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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?