of that world-building aspect that people love from the pen-and-paper game? Will it be filled with four million Drow named XxDrizztxX or some variant of that? After two beta weekends, I'll say yes, yes, and yes unless they (hopefully) ban those upfront.

Escape to Erebor

There are many glorious battles throughout the Lord of the Rings. In the closing chapters of Tolkien’s epic saga, the monumental struggles at Minas Tirith and the Black Gate of Morannon marked a shift in the tide against Sauron’s dark shadow.

But as that Third Age drew to a close, similar conflicts were unfolding across Middle Earth. It’s these skirmishes and sieges that are the focus of the tenth update for Lord of the Rings Online. Concluding the Riders of Rohan instance pack, Turbine takes us on a journey from Dale to the Lonely Mountain. 

Land of the Giants

There are many tales in Dungeons and Dragons Online. In Return to Gianthold, the 17th expansion for Turbine’s veteran MMO, it starts with a betrayal between two powerful races.

Long ago, a dragon leader known as The Truthful One slew the Stormreaver, leader of the giants. Seizing the moment, he transformed himself into an undead dracolich, sundering the giants’ civilization. Though several ages have passed, the Stormreaver has returned, thirsting for vengeance on The Truthful one and seeking adventurers to lend their aid.

Hands-On With WildStar

Last week, during their WildStar Wednesday blog post, Carbine mentioned some press events they’d organized to share some new information about the game as well as show off one of their latest builds. I flew out to try the game in San Francisco, while Gareth “Gazimoff” Harmer went to check out the game at Brighton in the UK. This was my first opportunity to try out the game since PAX Prime 2011 and I was excited to see firsthand what had changed in the last few years. We’ll be sharing some of the details we picked up during our trips at a later date, but I can share with you my thoughts about what I’ve played so far.