Monthly Archives: October 2013

LOTRO “Epic Battles” Helm’s Deep Preview

By W.B. Wemyss (Tagspeech)

LOTRO Epic Battle View

Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO) hosted another dev walkthrough of their upcoming Helm’s Deep expansion, this time covering the “Epic Battles” system being implemented into the game.  Epic battles are a new way for players to approach the gameplay and storyline, by dropping them smack into the middle of a teeming army of thirty-thousand orcs and wild-men, and asking them to defend using not just combat skills, but an assortment of strategies and environmental interactions that will (if everything goes smoothly) provide players with an unprecedented, dynamic PVE experience.


Turbine’s experience with PVE-centric MMORPGs began with Dungeons and Dragons Online, with the relatively aged Lord of the Rings Online being their most recent and most successful enterprise in the genre.  Experienced gamers will remember they were one of the first studios to make their games not just successfully transition from pay-to-play to free-to-play, but thrive in the process.  Their F2P models were ambitious for their time, and their continuing commitment to an understated aesthetic in LOTRO makes them unique in a sea of games screaming for attention with gigantic armor pauldrons and seemingly “epic” worlds where people have wings or ride motorcyles-gryphons, or whatever.


The understated ambition and competence of Turbine’s LOTRO team was demonstrated to me once again with this walkthrough.  While I went into it expecting just another raid-esque PVE encounter, what I found was a team of people so dedicated to preserving the vision of the Lord of the Rings books that they’ve been hard at work for over a year implementing and overhauling an aging game engine just to make a battle of thirty-thousand versus one-thousand seem truly epic.  Rather than relying on flash, LOTRO delivers substance.  When you first step out onto those ramparts and see the horde, you’ll know what I mean.

LOTRO Epic Battles Catapult Operation

The orcs assembled on the field of battle aren’t just scenery, either.  They send in very real waves of six-hundred at a time, usually accompanied by a catapult or other siege weaponry.  These ordered regiments can be seen below, and attacked by players utilizing catapults and other defensive installments; in teams to make it go faster, or alone.  If the PC engineers on the catapults are good enough, they can significantly reduce the number of orcs that climb up the walls.  One kill on the field below counts as a kill above.  There’s no reason not to unleash hell as soon as the fiends are in sight.


Players will be in the midst of a number of organized NPC allies who will clash with the orcs that inevitably climb the walls using ladders and grappling hooks.  But why stand and fight them like a sucker, when you can run along the ramparts and disengage ladders and hooks to keep more from climbing up?  Better yet, why not do that and drop traps, like tripwires, caltrops, and bear traps for them to step into as soon as they reach the top?  This, and the efficient operation of siege weaponry like catapults, is the purview of the engineer.


But what is the engineer?  A new class?  No.  Similar to the customization and building of a soldier in LOTRO’s famously popular skirmish content, Helm’s Deep rewards players with brand new role trees that can be customized regardless of base class, entirely separate of all other content.  These “epic battle roles” are the engineer, the officer, and the vanguard.  They are deep, rewarding trees that confer enormous benefits in their chosen specializations, and as players win battles in Helm’s Deep, they earn more points to invest.

LOTRO Epic Battles Rockdrop

It’s not all traps and catapults, though.  Some of us prefer to take a wider view of the battlefield.  Some of us play strategy games on the side.  Some of us were born to be officers.  The officer role is what it sounds like; it allows you to not only gain unique interactions and methods by which to buff your NPC allies, but also improves your ability to interact with the unique “commander” NPCs, who take your orders and give them to the grunts.  Want the men to prioritize those scampering goblin sappers whenever they appear, in order to protect your siege equipment?  Let the commander know.  Want to rally and boost your allies under a powerful banner?  This and more is available to the officer.  Your NPC commands and boosts become exponentially more powerful as you invest in the officer tree, until you are eventually a paragon of strategy and battlefield administration.

LOTRO Epic Battles Commander Options

But to hell with all of that.  You rolled a combat class for a reason.  You’re here to smash face.  And as a vanguard, smashing face is what you do best.  You’ll be given enormous battle-cries and AOE nukes with which to obliterate and stun whole platoons of enemies, and increasing stat bonuses based on your kill-count.  But it isn’t fair, you might say, that those officers and engineers have relatively safe jobs, while you’re out risking your neck for the battle.  If you die, that’s it, isn’t it?


Vanguards have a mechanic attributed to them called the “heroic death.”  When you die gloriously in battle, your kill-count factors into a scaling AOE buff that drives your allies into a frenzy of potency and power.  Your heroic sacrifice could be the mighty deed that brings the rank and file up into a higher state of glory, giving them the courage and inner strength they need to hold the line, or even push it back.  The life of a vanguard is not one of just any other soldier on the field.  You’re designed to be a true hero, and those around you react as such.


The rewards of Helm’s Deep are not just in increasingly fun and dynamic gameplay as you invest into your chosen role (or hybridize, as many are wont to do).  There are material rewards, which scale depending on which medals you’ve achieved in the battles of Helm’s Deep.  The simplest explanation is that you receive a grade after each battle: from bronze, all the way to platinum.  The four ranks are given by securing and protecting secondary objectives, as well as a myriad of other things.  How many soldiers died on your side?  Were your siege engines destroyed or badly damaged?  These factors and more determine your ultimate reward, and you don’t have to play the battle over and over to have a chance at the powerful jewelry rewarded at the highest ranks.  If you get platinum on the first try (which the devs assure us is next to impossible), then you receive your gear, the full amount of points to invest in your role, and can move on.  It’s that simple.

LOTRO Epic Battles Ranking Options

This is all in addition to the fact that the content is available immediately, starting at level ten.  Players of low level will be upscaled to level ninety-five, with their gear and stats following suit.  They will not receive new skills, but they will be a passable combatant on the battlefield.  This is going to allow players the ability to group and enjoy content cross-level, something that LOTRO sorely lacked before Helm’s Deep.  Devs stated a desire to implement upscaling to other, older content in the future, but would like to see how everything settles after the launch of Helm’s Deep.

 LOTRO Glittering Caves

It’s reassuring that Turbine has such a keen dedication to lore, canon, and substance over flash.  Their focus on truly substantial and immersive PVE content sets them apart from the competition, and is the primary reason why the award-winning LOTRO is still considered one of the finest MMORPG experiences on the market.  Helm’s Deep isn’t just bringing a new way to enjoy the tired, old MMORPG model with epic battles; they’re revamping threat mechanics and core class progression.  They’re bringing in improvements to mounted combat and monster-play PVP.  Turbine shows their competence by pushing themselves to meet the expectations of quality from both long-time fans of their game, and fans of the books and movies.  This is not a game that settles for less.

Tagspeech is the alias of author W.B. Wemyss, who was responsible for the bizarre cyberpunk fever dream called Children of Athena.

Heva Clonia Launch Pack Giveaway

OnRPG has partnered with OGPlanet to give out cute kitten Chachamaru Pet Packs in celebration of the full launch of Heva Clonia Online!

Get whisked away into the fantasy dream world of Heva Clonia Online, an MMORPG from Windysoft. In HCO, you can explore in a special campaign mode, or join up with friends in team play, two-player dungeons, and even guild warfare. Become a mad scientist as you clone creatures of the world to serve as your pets, or put yourself to work crafting the latest equipment.

The Chachamaru Pack Includes:
1. EXP Scroll to give you 50% additional experience for every monster you defeat
2. Fortune Box which could contain a wide variety of items such as weapons, armor and more!
3. Chachamaru, a cute kitten that will help you and your party members throughout your adventure!


To Redeem your Key:

  • Sign Up for an OGPlanet account and Download the OGPlanet Game Launcher
  • After installing the OGPlanet Game Launcher, Follow the prompts in the Launcher to download/install Heva Clonia Online
  • Once Heva Clonia Online is installed, login to the game and create your character
  • Go to our Redemption Page and enter your coupon code
  • Check your in-game ‘Inbox’ to receive your items!


SNOW is an open-world free-skiing experience from a small independent studio in Sweden. Create a rider and head out onto Sialia, exploring the terrain parks and performing tricks, all while pushing to rank on SNOW’s leaderboards.



Massive Open World: Sialia offers an eight square kilometer snow park for you to play in, covering a variety of alpine terrain from steep cliffs, beautiful backcountry, and cultivated terrain parks.

Authentic Riding Experience: Freeskiing icons including Tanner Hall and Russ Henshaw have helped with the game’s design to make sure you can perform all the tricks and jibs you could in real life.

Real Equipment and Clothing Brands: Eleven different body parts can be equipped with the latest products for your slope experience, with over 140 items in the catalog starting at the game’s launch.

Shotgun News 10/31: Rift, Planetside 2, STO, and Much More!

Rift Announces Update 2.5

Rift 2.5

Update 2.5, Song of Dreams has been announced by Trion Worlds. Expect it to go live on November 6th. Though there aren’t many details yet it looks as though it will be underwater. Perhaps it will include that new zone which was hinted at some time ago. Only time will tell.

Planetside 2 Release on PS4 Delayed

SOE CEO John Smedley has confirmed that Planetside 2 will not be available on PS4 at launch and will instead be released sometime in early 2014. DCUO is still planned to be available at launch.

Star Trek Online Season 8 Release Date Announced

Announcing update release dates is the cool thing to do today and the folks at STO don’t want to be left out. Yesterday we learned about Michael Dorn’s role in The Sphere, and today we’ve learned that Season 8 will begin on November 12th.

Guns and Robots Introduces Player Guilds

Guild recruitment got underway today as Guns and Robots introduced player guilds for the first time. Guilds can use buffs and upgrades to enhance the robot builds of everyone in the guild, and this is just the start of the benefits.

The Lost Titans Pet and Mount Combo Pack Giveaway

OnRPG has partnered with GBE to celebrate the launch of The Lost Titans by giving out a pack containing a sweet pet and mount!

The Lost Titans is a broswer-based MMORPG that puts you in control of a hero seeking to find out what caused the disappearance of the titan of Aristos, Hyperion. You’ll travel along fantastic lands, wrought from myths and legends, and engage fierce monsters. Along the way, you’ll discover mysteries behind the titan’s disappearance, and the sinister plot to destroy Aristos. Join up with others in an epic storyline, or fight against them in fast-paced PvP battles.

The Pack Includes:
1 Stormray Mount
Mount - Stormray

1 Trigon Pet

Pet - Trigon

Note: Promo codes are only redeemable after you’ve created a character in-game.


To Redeem your Key:

  • Visit The Lost Titans page and sign-up for an account.
  • Log into game and create your character.
  • Click the redeem free gift button and enter your code.
  • The gift will be sent to your in game mail box. You can receive the package once you reach level 5.

Cannons, Lasers, Rockets: The Greenlight Preview

by Jaime Skelton (MissyS)

What’s not to love about an arsenal of cannons, lasers, and rockets? Not much, perhaps, but it does depend on how you use them. Net Games Laboratory is preparing for a November 2013 launch of its new title, Cannons Lasers Rockets (CLR for short), and just yesterday got the green light on Steam. We had a chance to get in-game with the developers and test through CLR’s current playable version to get a grasp on this space shooter.

Cannons Lasers Rockets


Just Two, And I’m Fine With That

Let’s start from the first possible impasse: Cannons Lasers Rockets is a 2D space combat game – well, actually it’s not.

I come from an era where “space combat games” are synonymous with Wing Commander and Descent: FreeSpace, and while modern space combat has evolved to focus more on a third-person perspective than the confines of the cockpit, the full range of three-dimensional combat has been a defining feature of the genre.  So in my first late night dabble into CLR’s tutorial mode, I was confident I was “missing something” when I couldn’t figure out how to make my ship fly up or down.

Sure enough, I had missed the fact that this was an intentional game design, not simply a newbie error in learning game controls. For those of us seasoned in three-axis flight, CLR’s 2D design is jarring: after all, we can see the space, so why can’t we reach up and touch it? A little patience with the system is necessary: once you stop struggling against the non-existent z-axis, you can actually focus on paying attention to the battle spaces around you and stop looking for slinking ships outside of your peripheral vision. The flight system also lowers the game’s learning curve, making it more accessible for newer players. In short, you need to think of Cannons Lasers Rockets not as a space combat simulator, but as an arcade shooter, a third-person arena which just happens to take place in the free skies of space.

Cannons Lasers Rockets



Ships and Game Progression

With that sticky z-axis out of the way, let’s back up and take a look at just what CLR really is: a multi-player PvP arena, with arcade-style action and focused match-ups. In a gaming world currently overstuffed with third-person shooters and MOBAs, CLR manages to borrow ideas from both while remaining definitively neither.

At the start of a match (co-op PvP boasts up to 10v10 battles), players are split into teams and sent into the hangar to choose a ship. There’s a wide variety of ships in Cannons Lasers Rockets, each designed to have a different feel in battle. In the demo’s tutorial, you’re given a generally mobile ship with a homing laser as its main weapon that can attack on all sides of the ship. Shifting into your own hangar choices, though, can leave you with a lightweight dog-fighter that can fly circles around its enemies but with some fragility. Or you could be like me, and pick the heavy-weight tanker with a turning radius that makes driving a semi look easy, with a straight-line torpedo launch from the nose. Net Games Laboratory promises “hundreds of ships” to experiment with and change to depending on the game mode and team composition.

Ships start clean of any upgrades in each match, and players must earn experience in that particular match to upgrade them. Once experience is earned – from blowing up just about anything, including asteroids – you can head back to the shop at your base to spend experience on upgrades. Upgrades come in a wide variety, dependent on your ship class, and each comes with its own upgrade tier that costs more experience at each step. While this won’t get your heavy-built tank into a cruiser (and there’s no way to change ships after a match starts), you can still pick up some utility like stealth, while focusing on upgrades your ship or team needs to secure the match. Outside the match, you’ll be able to use a separate “currency” called reputation, which will allow you to customize the appearance of your ships and interface without affecting combat efficiency.

Cannons Lasers Rockets


War is Like a Flowchart

So there you are in your first multi-player battle. You work out some strategies with your teammates, and get assigned to some grunt work for the early battle. Dutifully, you pull up your map and notice the battlefield is broken into circles connected by lines, each with a sector name – so what gives with this flowchart style map connecting two enemy bases?

Once again, Cannons Lasers Rockets breaks away from the standard formula by breaking each battlefield map into sectors, which are small, circular arena chunks. While you can stray from the borders of these arenas into open space, you’ll take radiation damage – instead, you must go from sector to sector through transporters. Each sector is a miniature battlefield, with automatically spawning ‘creeps’ and AI-controlled defense ships. The deeper you head into enemy territory, the more dangers that wait for you – and of course, the closer you are to the enemy’s respawn sector.  The mode we demoed was a little like a two-laned MOBA with miniature fighting areas that center and focus the action.

For those used to free space and open movement, this is probably a second impasse. Net Games Laboratory explained to us that this not only helps fleet coordination, it keeps the game in a state of constant action, allowing players to jump in a sector even on break before hopping back out of the game.  From our experience in our demo battle, we’ll certainly agree that these small sectors do keep the action locked in tight. However, due to different ship speeds and the necessity of transporters, it can take time to get back to the action when respawning. There’s also currently a lack of cooldowns on transporters, which means that someone could hang near them and swap in and out of an area in a heated battle to disrupt enemy fire – which we’re sure the team will address before full release.

 Cannons Lasers Rockets



It’s Odd, And That’s What Makes it Good

In a middle stage of testing and development – although just earning its Steam Greenlight on October 30 – Cannons Lasers Rockets is different in some promising ways. Although it has some design elements that may serve as deterrents for those looking for a familiar genre experience, the fact that CLR does things differently means that it’s offering a unique experience, not just cookie-cutter gameplay. If you dig sci-fi shooters and focused PvP competition, CLR is a title you’ll definitely want to keep your eye out for next month.