Epic MMO Recap: The week of digital pimping and kitty whining

Are you always the last to know about a new MMO patch? Do you stay quiet on Friday night guild chat because everyone else is talking about an obscure forum meme? Well, the Epic MMO Recap can change all that!

Every Thursday, we give you a rundown of the hottest MMO developments in the past week, so you’re kept in the loop without having to pore through dozens of websites and blogs. You might even find yourself breaking the news to your soon-to-be less informed friends.

This week, we talk about a digital push in EverQuest II, the plight of kitty druids in World of Warcraft, plus tidbits from Aion and DC Universe Online.

SOE Likes it Digital
SOE unleashed the charm offensive to convince EverQuest II players to purchase Destiny of Velious, the upcoming seventh expansion due out February 22. And it’s obvious from the freebies that digital is being pushed hard.

The three signs? One, only digital versions can be pre-ordered. Two, the Loyal Snow Hound pet that comes with digital versions compared to the Standard of the Dain cloak (pets always trump gear, let alone a cloak). Three, the Collector’s Edition is digital-only.

If you haven’t figured out why SOE would want you to purchase a digital copy instead of a retail copy, here’s the deal: Digital games cost less to make (no box) and promote (no store launches) and thus gives better profit margins. Of course there’s resistance from new players who don’t want to download all the content. Imagine downloading the original game, all seven expansions and three adventure packs in one go.

Better for veterans to go digital, and still have the retail for new recruits who can just plop in the DVD, and flip through a book while waiting for everything to install in a few hours.

Tasty Tears from Kitty Druids
Meanwhile, in World of Warcraft there’s a mass outcrying of kitties. No, LOLcats haven’t invaded Azeroth. It’s the feral cat druids who are whimpering a lot this week because of a proposed change to shapeshifting. If Blizzard gets its way, the normally mobile spec can no longer remove roots by shapeshifting between forms.

While all druids are mourning the nerf, it’s the veteran ferals who are most outraged, claiming they might as well roll dead when fighting frost mages. Some have even taken a proactive stance and presented alternatives for the great Ghostcrawler to consider, like a possible cooldown-based replacement to their on-demand root immunity.

We think Blizzard will back down on this one, especially when even classes that will benefit from the nerf like said frost mages don’t want a part of the kitty gimping.

Easier Crafting in Aion

NCSoft rolled out the second part of the Aion 2.1 Update, which reduced the crafting requirements for weapons armor and accessories for level 45 to 55 Daevas. And if that wasn’t enough, there was also an increase in drop rates for Balic materials and other Balaur-related ingredient loot. Even the resource nodes now have a higher chance of producing rare materials. To recap, crafting holidays for everyone!

DC Universe Online Tries to Fix the Dreaded Voice Chat

With their new-found superpowers, players in DC Universe Online have been having a grand time exploring Metropolis and Gotham City–only silently because of a host of problems plaguing the voice chat features in the game. After much clamoring from fans, SOE has finally introduced the first batch of hardware upgrades that will hopefully improve performance to raid-quality level. And of course, let you shout your superpowers while pummeling the opposing faction during PvP just like in the comics.

Share your thoughts on the MMO news this week! Will you be purchasing a digital Destiny of Velious? Do you think the kitties are just being big wusses? Sound off on the comments below and see you next week for another Epic MMO Recap!