Currently the MMO market is being saturated faster than a sponge in the north sea. Countless pretenders to the throne have popped up on the radar from Sega’s free to play Spiral Knights to Trion World’s subscription based Rift. But with so much choice out there which MMO will have you hooked for all the right reasons? Here’s a run down of five of the biggest and best, soon(ish) to be released MMO’s.
Guild Wars 2
Set in the world of Tyria two hundred and fifty years after the original game, Guild Wars 2 is a direct sequel to its episodic predecessor. Covering both PvE and PvP gameplay developers ArenaNet claim that Guild Wars 2 is unique in its approach to the genre, allowing players to have choice that affects whole areas in the game and development of the storyline. Gameplay is also co-op and multiplayer friendly allowing players of different levels to play together without infringing on each others progress. Guild Wars 2 will cost only a one off payment for the game itself and is subscription free after that. There are also plans to develop a console version of the game.
With a good mixture of cooperative and competitive gameplay GW2 will satisfy new, casual and hardcore players alike. If you haven’t played any Guild Wars before the original is currently down to around £13 and is also free from subscription after the initial payment. Guild Wars 2 is a huge contender for the crown offering players a new experience in MMO gaming at a cheaper overall price than its competitors and has a huge following from the first set of games.
Dreamt up by the Titans the world of Arborea is in turmoil. The factions battle against each other and a new enemy, the Argons, whose goal it is to wake the Titans from their dream and destroy Tera. The exiled realm of Arborea or TERA Online as it’s more commonly known was released in Korea in January and plans are set for a European version to be released in 2012. Declared to be the first MMO with true action combat, players have to actively dodge incoming enemy attacks whilst targeting them with the mouse crosshairs for their own attacks. Much like in many RTS/MMO games players can battle for control of provinces and even continents of the map, giving benefits to the faction that’s in control.
Controversy surrounding censorship of one of the classes, the Elin, has arisen by frustrated fans who want the same game as was released in Korea. The Elin has been deemed unappealing for westerners but with over 80% of the European fan base voting that they don’t want any change, developers Blue Hole Studio are under pressure to make a decision. Have a look here at the Korean version of the Elin and decide for yourself if censorship is needed or not.
The more I read about this game the more it appeals to me and there is definitely a place for a game like this to take a huge chunk of the European/US MMO market. The graphics and style of the characters are of a quality unseen in many if any MMO before it and the combat style is far from boring.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
The Old Republic is Bioware’s first venture into the MMO market and is set 3000 years before the Star Wars films. Choosing a name with such a strong following and a history of great games behind it is a risky venture indeed. Bioware are known however for great RPG games such as Mass Effect and have even produced a Star Wars RPG before, Knights of the Old Republic, for the original Xbox. This is all very well but the MMO market is an entirely different ball game and the verdict is still out on whether Bioware have what it takes to compete with the big guns.
Unique to this game is the companion system, which sees players given companions which can craft, gather and fight along side them and will be a mainstay throughout their adventures in the Star Wars universe. These companions will have similar armour slots and stats and each will be unique to its class.
The Old Republic is due for release in December of this year and excitement surrounding the game has hit an all time high. It has broken EA’s pre-order record and has received much praise for its rich story and in depth RPG experience. Comics and a novel have been released to create a back story in the build up to release.
The graphics and comedy in this game just can’t help but intrigue me. From the trailer it’s clear to see this is a light hearted venture and a brave new attempt at an MMO. Thing is the developers are NCsoft who already have the experience of successful Guild Wars 1&2 and Aion behind them so Wildstar isn’t just going to be a light hearted attempt at an MMO.
Ncsoft have announced that they plan to “build the worlds deepest and richest MMO with content everywhere” all the while allowing the player as much freedom to chose how to play as possible. With four different classes stretching four totally different layered adventures it seems there is certainly options for a vast and changing world for the developers to play with.
Wildstar is in its early testing stages at the moment but has had an estimated release of late 2012. In my opinion this is definitely a game to keep an eye on. With comic like graphics and comedy that you would expect to find in a Pixar film maybe an easy going, fun to play MMO is just what the market needs.
The Secret World
With visuals and gameplay more akin to a console horror Funcom are truly pushing the boundaries of what a popular MMO is known for. NO classes or levels are available in The Secret World, instead you are given the choice of a society to join and gain rank in, each with its separate powers and influence and each shaping the way the game unravels before you.
Set in a modern day world three societies have chosen to fight a new breed of evil wreaking havoc upon the world whilst each trying to gain ultimate power over each other. Freedom of choice allows the player to explore, build notoriety within their chosen society or search for side quests and missions. This game looks to be a lot darker and meaner than any of its counterparts but handles content which has been used many times over. Zombies, werewolves and vampires have all shown face in games many times before and my only hope is that Funcom can find a new and exciting way to bring these long serving bad guys to the fray.
I have only touched on what, in my own opinion, I think are the biggest and best MMO’s due for release currently. Maybe there will be some surprises and most likely some disappointments and maybe big and popular is not what you are looking for in an MMO. But with so much choice and opinion out there it’s clear to see that the MMO scene is bursting at the rims with quality games and developers all trying to get their own slice of the action. If I had to choose a single game from above it would be Guild Wars 2. The style of gameplay and mechanics appeal to me the most but honestly all these games are worth keeping tabs on and could develop to be titans of the MMO world.
Which one would you choose?