Let me give you a few notes on today's list because I sense that I'm going to tick more of you off than normal here. My goal was to sift through the possible releases for 2013 and pick the 10 most promising, both in "will it actually launch this year?" and in its potential for success. The combination makes it a tough call because some of these will undoubtedly be delayed to 2014 or beyond and some of these we still don't know as much as we'd like about them.
But who cares? Let's have some fun and kick this year off right. Here are my picks for new MMOs to watch in 2013.
What is it: A browser-based MMO that fuses steampunk trappings with fantasy tropes.
Why it's worth watching: As a geek community, we've been waiting so long for a dedicated steampunk MMO, and this might just be the answer to those prayers. Plus, it's been getting a lot of buzz as the developers continually show new builds progressing through different beta stages.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Fairly good, barring some horrible financial setback for the studio.
What is it: A MMOFPS that capitalizes on "transmedia synergy" to create the first MMO-TV show crossover. The creators promise a sci-fi post-apocalyptic world with dynamic events that can be affected by the events on the show (and vice-versa).
Why it's worth watching: Not only is this from Trion Worlds, which has build up a solid reputation in the MMO community with RIFT, but the premise is downright intriguing. It's just something that's never been done before in this space, and whether or not the whole MMO-TV connection will pan out in the long run, it'll be pretty cool to see how it starts.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Excellent; Trion says that it will launch in April alongside the TV series.
What is it: A science-fiction western title with a sense of humor and sandbox elements. Players will be able to pick the paths of explorers, soldiers, scientists, and builders as they scout out a strange new world.
Why it's worth watching: WildStar has a lot of positive factors going for it, such as a deep-pockets publisher, great talent, a striking visual style, cheeky humor, player housing, and a boatload of cool ideas.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Iffy. I would have said that there wasn't a chance until recently when the executive producer said that it's getting close to closed beta testing. That certainly doesn't guarantee a launch, but I wouldn't completely rule out a late-year release.
4. Age of Wushu
What is it: EVE Online-style gameplay in ancient China.
Why it's worth watching: If you love sandboxes, then Age of Wushu is most likely on your radar. Beautiful graphics and martial arts combat are just the tip of it all, as the game includes a kidnapping feature, ways for your character to "live" outside of constant combat, and a wide-open world. Our own Patrick and Jef were quite taken with it.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Excellent. The title is set to release on February 1st.
What is it: A sci-fi MMOFPS set in the EVE Online universe.
Why it's worth watching: DUST 514 is the first MMO that I know of that will interact with a second MMO (in this case, EVE) as a two-way street. Seeing as how one's a spaceship/economic simulator on the PC and the other's a shooter on the PlayStation 3, it's going to be a small marvel if CCP can pull it off. Fans are betting that the studio can.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Good, unless CCP runs into serious technical issues. DUST 514 was supposed to (I think) release in 2012, so we're getting close in any respect. Worst case scenario is that CCP can't get the interaction between MMOs to work, leading to two separate titles.
What is it: An action-packed fantasy MMO set in Dungeons & Dragons' Forgotten Realms campaign.
Why it's worth watching: Cryptic's newest title has been generating serious buzz for some time now, and the Massively staffers who have tried it out speak highly of it. Forgotten Realms is a popular setting, and Cryptic has a ways with a character creation system that few other studios do.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Signs point to "yes."
7. World of Warplanes
What is it: Wargaming.net's follow-up to World of Tanks, this time set in the sky with planes.
Why it's worth watching: World of Tanks has an enormous following and has made a cajobillion dollars so far, so to ignore World of Warplanes would be quite foolish. Plus, the third dimension that flight offers might just appeal to some folk that weren't on board with the whole tank thing.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Probably possibly. It's a long year, and Wargaming.net's been talking about this title for some time now.
What is it: An "anything goes" fantasy sandbox developed by the legendary Jake Song.
Why it's worth watching: Depending on whom you talk to, ArcheAge might be seen as the savior of sandbox titles. It's promising the world and then some, and if you can't at least give props to a game that offers drivable tractors for farmers, sailing, and a legal system, then the concept of "innovation" is dead to you.
Chances of releasing in 2013: Doubtful. It will probably release overseas just fine, but everyone's wondering -- and XLGAMES isn't saying -- how the translation and adaption is going to bring it over to the West. I wouldn't wait up nights.
9. Marvel Heroes
What is it: Co-op Diablo with Marvel's superheroes.
Why it's worth watching: Pooh-pooh the lack of an open, persistent world or a "let me make my own superhero" character creator if you like, but it's hard to discount the appeal of Marvel's comic book roster with the geek crowd these days. Plus, y'know, Diablo-like games are a smidge popular. Gazillion could have the formula for a mainstream hit here.
Chances of releasing in 2013: I'd buy that bet for a dollar. Let's put this in the fall of 2013, shall we?
10. The Elder Scrolls Online
What is it: An MMO set in the highly popular Elder Scrolls universe prior to the events of the single-player RPGs.
Why it's worth watching: Oblivion and Skyrim were massive crossover hits between the geek and mainstream crowds, and that reputation alone might tempt a wave of MMO virgins to give this game a try. It's got Bethesda backing it as well, so we're not talking small budget here.
Chances of releasing in 2013: No way. I'm only including this because the publisher said that it's scheduled for the fall of 2013, but I really can't see it crossing that finish line with the visible progression we've seen up to this point. Not unless it's going to be pushed out of the door half-baked.
And that's only scratching the surface! I didn't get to relaunches, such as Darkfall Unholy Wars, Global Agenda 2, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, nor expansions. And there's always End of Nations, Pathfinder Online, Otherland, Shadowrun Universe, The Repopulation, Blade & Soul, Star Citizen, Wizardry Online, State of Decay, Firefall, World of Warships, Salem, The War Z, and Origins of Malu as possible contenders. Then we have the as-yet-not-fully-revealed projects, such as Titan and EverQuest Next, which are very unlikely to hit this year but could still surprise us all.
So it'll be a busier year than you and I may have suspected, and I'm looking forward to see how it shakes out!
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.