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Earthrise: First Impact Column: Five Underappreciated MMOs

By William Murphy on January 18, 2011

If you look at the sheer number of games we have on this site, it’s easy to understand how a few can go completely overlooked.  In the age of new media that we live in, the games that tend to get the most attention are the games that have the most players or are drawing the most hype (both good and bad).  There’s no two ways about it.  Every week we here at MMORPG.com focus weekly columns on some of the industry’s most anticipated upcoming games, because we try to offer content geared towards what we think you’d like to read.  Whether it’s previews or opinion pieces or news items, we always try to cover as much ground as our small team can.  But with four-hundred or so games on the docket, it’s no wonder we don’t get around to spreading the wealth as much as we’d like. 

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In the interest of remembering the other guys, here’s a list (in no specific order) of five underappreciated titles, and why you should care about them. Some have been launched already, and others are still in the pipeline, but each has unique reasons for you to check them out.  There are plenty more that didn’t make today’s list, and that doesn’t mean they’re not deserving.  It just means we simply don’t know enough about them at this stage to include them here.  Apologies for leaving anyone’s favorite off this list, and feel free to make a case for any other game in the comments below.  That’s what this is all about, after all.

Perpetuum Online

Just released, Perpetuum Online is probably one of the most interesting MMOs to come about in years.  An independently developed Science Fiction sandbox, Perpetuum could probably most easily be described as EVE with robots on land.  But that would be doing the game a grave disservice, as it’s certainly far more than a clone of CCP’s hit.  This is a game that’s perfect for folks who love the planning and data aspects of MMOs.  It’s not big on the visuals, and it’s not high on production values.  But what it lacks in “shiny” it more than makes up for in ingenuity and depth.  If you’re aching for the type of game you can really sink your strategic planning teeth into, Perpetuum is certainly worth a look. 

Atlantica Online

Atlantica Online is a whole lot more than just another F2P game with Eastern influence.  I mean, sure… it is that.  But it’s also one of the only MMOs that sports a robust turn-based party combat system.  To me, it’s what a Final Fantasy MMO should have always been about.  Did I mention it also has a fairly unique setting with elements of steam and/or punk within?  I’m sure a great many of you have already tried Atlantica.  There’s housing (complete with crafting to boot), PvP battles for the competitive folks, and a rather engrossing and ongoing storyline, and the game has been consistently updated over its first couple years of existence.  In fact, friends of mine who have lingered within Atlantica far longer than I claim it may be one of the few F2P games that never makes it seem necessary to pony up cash to move along.  If you’ve not yet tried it, and you fancy yourself some turn-based combat, what the heck are you waiting for?

Earthrise

Launching in February, Earthrise is yet another independently developed sandbox MMO with a heavy science fiction slant.  Honestly, with as many sword & board games we’ve seen, I’m surprised it took this long to start seeing more futuristic settings.  But I’m not complaining.  The game’s got a huge PvP slant (though it’s not without its safe-zones for the fearful), and about a hundred different skills to progress in with the classless system.  While you play the game, you’ll be progressing your combat and crafting skills more or less, and while you’re not logged in you’ll be progressing in a secondary matter like social standing, education, and career path.  Basically, it’s a fantastic way to still make money and social headway, even if you’re not able to log in due to real life.  While we don’t know how it will all shake out, we here at MMORPG.com are hoping Masthead Studios can pull off all their aiming for.

Darkfall

I’m not trying to stir a pot here.  I know that Darkfall’s not for everyone.  But whether you love it or not, as a concept, you have to appreciate Aventurine’s baby.  In what other game on the market can you fully loot your dead PvP opponents?  In what other game can you build and hold massive wars over player-built cities and keeps?  In what other game can you craft and sail and fight with your own player-made ship?  Is it buggy?  Sure.  Is the UI a little archaic and difficult to master?  Certainly.  Have I asked too many questions within this one paragraph?  Absolutely.  But you have to hand it to Aventurine.  Their game might not be for everyone, but the folks served by it will stand by it vehemently.  If it’s something hardcore and unique you’re looking for, Darkfall is certainly worth a peek. 

A Tale in the Desert

A Tale in the Desert is not your everyday MMO.  Developed by a tiny and independent staff with input coming directly from the players themselves, ATITD is one of MMO-dom’s most unique and under-sung games.  There’s no combat.  There’s no killing other players.  ATITD is pretty much an explorer’s and a crafter’s paradise.  Players work with and against each other to expand the civilization, create new and interesting player-made puzzles, and to eventually build the great pyramids.  It’s probably the only MMO that has a distinct beginning and an end (even if it just starts a new “telling” when it does come to completion).  At first the idea of an MMO without combat might seem foreign.  It’s the basis of our D&D fueled fantasies.  But once you get into ATITD and realize what the game is actually attempting to do, you’d be hard-pressed to not appreciated the depth and addictive nature of its firmly brain-oriented gameplay. 

So those are a few of my own criminally underappreciated MMOs.  Let’s hear it.  What game do you love that always seems to get the proverbial short end of the stick?

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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