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The List: What Now?

Column By Michael Bitton on September 25, 2012

Love the games or hate the games, there’s been a lot of excitement in the MMO genre over the last few years. But now with Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Secret World, and TERA behind us, what’s left to look forward to in the not so distant future? We’re running down a couple of our favorites in this week’s The List.

5. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

I’ve always had a thing for the underdog and I’ve also got a lot of respect for a developer that admits making a huge mistake and commits the time and resources to make amends by turning things around. The Final Fantasy brand has no doubt suffered overall over the past decade or so, but Square Enix wasn’t interested in allowing Final Fantasy XIV to fester in the terrible state it launched in. Instead, Square Enix put together a new team and game plan to get the game back on track and has been making serious headway towards a relaunch. I’m personally interested to see how ‘A Realm Reborn’ shapes up and whether or not Square Enix can make amends with fans and attract enough new blood to really breathe life back into the game.

4. WildStar

This one would normally rank higher on my list, but because it seems much further out than the rest of the games you’ll find below, I decided to rank it a bit lower. WildStar is an interesting game in development over at Carbine Studios. The game features a vibrant Pixar-like art style, mobile action combat, and most importantly of all, unique gameplay tracks that seem inspired by the categories of Richard Bartle’s test of Gamer Psychology. In WildStar, players can choose from a number of classes and pursue unique gameplay paths along the lines of exploration, combat, settlement, and science.

3. FireFall

Participating in the beta test for Red 5 Studios’ FireFall has been an exciting experience. Red 5 has taken a unique approach to the development of its game, employing a sort of “live development” model whereby the team works on the game and testers get to bang on it throughout the whole process. Instead of developing the game until a certain point and then inviting gamers to test it out once they’ve got certain bits and pieces locked down, testers get to weigh in on each new feature and piece of content as it comes online. This sort of collaborative experience between developers and players is really something I’ve not seen before.

Oh, I forgot to mention the actual game, didn’t I? Right! FireFall is a third-person/first-person shooter MMO that offers a flexible class system via the use of switchable ‘Battleframes’ that players can progress through, unlocking skills and equipment. Interestingly, Red 5 Studios is also bucking the trend of marginalizing crafting in contemporary MMOs by making crafting in FireFall one of central features of the game. Indeed, players will spend most of their time fighting off hordes of monsters in pursuit of valuable resources they can then employ to craft weapons, gear, and a variety of other tools and utilities.

2. PlanetSide 2

It’s been a long while since Sony Online Entertainment had a real knockout on deck, but PlanetSide 2 seems poised to make that sort of impact for the developer. PlanetSide 2 features massive 2,000 player continents for players split across three factions to constantly battle over. The game boasts a huge array of vehicles, weapons, and classes for players to bring into battle and a certifications system that should ensure constant progression. If you’re a fan of large-scale shooter warfare á la Battlefield, you’re likely to really enjoy your time in SOE’s PlanetSide 2.

1. Neverwinter

What do you get when you take D&D’s MMO-like 4th Edition ruleset, Cryptic’s user-generated content feature set, and the Neverwinter setting?  Neverwinter! The upcoming free-to-play MMO published by Perfect World Entertainment in development at Cryptic Studios. Ever since we first laid our eyes on Neverwinter back at this year’s PAX East, the staff here at MMORPG.com has been bristling with excitement. The game looks great, combat appears exciting, and Cryptic is really looking to tap into what made the Neverwinter Nights games so great with their refined user-created content system in ‘The Foundry’. We saw ‘The Foundry’ at this year’s PAX Prime and it was nothing short of impressive. Players will be able to create amazingly detailed content and even wire it directly into the game world by using existing NPCs in the persistent world as props in their own tales. Other players will be able to find these quests either using an in-game browser or even by just naturally chatting up a local barmaid. I could probably spend all day explaining how awesome ‘The Foundry’ component of Neverwinter looks, but I’d encourage you to just take a look at the demo video embedded above.

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