Epic MMO Recap: The week of restarts, redress and rethinking

MMOs from the Sony Online Entertainment family are back in business and throwing everything but the kitchen sink as freebies to appease their fans, while over at neighboring Cryptic Studios a big change is brewing as its parent company Atari announced plans to sell the developer off ASAP.

No Longer Offline

For two weeks, SOE endured the embarrassing moniker Sony Offline Entertainment as it underwent a cyber attack-related server shutdown, but no more.

The veteran MMO game maker has reopened the virtual worlds of its dozen or so games, from DC Universe Online to EverQuest II. Returning players will be glad to know that each title offers unique perks and rewards under its overarching Welcome Back Program. (See the full list of goodies here.)

Aside from these game-specific freebies, all Station Account holders “in good standing” will be given 45 days of game time for the shutdown inconvenience. You can claim this bonus game time by logging on to your account by August 31, 2011.

Lifetime subscribers who obviously won’t benefit from free game time will receive an equivalent game currency instead, while Station Access subscribers in good standing also get 500 Station Cash. I don’t know about you, but this pretty much covers the “We’re sorry!” part. Now about the “Please love us again!” we have to see how the new security features hold up.

Anyone Interested?

While SOE goes into fan service mode, it’s a huge wait-and-see at Cryptic Studios as the developer for Champions Online, City of Heroes and Star Trek Online readies to be sold at the auction block.

Parent company Atari announced plans to divest its interest in Cryptic Studios, basically saying that it will focus more on a smaller number of profitable titles and venturing more into mobile games.

Fans of the current titles and the in-development Neverwinter MMO need not worry. So far, the official statements from both Atari and Cryptic indicate that it’s business as usual for all MMO projects involved. Still, we can’t help but be jittery on how ownership switch plays out since it will surely come with major directional changes.

Colossus Contest

RIFT swings into week two of Patch 1.2, and everything seems to be going smoothly for the second major patch, with hotfixes and minor updates going live every day to tweak the rolled-out content.

Just yesterday, deviantArt launched its Create a Colossus contest that asks players to submit original artworks depicting their idea of a Colossus from any of the six major elemental planes. Players are momentarily pausing from their RIFT Platinum farming duties to study the design of Colossi now plying Stillmoor and other zones.

Patch 4.2 Previews

In World of Warcraft, information about Patch 4.2 is slowly but surely leaking out into the general public. From Tier 12 armor sets to the on-proc ability of new legendary Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest, the information floodgates are beginning to open wide for the fiery Firelands patch.

Players are still making their way into the troll dungeon heroics that launched with Patch 4.1 for those exotic mounts and large WoW Gold drops, but many see this as a tropical stopover to the next real challenge —  Ragnaros and the next Cataclysm raiding encounters in Patch 4.2.

Twin Events

Aion decided to rally in the second of May with two bonus events. From May 18 to 25, Daevas will experience an Increased Drop Rates event while from May 18 to June 1, the For War and Glory Abyss Points event will be activated.

While the Increased Drop Rates event is simple enough to understand, new players just about to experience their first AP event should know that Abyss Point loss will be reduced during PvP encounters in the Abyss and Silentera Canyon. Not only that, AP gains from killing monsters in both said areas will be upped.

So if you plan on farming for gear and Aion Kinah these coming weeks, you know where to head for maximum gains per hour.

Which MMO are you planning to focus on this week? Will you be busy taking advantage of the SOE rewards, queuing in the new LFG tool in RIFT, or maybe catching up on the latest reveals for Star Wars: the Old Republic?