Yes, it’s that time of year again! Time to take a look into our crystal ball and see what are our most anticipated upcoming MMORPGs are, and see how games from the 2009 MMO list fared. What’s been released, what’s been building up a fan base, and what’s now buried 6 feet under…
Last Year in MMORPGs
2009 saw a number of high profile MMOs take a long walk off a short pier, starting with Richard Garriott’s fun but flawed Tabula Rasa in Feb, and The Matrix Online was turned off in March.
Over the last 12 months only 2 of last years MMO list made it out into the world, and they both came from Cryptic Studios. First Cryptic released Champions Online in September 09 to a chorus of indifference. They followed that up by reskinning the Champions Online engine with some shiny Star Trek outfits, and released Star Trek Online in Feb 2010 (more fun than Champions, but still no where near as good as it should have been.)
Other MMO releases last year that weren’t on the ‘Most Anticipated’ list included Fallen Earth (post-apocalyptic MMOFPS), Aion (NCSoft’s fantasy epic developed for Western and Korean markets), and Darkfall (harsh, old school fantasy gameworld, complete with unrestricted PvP and looting). None of them jumped out at us and said ‘buy me’, but if any readers out there have strong opinions on them, and are interested in sending in a review, get in touch.
This years notable exception award goes to…
Just wanted to mention the notable exception of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer MMO and Firefly MMO from this years list. Although i’d still love to see either (or both of them), I’ve left them off the list due to Multiverse’s inability to produce even a single screenshot of a game that’s been in development since 2008… I did speak to a Multiverse rep about both games who told me that their deal with Fox stops gags them from talking about Firefly, and totally sidestepped the issue with Buffy. I rather suspect both games at this point are staked through the heart…
Top 6 Most Anticipated MMORPGs List 2010
6. Blizzard’s New MMO (position last yr – 6th)
Still not a lot know about Blizzards ‘next big thing’. We were hearing rumours last year that they might be developing WoW2, although I rather suspect that was the Catacysm update that our source saw. The Blizzard guys have since stated that it will be a brand new IP, which makes sense. Blizzard is unlikely to want to license something, and whatever they do produce, they aren’t going to want it to be something that’s upsets the cash taurean that is World of Warcraft. A number of rumours have it as being an MMOFPS, which would be an interesting shift for the developer. An FPS would be easier to push onto a console, and less likely to cannibalise the WoW player base. All we can do for the moment is wait and speculate. The chances are though, if Blizzard are making it, it’s going to be awesome.
Blizzard’s Website | Release Date: TBA
5. Warhammer 40K MMO (new entry)
2007 – Vigil Games announced they were making a Warhammer 40k. Woohoo! Post 2007 – *tumbleweed* *howling wind* i.e. nothing… However at a recent investors call, publisher THQ made reference to the W40k MMO, saying it was still in development, and due to be shown at this years E3. Final release is still a while off (2012), but as old school W40k tabletop gamers, it’ll be one GeekTown will be keeping an eye on.
Vigil Games Website | Release Date: 2012
4. LEGO Universe (new entry)
We at GeekTown love LEGO. It really is one of the greatest toys ever invented. So the chance to combine our love of LEGO and our love of MMOs has to be jumped at. It’s the first MMO to be solidly aimed at children and parents alike. Although LEGO Universe is made by NetDevil, it’s designed to feel a lot like Traveller’s Tales LEGO Star Wars series. More of an MMO-Platformer than an RPG, it makes an interesting proposition to gamers looking for something new in their MMO. Lots of jumping. smashing and collecting items!
Along with the ‘auto-build’ option that’s utilised in the Traveller’s Tales games that builds pre-defined LEGO models, there also options at various points for the player to ‘free build’ with the LEGO pieces you’ve collected. Any free-build items are then turned into in-game models which can be places around your virtual house. There has also been talk of you being able to order the physical LEGO models of items build in game.
LEGO Universe Website | Release Date: Winter 2010
3. DC Universe Online (position last yr – 4th)
With the disappointing Champions Online released, Marvel Universe Online canned, then revived, but stuck in development hell, and the fun but ageing City of Heroes/Villans being the only other kid on the block, the market is wide open for a new superhero MMO. And what better Universe to set it in than DC’s world of Batman, Superman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, et al.
I’ve always been more of a DC than a Marvel kid, and a massive Batman fan, so the chance to take on missions from the Dark Knight himself really cannot be missed! Release date is currently set for May 2010, and I really can’t wait. My only real misgiving about this game is it’s being published and developed by $ony Online Entertainment… Yes, your correct, i still haven’t forgiven them for the whole Star Wars Galaxies fiasco…
DC Universe Online Website | Release Date: May 2010
2. Stargate Worlds (position last yr – 1st)
Things were worryingly quiet over at Cheyenne Mountain. Stargate Worlds was originally scheduled for a 2008 release… Then 2009… Then in Feb 2010 they filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, although they claimed development on SGW would continue… Then they announced Stargate: Resistance – A third-person shooter. Okay… not exactly what we were expecting, but hopefully it’ll help keep the lights on at Cheyenne Mountain while SGW continues it’s ever delayed development.
It’s such a shame SGW is struggling, as it seems like the perfect setting for an MMO. Lot’s of worlds to visit. Combat focused story environment. Lots of factions and archetypes to pick from. As massive Stargate fans we live in hope that SGW will ride through the rough patch it’s in at the moment, and live to see the light of day.
1. Star Wars : The Old Republic (position last yr – 3rd)
We loved KotOR. Despite it’s missing story lines, we loved KotOR 2. And of course we love Star Wars. We also love Bioware’s games. If you believe the hype, Star Wars: The Old Republic will be the ultimate MMORPG to end all other MMORPGs.
Every class has it’s own unique plot lines. Ever character is fully voiced by real actors (making it the largest voice over project in the history of gaming, radio, tv or cinema). You can be Jedi, Sith, bounty hunter, smuggler, or a number of other Star Warsy archetypes. Each class will support on-the-fly customisation, rather than the tradional MMO tank, healer, Damage dealer etc… making grouping much easier, as your no longer stuck looking for that one specific class to fill the hole in your team.
You’ll have NPC companions (like in KotOR) that stick with you as you level through the game. Some may even become love interests. And NPC interactions won’t be your usual one-way ‘go here, do this’ instructions or just a bunch of text. SW:tOR will utilse a system more akin to Bioware’s Mass Effect/Dragon Age engine, where it’s more of a conversation, and the answers influence your narative.
I think the thing that excites me most about SW:tOR is that Bioware have hit on something that most current developers miss or choose to ignore because it’s hard to do. Just letting a bunch of people play together does not make an MMORPG. An MMO, sure, but not an RPG. Bioware seem determined to put the focus firmly back on the RPG elements. It’s a massive task with some huge hurdles to overcome, but if anyone can pull it off, it’s Bioware.
Star Wars : The Old Republic Website | Release Date: Spring 2011.
What do you think?
So that’s our list. What are the MMOs your most looking forward to? Are there any games you feel should really be on the list.
We’d like to know, so just leave your thoughts in the comments, or contact us here!
Stumbled across this over on YouTube, and just had to post it. It’s an interview with some of the folk at Bioware showing gameplay and some of the recently announced voiceover footage for Star Wars: The Old Republic. The more I see of this game, the more awesome it looks!
There are 3 MMOs i’m really really looking forward to over the next 12/18 months. Stargate Worlds (which has been worryingly quiet of late), Star Trek Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Inside Gaming recently got an interview with Tom Nichols, Exec Producer at Lucas Arts to talk through a few of their announcements from this years E3.
One of the things that has got me most excited about TOR is the level of detail Bioware are putting into the story in this game. The idea of having every single line of dialogue in an MMO voiced over by actors would seem insane coming from most developers. But when it’s coming from Lucas Arts/Bioware, it actually seems possible.
There have been a few games claim to be ‘a next gen MMO’, but this is the first one that really looks like it’s going to achieve it.
Well this just looks like it’s gonna be 100 kinds of awesome!
6. Blizzard’s ‘New’ MMO… (new entry)
We know Blizzard have another MMO in development, and the general feeling is it’s probably a ‘World of Starcraft’ MMO. That would be a fair assumption, given the upcoming release of Starcraft 2. However, I’m hearing some interesting rumours from the Blizzard camp that are telling me that’s not true… Last year, Blizzard apparently started work on World of Warcraft 2.
It really shouldn’t come as any great surprise WoW2 is in development given the huge cash taurean WoW has become. WoW was released in 2004, and given Blizz’s usual monumental development lead times, WoW2 probably not going to see the light of day until at least 2012. By that point WoW will be 8yrs old. I know it’s still a way off, but any new MMO from Blizzard has got to be on our ‘want’ list!
5. Champions Online (new entry)
Couple of reasons we’d like to get our hands on Champions Online. 1 – We’re huge superhero fans, and 2 – It’s made by Cryptic Studios, the team behind the brilliant City of Heores/Villans. Champions should be offering a new type of gameplay to the MMO experience, with it being less tactical ‘pick a 1 to 10 skill’Â management, and more direct ‘pick up and hurl a car’ action. The biggest thing we’re looking forward to though, is Cryptic’s truly awesome character customisation system. Not only are they promising billions of possible combinations for the costumes, you can also customise your powers! Want to shoot green lasers from your eyes, and have purple claws? You got it! You can even create your own custom personal nemesis who’ll pop up and harass you during missions!
4. DC Universe Online (new entry)
Despite DC Universe Online being developed by SOE (boo hiss), i can’t help but get excited about it. I’m a massive Batman fan, so the idea of being able to run/fly/rope swing my way around Gotham working on ‘cases’ for the Dark Knight sets off all my geek sensors!Â Of course, if you want to vent your evil streak, you could also run ‘capers’ with the Joker instead, creating plenty of opportunities for player v player smackdowns!
Add to that, the fact that the artwork is being directed by Jim Lee, one of my favourite comic book artists, and i’m sold.
Like Champions Online, DUO is also going for a more direct action control system, giving you the opportunity to pick up the nearest dumpster or bus and throw it at your enemy. In both Champions and DUO, part of the reason for this switch to an ‘action’ based control is due to them being console and PC releases (DUO on PS3 and Champions on XBox).Â It’ll be interesting to see how well the MMO makes the switch to the console market.
3. Star Wars : The Old Republic (position last yr – 6th)
Star Wars : The Old Republic is Bioware’s first foray into the world of MMOs.Â Set 3,500 years before the rise of Darth Vader, and 300 years after the events of KotOR, it places the game nicely in a timeline away from the prying eyes of Star Wars canon – a problem which constatly plagued Star Wars Galaxies.
Bioware claim they are planning to build the ‘ best story-driven MMO in the world’. Rather than the MMO staple of ‘kill 10 womp rats’, the story should have a more epic feel. The story is driven based on the character class you choose, with each class having a narrative that can play out in hunderds of different ways, making each players experience totally different… or at least that’s the plan… But, if anyone can pull it off, it’s Bioware.
As with KotOR and Mass Effect, you collect companions along your jorney (although only 1 will be with you at a time). Companions will grow with you, and becomes a big part of the players experience. They will also react in joy or horror at your actions, depending if you decide to be good or evil. Another Bioware staple making it’s way into TOR is that you start off netural, and become good or evil via your actions. Rather than picking Jedi or Sith at the start, you’ll have to work at killing puppys and force choking innocent bystanders for the darker factions in the game to take notice of you.
Having done a stunning job on the original KotOR game, and Mass Effect, it’ll be intriguing to see if Bioware can add the MMO without ruining the RPG.
2. Star Trek Online (position last yr – 4th)
It’s been a rough ol’ road for Star Trek Online, but after Perpetual Entertainment took a phaser blast to the face in Jan 08, Cryptic Studio’s were finally announced in July as the new developers, and things started moving at warp speed (… i’ll stop with the bad Trek references now, i promise).
Star Trek Online takes place 10yrs after the events of Nemesis. The Khitomer Accord has broken down and the Federation and the Klingons are once again at each other throats. Players with be given the captaincy of their own ship to ‘boldly go’ (sorry) off and explore the galaxy. Space will created ‘on the fly’ allowing players to discover uncharted systems, spacial anomalies, ship wrecks and distress calls.
Your not stuck playing just as a ship though. There are also away missions where you can land on planets and… erm… explore strange new worlds (damn it, sorry). Your not alone on board, and you can man your bridge crew with NPC doctors and engineers of different rank and skills. These improve various aspects of your ship, e.g. better security officer = better weapons, better engineers = better engines, or faster switching power to shields etc…
Cryptic have said it’s important to them to keep the feel to the show when your playing the game, with missions not just being ship based, or ground based but a mix styles. So for example, starfleet send to investigate a lost ship. You arrive at the location and discover an escape pod on a nearby planet. You beam down to the planet to investigate, and are told they were attacked by Klingons. You get an alert over your comm, and beam back to your ship to be confronted by a Klingon warbird dropping out of warp, and they aren’t happy to see you…
Ground combat is a fairly fast paced “run and gun” combat, where as the ship combat is a little more more ‘paced’. Getting your ship into a position to fire on the weak spot of your enemy’s sheilds, whilst manipulating your own shields and phaser power to provide optimum damage while still protecting yourself.
Cryptic’s trademark character customisation craziness also appears in STO, allowing players to not only to customise their own character, but even to create entirely new races!
Although STO is still a way off (probably a 2010 release), I’m so looking forward to being able to step into a new space MMO. Not since Star Wars Galaxies has there been a space MMO that allows you to wander round on the planets as well as fly through the stars. I’ve a lot of confidence in Cryptic being able to pull this off, and make a truly amazing game.
1. Stargate Worlds (position last yr – 1st)
Once again Stargate Worlds nabs the top spot for our most anticipated MMO. As we’ve said before, it’s the perfect setting for an MMO. Lot’s of planets to visit, lots of combat and tech. You’ll be able to play as Archaeologist, Scientist, Soldier, Commando, Asgard, Goa’uld, or Jaffa each with their own sets of skills and specialisations.
Combat will take the form of an FPS style play, with characters using scenery as cover. Other gameplay elements include mini games to cover situations such as hacking interfaces, translating texts, repairing items or sabotage.
Things are not all rosey at developer Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment who, like a lot of companies, have been suffering from financial problems due to the global downturn. However they are still working, ‘the lights are still on’, and Stargate Worlds is pushing forwards. We’re just hoping that they can get through it, and it doesn’t cause the shutdown of the Stargate before we get a chance to step through it.
So it’s finally official. Another one of the worse kept secrets in the MMO world. As we first predicted back in October 07, Bioware and Lucas Arts are making a Star Wars MMO.
Star Wars: The Old Republic (or SWtOR) is set 300 years after the events of Knights of the Old Republic, and 3,500 years before Anakin got into bondage gear and his asthma started playing up.
We’d always assumed it was going to be set around the old republic as that’s what Bioware has done before, but it’s a nice move setting it in a time span that no one has really covered before.
One of the biggest issues with Star Wars: Galaxies (apart from SOE making game changing alterations every 3 months), was the fact it was set in a well covered time frame. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, but it really left little manoeuvrability for them to expand the story. Galaxies was set in between A New Hope and Empire, when the Jedi were all but wiped out or in hiding… So wandering passed a bunch of Jedi openly having lightsaber battles in front of Mos Eisley spaceport really messes with the canon which ever way you try and spin it!
Star Wars: The Old Republic takes place after a great war, and an uneasy truce between the Jedi and the Sith. Violence is on the rise again, and the galaxy is looking to a new generation of heroes to help deal with the impending chaos…