It’s been a big year, perhaps one of the biggest years ever for MMOs. We’ve seen the launches of TERA, The Secret World, Pirate101, and Guild Wars 2. World of Warcraft, LOTRO, RIFT, EQ, and EQII are all popping out expansions this fall. I’m still riding high on the insane amount of choices of gameplay — and new gameplay — right now, although sooner or later it’ll settle back down into a somewhat normal routine.
But without GW2 and SWTOR as the big “must haves” for the future, I’ve heard some people feeling uncertain about what’s to come for MMOs. We get so used to having these major must haves on the radar that when they finally arrive and there’s no new contender to pick up the ball, we’re left with a hype void. What is there left to get excited about? Have we crested the hill of the silver age of MMOs and are about to descend into the dark ages?
It’s all in your perspective (and the unknown future), I suppose. MMOFPS players have a great deal to still be excited about, with Firefall, PlanetSide 2, and DUST 514 coming soon. In fact, those are probably going to be the only major holiday releases we’ll see this year, believe it or not. Me? I’m not so much into FPSes anymore, so they hold very limited interest for me.
However, I still think there’s a lot to be excited about for the future, and here are five games that I’m following avidly:
This has to be my #1. Everything I’ve seen about this game so far just gels hard with me — the cartoony look, the humor, the housing, the multiple playstyle paths, the scifi/western blend. It has a solid team and the deep pockets of a big (if aggravating) publisher behind it. I hope that it’s still got a ways to go, because I know I’ll be dropping everything for it when it hits.
2. EverQuest Next
I hope we’ll be hearing more about this title from SOE Live this week, because I’m genuinely interested. I grew to appreciate EQII quite a lot (sigh… another title I wish I had time to be playing these days), and I know that SOE is going to want to put their best efforts toward their flagship product. Smedley’s promised that this will be a great sandbox to help sooth the wounds left by the closure of SWG, but we’ll see.
3. City of Steam
Small. Browser. Indie. Steampunk. And it looks really awesome. As I’ve said before, this could easily slide into the role of a pick-up-and-play casual MMO, and I’m totally digging the aesthetic and setting. Lots of strong buzz around it helps, too.
4. The War Z
While I have DayZ on my desktop, I haven’t found the time to play it yet. However, I’m really attracted to the idea of a zombie survival MMO, and recent reveals of the War Z have piqued my interest. It’s a popular genre that really hasn’t been done much in MMOs up to this point, and I’m guessing the first studio to deliver a solid product in this area will dominate.
I have enjoyed all of Cryptic’s MMOs to date, and everyone I’ve read who has gotten their hands on Neverwinter reported back a surprisingly fun D&D MMO. I loved DDO to a point, but its complexity also presented a barrier. That doesn’t mean the world is too small for two D&D games; quite the contrary. It’s a great setting and I look forward to player-created missions for it.
Of course, there are a lot of other games on the horizon that have the potential of surprising me as well, such as ArchAge, Marvel Heroes, Star Citizen, and TESO. Well, probably not the last one. It’s really interesting to me how many of these projects are diverging from the norm of MMOs, which actually gives me great hope for the future. Studios are breaking free of the WoW model and are embracing other formats and ideas, in particular player-created/generated content such as what you’d find in sandboxes.