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.