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Year of the Beta: Path of Exile, Elder Scrolls, FFXIV, & Neverwinter plus GW1 Canthan New Year

Many people have moved on to Guild Wars 2, but for those of us that still play Guild Wars 1, you might be interested to know that the Canthan New Year is now upon us. It officially kicked off on January 31st and will be running until February 7th. There are many things to do during this festival including a dodgeball game in the Dragon Arena, activities on Shing Jea Boardwalk, Rollerbeetle Races, and even themed quests that have been added. The event will conclude with a giant feast, complete with dancing, fireworks, and prizes starting on February 6th. Be sure to log in within the next few days if you want to experience everything the event has to offer!

Guild Wars 1 Canthan New Year Shing Jea Boardwalk
Shing Jea Boardwalk at sunset.
In other news, 2013 is shaping up to be a good one for games, there are already lots of betas and upcoming releases to watch out for. Here are some other interesting games currently or soon to be in beta that you might want to check out!

Path of Exile has been pretty popular lately in the world of online gaming. PoE is an indie Action RPG developed by Grinding Gear Games. It just recently went into open beta, so anyone is able to play just by signing up on the Path of Exile Website. When it officially launches, the game will continue to be free and will be supported by "ethical" microtransactions, so if you are interested at all you really have nothing to lose by giving it a try. The element of this game that really shines is how customized you can make your character. No, I'm not talking about a visual character creator, but how much you can personalize their build. Let me warn you, the passive skill tree in Path of Exile is not for the faint of heart, in fact it can be quite intimidating! There are about 1,350 passive skills in the tree, and you can work your way through it any way you'd like. The only sort of limiting factor is the character class you choose determines where you start off on this tree. This game is full of interesting concepts, like using a bartering system instead of currency. Also, your character's 'active skills' actually come in the form of gems that get socketed into your armor/weapons, with the option to add other support gems which can be linked to create interesting skill combinations. There's really a lot of thought put into this game and I think fans of other Action RPGs will be quite pleased with what they see. I've only dipped my toes into it a bit so far, but my only complaint yet (and it's a really small one) is that pretty much all of my usual character names were already taken! This leads me to believe that there are tons of people playing PoE, something that is always nice to see for a F2P game. I'm hoping the game will continue to hold people's interest and they can make it a success. :D

Elder Scrolls Online Skyfall MMO
An all-out battle in Elder Scrolls Online.
If you loved games like Oblivion and Skyrim, chances are pretty good you'll also be interested in the upcoming Elder Scrolls Online MMORPG. Like other Elder Scrolls games, it is set in Tamriel, with most of the continent being said to be explorable. Players will be able to join one of three factions (each with their own storyline and goals), the Aldmeri Dominion, Daggerfall Covenant, or the Ebonheart Pact, and wage war fighting for control of Cyrodiil and the throne of Tamriel. The three-way PvP system in this game looks like it will be quite intense and supposedly hundreds of players will be able to be on screen at once as you fight in epic battles. The idea that the top player can be crowned Emperor is also quite intriguing to me. According to the official site, an Emperor will gain special abilities that increase their prowess on the battlefield. I find it interesting when games let certain players have extra control or special abilities like this, in fact it reminds me a bit of TERA's political system in the sense that there will be a chosen few who get to have "power". I'm interested to see how this will play out and be implemented in the final game! I think many people are excited about the PvP in this game, so here is hoping that they will excel at large scale, three-faction PvP where other games like GW2 might have fallen a bit short. There is no word yet on when the beta or actual release are scheduled, just that they will be a bit later this year. In the meantime you can sign up for the beta: here.

You may have heard about Final Fantasy XIV Online and how terrible it was. Well, what you heard was right. The game originally launched in September of 2010, was full of bugs/glitches, and generally received a negative response from the community. After a major restructuring of the development teams, the new and improved, relaunched version is being branded as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and will feature many changes. The story and setting will be the same, but things like the graphics, servers, race options, UI, gameplay, pvp, events, etc. are all in for a much needed complete overhaul. The release date for A Realm Reborn is said to be mid 2013 on both Windows and PS3. You may sign up for the beta by filling out this application here. I must say that the launch trailer is really what made me take interest in this MMO, it is absolutely gorgeous and epic. After looking into the game more, however, I am also impressed that the company was able to admit their mistakes and are trying to make things right. It looks to be a solid game with a great art style (and an awesome race of cat-people, the Miqo'te), so I really hope they are able to live up to everyone's expectations and right their previous wrongs!

Neverwinter MMO Beta Dungeons and Dragons
Environmental design from action RPG, Neverwinter.
Neverwinter is an upcoming free, Action MMORPG game set to launch early this year. The game is set in the fictional city-state, Neverwinter, that was introduced in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms campaign setting, and players will be able to explore and defend this beloved city as it is being rebuilt. They have recently announced that the Beta Weekends will be starting soon and will run from: February 8-10, March 8-10, and March 22-24. To sign up, you may do so here: Register for Neverwinter Beta. However, please keep in mind that even if you register, you won't necessarily have guaranteed access. The only way to do so is if you buy one of the new Hero of the North Founder's Pack (crazy expensive) or Guardian of Neverwinter Pack (still kind of pricey), which will grant you access to all three of the Beta Weekend dates listed above. I'm unsure whether the moderately priced Starter Kit also provides full access as well, but that could also potentially be an option for those who really want to play in the Beta but don't want to shell out tons of money on an unreleased free game. One thing I think looks really interesting about this game is the Foundry, where you will be able to make your own quests, stories, cities, dungeons, and zones and then share them with the whole community. I can't wait to see the creative and interesting adventures that players will undoubtedly come up with! :) As long as the cash shop is fair, I can see this being quite a fun F2P game.

SimCity Simulation Game Maxis Beta
Looks like an updated version of Mister Roger's Neighborhood! :D
The last game I'd like to talk about is SimCity. I looooved these games as a kid, but haven't played one in ages. So when I heard that there was going to be a beta for the new SimCity game I was, of course, intrigued. Unfortunately, the beta was this past weekend, January 25th - 28th. :( I am bummed that I missed it, but perhaps there will be another before release. If not, the launch date of March 5th is just right around the corner! If you have never played a SimCity game (what a sad thought!), essentially you are able to create and manage all aspects of your dream city, for instance the design, managing various power supplies, sim happiness, the level of taxes, dealing with pollution, education, unemployment, etc. In this new edition, this includes not only playing one city, but up to 16 cities at once! Multiplayer is being added which will be interesting because there will be a global marketplace with true supply/demand and also decisions that you make in your city will also affect the whole entire region around you for better or worse. It is nice that we'll be able to get live updates, features, and content from the EA servers, but like many games nowadays, this also means you'll have to always be online in order to actually play, too, which is kind of annoying.

Also, just a quick update about the TERA F2P conversion happening... it looks as though the launch of TERA: Rising will be in just a few days, February 5th! I've always enjoyed TERA, but could never justify a monthly subscription for it, so now that it will be free I will definitely be playing. I just wish the ladies were given the option to not be dressed so scantily. :( Unfortunately for me, my old game file got corrupted somehow so I am stuck having to redownload about 20 gigs. Hopefully it is finished in time for launch! If any of you also used to play TERA I'd advise trying to run your launcher now and make sure everything is up to date just in case you run into this problem as well. In the meantime, more information about TERA's new free to play program can be found: here. As well as detailed changes about TERA: Rising in the latest Patch Notes.

What other Betas are you most looking forward to in the coming year? Let me know what you think in the comment section below. :)

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