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My MMO Outlook for 2014 January 3, 2014

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest Next, polls, The Elder Scrolls Online, WildStar, World of Warcraft.
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There are three posts I have done around this time of year for most of the last few years.  There is the looking back post, which I did for 2013 a ways back.  There is the predictions/questions/whatever sort of bigger picture post which I posted on the first of the year.

And then there is a look at what might launch in the coming year that could be of interest to me.  I usually do that one first because it is usually the easiest.  The other two, theoretically, take some thought, while that post is mostly about emotion.  What upcoming game speaks to me?  What will I have to buy on day one just to play it?

This year though, I am just not feeling much of that emotional tingle, the burning desire to stomp around on some new world.  The list of potential contenders did not spring immediately to mind.  Still, I march forward out of habit if nothing else.  Here is what I have.

5 – EverQuest Next Landmark

On the list because… I felt I needed five titles… sort of.

Ars Technica Reports...

For specific definitions of “MMO”

I am mostly uninterested in Landmark because it is billed as a tool not a game.  Not that tools can’t be fun.  I’ve spent the last 15 years working on development environments of one sort or another… tools, in essence… and have had more than my share of fun in doing so.  But for gaming time, I am not sure I am in the tool zone any more.  Somewhere between Pinball Construction Set (or Adventure Construction Set) and the level editor in StarCraft, I fell out of the desire to build levels and such.  I am pretty much just a consumer of content now, at least when it comes to me leisure time.

That said, SOE seems to be on something of an “It’s a dessert topping! No, it’s a floor wax!” riff when it comes to Landmark, so my lack of interest could change when the people who paid to get into the early user guinea pig test cycles start reporting back on what it really is.  Until then though, it is a very unlikely candidate for me in 2014.

4 – WildStar

A step ahead of Landmark by virtue of it being solidly in the “it’s a game!” category.

Wildstar_logo

WildStar is also the latest attempt to break out of the stock MMORPG template with some change-ups to combat and movement and special development paths that you can select for your character. The latter are supposed to represent the different Bartle types,  though I recall Bartle himself writing a bit about such an implementation representing a misunderstanding of what he meant with his types.  Explorer types will want to try all options, as an example, not just the explorer path.  It’s what makes them explorers.  Or something.

Otherwise, it looks to be very much a product of the last decade of MMO development.  Will its “different” bits be different enough to make it stand out while its “same” bits remain familiar enough to not scare people off?  And can it struggle out from the massive shadow cast by World of Warcraft?  And will NCSOFT race to put a bullet in its head if it turns out to be a “3 monther?”

WildStar is a title where I have no real desire yet to be in-game on day one, but I wouldn’t discount it as a title I try eventually.

3 – The Elder Scrolls Online

Now we’re getting into more likely territory.

I'm skeptical about that date...

I’m skeptical about that date…

Despite the reports of boring sameness, seeming to be another MMO in the post-WoW mold, and the annoying official acronym change from TESO to ESO, I actually feel like I might want to play this one.  Maybe even on day one despite… or maybe because of… my prediction about it.  I am guessing it will be a disaster on launch day… well, more so than your typical MMO launch.  But sometimes being part of the disaster can endear a game to you.

Anyway, why am I even looking at this, give the combo of alleged sameness and the potential for day one catastrophe?

I guess that the key here is that I cannot imagine that the developers of this MMO could be so daft as to create a game based on the Elder Scrolls franchise without looking deep within themselves to ask the most important question: Does it capture even a bit of the essence of the series?  Because that is the vital ingredient here, the winning proposition, the thing that would make people knock over their grandmother to grab a copy of the game.  If they can come up with something that feels just enough like Skyrim, but lets me play with my friends, then they will prevail . The only issue I have with Skyrim is that I cannot play with my friends.  Solve that, profit.

Of course, if they fail to do that, they are toast.

2 – EverQuest Next

On the list because, as of a date in early August of last year, this has been the official “next game” for me.

Firiona Vie makes it to 2013

Will Firiona Vie make it to 2014?

Even after several months of SOE trying to beat any enthusiasm out of me by almost exclusively talking up Landmark while relegating the actual freaking game to inane roundtable discussions on topics like whether or not female dwarves should have beards and what color barbarian toe jam should be rendered in, this is still the only upcoming MMO I am actually really looking forward to at this time.

Of course, part of that is no doubt the stunning lack of tangible information available about the game.  Between the inane, like the beards, and the broad stroke terms, like “sandbox,” and the promise of Storybricks technology and voxels and what not, there are huge gaps in which one can build castles in the sky founded on hopes, dreams, and aspirations that might not enter into the reality of the game when it ships.

But, even now, knowing all the gaps, it is still the game I lust for.

Which is a pity, because I cannot imagine it being in any sort of playable state in 2014.  Still, if it shows up, I am there.

1 – Warlords of Draenor

This one, this is the gimme.  The default choice.  The Meryl Streep nomination.

The New Expansion

The New Expansion

Unless something radical happens, this is the one game… well, expansion to a game, because frankly I couldn’t even come up with five NEW MMOs I would consider… that I know I will be picking up this year.  Maybe even the collector’s edition this time around.

Yes, I know, for every new feature in Warlords of Draenor there is going to be a dozen re-skinned or re-used items and that they are pulling out the time travel gimmick yet again and that we’ll be fighting a bunch of orcs… the same thing we do every night, Pinky.  I’m not even bursting at the seams, “gotta have it now!” excited about this expansion.  I’m content to let show up in good time.

But I didn’t end up back playing the 9 year old fantasy MMORPG (along side the 10 year old internet spaceships game) because they don’t know how to make a smooth, comfortable, playable game with plenty of attractive rides/treadmills for me to while away the hours on with my friends.  Yes, it isn’t the early days any more, or even the 2006 heyday of classic WoW, but I am back and have found I like it.  And I expect that I will like Warlords of Draenor as much if not more.  Go boring old me.

And Into 2014…

The new year is upon us, and what I say at the start of a year doesn’t always come to pass by the end.  At the beginning of 2013, where I lumped my predictions and outlook into a single post… hey I was in Hawaii at the time… I said I would “finish” Rift and and make it to tier 8 in World of Tanks.  Didn’t happen.  In past years I have also declared myself for such titles as Star Wars: The Old Republic and Neverwinter, neither of which ever gained a lot of traction with me.  So this is just the usual stake in the ground, declaring the lay of the land as I see it today, not knowing what tomorrow might bring.

And since, in looking back on these sorts of posts, I always seem to end them with a poll, I will keep with tradition, adding in a couple more titles that did not make my list.  Which of these will you likely play in 2014?

Comments»

1. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 3, 2014

Comment placeholder for write-in items in the poll. So far that consists of-

Actual new things, in the spirit of the post above:
Destiny – 2 votes
Aura Kingdom – 1 vote
The Repopulation – 1 vote
Camelot Unchained Beta – 1 vote (maybe beta in 2014)
Star Citizen – 1 vote (not even planned for 2014)
World of Darkness – 1 vote (now you’re dreaming)

Votes to remind us of not new things:
EVE Online – 5 votes
Darkfall – 1 vote
Final Fantasy – 1 vote
TSW – 1 vote
Vanguard – 1 vote

2. cyanbane - January 3, 2014

As long as I have been playing MMOs and seeing these up and down cycles, I no longer get excited about MMOs and they take at least a few months of people I know playing them before I even considering jumping in.

3. ESO: Our driving game may or may not feature driving cars | Hardcore Casual - January 3, 2014

[…] continue the recent nefarious trend of ‘crosslink to win’, here is a post from TAGN about his interest in upcoming games for 2014. Elder Scrolls Online is on there, and what Wilhelm wrote helped me realize why, despite knowing […]

4. Ultrviolet - January 3, 2014

Personally I think they are pushing ESO instead of TESO so that the acronym doesn’t look like TES, which is already associated with Skyrim et al.

5. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 3, 2014

@Ultrviolet – If true, that is a pretty depressing tidbit. It is like, “Hey, we’re making and Elder Scrolls game… but let’s try not to get to closely associated with the Elder Scrolls thing, m’kay?” Makes me wonder if the dev team is completely daft after all.

6. bhagpuss - January 3, 2014

I have never liked an Elder Scrolls game (only played two, last one was Morrowind) and I don’t expect top make this number three unlss or until it goes F2P. Of course if loads of people whose opinions I respect and/or generally share come out and say it’s the best thing ever that could change…

I am now close to certain to buy into the Landmark Alpha even though I really do not expect to get much out of it. I have a lot of time off work to come during the proposed alpha/beta period so I should at least be able to give it a decent run. I hope there’s no NDA because being able to blog about it is one of the main attractions.

WildStar I will certainly try if they have an open beta (surely they must?), which is when I’ll make a decision about whether to pay money for it. Just can’t work up any real enthusiasm for it but maybe once I get my hands on it that will change.

EQNext won’t be out this year. Could go into beta, I guess. I don’t really care what it turns out to be just so long as it’s recognizably Norrath (same logic you applied to Skyrim, really). Once I can get in I very much doubt I’ll be playing much else for a good long while.

WoW. I doubt it. Not even if it comes with a free max level. The “Back To Blizzard” buzz that’s building is quite scary though for those of us who never drank the KoolAid.

As for other MMOs I refer you back to The Crew as mentioned in a previous conversation. Also, is The Repopulation due this year?

7. tms - January 3, 2014

I’m kinda surprised that The Repopulation wasn’t, at least comment worthy somewhere in you lists. I know it’ sci-fi but if they build what they say they will,it’ll be a moderm throwback to the sandboxes of old.

Of course, I think they’re biting off more than they can chew but it’s the only game on my radar at the moment. Likely because it looks and smells like SWG, I guess.

8. Jenks - January 3, 2014

“This one, this is the gimme. The default choice. The Meryl Streep nomination.”

I think a more accurate metaphor is the Adam Sandler theater ticket. Only the first few were good, but god damn if they don’t keep making tons of money.

9. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 3, 2014

@Bagpuss – The Crew is probably not something I would buy on my own. It is a possible if the instance group ends up being Potshot, Earl, and I for a stretch I suppose… though Earl is pretty hot on WoW right now. If I am binging of late I cannot find the adjective to describe how much he has been playing. Mainlining? Huffing? Hot boxing? Iron Manning? Anyway, WoW isn’t for everybody, but it didn’t get as many players as it ended up with by not filling a gaming need for a lot of people. (And I usually reserve the Kool-aid metaphor for people who can see no wrong in their game of choice. I see plenty of flaws in WoW. I just find the upside to be worth it.)

The Repopulation; I’ve looked at their site and their Kickstarter and such, and my response can be summed up as “I don’t believe you.”

I do not believe that they can develop all the elements they have listed on their site, make them all work together, and end up with a game I would want to play. And I certainly don’t think it will all be wrapped up and ready to go in 2014. The whole thing requires a level of suspension of disbelief that I cannot muster.

Now, I could be wrong. That might just be the skeptical me talking. But somebody else is going to have to get invested in The Repopulation and report back before I start to get worked up about it.

tms - January 3, 2014

Seems fair… I feel the same way but I have to go look. I’ll keep you posted! :-)

10. Mekhios - January 3, 2014

I might get Warlords of Draenor. That’s if I can bother to get my ninja panda past the level 60 hump. Will also look at the new EQ title if it is released. I put a small amount of money into The Repop Kickstarter. But MMO’s in general aren’t exciting me like they used to. MMO burnout I guess. I am looking forward to the ongoing Star Citizen show extravaganza.

11. bhagpuss - January 3, 2014

Re KoolAid – yes, lazy choice of phrase. I knew it wasn’t quite right at the time but I couldn’t think of another more suitable cliche and I still can’t.

We need a phrase that describes that thing all your peer group got into when you were off doing something else and even though you tried to join in late on and you *quite* liked it and could see why they *really* liked it you know you’ll never really feel it the way they do because you weren’t there at the start…

I bet the Germans have a word for it.

12. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 3, 2014

@Bhagpuss – “I bet the Germans have a word for it.”

And I bet that word has ~11 syllables and translates as something like “the internal anxiety caused by arriving too late to an event and finding all of the best hor d’oeuvres have grown slightly cold.”

Something like Spätbestennahrungerkaltetenangst.

(Waiting for a German to wander by and correct me.)

13. Telwyn - January 4, 2014

It’s likely they do have a word for this, yes!

Personally it’ll be a “year of the same” since none of the new games interest me that much and EQNext is unlikely to launch till 2015. I count Dranor in “same” category since it will not revolutionise the game (despite WoW really needing a proper shakeup). I will be there to play it for sure but I suspect it’ll be a “3-monther” expansion as Blizzard still seem to be content to have surprisingly large content droughts between expansions.

14. WoW: Warlords of Draenor and subscription games in 2014 | GamingSF - January 4, 2014

[…] thinking over a comment for Wilhelm’s list of 2014 MMOs, I began thinking about World of Warcraft and the Warlords of Draenor expansion. In  a separate […]

15. Jaedia - January 5, 2014

Oh you sound so disenfranchised. :( *hugs*

Personally, I’m excited. I’m getting a new PC which will actually run MMOs properly and I get to explore these games as they’re intended. Wildstar won’t break the mold, neither will ESO, but they’ll be fun. EQN won’t release this year. I’m predicting 2015/2016 for EQN, but I agree with you. Gimme. :) Then there’s ArcheAge which looks potentially interesting, Shroud of the Avatar which I remain cautiously optimistic about, and Aura Kingdom which I’ll probably only play for a few days, let’s be realistic, but for those few days it’ll be cute and fun so eh, why not.

Then there’s the older titles that I haven’t been able to dig my teeth into yet and fully plan to once the PC arrives.

Sadly, I’m also disenfranchised. With WoW. It now remains just a fond memory for me, and I’m okay with that. I have no desire to play, thinking about it leaves me with a distinctly “meh” feeling in my gut, but I have very fond memories and am glad that there are people still enjoying it.

2014 will be a good year. ^^

16. Carty - January 5, 2014

It’s funny how different folks respond to ESO. I could care less about the IP, frankly. Skyrim was OK….I put in many hours, but stopped playing out of boredom — I’m long past being entertained long by a solo experience. But they have a video with a keep under siege and you can break stuff! And it looked like ranged characters have actual range (unlike CW2 where an archer on a tower can’t hit more than a few feet from the wall). Could this finally be the worthy successor to DAoC? For me, this game makes it or not on the quality of the RvR — are battles meaningful (the post-death return to battle takes a while so its not just rinse and repeat endlessly)? Do teams/guilds need to do preparation to build defenses or siege weapons (so zergs are essentially impotent without organization). If they deliver a meaningful war, then they win me.

17. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 6, 2014

@Jaedia – Disenfranchised is a stronger term than I would use, and it isn’t really true. If we view “franchise” as a place where I am interested in spending my “dollar votes,” then I am covered. I have WoW and EVE. Boring old me will be happy enough. It is more a matter of being unable to find a spark of enthusiasm for new players in the genre. Part of that is, again, boring old me and what I actually value (opposed to what I say I value at times) when it comes to the genre. And, as I have said on many occasions, not every new game has to be for me.

But when I look at a year of possibilities and I can barely scrape together five new titles that interest me… well, that still might be boring old me, or it might be nothing new under the sun. We shall see. As I noted, past versions of these outlook posts often end up being completely wrong come the end of the year.

@Carty – It sounds like you might be more in the market for Camelot Unchained, though that is admittedly more than a year out relative to TESO.

I am not sure how funny the reaction is though. Yeah, sure, people not interested in the Elder Scrolls franchise will judge the game based more on features than lore and feel. You are in that category, and it is a perfectly valid point of view.

But when when a company takes the time to us a long running IP like that, it seems batshit insane to treat the lore and feel like they aren’t all that important. Skyrim sold a lot of copies. Going in thinking they shouldn’t be the target, but that they mythical MMO gamer is… and we know that said MMO gamer tends to be pretty loyal to their old title, still more than 7 million WoW players… is… hrmm, I already used “batshit insane” didn’t I? But you see what I mean.

18. Carty - January 6, 2014

@WA: I do get what you mean and selling boxes is the name of the game, so surely they want the Skyrim base. But that base has an inherent problem — they are folks that enjoyed a long solo affair that unfolded when they had time to play. An successful MMO needs folks that will still play when the scripted game is “done”, that demand interaction as the core of the game experience, and that understand that the game lives/moves on without them when they aren’t playing. I’ve seen a zillion posts from Skyrim fans that they would be happy to play “Skyrim with friends”, but that seems more like the various instanced/toolkit models rather than a full-on MMO with RvR. I won’t be surprised at all when the Skyrim fans buy the box, level a bit and scream bloody murder when they find that they need to exist in an open-world PvP environment to accomplish much. My point is both that I’m looking at the game elements more than the IP, but also that the IP focused folks are likely to not understand the nature of the game they bought.

19. Wilhelm Arcturus - January 6, 2014

@Carty – Indeed, I wish I could find the first place where I wrote that a Borderlands style, multipalyer Elder Scrolls game seemed to be the winning proposition, allowing mods and giving Bethesda the option to sell DLC. But we’re getting an MMO, which to this day generates a mildly skeptical look on my face. We’ll see in April I guess.


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