ZAM at PAX: WildStar Hands-On Preview

Let's start this hands-on article the right way. Even in the very, very small demo that we saw of WildStar at PAX Prime, the game brings a breath of fresh air to the massively multiplayer online gaming scene. Between the humor-laced dialogue, over-the-top graphics, the new mechanics to cater to different sorts of gamers, and open world style of play (or at least the illusion of it), there was a lot to like from Carbine Studios' new MMO contender.

Best of all... there was very little brown to be seen anywhere.

ZAM at PAX: EVE Online Q&A with CCP Soundwave

During his time at PAX Prime, Director of Content Cody Bye got the chance to sit down with EVE Online Lead Designer Kristoffer Touborg (aka CCP Soundwave) talk talk about a variety of topics, such as the null-sec revamp and the community's current reaction to Incarna and the Captain's Quarters. He even touches on the future of EVE, including the addition of player-run Establishments and alcohol. Lots of alcohol.

Keep reading after the jump for the full interview!

ZAM at PAX: Torchlight II Hands-On Preview

Dungeon destruction fever is sweeping over the world again. Players across the globe are prepping their computers for an onslaught of high-caliber games that put the mouse and keyboard to work as players destroy skeletons, kill minions, and basically waylay their opponents with a variety of magical and lethal implements. The developers at Runic Games are paving the way, leading the pack with their (relatively) recently released Torchlight and it's upcoming sequel, Torchlight II.

During my time at PAX, I was able to get my hands on the the recently unveiled Embermage, an element-controlling death dealer that waylaid the enemies around him. The class is a pretty strong dichotomy to the other classes that had already been unveiled; the Embermage is much more of a ranged “glass cannon” type of character than any of the others, and if you paired him with the Engineer or anything that is even semi-tough, they'll be able to defend themselves from hordes of enemies.

First SMITE Gameplay Footage Released

Hi-Rez Studios just released the first official gameplay footage of SMITE from PAX Prime! Check out the video below to see the third-person view of this free-to-play online battleground between mythical gods.

ZAM at PAX: LOTRO Rise of Isengard Preview

The developers at Turbine are going to make me crazy. With just the right amount of pacing, Lord of the Rings Online is expanding into the wide world of Middle-earth, and they're drawing ever closer to the development and release of the one expansion that will personally make me fall in love with the game all over again (ride Rohirrim!). With this upcoming expansion, Rise of Isengard, the development team has brought players to the very edge of the Gap of Rohan.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that we're also going to be seeing Orthanc, the home of Saruman, up close and personal as well? While there's been plenty of talk about Rise of Isengard among the LOTRO community since the drop of the NDA, there was still plenty to see in the world at PAX.

ZAM at PAX: Hands-On Preview of SW:TOR's Huttball

From junior high until I graduated from college, I was fortunate enough to be able to participate on football (American-style, of course) teams of varying degrees of success. Organized competition has always captivated me, and I was certainly intrigued when BioWare announced one of their organized PvP modes - “Huttball” - at Gamescom this past month. Although many of us, myself included, wondered why they opted to go with a seemingly new branch on the Star Wars IP rather than do something closer to canon, it was exciting to see that Star Wars: The Old Republic wasn't going to be ignoring its competitive gamers.

So during my short time at PAX, I took some time to hop in front of a PC and take a turn at this feature of BioWare's upcoming MMO. Each side featured eight combatants, and one participant, as you've probably seen from BioWare's Huttball video, picks up a glowing sphere and attempts to run it to the other side of the arena. He or she can pass the “ball” from person to person, or have their teammates rip them a hole through the opposing forces.

Want to know more about my play session? Then keep reading after the jump!

ZAM at PAX: Hands-On Guild Wars 2 Preview

There's a palpable sense around the MMO industry (or at least the ZAM virtual offices) that Guild Wars 2 is going to be something special. Even with the fantasy genre beginning to feel a little long in the tooth, everyone always includes the game in their “ones to watch” list. Everything that we've seen has had exceptionally high production quality so far, and I was interested to get my hands on the game at PAX Prime and see what had changed since my last play session nearly six months ago.

The changes were significant. For the first time in North America, all of the races were playable and nearly all of the classes were free to choose (if you were starting a character). So, at long last, I was able to kick off my weak, human trappings and don the larger, fiercer visage of the Norn. Even though I almost always play as a “larger” character in my MMOs, I wanted to try out a profession that might not fit the stereotype for my Norn character, so I opted for a gun-toting Engineer.

ZAM at PAX: Hands-On Firefall Preview

As I weaved my way through the overcrowded hallways and intersections at PAX Prime, I couldn't help but pick-up on two points regarding Firefall:

  1. No one had heard of the game prior to PAX and now it dominated the halls, bathrooms and escalators.
  2. Those that had waited for their turn with the game were IMPRESSED.

By mid-afternoon on Saturday, I knew I couldn't miss my first hands-on time with this upcoming free-to-play MMOFPS. Firefall, for those that haven't been following the game closely, was originally announced at PAX Prime in September 2010 and was playable for the first time at PAX East in March. Red 5 Studios has been working on pushing out their first title since 2007, so this isn't a game that's coming to the world half-baked. With several years of development time and polish, this PAX Prime public demonstration was a long time coming; and even though expectations weren't high going into the show, attendees were definitely intrigued by the massive amounts of marketing dollars on display throughout the halls.

PAX Panel Covers Open World PvP, Beta Weekends

BioWare hosted a Star Wars: The Old Republic panel at PAX yesterday and they revealed a couple of interesting tidbits:

  • Beta test weekends will begin this Friday, September 2. If you haven't signed up to be a tester yet, do it as soon as possible. More players will continue to be invited throughout the month.
  • They unveiled Ilum as a high-level open world PvP planet. It's an ice planet that is a main source of the crystals used to create lightsabers. Since both the Empire and the Republic have an interest in Ilum's resources, they each have a base on the planet. Your goal is to ultimately destroy the enemy's base.

Our friends at Darth Hater recorded portions of the panel, and you can see Ilum in action in the video below. Check out Darth Hater's other videos of the PAX panel to watch a live demo of the Eternity Vault Operation and a Q&A.

Players Can Join Multiple Guilds in Guild Wars 2

Are you tired of having to devote yourself to one guild in an MMO? Then you'll be happy to hear the latest bit of Guild Wars 2 news to come out of PAX Prime. The ArenaNet team announced during a panel that you'll be able to join multiple guilds and switch freely between them at any time! Here are the details from Talk Tyria:

  • "Guild membership is account wide, and you can add as many guilds as you like. You will be able to choose, at any time and on any character, which guild chat you are viewing and what guilds you are currently affiliated with."
  • Doing different activities ('almost anything,' to quote Eric Flannum) with guild-mates will earn Influence for one’s guild, which can be spent towards guild upgrades (storage, etc), or special in-game boosts like a flag that grants extra XP to guild members within its range."
  • "Specific guilds will be able to capture keeps within WvWvW PvP, and be able to use their Influence to create upgrades to those keeps."

In other Guild Wars 2 PAX news, Colin Johanson and Eric Flannum told that they plan to let players create and host their own PvP servers or games with specific rule-sets.