...That aren't Warcraft: Cataclysm or Star Wars: Old Republic.
No, really. Let's be frank here. If you're expecting an MMO silver bullet out of either one of these titles, I think you're sadly mistaken. That's not to say that they'll both fall to the wayside of Massively Multiplayer Obscurity-- Their fan base is far too large for that. In spite of any reservations I may have concerning SW-OR's gameplay, Starwars itself is a culture. Possibly a stale, overly-milked culture much in the way cheese is a culture, but a culture none-the-less. It will succeed on fandom alone, as Galaxies so aptly demonstrated.
Or for that matter, Cataclysm. I'm sure it will be pretty, and the world will be reformatted with gobs o' new quests. But how much originality is it really going to bring to the table?? I'm pessimistic; especially once Blizzard started to lapse into the "making it up as we go" stage of the world story ala Burning Crusade. Honestly... Space Goats, now? And have fun with those Goblins. I mean, WTF? But fear not. I'm sure there'll be yet another goddamn dragon for players to slay again, again and again.
And before anybody calls me a hater, bare in mind... I own stock. ATVI, bitches.
I've also always said there's room at the top for several upper level MMOs, and there are a number out there I'm hoping will get their shot in the sun; nudging the complacent franchises aside to allow us- the gamer -real variety. With that in mind, here's a few example titles that might just upset business as usual.
Cumbersome name aside, the first thing that strikes me about this title is the visual creativity. In other words, somebody put some thought into their baby, and it comes away with an almost Homeworld visual feel to it. One's first instinct would be to pan it as a mech warrior knockoff, and there's certainly enough in the general theme to support that supposition. I mean, it's giant robots wandering around blasting the crap out of other giant robots with missiles and beam weapons.
First impressions aside, the edginess of the mech design absolutely works. It's not pretty, nor is it supposed to be. It's crude, functional, and gorgeous all simultaneously. The second thing that comes to mind is why the hell hasn't anybody thought of this sooner? Well, I have, but like you, lack the resources to bring such a project to life. All in all, the pace strikes me as perfect for an MMO when it comes right down to it; though how it's all implemented will be the telling factor. On that note, I'm praying to God they leave all the Mechwarrior baggage behind. The franchise revolves almost exclusively around mass, and while realistic, it hardly makes the the depth necessary to turn the series into a successful MMO.
Beyond the visuals lie the features; notably their gameplay taking place on a single persistent world (thus the name Perpetual Continuum(?), I'd imagine). Everybody is there in one place and it happens; or as the website puts it:
"...while most other MMORPGs run multiple parallel servers, we have only one persistent, single universe... Every player is a part of one server, one scene, one storyline."
While I seriously doubt that's all ran on a single server, the effect seems to be an effort to create a single coherent universe that every user participates in, not just your Paladin on Lightning's Blade or your Warlock alt on Destromath. Along that theme, the world's terrain can be altered for resourcing and your mechs can be configured how you see fit. Since there are resources, crafting of sorts is all but a given.
Closed Beta is currently underway for this one and if they can get the mech part right, I'll snap this title up in a heartbeat. Don't forget to salivate at the movies under the media tab.
There's not much to say other than... Oh my fucking God I will sacrifice every single last one of you to a malevolent gaming deity on his bloody alter and pledge my first born so that I may partake of this game. And that's just on the visuals alone, courtesy of art director Kim Hyung-Tae and the Unreal 3 engine.
Beyond the searing graphics, little is known about Blade and Soul aside from the generalized facts: Four races and four class archetypes. Oh, and swords. Lots and lots of pwnsome swordage. Most of what excites me about this game can be gleaned from the linked movie, and that includes an expansive environment, extremely detailed character/mob designs and creativity in spade. Now normally I'd be the first to bitch about yet another ancient orient themed MMO... Hell, just look at my last blog entry. But there's a marked difference between taking the lazy way out and doing it right. The movie alone tells me they're well on there way to win and awesome.
Secondly, we've got a known factor in play... NCsoft. We're not exactly talking about a company that spams utterly useless titles in order to snooker you at the cash shop like half the field out there. If it were anybody else, I would have less faith in whether this title was going to see the light of day, as well as the rumors this was going to be a future playstaion acquisition. Given who is developing it, I sincerely doubt it.
I'm admittedly operating on a good chunk of faith for this title, but I look at this and then I look at, say, Old Republic... And I lust. Old Republic gets kicked to the curb ever single last time.
And hopefully you'll be lusting after it too. Do yourself a favor: Download the HD trailer that streams from the website. You'll thank me later.
See you next time in Part II.