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!