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The new Generation of Korean MMORPG's - top 5 mmorpg's to keep an eye on

Posted by Gameloading Saturday January 24 2009 at 10:07PM
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Korean MMORPG's have long and rich history in PC gaming. The genre enjoyed high popularity in korea after the release of games such as Lineage and Ragnarok Online.

Unfortunately, Korean mmorpg's never reached the same amount of success in the western market.
Often "suffering" from Point & click movement, long grinds and a heavy death penalty, many western gamers turned away for a more casual approach in games such as World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft was the first to find the missing ingredient to cross the cultural border, enjoying success in China and Korea. Combined with decreasing subscribtion numbers of Lineage and the disapointing results of traditional Korean mmorpg's such as RF Online, ArchLord, Granado Espada and Ragnarok Online 2 and it became all the more obvious that change was inevitable. Korean Gamers want more than simplistic point & click games. They want to explore new gameplay mechanics, depth and more content.

Developers took notice and went back to the drawing board and today, the results are in,
It is difficult to predict how well these games will do or if they will ever see a western release, but perhaps we are witnessing the rebirth of the Korean mmorpg.

I have made a list of 5 next generation Korean mmorpg's. Take note, most of them have been announced only recently, and due to the fact these games are Korean it's often difficult to find information about them.

Note: All gameplay videos are hosted on Youtube, I suggest you click the "Watch in high quality" or "Watch in HD" settings to get the best results.

5 - Kingdom Under Fire II

Developer: BLUESIDE.Inc
Publisher: Phantagram
Western Release: Likely

There isn't much known about Kingdom Under Fire 2, aside from the fact it will be an MMORTS. It's scheduled for release on the Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC. Considering that all Kingdom Under Fire games are released in the west, there is a big chance the game will make it over to our side of the world.
The developers claim it will be the first of its kind and allow players to wage war onto each other on a huge scale.

I'll keep this one up in the air. MMORTS remains an unproven formula. Still, if BLUESIDE can pull it off, we may have a hit on our hands.

A picture says a thousand words, so how much does a video say? who knows, but here is one for you anyway.

Gameplay video:

4 - Blade & Soul

Developer: NCsoft
Publisher: NCsoft
Western Release: Questionable

Blade & Soul received a significant amount of hype for a game that was never announced for the western release One look at the trailer and it's not difficult to see why. The game has gorgeous graphics and action packed gameplay. The gameplay in Blade & soul seems to be twitch based and much more action packed than in traditional mmorpg's. Using martial arts moves such as wall crawl don't hurt it's appeal either.
It's still up in the air if Blade & Soul will received a western release. The game has only been announced a few months ago and is still in development. I don't think the game was developed with a western audience in mind as the theme of the game is clearly Asian culture. Still, perhaps Blade & Soul will receive a western release considering how much hype there already is for the title. Fingers crossed!

Gameplay video:

3 -  Continent Of the Ninth

Developer: NHN
Publisher: Hangame
Western Release: Questionable

It's quite difficult to find information about Continent of the Ninth as, just like Blade & Soul, it's only been revealed a little while ago and with no mention of a Western Release. However just by watching the gameplay trailer, one thing becomes very obvious: Hangame gathered all the remains of traditional Point & click gameplay, put them in a nice box and tossed it in a fire. If you're looking for a twitch based action packed mmorpg, this game is made for you.  This might actually be the most fast paced mmorpg ever made.
It's amazing how far combat in mmorpgs has come. This game probably won't see a western release. No western announcement has been made and while NHN does have its own game portal, Ijii, it's not made for MMORPG's. NHN's other published MMORPG, ArchLord, was published by Codemasters. Unfortunately, Neither NHN nor Codemasters have announced a western release.
Please Codemasters? Pretty please?

Gameplay video:

2 - Aion: The tower of Eternity

Developer: NCsoft
Publisher: NCsoft
Western Release: Confirmed

We are looking at a new generation of Korean mmorpg's and Aion is leading the charge. Many people have wondered what would happen if you take the best things of western mmorpg's and the best things of traditional asian mmorpg's and put them together. Apparently NCsoft had the same thing in mind as Aion has been developed with a global audience in mind right from the start, including room for casual play and a focus on WASD movement instead of Point & Click

The game is set for release this year and is already a huge success in Korea. Aion promises PVPVE gameplay, siege warfare, aerial combat, Combo battle system, a deep crafting system, a living world that is influenced by the players and much, much more.

Gameplay video:

1 - TERA

Developer: Bluehole studio
Publisher: Hangame
Western Release: Likely

TERA deserves attention for a number of reasons. 
Bluehole studios may be a new studio, but it has some of the most influencial developers of the entire industry on board, including the Producer, Lead Game Designer, Lead programer and lead artist of Lineage 2.

What set this mmorpg apart from most other mmorpg's is the ambition of the developers. I'll quote a few phrases from the Bluehole studio website.


"? The game under development, "TERA" is a blockbuster scale MMORPG.
? TERA is clearly differentiated from World of Warcraft or Lineage II by ...
i. Dynamic battle system
ii. Next generation graphics
iii. Enhanced community experience
? An executable game prototype that demonstrates the dynamic battle system is ready for evaluation."


Facing the mob and repeatedly pressing a skill button is no longer exciting.
Even the unprecedented hit title, WoW, doesn't deviate from the traditional combat system.

TERA introduces a ground-breaking innovation to the MMORPG combat system.

From the start, the company hoped to realize a combat system that would set a new global standard. After careful consideration, it was decided that TERA's fight sequences should closely resemble real fight scenes. Hence, TERA will introduce omni-directional attacks, where distance and direction must be coordinated for weapons and spells to work; moreover, healers must continuously take new battle positions to cast spells. Also, depending on body weight ratio between a mob and player, an enemy hit will register a fall-back reflect. These are some of the innovative features in TERA.

Also, unlike games that claim to be a MMORPG by emphasizing action-style gameplay, TERA does not utilize zoning (section loading). All users will seamlessly move throughout the world, sharing a singular combat experience. Moreover, the foundation for the innovative combat system originates from the robust client/server technology. This breakthrough technology is one of the many revolutionary features developed by Bluehole to enhance the end-user experience.

 Epic sized content, re-enforced community system!

MMORPG is a game enjoyed simultaneously by numerous players. For long-term enjoyment, initial content volume must be augmented on a timely basis. TERA will appeal to end-users seeking continuous content support without the sacrifice of high quality graphics. Even after a week… a month… a year… the game will pull the player deeper to the virtual world.

The goal is to achieve the world's highest concurrent user load per server!
Players in TERA will not only experience battles with higher concurrent users, but also encounter a revolutionized interaction system for political and economic professions. TERA will offer a stable, non-disruptive in-game social life.

Currently there is one gameplay trailer avaible for TERA Online. it shows that the game is build from the ground up to be an action mmorpg and shows some of its architecture, combat and grouping.

Gameplay video:


It's very clear that Asian mmorpg's are moving away from their traditional gameplay mechanics. Point & Click is clearly on its way out and fast paced action gameplay is the way of the future, I have only touched the tip of the iceberg as many, many more action focused asian mmorpg's are under development.

It seems that the focus is now much more on actual gameplay instead of just character development. I'd say it's a change for the better.
With that said, MMORPG communities are very unpredictable and it will be interesting to see how gamers respond to these revolutionary changes.