World of Warcraft Classic has been in closed beta for just under a week. In that time hundreds of players clashed in the Arathi Highlands, the Classic WoW subreddit crested 100,000 subscribers, and the beta has garnered over 150,000 concurrent viewers on Twitch. I've personally invested 20 hours into the beta at this point and am shocked to find myself enjoying parts of the 15-year-old MMO that I remember as mundane. Going in, I knew I'd love the single-shard servers, non-homogeneous classes, lack of flying mounts, and many reasons to interact with other players, but I didn't expect to enjoy the surprising difficulty of simply questing on my own. It's easy to take what I'm playing for granted but the fact of the matter is that WoW Classic wouldn't exist without years of deliberation on the part of a passionate fanbase, followed by years of development on the part of an equally passionate developer.
I’ve played far too many games like Anthem, an online RPG that only makes good on its promise of meaningful multiplayer gameplay and progression after you’ve labored through its long-winded and repetitive story quests. These pitfalls don’t have to be synonymous with shared-world shooters, MMOs, or online ARPGs, but here we are again. Anthem's endgame is surprisingly fun since its already excellent combat is reinvigorated by interesting loot and challenging gameplay later on. Unfortunately, there simply isn't enough of this kind of content to make it worth the wait, and what's here is inconsistent in terms of polish, clarity, and balance. Anthem, as it stands now, is an adventure best saved for a later date.
More than any freshly launched shared-world shooter to date, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 presents a polished, well-thought-out initial progression path with at least some gas left in the tank after the fact. Its great gunplay, worthwhile loot, and beautiful world brimming with reasons to explore it kept me engrossed for the vast majority of my 60 hours of playtime. After all that momentum, it was a bit of a shock to the system to discover that the difficult endgame content that I had been looking forward to in World Tier 4 didn’t produce any worthwhile rewards or meaningful new mechanical challenges. The Dark Zone, too, was far less interesting that I had hoped it would be. But the good news is that these late-game shortcomings don’t take away from the great journey that I underwent to reach them. The Division 2 gets so much more right than it does wrong.
With all of the development muscle behind EA DICE’s massive shooter, I didn’t expect going in that playing Battlefield V’s multiplayer would feel so much like discovering a very promising early access game. It appears that there’s a sizeable number of modes and major bug fixes still to be delivered. To its credit, a cavalcade of clever gameplay changes succeeds in taking the series’ standard 64-player warfare in a more tactical direction, but the execution of this long-awaited return to a World War II setting simply feels rushed. Still, there's plenty of dynamic FPS fun to be had in the Battlefield V of today, and it’s the kind of shooter I could see becoming one of the best in the series’ history after some substantial updates.
The monumental highs of victory and crushing lows of narrowly losing in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s Blackout are experiences I've had in other battle royale games before, but the road to these memorable moments highlight a significant leap in gameplay fidelity and polish for the genre. Call of Duty’s responsive and forgiving gunplay, nimble movement, and creative but practical equipment fit beautifully into the trendy last man standing format. It’s not just a one-way street though, as the dynamic battle royale setting provides some much-needed variance and consequence to Call of Duty’s at times superficial combat loop. I did experience and see others have some technical issues that warrant concern, but when it’s running smoothly, Blackout is nothing short of the most enjoyable battle royale I’ve played to date.
Insurgency: Sandstorm is an excellent multiplayer shooter that successfully avoids the common pitfalls of military simulation, but still manages to deliver an immersive, at times disturbing, sense of realism to its modern, Middle Eastern setting. Its arsenal consists of some of the best-realized firearms in any video game to date thanks to stellar sound design, punchy animations, and obsessive attention to detail. Elsewhere, though, things aren't quite as glamorous: I found most of its maps to fall into the “just okay” category due in part to poorly defined restricted areas that, on top of being annoying to encounter, are easily exploited. Still, Insurgency: Sandstorm punches well above its weight, offering phenomenal gunplay that shows up much of its big-budget competition.
The alphabet of Hearthstone is a fascinating one, filled with mysterious minions, theorycrafting, and pretty pretty pictures of cards. Card game terminology like tempo, value, card advantage and lethal are left off the list in favor of specific examples of those ideas. If you want more detailed info on deck types, strategies, and more, check out our beginner's guide to Hearthstone. Though some cards in this A to Z were chosen with the intent of exploring a certain theme, the majority of this list demonstrates the most impactful or noteworthy concept that corresponds with each letter. So let’s take an alphabetical trip through the minions, spells, and heroes of Hearthstone.
When The Division 2 was first announced to be coming out a month after Anthem at E3 2018, I remember thinking the familiar-looking sequel to 2016’s original would have a hard time stealing the spotlight from the flashy and (potentially) innovative sci-fi shared-world shooter. Now Anthem is out, and after 40+ generally underwhelming hours with it, I feel the opposite is true. Anthem’s combat is fun, and I have high hopes for the future, but the fact remains that too much of its meaningful multiplayer gameplay and progression was hidden behind its repetitive and weirdly lonely quest grind. With this all-too-common shared-world shortcoming fresh in players’ minds, Massive Entertainment is in a unique position to showcase what lessons it’s learned from nearly three years of post-launch support on The Division.
I love Call of Duty: Blackout for the same reason that I loved PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds when it first released in early access. Blackout gets straight to my favorite part of Battle Royales - using what I’ve found for an all or nothing skirmish with an equally desperate opponent - with the least amount of B.S. in the way. The combination of smooth, intuitive FPS gameplay, creative but remarkably practical pickups, and the lowest barrier for entry in a Battle Royale yet leave little doubt in my mind that Blackout will be on the tip of everyone’s tongue come October. My experience wasn’t completely devoid of issues, and I have my concerns of whether Call of Duty’s annualized release cadence can facilitate the frequency and longevity of post-launch support that I expect of the genre. But I’d be lying if I said that my time with Blackout was anything other than the best Battle Royale experience I’ve ever had.
It’s fair to say that Destiny was a bit too successful to be written off as a simple proof of concept, but we hope the sequel makes it look like one all the same. These are the top ten features we want in Destiny 2.
Like the original, the duality of switching between Titanfall 2’s nimble pilots and monstrous titans is at the heart of what makes its multiplayer great. The sequel’s additions and changes, while significant, do little to distract from this brilliant gameplay loop. The pilot's ability to effortlessly traverse terrain is still remarkably fluid when the map allows for it, and titans feel like a more permanent investment thanks to rodeo changes and the advent of batteries.
Whether exploring a massive world, climbing a competitive ladder or simply sharing a laugh over something ridiculous, good multiplayer always boils down to presenting players with a worthy platform to interact with each other. To that effect, these are the ten multiplayer games coming in 2017 that we can’t wait to experience with a friend. As an added stipulation, gameplay footage or a trailer of the game in question must exist prior to the publishing of this article in order to be considered.
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