MMO news updates

Rolled into one for you.

Time stands still for those of you playing massively-multiplayer online games, but we get dizzy and fall over when trying to keep up with what's going on. So, in an effort to catch the news before it runs away from us, we've cobbled together some recent genre-specific announcements for you.

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Sony Online Entertainment has released the second game update for Vanguard, ahead of the big server merge starting next Tuesday morning. Full notes and details of which servers are merging and when can be found on the official site.

In summary, the biggest changes were made to the Diplomacy skill, which joins Adventuring and Crafting as a level-based sphere. Those with points in it already will be converted to a relevant level. 120 skill will become level 12, for example. The user interface for Diplomacy has been revamped too, and all equipable items will be level-based.

You'll also now be able to build up rest experience when you spend time away from your character, which on your return will make gaining experience in Adventuring, Crafting, and Diplomacy spheres much quicker - depending on how much rest you've accrued.

The quest journal has been changed to display more info and track current adventures, with the list of your tasks on the left and descriptions on right. And looking for a group will be easier, too, thanks to a more intuitive and functional LFG feature.

There are plenty of bug fixes and crashing problems being ironed out, plus new Guild Halls and a Brotherhood system that will allow you to earn experience for a friend even if they're offline.

Head over to our Vanguard: Saga of Heroes review for more information.

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

Funcom announced yesterday that its upcoming, brutal world will be on show at the Leipzig Games Convention this week. Specifically, we'll get the chance to try out the siege warfare engine and fight against each other in player versus player combat.

Siege warfare will let you and your guild build massive keeps to defend from other players. Smashing them to pieces will entail all sorts of engineered treats such as catapults, as well as a healthy dose of elbow grease.

Age of Conan recently slipped back to March 2008, after Funcom revealed it was tweaking the combo system to be more intuitive. But unfortunately there's still no date for the Xbox 360 version.

We had a chance to see it in July and were impressed with its steroid-injected and gory outlook. Pop over to our first impressions of Age of Conan to find out why.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard is another one who will be showing its upcoming treats off in Leipzig, with recently unveiled World of Warcraft expansion Wrath of the Lich King.

Available to play will be Utgarde Keep, a five person dungeon in the Howling Fjord region of new continent Northrend - an area for characters between levels 70 and 80. For more information about the upcoming expansion head over to our Wrath of the Lich King gamepage.

Blizzard will also be showing real-time strategy sequel StarCraft II, letting the Euro audience get to grips with units from the Terran race in sinlge or multiplayer maps. Pop into our StarCraft II gamepage for more.

Tabula Rasa

NCsoft has said a special edition of Tabula Rasa will go on sale alongside the regular package when the game launches later this year.

It will give you exclusive in-game items like a special character emote, dye recipes and a pet - as well as a making of DVD and a free month of game time. Bits and pieces inside the box will be some classified maps, an Allied Free Sentient field guide, Tabula Rasa dog tags, an AFS challenge coin and a special edition poster. You can pin it up at home or in the office, or maybe you would like to wrap it up for a friend you forgot to buy a birthday present for. Options are endless.

You'll also be treated to a talking to by game creator Richard Garriot as his character General British. Lets hope he sets his invulnerability flag this time so no one kills him.

The special edition of Tabula Rasa is expected to cost around GBP 49.99 (EUR 73).

Head over to our Tabula Rasa gamepage to see what the Ultima creator had to say when we talked to him earlier this month.

CryEngine powered MMO

Last but not least was news that Lineage creator Jake Song had licensed CryEngine 2.0 to make a new online game with.

His XLGames studios in Texas and Korea will begin work on the mysterious title, which Song promises will offer plenty of fancy new features thanks to the fancy new technology.

"Not only are the graphics unquestionably the best available, but the unprecedented ability it offers to physically interact with the environment will allow us to create entirely new modes of gameplay which up to now we could only dream of implementing," said Song.

We'll keep you posted.

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