I hear the occasional moaning about not having upcoming MMOs to look forward to playing, and while I sort of understand the sentiment, I don’t share it. There’s quite a few games coming down the pipeline that are of varying degrees of interest to me, including co-op multiplayer titles (Sea of Thieves, Dauntless), indie MMOs (Project Gorgon, Shroud of the Avatar), sandboxes (Wild West Online), and big-budget projects (Ashes of Creation, Amazon’s New World).
But today I want to talk about two games that I felt have been flying under the radar for a while — and that may end up surprising us all.
I’ve been aware of Worlds Adrift and Dual Universe ever since both of their crowdfunding campaigns, of course, but you have to understand that through Massively OP, I follow a LOT of games. As in, I have passing knowledge of plenty of them, and am not always personally invested in them. Games end up lumped in the same “not for me” bucket until or unless they stand out in some way. Maybe that’s a hook early on, or perhaps a growing reputation, or maybe it takes me actually taking time to gets some hands-on play with it for this to happen.
Recently I’ve upgraded my interest in both of these games after having watched so many of their videos and covering plenty of their dev blogs. It’s kind of interesting how much both titles have in common: They’re sandbox MMOs with a strong emphasis on player creativity, giving you the option to build your own ship, crafting out the wazoo, and allowing you to explore various worlds/floating islands. Worlds Adrift is more steampunk to Dual Universe’s sci-fi bent, but I can’t help but see a lot of crossover here. Plus they’re both bona fide MMORPGs in an era where that term has gotten watered down.
Worlds Adrift has been impressing me with its art style (which is kind of cel-shaded), the emphasis on fun (grappling hooks!), and the “combat archaeology” angle. You’ll build and pilot your own airship between islands of a shattered world, navigating stormwalls to get to the next biomes, and trying to stay afloat. The alpha right now has given players tools to build their own islands and items, and I think the team is taking the best of these to incorporate into the game itself, which is a great idea.
Bossa Studios has some serious talent behind it — and funding as well. Plus, Worlds Adrift has hitched its pony to the SpatialOS platform, which seems to be the Next Big Thing in software development, especially for MMO teams. These devs are swinging for the fences, and I am at the very least sitting in the bleachers with my chin on my fist, eyes affixed to see what happens.
Meanwhile, Dual Universe has grown in my esteem as a viable option for a space sim, especially because the whole Star Citizen scene is too full of drama and uncertainty, and Elite Dangerous just doesn’t seem like my kind of game. With DU, you get to build your own ship with a voxel toolset and then take it planet hopping. That’s kind of all I want.
It just got a $3.7M injection of investment, which is not small potatoes for an indie game (it earned $630K from Kickstarter last year). The graphics have gone from ugh to acceptable over the past year as well.
I guess another deciding factor is that both of these games, while containing PvP, seem much more PvE friendly than the vibes that I’m getting from a lot of other indie MMOs in development. With more emphasis on creation, exploration, and crafting, they seem like worlds that could nurture the makers in us.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to trying out both of these come launch, whenever that may be. Probably not for a while, but that’s OK.