Following an eleventh hour stay of execution in February of 2012, EverQuest Mac players breathed a sigh of relief. Unfortunately, as with all things, time has caught up with EQMac again and Sony has announced that the servers will be winding down on November 18th. Although players and game history aficionados will mourn the loss of the world they played in and the small but tight community it spawned, the best way to help ease the sting of losing something beloved is to put that energy and attention into a new direction. This seems like a great opportunity to highlight some of the best MMOs that Mac users can enjoy natively on their platform of choice today.
Featured in our last column as one of the five most underappreciated MMOs, Ryzom is a very cool game with a lot of spirit. It doesn’t have the same historical significance or pedigree as EverQuest, but it creates a unique, evocative and immersive setting which feels like an alien, but living and breathing, world. The races and classes are very different from what you see in most fantasy MMOs, and the community has a very active part in developing the stories that go on in the game. It is also available as a free download from the Mac App Store, so it couldn’t be easier for Mac users to find and install.
Spiral Knights was an early entrant on the Mac version of Steam, and is available there for download to this day. It’s a lightweight client so it doesn’t take up much space on your hard disk and the system requirements are very generous. The gameplay is quick to learn and great for casual dungeon romps with friends or family who might not be as familiar or committed to MMORPGs. The graphics and controls are very family friendly so even younger gamers in your house can join in. While it won’t bring the depth and satisfaction of a full blown MMORPG, sometimes a quick fix dungeon crawl with friends is just what the doctor ordered.
This one is cheating a bit, since it’s browser based and not strictly a native Mac OS X client. This works to the game’s advantage, though, because it offers you the flexibility to play no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. You could be at your in-laws house with nothing but a pokey Dell computer and as long as it has a modern web browser and Java installed, you can log in to Runescape. Also a plus, the price is right: it’s a free-to-play title so there’s nothing to lose in setting up an account and checking things out.
LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE
LotrO makes amazing use of Tolkien’s intellectual property and creates an immersive environment for intrepid adventurers to explore. The Mac beta client was announced last November, although currently on the download site the beta label has been dropped. This game is fantastic for fantasy role playing game fans and it wouldn’t be surprising to see an influx of interest with the upcoming Hobbit movie in December. There is also a deep crafting system, and with the Helm’s Deep expansion on the horizon there is plenty of content to tackle and more to come. The Mac client is available directly from lotro.com and through Steam.
GUILD WARS 2 (BETA)
One of the problems with having a game that separates Mac players from Windows players is that news of the Mac server shutting down might make publishers and developers think twice about putting resources into developing client software for Macs. Although companies like Blizzard and now Valve routinely create a Mac client of their games, other publishers still release Mac versions of their games on a delayed schedule or not at all.
I couldn’t say whether Macs make up enough of a user base to make the development time worthwhile, but as an MMO fan and a Mac user I find it encouraging to see a huge game like Guild Wars 2 stepping up to the plate and releasing a Mac client. Since the client is still in Beta, it might not be worth paying full price until the fully tested client is released. However, there are frequent weekend sales and if you can play cross platform there is no penalty for downloading the Mac beta as well as the Windows version. What’s more, downloading the Mac client helps show that there’s an audience on the Mac for MMOs and big games in general.
There are plenty of other games out there for Mac players, but this handful should get Mac users started. Are there any other gems that you play on a Mac? Have you ever been tempted to don a black turtleneck (R.I.P. Steve Jobs) and join the cult of Mac, but been scared off by the paucity of gaming options? Sound off in the comments below.