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Asheron's Call Column: Top 5 MMOs That Need Remakes

By Dana Massey on October 06, 2009

#2 – Dark Age of Camelot

Launched in October 2001, Dark Age of Camelot turns nine this week. It is arguably the only game to successful make player vs. player (or Realm vs. Realm as they call it) the focus of their MMO. Sure, all games seem to have it in some form, but in Dark Age of Camelot it was ultimately the whole reason people were there. Not even their own spiritual successor Warhammer Online pulled that off as well as DAoC did.

The game consists of three distinct factions: Albion, Hibernia and Midgard. Each is rooted in the mythology of Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia respectively. The players level up in a traditional PvE MMO, then, at the high levels they go to war with each other.

Why It Was Awesome
Mark Jacobs once told me that when they set out to make an MMO, they thought about the strongest intellectual property that was available totally for free. Enter Camelot. Everyone knows the story of Merlin, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It’s arguably the biggest, strongest and most universally recognized subject matter ever made into an MMO (and yes, that includes Lord of the Rings) and Mythic didn’t have to pay a dime for it.

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They also pioneered really good PvP. As Warhammer Online and World of Warcraft have shown, two sided PvP really doesn’t work. To make it work, you need three sides so that when one side gets over-populated, the two weaker sides can gang up and keep them in check. DAoC had this, no game since really has matched it.

Why The Old Game Isn’t Good Enough Anymore
Let’s face facts here. Mythic threw DAoC under the bus when they took on Warhammer Online. It’s maintained by a skeleton crew and in all my years covering this genre, I have never seen a game shrink from commercial relevance more quickly than DAoC.

While a facelift might be tempted, I think the ship has sailed on Dark Age of Camelot. Too many people have churned through it.

What’s more, the game’s core strength as mentioned before was its use of Arthurian, Norse and Irish mythology.

The problem was, once they mined some classes and city names out of it, none of these were ever really properly leveraged.

The biggest strength of DAoC may have been RvR, but its biggest weakness was PvE quests. They exist, but they’re not exactly stellar.

Some Ideas To Make The Remake Shine
This time, the key is to just stick to what made it awesome: a solid PvE experience that shoots players out into a great PvP/RvR experience.

Take that and do it all with modern mechanics, modern technology and Mythic will have another hit on their hands. There is so much to these three mythologies that the original game only glossed over and with a proper treatment they could really make three solid PvE experiences that are worth playing through.

Then, at the end of the rainbow, they throw in what they do best: Realm vs. Realm. Do that, and do it with three realms (unlike WAR) and they’ll get another half decade of my monthly fees.

Bottom Line
It’d be a game with the best of both worlds: epic PvE and unparalleled RvR.

#1 – Ultima Online

How the hell has this not been redone yet?

Seriously? I am baffled.

Currently under the stewardship of Mythic, Ultima Online is now 12 years old and the genre has not only long since technically passed it, it’s lapped it a few times.

Yet, somehow, EA still makes money off this game.

And for some crazy reason, no one has gone out and wholesale ripped off the gameplay style in their own MMO!

Ultima Online, for those who never had the honor, was a virtual world before Second Life sullied the word. It’s a fantasy universe where players start as a blank slate and gain abilities by picking things up and trying them.

Want to be a swordsman? Grab a sword and use it. You’ll get better. Want to be an archer? Find yourself a bow.

It also didn’t get lost in combat to the exclusion of all else. People could practice fishing, crafting and even begging. It really felt like a sandbox where the world was what you made of it.

…and I didn’t even get into the old PvP rules.

Why It Was Awesome
A totally open skill system, a big giant sandbox of a world, the ability to put a house in the world and do as you wanted with it, a focus on more than just fighting, and a spectacular universe inspired by a celebrated, but often forgotten line of RPGs.

Need I go on?

Why The Old Game Isn’t Good Enough Anymore
It’s 2D.

Yes, EA dubiously pushed out Kingdom Reborn, which made the game 2.5D (as they call it), but once again, let me say this: STOP UPDATING OLD GAMES LIKE THIS! It just pisses off those loyal customers you have and doesn’t really bring anyone new back.

No, it’s time to totally redo it. If any game gets redone from this list, I sincerely cannot stress enough how much I believe it has to be this one.

It’s not even that it’s isometric. Just try playing it and you’ll understand. It’s just old; and no matter how fondly we remember it, it is always going to be terribly outdated. There’s no updating that.

Plus, I might add, the retro-isometric point of view is starting to make a comeback. Bioware’s new RPG Dragon Age lets people play that way and Diablo III from Blizzard will too. Then there is a whole sea of casual and web-driven isometric games. After years of that style of gaming being on the out, it seems there is once again an appetite for that style of RPG. So, let’s get it done!

Some Ideas To Make The Remake Shine
Step One: Dig up the original design.

Step Two: Implement it with modern technology.

Step Three: Profit.

It’s really just as simple as that.

Bottom Line
Ultima Online offers a style of gaming that was wildly successful, is coming back into vogue, and for some incomprehensible reason has never been properly ripped off by another MMO. It’s not often that you can say a 12 year old game that had the success UO did could be remade and still stand alone in it’s sub-genre, but it can.

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