Here we are again with one of those end of the year posts I trot out every December.
This once hasn’t been as regular as some of the others, in part because it has become more difficult to write as time has moved on.
There was a time during the life of this blog where I was enamored to some degree with almost any new MMORPG on the horizon. I remember the run up to Lord of the Rings Online, Warhammer Online, Star Trek Online, and even Star Wars: The Old Republic as being exciting.
But as time wore on, I was overwhelmed by what I will call “the great sameness” of every new MMORPG. They all differ some in details… graphics, classes, skills… but they all started to feel the same. It turns out that killing ten rats doesn’t feel all that different no matter how you dress it up.
My post last year was essentially what I was already playing, EVE Online, World of Warcraft, and EverQuest II. Why run after the false promise of a new experience when you’re already invested in one that isn’t all that different in the end?
And of those three I am only still playing EVE Online at the moment, that being the only one that doesn’t fit directly in the generic WoW-influence MMORPG role. Minecraft has filled the void on that front, judging from my hours spent with it since June.
So it is tempting to just skip this post. Do we really need another “burned out on MMORPGs” screed?
The thing is, some seeds planted in the last few years might actually come to fruition in 2016. Kickstarters, long funded and past due, might actually deliver something in the coming year. Here is what I think might be available… and yes, I know you can play bits and pieces of all of these right now, but among the things beaten out of me over the years is the desire to test somebody else’s product. I want a shipping, ready for public consumption version of your game.
Shroud of the Avatar
Lord British attempts to bring back the wonder of the Ultima series in a sandbox-like, full 3D environment.
Attraction: I have fond memories of the first half of the Ultima series. Seems like it might be an excellent place to explore. I backed it on Kickstarter. I already have it setup in Steam.
Worries: Might be too cash shop focused and who knows what Mr. Garriott will glom onto as a good plan. He has had some odd ideas over the years.
Attraction: While I never played DAoC, I do recall a few fun PvP moments in WAR. Mark has owned up to lessons learned and has skin in the game, investing some of his own money. And I backed it on Kickstarter.
Worries: PvP works best if you have a regular group and I will likely be showing up solo. Also, recent history has shown some nifty large scale PvP ideas defeated by the players just forming an unstoppable zerg mob.
Eric Heimberg and Sandra Powers make the MMORPG that they really want, quirky and a bit different and quite pretty… and you get used to the ill-fitting name after you have said it about five thousand times.
Attraction: Quirky, pretty, fun world to explore that might just be different enough to not make me sigh in boredom a few hours into playing. And I backed all the Kickstarters, including the one that actually succeeded.
Worries: Quirky does have its limits, and where are you left when that wears off. As a small budget project, will never be as polished as WoW or the like. Not sure who will run off to play with me.
Chris Roberts promises to take every single cool feature from every space related game he has ever touched and meld them together into the most awesome persistent universe space game ever… and a single player campaign… and a first person shooter… and probably something else I missed.
Attraction: Love me some space games. I still log into EVE Online sometimes just to fly around and look at things. Could be the game that steals me away from New Eden. And I backed it post-Kickstarter, when it was at about the $20 million level of total funding.
Worries: I don’t want to go all Derek Smart, but Chris Roberts has promised a whole lot of stuff. I actually wish it was less. That would make it more likely for 2016 if nothing else. Also worried it will have an Elite: Dangerous level of difficulty just to do the most simple things, like undock and dock your ship. Has very little traction amongst the people with whom I play regularly.
One of these things is not like the others… and kind of a long shot as well. Not an indie Kickstarter game like the previous four. No, this is Daybreak’s attempt to leverage their work on PlanetSide 2 into something that will make some money. And it has, selling a lot of early access copies.
Attraction: It is actually pretty fun in a group. Interesting combination of PvP, crafting, base building, and general survival. And I own an early access copy.
Worries: Daybreak will monetize it into oblivion, and they might have to based on the peak early access sales, lest Columbus Nova Prime be angered. PvE version seems tedious while the esports aspects hold no interest for me. It does need a regular group to be fun, and I am never great at making friends. Suffers from all the usual PvP problems.
I suppose I could put in a couple of comedy additions, like Landmark or EverQuest Next, but I strongly suspect neither will be much in 2016. And then there is Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, which Brad McQuaid is still hanging on to. Another one not for 2016 I would guess. Crowfall, which I did not back, seems like it has its shit together, but I would call that yet another one for after 2016.
So I am going to stick with those five. Which will be the winner in 2016? And will any of them end my new MMO malaise?
Or are WoW Legion and the EVE Online Citadel expansion all I have to look forward to in 2016?
Meanwhile, if you want to see how previous versions of this mostly yearly post have fared, here are some links. A bit of comedy to be mined in those.