I haven’t really been involved in any MMO since I left EQ2 a few years ago. Sure I’ve jumped into both Lord of the Rings Online as well as Champions online on and off again, but nothing really solid and nothing really serious.
That doesn’t really mean that I don’t have any interest in the genre anymore, quite the contrary. In fact, I very much miss MMOs. Really though, none of the current MMOs out there have really grabbed me. I have absolutely no interest in WoW or any of its clones[1. Such as Star Wars: The Old Republic or Warhammer and many other countless clones, seems like almost everyone just wants to make another WoW and fails.], I also have no interest in returning to older games for any stretch period of time. Though nostalgia does return me to the classics from time to time all the same.
However, I was looking around recently and noticed a number of upcoming MMOs that I am kind of excited about that should be coming out over the next few years. Hopefully they don’t just end up being WoW clones…
So, DDO didn’t quite work out and you still want the taste of D&D in an MMO format? No worries… Pathfinder to the rescue. 4th Edition D&D made Pathfinder big, now they take aim at the MMORPG realm. The game isn’t slated until 2016 with early beta entering in 2014, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope to it. Paizo is self publishing the game, created their own game development firm for the game, and is also kickstarting it. They are promising sandbox-type gameplay which is an element that is desperately missing from the current generation. They had a kickstarter just begin and you can actually put your cash in here if you want to see this game get made and get great!
Going even farther into the future, not much is actually known about EQ Next, just that they are working on it (not that we should be surprised). I imagine this game will be coming out in the 2016 area as well. It is hard to imagine that the game will stray too far from the diku format of the first two, but I just hope they don’t go WoW. My guess is that they try to return to what made EQ1 great, which I’m not sure how much I’m for but I am definitely curious.
Mmmmm Wizardry…. I actually wish they would have made a Wizardry 9 game before Wizardry Online. It’s been more than a decade since a Wizardry game has come out. Wizardry Online has actually been around for a bit now at least in Japan. However, Sony Online Entertainment decided to publish it in the US and now the American version is in closed beta and will likely be released next year. The game features some old school concepts such as permadeath and random points for character generation. Given the world and the hardcore mentality, I am extremely interested in this game. That it is free to play just makes me more so. Check it out here.
Elder Scrolls Online
Probably the one producing the most hype (which usually is coupled with being the biggest disappointment). I am not entirely sure what to think of Elder Scrolls Online. I always thought that the series would translate well to the MMORPG genre, however I never cared for the first person perspective (which I think they are not doing in the online version). The problem I really have is that the early reports coming from them was that they wanted to similar things to WoW and then redacted that info. [2. Sorry for not sourcing this, I don’t care enough to look right now.] I am eager to see more information on it, this really could be a good counter for WoW if done right and I don’t think it’d be hard to do.
And for a couple of pipe dreams…
Asheron’s Call 3
Turbine made the effort to purchase the Asheron’s Call property rights back from Microsoft a number of years ago and the company was recently bought out by Time Warner. This most recent development means that they now are owned by a company with a lot of money that likely wants to get a good return on their investment. In addition, Turbine recently snatched up a number of the developers that were let go when 38 studios went belly up. Turbine is definitely up to something in terms of a new MMO. I can only hope they come out with an AC3 despite AC2’s failure.[3. Just an FYI, many of the systems that people loved in WoW, Blizzard actually stole from AC2 a game I did like and saw potential in but I feel was overly shallow and that is what led to its demise.] Even if this isn’t what they are doing, I still hope that whatever they are doing is original. I love the AC world though.
The game is only in pre-alpha and it just came off an unsuccessful kickstarter (one that I completely missed!). But after reading the companion block, Elder Game, I really like some of the things the designer is doing in the game. The developer is a former AC and AC2 dev that is just making the game by himself (imagine the nads of that). He is doing a lot of interesting things in the game like giving xp for dying in new ways, having randomly generated effects, and other fun ideas. He’s basically having fun with the design and saying “What if we do this?” It is refreshing to see in the MMORPG world. After all, this is the same type of mentality that the devs of Ultima Online had back in the day and a mentality that is sorely missed in the genre as a whole. Check out Project Gorgon here.
From name alone, I want this one to do well. Both iterations of NWN thusfar were quite good, this one is going back to its MMO roots which should get me excited. Cryptic is doing it and they have a sorta ok history with MMOs, and published by NCSoft which was great a decade ago but has been waning. I think both companies need this game to work. The game is also using 4th Ed rules which are terrible for Pen and Paper and have a bad name associated with it, but the main complaint about the rules is that they feel like MMO on paper so it may work here. I know it takes years to develop MMOs but it does seem like a strange choice given that D&D Next is just around the corner as well. It is going to be more of an action game with a big story which is really why I’m unsure, action MMOs have very rarely worked in the past. It also seems to be taking more cues from D&D Online than traditional MMOs in that it seems like there will be more party-based zones than grand shared zones (maybe he is planning on evolving the Champions tech for this because he said it was mostly zoneless). We’ll see but I don’t think this game will be good.
Who knows how any of these will turn out. I was quite excited about Star Wars: The Old Republic until they started telling people what the game was actually like (2 weeks before launch). Any or all of these could end up with the same problems. But for now, they seem like they have the potential to be good MMOs.