So I'm here to say to you today that, like World of Warcraft, SWTOR isn't the be-all, end-all of the MMO field. It's a part of it, but just one part, and there are many, many others in the works as we speak. Mama always told me never to put all your eggs in one basket anyway, so I'm spreading my eggcitement across many cyber-nests.
This is the bone I'm throwing to all of you this week: a list of 10 Midichlorian-free MMOs that have me -- and should have you -- extremely buzzed about their development. In putting together this list, I realized that there are so many promising prospects that I divided them into two groups. This week I'm presenting the strongest contenders that should make it to launch with a solid product, while next time I'll list promising prospects that may be more of a long shot. I'm 47% confident that I will not forget your most-anticipated title.
For those of you yearning for a strong fantasy sandpark or to see classic MMOs like Ultima Online have spiritual successors in this decade, ArcheAge should have you cheering "Go! Go! Go!" at random intervals in your life.
With jaw-dropping gorgeous graphics, a massive seamless world, a hefty budget, huge PvP battles, and the talent of Jake Song behind the game, throwing loads of sandbox tools at players seems like icing on an already rich, moist and delicious cake. ArcheAge reads like an old school gamer's wish list come true, and time will tell if XLGAMES can live up to its hype.
You can read up more on this game with our impressions from ArcheAge's beta from six months ago.
The most amazing aspect of The Secret World is why it's taken so long for a major MMO studio to seize upon this combination of ideas and run with it. Conspiracy theories, secret societies, zombies, urban horror, modern settings, magic and technology co-existing -- it's Stephen King meets H.P. Lovecraft meets National Treasure meets The X-Files meets a geek's wet dreams.
Best of all, with a level-less development system and The Longest Journey's Ragnar Tørnquist at the helm, The Secret World should shake up MMO conventions while boasting gripping tales of scares and mysteries. Hopefully Funcom will take the lessons it's learned from its previous titles (for better and worse) to make this its breakout hit come next April.
Few tabletop IPs have such a rabid, slavering devotion and dedication to them as Warhammer 40,000, and it only makes sense that sooner or later a studio would take a crack at bringing this fan favorite to an MMO.
While it's still further out than several other titles on this list, it's an automatic inclusion for the fact that the WAR40K name carries such weight. In fact, back when Warhammer Online was in development, I recall many, many people wishing out loud that it was the 40,000 universe and not the fantasy one that was being made into an online game. Well, that's all going to change in the next few years, and we'll see how this dark, gritty, and bulky MMO shooter will fare. But I've got a good feeling about it, so I made it a nice and comfy home at the #3 spot.
While this one's proving to be the pokey little puppy when it comes to committing to an actual release date, there are few reasons to doubt and many to believe that Guild Wars 2 is going to hit the MMO industry like a beautifully painted sledgehammer. It's not just the sequel to an incredibly popular title -- it looks like nothing else that's out there right now.
Whether it be the buy-once-play-forever payment model, the casting aside of routine quests for a land full of dynamic events, the thumbing of noses at the holy trinity of class design, the implementation of stunning artistic design, or the fact that it's only game to feature playable Asura (and some other lesser races), Guild Wars 2 is projecting supreme confidence as it forges its own path in the MMO wilds. Plenty of folks are craving this MMO, and you can count me as one of them. Can't come soon enough!
Wow, this one came out of nowhere over the summer, didn't it? Nobody knew what NCsoft's Carbine Studios was working on until Gamescom, during which the developer unveiled this stylish scifi/fantasy romp and immediately started making converts.
I'll admit that I have somewhat of a man-crush on WildStar, even though we still have a lot to learn about this game. The visuals -- lush and neon-colorful -- strike a chord with me, and I'm very much intrigued with the game design, which is offering four different "paths" to cater to different playstyles. Carbine has good credentials behind it, and I'm tenatively labeling this a sleeper hit in the making. Mark my tenative words.
I predict that Copernicus -- or whatever its real name is -- will be either a mega-hit or a massive flop, with no in-between. Curt Schilling and his crew at 38 Studios aren't playing this buildup meek and mild but instead have an in-your-face "it's gonna be AWESOME!" attitude that doesn't leave a lot of leeway for middle ground.
With big names like R.A. Salvatore and Todd McFarlane injecting their talent into this title, a beefed-up budget, and a prequel single-player RPG slated to launch early next year, Copernicus looks to have a full house or even a flush in its hands. We'll see whether it's merely a bluff or if the hype was modest description of a powerhouse MMO when it comes time. In the meanwhile, I'm going to be watching the reception of Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning very closely.
I know that picking this for the list over SOE's PlanetSide 2 might be somewhat controversial -- after all, PlanetSide 2 is seemingly further along in development and already has several vocal fans. However, EverQuest is SOE's flagship franchise; PlanetSide is one of its smaller titles, and that does not strike confidence in me for its sequel.
EverQuest Next, if it can be pulled off right, could conceivably signal a comeback for the beleaguered studio, especially if it can go toe to toe with the latest big boys out there. While SOE's skimpy on specifics so far, what little art and screenshots we've seen are certainly attractive, and the prospect of a next generation EverQuest is too good to pass up.
Like Aion (and other titles), TERA is a proven quantity overseas -- it just needs to stop futzing around and buy a ticket across the Pacific. While it's not my personal cup o' tea (and I can't stop snarking about the eyeroll-worthy fanservice going on with the female characters), I won't deny that it's got appeal with its fast action combat, Glamour Shots good looks, and all-capital letters title. Having the benefit of already being released gives this "new" MMO a head start.
While none of the established crop of superhero MMOs can claim top dog status, there's certainly an audience out there for this genre. Personally, I think superheroes and MMOs go together like PB&J, what with the origin stories, steady increase in powers and abilities, and deep concern for appearance.
So will MUO do what Champions and DCUO didn't? Will Marvel Universe burst out of the gate strong instead of stumbling? I have no idea, but the Marvel IP is incredibly hot, with the comics, movies, and even Super Hero Squad Online showing how far-reaching the fanbase for this property stretches.
I almost didn't want to put this on the list, not because I dislike CCP or EVE Online but because I'm still facepalming over CCP's decision to make this console-exclusive. Yet perhaps it will work and more the fool am I, so I'm not going to let my backseat developer nature refuse to acknowledge that CCP's got the chops to make this a darn good game.
Plus, when DUST 514 launches, it will represent a first in the industry: two separate MMOs with separate styles co-mingling and interacting together in the same universe. It's a genius idea that is so unprecedented that it's anyone's call as to whether or not it'll work. I wouldn't bet against CCP for pulling it off, however.
Justin "Syp" Olivetti enjoys counting up to ten, a feat that he considers the apex of his career. If you'd like to learn how to count as well, check out The Perfect Ten. You can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through his gaming blog, Bio Break.