Spotlight On - Global Agenda Updates (at E3 2010)

We take a look at some of the new updates planned for Sandstorm, the first free expansion for this massively multiplayer online action game.

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There's no shortage of games here at the 2010 Electronic Entertainment Expo--there are upcoming games, new games, and even games that have previously launched and are now showing content updates, like Global Agenda. Hi-Rez Studios' hybrid shooter/melee online action game met with mixed reactions when it launched last year, but the developer has paid careful attention to user feedback and already added a great deal of content to it post-launch. It plans to add even more with "Sandstorm," the first free downloadable expansion that is being added to the game in four phases between now and the middle of summer.

Among other changes, Global Agenda has become much more itemized. More crafting options have been added, including the ability to salvage loot by breaking it into base components that can then be crafted into more desirable stuff. In addition, loot (particularly new weapons and armor) just drops much more frequently and always appears as a mission reward. In addition, loot has now been assigned both random enhancement bonuses that may add +8% to your marksmanship skill or +12% to your damage output. It has also been assigned quality levels, which indicate how powerful and valuable it is--higher quality items offer better boosts to your character's abilities and command a higher price. The game's user interface has also been overhauled, and the vast majority of all menu screens have been revamped with more pictures and icons to make them a lot more user friendly.

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Sandstorm will also add a new token system that will hopefully level the playing field between high-level achievers and low-level beginners. Quests will drop valuable tokens that can be exchanged for powerful class-specific items, but you can now only earn a maximum of 10 tokens per day. (And as it turns out, new stores have been added to further customize your character with tattoos, new haircuts, and restructured faces as well.) In addition, Sandstorm adds a huge new desert zone filled with human quest givers (another ask from the community), monsters to kill, and a generally easier transition between the formerly difficult levels between five and 15.

The expansion is also in the process of adding more content for extra players, such as a new ultra-max security difficulty level for its instanced missions, as well as new raid-style missions for 10 players to defend Dome City from waves of enemies. There will also be competitive arena battles for four-versus-four and 10-versus-10 groups, plus expanded high-end player-versus-player battles for up to 64 players at once. Agency-versus-agency gameplay (the game's high-end guild-based battles) have also been tweaked to be a bit more streamlined. With Sandstorm, agencies can engage in battle over a specific territory, starting off a timer of approximately 30 days. By the end of the 30 days, the agency that has fared the best in the struggle will be considered the winner.

Global Agenda was launched last year and Sandstorm, as mentioned, is being released in multiple phases between now and about six weeks from now.

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