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13 MMO’s To Look Forward To In 2012
Every year has its star MMO grace the shelves and digital distribution catalogs. Ever since World of Warcraft became the massive, gigantic, unreal hit it is companies have been gunning down movies series, books, and game franchises to bring them into the MMO scene. Almost everything has an online game now. Hello Kitty has an MMO. Dragon Ball Z has one, too. The biggest question I have in this entire article is: why doesn’t Pokemon have one? C’mon, man!
Anyways, 2012 is looking to be a pretty solid year for the genre. We have some newcomers, sequels, and retries couple with two games that aren’t really MMOs but are pushing the boundaries too much to not be on this list. I can say I already pre-ordered and/or set up accounts for three of the titles listed here.
Buy game then free to play
Blizzard is really pushing it here. No, I’m not talking about any kind of negative feedback fans are spewing out. It’s Diablo. They’re going to buy it anyways. What I’m saying is that Diablo 3 is about to hop the fence over to MMO-hood. The game is an online-only title. No offline. Characters are stored on Blizzard’s servers and every one has its own coin purse for use in the auction houses. You can party up and tackle the game with up to three friends and while that isn’t massive you can party with different people all the time. With a release date firmly in check, the minions of hell have a lot on their plate with millions of fans ready to lay down their wallets for swords, axes, and what have you. Running through the beta was enough to make me feel that this game will bring in tow the great Diablo feel and gameplay coupled with all the nice enhancements that Blizzard either came up with or borrowed from Diablo-clones. Either way, Diablo 3 is shaping up to be the sequel we’ve been waiting for.
Free to play
I’ll say this right out of the gate: I was not a fan of EVE Online. I understand why others do and that’s great but it isn’t the type of MMO for me. However, Dust is looking mighty fine and the concept behind it is amazing. The battle outcomes that happen in Dust 514 will directly affect EVE Online’s world with who controls worlds, faction influence, and more. Players from both games are linked and can communicate back and forth. EVE players can call for assistance from Dust mercenaries for planetary ground assaults. The concept of having two drastically different MMOs linked in the same world with similar goals is breathtaking. Not to mention that this PS3/Vita exclusive will be free-to-play and require no initial monetary investment to start playing. That is an amazing thing considering the scope of Dust 514. The game is also highly customizable with players able to customize their armor, weapons, and vehicles. The real joy to this game will be knowing what you do and don’t do affects players in another game.
Free to play with subscriber options
Petroglyph is hoping to successfully combine the RTS genre with an MMO here. The game is supposed to have PvE and PvP with battles in the world going against the enemy, the Order of Nations. Petroglyph is attempting to allow thousands of players battle against each other. The game will feature classes and the traditional progressions that MMOs normally have. As a free to play title, it is definitely worth a shoot to play. If the game comes out right, the fusion of these two genres would be extremely interesting and be a breakthrough for RTS games in general.
Some say this game tarnished the Final Fantasy name. I say, well it wasn’t good, but godspeed for trying to fix it! Square basically cleaned house and brought in all new devs to work on XIV’s 2.0 patch. While slated for just a beta in 2012, I list it here since it is a fairly monumental task being done here. When all things are said and done, Final Fantasy XIV will see updates or complete revisions to the map system, races, user interface, universal dungeon finder, new server setup, PvP options, the entire graphics engine, and much more. It is almost a whole new game! The beta will lead into a huge storyline for current players that yield rewards that won’t be available once 2.0 is released. Something that Square hope is enough to give back to those brave souls who stuck it out and play. Brave, brave souls.
Free to play
Think Global Agenda mixed with Huxley but with ex-World of Warcraft devs behind it. The goal behind Firefall is to play the campaign like an MMO with hundreds of other players while looting and killing to level up. Then you take all your hard earned work and place it into the multiplayer section of the game which acts likes a Halo or Unreal Tournament. There are ladders, clans, leagues, and tournaments to be had. Players can join armies, which are the guilds for Firefall, and those give out advantages to help you in battle.
Free to play, in-browser
Ok, wow. This has the most potential of any browser-based MMO I’ve seen. You get everything from The Wall all the way down to the south below King’s Landing. Players join up with a smaller house in Westeros that are allies of either the Starks, Baretheons, or Lannisters. The cool thing about this is the guild system. Those smaller houses that you join at the guides you create or become members in. Each guild chooses one of the three larger houses/factions to fight for. The main goal is take control of King’s Landing and the Iron Throne. In one of the cooler aspects of the game, players with a lot of skill or gear could be lured into changing sides by other guilds who offer them something in return. That awesome main tank in your guild that never lets the mobs hit you? He might not be there next week if you piss him off. Sure, this could lead to some major egos in the game but hey, that’s what the Song of Ice and Fire is all about!
Buy the game then free to play
The biggest name in the MMO Kingdom for 2012. ArenaNet is really pushing the limits for a free to play title. There is just so much content in this game I don’t even know where to start. Oh, I’ll start by saying this: take everything you know about MMOs and throw it out the window. Just chuck it out! Guild Wars 2 takes the conventional and replaces it with new, experimental gameplay practices that are sure to make for a wild ride when it releases. There is no set roles for character – tank, healer, dps, etc. Some classes are better are certain stuff than others but you can basically clear out content with any class makeup and every class is looking exciting and fresh. The world is gigantic and even some of the PvP maps looks like entire continents. There is just way too much to say about Guild Wars 2. If you aren’t familiar with the title, head over to its site and start reading. You’ll be surprised at how much ArenaNet is fitting inside this game. Oh man, the boss fights just look so amazing.
So World of Warcraft. Still play? You’re going to be seeing a ton of changes coming towards the end of the year when the Pandaren come marching in. I recently wrote an article about the new information just released by Blizzard. Needless to say, every aspect of the game is looking at one change or another. Warlocks won’t look at the same, your healers may be in the front lines with the warriors, and the Paladins aren’t looking at a huge nerf bat in the face (so far). Azeroth is bracing for the winds of change while some are hightailing it out of dodge before Jack Black is reading quest objectives to them.
Free to play, cash shop
Prepare for another Perfect World game, folks. Man, you know they make some fantastic titles that are just bogged down by cash shops and not even time invested into them. After a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo between Atari and Turbine, Neverwinter (and in that right, Cryptic Studios) is now a part of the Perfect World house. The game is based on Dungeons & Dragons 4E rules, the first to do so, and is largely akin to Guild Wars 1 and Dragon Age. Yes, Dragon Age. Players will create players and have a central hub to gather friends or strangers to create 5-player groups and embark on quests. This is where the Dragon Age comes in. Quests and content are strung through predefined areas where story is key and loot comes after it.
Buy the game, subscription or free to play is unknown at this time
Just like Diablo 3, this online RPG is pushing the limits on what is an MMO. The game is online only where your characters are stored on server. This leaves your character able to party up and venture forth with others in a large world. Sounds like an MMO to me! Or, close to one! Either way, I wrote about PSO2 earlier and I am very excited about it. The game’s upgrades from the original are looking great and the world looks full of life. It is also releasing for the PS Vita in a very close, if not exact, match for the PC game. The worst part about PSO2 is the unknown factor of its widespread release. Right now the game is scheduled for a Japan launch only. However, given the popularity of PSO (not, PSU) I would be hard pressed to believe that Sega won’t localize this game. Sega is also testing 3G online play for the Vita.
Free to play, cash shop
This sequel features the same world and factions from the original 2003 hit while tacking on a bunch of new customizations and a large open world battlefield. Hundreds of players can fight against each other on foot or vehicles in the sky or on the ground. Recently, we’ve learned that Planetside 2 will be delayed thanks to a completely new game engine being used for its development. SOE is splitting dev time between this and EverQuest Next. If you want to know what the cash shop might look like then get used to League of Legends. The devs are huge fans of the way that game sports customization in a popular way while not hampering any player’s progress against rich folks.
Funcom’s newest project includes a freaky world-spanning occult theme where the Earth is desperately fighting back against the coming tide of darkness. This leads Gaea unleashing Anima magic for mortals to take advantage of. This game features no class system but instead a huge skill wheel that houses over 500 active and passive abilities for characters to customize themselves with. Groups will tackle mythological, legendary, and otherworldly creatures in the fight for the planet. Players can join one of three factions based around the world that see the conflict in very different ways – control, balance, and destruction. Read up on this cool looking game in my post about it.
The DC Universe-killer! I kid, I kid. However, fans of that game’s combat system will find much to love her in the realm of Arborea. Featuring content that is literally a part of two gargantuan Titans, players are fighting against an underworld race trying to overtake the surface. Fast paced combat and quick quest flows make this game a great MMO that allows you to log out before work, crunch out some progress, and head to the salt mines feeling satisfied. I mentioned in my earlier post that during my first two beta weekend I didn’t pay any attention to the story because of how much fun I was having. However, I also said that En Masse Entertainment is setting themselves up for a lot of content due to the openness of their story.
It is crazy to see how many titles in the list are free to play. You can sense the shift in the MMO scene as subscriptions just aren’t holding into the throne for much longer. With more and more big named games chucking monthly fees away, how long before we see the $14.99 ball-and-chain disappear forever?