It’s fair to say that I have a pretty narrow focus when it comes to MMOs that I’m ever interested in at a certain point in time. Two to three seems to be my natural limit — these are the ones I devote my main attention concerning news and development and even play (right now it’s DDO, Champions and TOR). Then there’s an outer ring of my attention span that briefly touches on other MMOs that I keep tabs on from time to time (currently WoW, WAR, LOTRO and Star Trek Online). Finally, there is the void, the abyss, the dark nothing in which many, many upcoming MMOs float, unable to gain a purchase on my mind.
The problem with talking on most of these “other” MMOs is that I’m fairly ignorant, uninformed and neutral of them as a whole. In over a decade of writing movie reviews, I’ve long since learned that the best reviews are ones of movies you feel strongly about in some way, whether it be love, hate, interest or whatnot. But when it’s a film that’s so middle-of-the-road bland to be neither good nor bad, and definitely not noteworthy, reviews and discussion of such are like pulling teeth to conjure. I don’t really want to start flinging opinions around of these other MMOs from this standpoint, because I’m tabula rasa in regards to them, and that’s not fair to people who actually care about these titles and feel offended when they’re mishandled by folks who don’t know any better.
Yet since folks ask me about some of those latter titles, I thought it’d be interesting to briefly call them in from the void, do a bit of research on them, and see what there is to see… and if I should bother in the future.
On paper, Fallen Earth seems right up my alley — post-apocalyptic RPG, a la Wasteland/Fallout. Yes. That’s awesome. And what’s more is that it is rocketing toward launch in about a month, which is a good sign that this indie developer is confident that it can take on the triple-A threats of Champions and Aion, and hold its own.
However — the reason I say “on paper” Fallen Earth looks great is that it’s one of those titles that doesn’t seem like it has enough going for it to really make it, and I don’t want to get any hopes up at all. Not withstanding the competition (and far less press coverage it will receive), FE doesn’t give off that high-polish smell. Screenshots are somewhat crude, especially in light of what MMOs have been releasing over the past few years. It’s also a pseudo-FPS game, which as you’ll find out from this article, is almost always a mark against it in my book. And finally, FE is selling for $50 for the game and $15/month — meaning that it’s priced at the same competitive level of the Big Boys, but will almost certainly offer less than them in terms of content, quality and polish. The best I can see happening for this title is what I say about almost all indie MMO games — that it releases without falling over its own feet, builds up a small but solid core into a game deserving of its own merits instead of its non-existent advertising budget.
Okay, Global Agenda does get points for its snarky “No Elves” video, although the elf got capped by what looks like a typical 1337 sniper, which puts me in the position of wishing them both dead. Other than that, I knew nothing about the game, so I perused their website and a few related articles. Turns out that GA is a FPS/RPG — sort of a blended child of Anarchy Online, Planetside, Tribes and Team Fortress. Although the scifi setting and smooth look of it all is appealing, the “FPS” part is a right turn-off. Companies are experimenting with new ways to take MMORPGs, and that’s all well and good, but I’ve played FPS’s, and I’m pretty much done with them. If it’s a game that pits me against other players who can headshot me across the field while I’m frantically spamming my “1” button… nah, I’m good, thanks. It also doesn’t seem like it has the kind of buzz that would make me take a second look at this point.
So what could win me over to GA? Frankly, it’s got to release and have incredible word of mouth — the kind that’s “You HAVE to try this NOW!” — from sources I trust. I’m not saying that it’s going to be crap otherwise, just probably not for me.
DC Universe Online
Hm. I’ll be up front about this — I’m biased against DCUO for two reasons. One, I’m a Marvel man, and apart from Batman, I’ve never really cared about any of the franchises in DC. And two, I’m pulling for Champions and like the ideas that they’re doing more than DCUO. Whether the gameplay will BE better, or whether those ideas will solidify into a compelling MMO remains to be seen.
DCUO’s main selling point that everyone includes to give it an edge over Champions is the inclusion of villain classes. Okay, I’ll admit, that’s great. Personally, I don’t really want to play a villain in a superhero MMO, so it’s irrelevant for me, but I’m not blind that it’s an important factor for many others. It’s also a SOE product, and I’ve always been a bit leery of Sony, especially since they’ve never sold me on any of their other products to this point.
So I guess my distaste for DCUO is both irrational and premature, but I’m here to be honest about it.
All I previously knew about Jumpgate Evolution (JE) is that it was the sequel/remake to a fairly small 2001 MMO, that it had been delayed a bit, and that it was set in space with you in the role of a ship’s captain. The open beta is apparently going gangbusters right now, good for it.
Although I think there’s a real void — and potential opportunity — for scifi space-bound combat for people not into the spreadsheet experience that is EVE Online, the fact that it’s being promoted as a “twitch based shooter” is not a big selling point with me. As internet speeds increase, twitch-based MMO gaming might well be on the rise, but I wince at thinking of how little strategy twitch takes in comparison to the more traditional MMO setup. Still, I’d love to see a lot more focus on spaceship MMOs, because I’d rather play a good one of those than a fantasy title any day of the week. Where’s our Tie Fighter vs. X-Wing MMO (and don’t give me that Star Wars Galaxy crap)?
Yet another RPG/FPS title — sensing a trend in these developing MMOs yet? It’s a spy-themed shooter, which is fairly unique for the MMO genre, and will probably have great appeal to those who idolize James Bond/Jason Bourne/Alias/Splinter Cell and the like. It’ll probably do very well for itself, too. Well, as long as their staff stops fleeing the ship (including the studio head!).
But they’re not putting out anything that appeals to my taste in games, no “ooh that’s cool!” hooks that grab my interest. The only thing that I want to know is how it might work on the PS3 as well as Windows — one of many proposed, but not realised, multi-platform MMORPGs (AoC, Champions, etc.).
APB’s hook is basically, “If you like Grand Theft Auto, you’ll like APB!” Do I like GTA? Revoke my gamer card, but nope. So this game of cops ‘n robbers will have to go on without me. Probably for the best, since a lot of the articles I’ve read about it have developers gushing about how awesome the characters’ tattoo options will be versus any actual gameplay. Coming out in spring 2010.
Guild Wars 2
This interests me, mostly in an academic, detached way, because I found a lot to admire about the original Guild Wars and want to see it where they take it next. The concept of “collecting” skills and forming limited builds with them encourages player creativity and experimentation, and the genre sorely needs that.
Unfortunately, new info on the game has been scarce to none, making me fear this might end up as vaporware someday.