I am sitting here looking at the list of likely games to be released in 2013 and tapping my fingers as I consider which ones I am most anxious to see firsthand. A quick glance reveals that there is the usual collection of “big name” titles and, of course, the smaller “indie” titles all clamoring for my attention with the year barely over a week old. What to choose? There are really very few on this year’s list that don’t interest me and it would be very easy to just say, “DITTO” to the lists compiled by my co-workers earlier in the week. Yet in the best interest of being the last one to offer an article around the games that I am personally most looking forward to playing, I’ve decided to veer onto the road less travelled with my list, centering particularly on more independent studios working on MOARPGs, my own term for Massive Online Action RPGs.
Otherland is, as many know, based on the fantasy series by Tad Williams. The books have been out forever it seems. In a lot of ways, it’s surprising to me that it’s taken this long to garner interest in making a game utilizing the setting. I don’t know. Maybe technology had to catch up with Williams’ rather odd visuals or the idea of virtual reality. I don’t know but, so far anyway, the team behind the upcoming Otherland MMO seems to have managed to capture his vision in a way that intrigues me. With closed beta testing underway, it’s only a matter of time until the lid is blown off the game and we find out if it has fulfilled its potential as a game that’s unlike any other out there so far.
Ultima Forever: Quest for the Avatar
There’s little bad to say about an Ultima game that has been given the thumbs up by the series’ original creator, Richard Garriott. In addition, Ultima Forever will be one of the first action-MMOs to bring multiple platforms together into one virtual world. That it happens to be in the Ultima universe is the icing on the cake. There appears to be something for everyone in Ultima Forever: Soloists and PUGsters will all find a way to take part in the game, neither feeling cheated or needing to whine that “the other guys got more”. If Ultima Forever can pull it off, it just might be a new trendsetter in the MMO space.
Path of Exile
I have long been a fan of action-RPGs from my earliest days in computer gaming. My first game, in fact, was Blizzard’s Diablo 1. Since then, not an ARPG has arrived on scene that I’ve not tried out. What makes Path of Exile even more intriguing is that it is being independently developed and published by Grinding Gears Games from New Zealand. The game has flown under the radar of many fans of ARPGs but, if beta user accounts can be believed, PoE may be the spiritual successor to the Diablo franchise. By all reports and videos, Path of Exile is the optimal combination of Diablo’s visceral and overall ‘dark’ theme and the exciting game play of the Torchlight games without the cartoon-like graphics. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding when the open beta kicks off later this month. I, for one, can’t wait!
City of Steam
The world of online gaming is in dire need of a great title with a steampunk theme. Other games have come and gone without much success. Mechanist Games, however, aims to fill the gap with its City of Steam. One of the things I’ve found most refreshing as I’ve watched City of Steam for the past several months is the level of developer participation with its fanbase. I realize that this type of communication style is the new ‘norm’ for developers these days, but CoS devs have taken it a step further, particularly lately when Mechanist Games’ CEO Dave Lindsay took part in the closed beta and then wrote about his adventures while also spelling out the lessons he’d learned as a player and community member.
I also like the fact that City of Steam will be a browser title. I know. Shocking, right? But, honestly, with Google Play a fact of life and true MMOs heading into Facebook, it’s time for decent, well-developed MMOs to make a play for the browser. The technology is there and if what I’ve seen of CoS holds, Mechanist has a good shot at setting a new precedent.
My one true concession to big name games is Cryptic’s Neverwinter. It is, without any equal, my most anticipated title for 2013. There are many reasons why, most of which you can read in my inaugural column devoted to the game. I won’t rehash what’s already been said. Still, Neverwinter has the chance to be something new and different and precedent-setting on the MMO scene. There are those who say that Perfect World Entertainment will “butcher” it and those who whimper about the “watered down” 4th Edition rules but, naysayers aside, there is no question that all eyes are on Neverwinter and on Cryptic Studios. As with all MMOs these days, Cryptic will have one chance to make the right impression and I am so glad that the launch of Neverwinter was delayed to give the team and the game the time needed to fulfill its own potential. Only time will truly tell, of course, but my money is squarely on Neverwinter to end up in the top games of 2013 when that time of year rolls around again.
So there you have it: My list of games I can’t wait to play in 2013. Of course, I could have added some runners up like Defiance and The Repopulation, maybe even Elder Scrolls Online. Though, honestly, I’m not all that hot to trot for the latter. Still, 2013 looks to be a decent year for games, particularly if you’re a fan of ARPGs like me.
What about you? What are you looking forward to this year? Let us know in the comments!