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MMO Week in Review: ESO's slash-and-burn update

At the end of every week, we round up the best and most popular news stories, exclusive features, and insightful columns published on Massively and then present them all in one convenient place. If you missed a big MMO or WoW Insider story last week, you've come to the right post.

This week, The Elder Scrolls Online team revealed plans for its third major patch; due in August, the update will include the first part of a slash-and-burn overhaul of the unpopular veteran ranks system. Meanwhile, Massively ESO columnist Jef Reahard opined on why immersion is so important for ZeniMax's MMO.

Read on for a look at the rest of this week's top MMO stories.

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Deadfall Adventures on PS3 dives to the Heart of Atlantis

Deadfall Adventures, the first-person adventure game for Xbox 360 and PC from Polish developer The Farm 51, is putting on the boots for another adventure, this time on PS3. Deadfall Adventures: Heart of Atlantis is an expanded and revamped re-release of The Farm 51's 2013 adventure/FPS hybrid, featuring new locations, new fights, reworked graphics and more.

If you're unfamiliar, Deadfall Adventures takes its inspiration from the likes of Indiana Jones, who in turn takes inspiration from pulp serials like Doc Savage, which in turn can trace their pedigree to the character Allan Quatermain. That may sound like a confusing string of follow the leader, but it's actually more like coming full-circle; the hero in Deadfall Adventures is James Lee Quatermain, great grandson to the extraordinary gentleman, Allan.

Deadfall Adventures: Heart of Atlantis is expected to fight off Nazis and the supernatural sometime this summer.
[Image: The Farm 51]

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Pre-order Disney Infinity Marvel Super Heroes, get a free hero at select retailers

There are a lot of character figurines for Disney Infinity, and we imagine it will be the same story with Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes. At least Infinity fans can save some cash by picking up Marvel Super Heroes through the right store: In exchange for pre-ordering the $74.99 Starter Pack, select retailers in both the UK and the US are offering one free Super Marvel Heroes figurine to help grow hero-filled collections.

While GAME's listing states that customers can choose between Nick Fury, Hawkeye or Iron Fist as their freebie, GameStop's offer references a "14.99 value" rather than specific characters. We contacted GameStop to ask which heroes would be offered as a pre-order bonus, but that has yet to be announced. Still, if you already plan on adding Marvel to your virtual Disney sandbox, a mystery freebie probably won't hurt you. Besides, what if it's an Avenger? You're not going to be the one that splits up the Avengers, are you?
[Image: Disney]

San Diego Comic Con gets the first look at Halo: Nightfall

Halo: Nightfall, the live-action digital series from Halo franchise custodian 343 Industries and producer Ridley Scott, will shed some of its metaphorical armor at San Diego Comic Con next week, allowing us a glimpse at the soft, squishy, human bits hiding underneath.

Kiki Wolfkill, executive producer at 343, and Frank O'Connor, franchise development director, will lead a panel including "key Halo: Nightfall cast and crew" that will also give attendees a sneak peek at the series' story and production. So far, all we know is that the plot will hinge on Agent Locke, the mysterious figure who appeared above Master Chief on the Halo 5: Guardians cover.

The Halo: Nightfall first-look panel will begin July 24 at 11:45 a.m. Pacific in room 6BCF at the San Diego Convention Center. If you can't make it, don't worry - Halo: The Master Chief Collection will grant everyone who purchases it access to the series.
[Image: Microsoft]

Ar nosurge gets limited edition, GameStop pre-order incentives

Ar nosurge: Ode to an Unborn Star will bring its musical take on turn-based battles to the PS3 on September 23 for $49.99, but enthusiasts now have the option of paying a little more to snag its limited edition. The NIS America Online Store is offering the above bundle for $64.99, which includes a hardcover art book, a 16 x 23" poster, a physical soundtrack, a collector's box and the JRPG itself.

If you've got enough memorabilia taking up shelf space, you can still get exclusive content by picking up the adventure from GameStop. The retailer is offering a "DLC set with two Misogi Expansion Packs (Nay and Kanon), a dynamic custom theme based on the Felion Console."

There's plenty going on in Ar nosurge's futuristic fantasy world, and you can start getting acquainted with an introductory trailer after the break.
[Image: Koei Tecmo]

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Skullgirls animator taking pre-orders on limited sketchbook

Mariel Cartwright, lead animator for Lab Zero Games' hand-drawn fighter Skullgirls, is taking pre-orders (link possibly NSFW) from anyone who would like to place her sketchbook among their library. Previously available to fans who made the journey to Anime Expo, the sketchbook will only be available for pre-order online until July 31. If you don't put your name on the list before then, you'll have to voyage to Anime Expo 2015 to get your mitts on it.

The book features 80 pages of black-and-white sketches of Cartwright's art, and will cost $20. If you're hard up for cash, you can always appreciate her work on Tumblr (some art NSFW).
[Image: Mariel Cartwright]

Bark out orders in There Came an Echo's War Room

Guiding a squad of soldiers through a campaign of missions with just your voice might take some practice, but There Came An Echo's War Room could serve as a pretty serviceable training ground. Whereas Iridium Studios' Jason Wishnov describes Echo's campaign as "narratively complex," War Room will let field commanders get right to the battlefield and experiment with weapons, voice commands and strategies to defeat waves of enemies.

If you're of the "I'll believe it when I see it" mindset, Wishnov stated that the trailer's voice commands were "captured live and unedited," but it should be noted that the above demonstration of War Room is pre-alpha footage, and it isn't specified which version of Echo was used for the recording. You'll be able to call the shots when Echo reaches Steam later this year, with PS4, Xbox One, Mac and Linux versions also in the works.
[Image: Iridium Studios]

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Adam Boyes would like to give Early Access to the PS4

Sony Computer Entertainment of America VP of Developer and Publisher Relations Adam Boyes (man that business card must be long) is interested in making an Early Access-style program for PS4 developers, according to a recent interview with Gamasutra.

When asked if Sony was considering making a game available while said game was still in development, Boyes responded, "That's one of the massive conversations we have internally; that, at what point does [a game meet standards of release]? We still at some point ensure that we're being mindful of the consumer. We don't want somebody to stumble across that title and expect a full product, and have a negative experience."

"We're figuring out what's ok," Boyes added. "We obviously have our tech requirement checklist that people have to adhere to. So we're internally discussing, what does that list look like? What are the caveats? Stuff like this. So it's still a project that a lot of minds are considering. No details yet, but it's something on the top of my mind every day."

In other words: no early access for Boyes' vision of early access on PS4. At least for now.
[Image: Sony]

Report: Tekken 7 coming, uses Unreal Engine 4

Martial artists, bears and kangaroos with boxing gloves will share the ring once more, according to a report from IGN. Though a release date and targeted platforms were not discussed, the report states that Tekken 7 will use Unreal Engine 4.
[Image: Bandai Namco]

Rob Zombie debuting Assassin's Creed short at Comic Con

We've seen Assassin's Creed Unity's hooded justice-seekers hunt their prey in conceptual trailers and gameplay demonstrations, but it seems like another perspective will debut at Comic Con International in San Diego later this month. A listing for a Unity-focused panel describes the showing of an "animated short" inspired by Unity, which will be shown by musician and film director Rob Zombie and Tony Moore, an illustrator whose work includes Image Comics' The Walking Dead series.

Judging by the listing, the panel will also focus on Unity protagonist Arno, general details about the game and "new announcements" for the Assassin's Creed series. If you're able to go, Unity's "Heads Will Roll!" panel is scheduled for July 25 at 2:00 p.m. Pacific in room 6BCF.
[Image: Ubisoft]

Wassapugeddaw! Raiden revealed for Mortal Kombat X

Mortal Kombat series creator Ed Boon had a special treat for fans at this year's EVO event; the return of Raiden in Mortal Kombat X. According to an interview between Boon and IGN, the infamous thunder god will be screaming gibberish at his opponents in three distinct styles, tentatively being called "Displacer," "Storm Lord" and "Thunder God" respectively.

Displacer style will focus heavily on teleportation, while Thunder God will empower Raiden's electrocution moveset. Storm Lord will help players control large portions of the stage, as it allows Raiden to set lightning ball traps which hang in the air and form a stream of lightning once two of them have been placed.

You can see Raiden in action by checking out the trailer above, where he and Kotal Khan stare each other down before Raiden offers up this gem of a burn: "Thunder blots out the sun." Which isn't ... uh ... correct. Well, no one ever said he was the smartest god.
[Image: Warner Bros.]

Devs can now offer trials, games in same download on Xbox One

Being able to sample content from digital storefronts is one of the more compelling advantages of shopping digitally. Trial-sized portions of games could be sampled on the Xbox 360 by downloading Xbox Live Arcade titles, which could then be used to unlock the full game without an additional download, but multi-purpose downloads haven't appeared on the Xbox One. That has the potential to change, according to Eurogamer's interview with ID@Xbox Program Director Chris Charla.

While demoes and full games are generally separate downloads on Xbox One, the option to offer both in the same file is something that's been "recently turned on," Charla said. "I don't think we've seen any ID@Xbox games yet that have shipped with trials, but we may well in the future. It's something that's open to everybody."

The switch should make browsing for new games to play a bit easier, should developers choose to use the feature. Speaking of making things easier, Microsoft's idea of allowing any Xbox One to be used as a dev kit would certainly lower the barrier of entry for game development, but we're still waiting on details beyond the concept.
[Image: Microsoft]

Weekly Webcomic Wrapup is chillin' out, relaxin' all cool

Earlier this week, I took a bit of a mini-vacation. Nothing big or expensive, just a day-trip to see Grandma and jump in the lake with the puppy, Balto. I also got to eat at my very favorite restaurant, and stuff my face full of spicy tacos topped with plenty of lime juice and extra cilantro. Mmm! By the time I got back home, I was ready and raring for just about anything; I felt super energetic and full of warm, fuzzy feelings.

Sometimes, I think we all need a little day-vay-cay (that's short for "day-vacation," feel free to use it at your next party or social gathering) to recharge our batteries. Even if we don't go somewhere out of the way, just a pit stop at your favorite buffet line can do wonders. So tell me: what's your favorite way to break the tension and get away from it all? Where do you go to get an extra bounce put back into your step? Share your secrets of zen in the comments, after you vote for this week's favorite webcomic!

Penny Arcade (Marxio Kart)
Hejibits (Smoldered Shenanigans)
Critical Miss (An Occupational Hazard)
ReadySoup (Friendship is Manic)
Brawl in the Family (Mii...?)
The Gamercat (Model Citizen)

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Cave Story 3D spelunking on 3DS eShop this year

It's not impossible to track down a physical copy of Cave Story 3D, but unless you're willing to shell out $80 for a sealed version, you're kinda stuck hunting for a copy that isn't in a cracked or insert-less case. If you're set on exploring the adventure's 3D-visual remake on the 3DS, there's always another option: waiting for its eShop release, which Nicalis founder Tyrone Rodriguez has said is due for North American and Europe later this year. While Rodriguez didn't discuss pricing, it's bound to be cheaper than its physical, out-of-print counterpart.

Of course, you could always sidestep waiting by getting Cave Story+ on Steam or the 3DS eShop's 2D version of Cave Story, which runs for $9.99.
[Image: Nicalis]

PS Plus subscribers get free Powers in December

The PlayStation Network will be bitten by a radioactive crime drama series later this year; Powers, a live-action adaptation of the comic of the same name, will be available via the PSN starting in December, with the debut episode available for free. Meanwhile, PlayStation Plus subscribers will be able to view the entire series at no charge.

David Slade (Hannibal, Breaking Bad) will direct the first two episodes of the show, which focuses on detectives who investigate cases involving people with superhuman powers. The original comic, published by Image until 2004 and currently by Marvel, is written by Brian Michael Bendis (Ultimate Spider-Man, Guardians of the Galaxy) and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming (Judge Dredd, Catwoman).
[Image: Marvel]

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