Today’s MMO market isn’t what it used to be. A little less than a decade ago everyone was playing the same handful of games and there wasn’t much MMO-hopping going on. Free-to-play was all but nonexistent and unless you paid a subscription for a PC MMORPG, you weren’t playing much in the way of persistent online games. Nowadays, you can boot up an MMO on everything from your smartphone and PC to consoles and tablets. They’re everywhere.
And they’ve transcended genre classification as well. No longer can you adequately describe a game by simply labeling it as an MMO, because games like Destiny, Planetside 2, and others are breaking the boundaries of what that means in a practical sense. Huge worlds exist in Final Fantasy XIV and DC Universe Online and many of the most dedicated fans don’t even own a PC to play games on. We’re finally reaching platform parity and entering the age of the console MMO renaissance – but it’s far from over. I’ve selected a handful of games that I think would be perfect for the console platform and interface – let’s take a look at where the genre may go next!
5) Guild Wars 2
There have been rumors about this possibility for a long time, but they’re mostly unsubstantiated. In terms of overall game design adaptability, it’d be a great fit. Tons of RPGs have converted to consoles that offer similar levels of action, worlds to explore, and characters to take over. The biggest technical hurdle would likely be replicating the massive WvW battles on consoles, but it’s entirely possible since The Elder Scrolls Online utilizes a similar system in terms of scale.
Graphically, it shouldn’t be a problem at all. The wonderful thing about the Guild Wars 2 art style is that it not only scales well, but it remains thematically consistent at all levels. And since the game functions on a limited hotbar system, similar to Neverwinter on Xbox One, it would be incredibly simple to adapt the control scheme for a controller. This is one of the biggest and best MMOs on the market, so delivering that experience to a huge audience would be a big step for the industry.
4) Star Wars: The Old Republic
I know that the first two Knights of the Old Republic games are huge for PC gamers – there were some great mods, after all – but they’re a big deal for console gamers too, particularly the original Xbox. And with the huge fandom that Bioware has amassed in recent years with their Mass Effect and Dragon Age properties, it would be apt for current fans to remember that Bioware first hit it big with licensed properties, such as Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars.
With the increasingly topical popularity of Star Wars in today’s culture, now is the perfect time to bring an MMO experience in the Star Wars universe to consoles for the very first time. Many of the games elements work best when played solo already, especially with the superb storytelling of the main quest line, so it’d be a natural fit on home consoles. I’m really surprised this hasn’t happened yet – especially with EA pulling the strings.
3) Survival Sandbox Games
This is a no-brainer. Minecraft is a smash hit on consoles and on Steam’s Early Access platform, we’ve seen the runaway success of games like DayZ, Rust, H1Z1, Ark: Survival Evolved, and many others. There are already whisperings of H1Z1 coming to PlayStation 4 eventually, which makes sense given that Daybreak used to be Sony Online Entertainment and DCU and Planetside 2 already have console iterations, so it’s only a matter of time.
The Call of Duty zombie mode audience alone is a built-in fanbase that would eat up (pun intended) a proper survival sandbox game like H1Z1, which I quite enjoy on a personal level. On PCs, the market overlap of hardcore, mature, PvP focused games with the survival sandbox environment is alive and flourishing, so it’s a shame that the console counterparts of those fans aren’t getting the same love.
When I tried Vindictus for the first time, I immediately thought, “Wow, this would be even better on consoles!” That’s not just because of the gameplay style, with the fast action and melee brawling focus, but because of the game’s overall design as well. It’s structured in such a way that it’s hardly even a proper MMO. Much of the game takes place in hub areas as you complete short adventures and quests on missions with small groups in instances.
It actually works a lot like games such as Diablo III or Neverwinter – both of which exist on consoles already. Only you take the underlying foundation of those two games, give them more strikingly beautiful visuals, and faster 3rd person combat, and that’s pretty much Vindictus. The action is really intense and it may be the closest thing a western audience would get to see to Monster Hunter on PS4 any time soon.
1) Marvel Heroes
At the end of the day though, like a lot of things these days, it all comes back to Marvel. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the biggest and most profitable things on the planet right now and it’s absolutely baffling that Marvel Heroes hasn’t made its way over to consoles yet. If a more traditional, 3rd person MMO like DC Universe Online works so well on consoles, then why in the hell haven’t Gazillion Entertainment realized the potential they’ve got here?
Just like in the case of Vindictus, take the underlying foundation of a game like Diablo – complete with the exact same gameplay loop, camera angle, and general mechanics – give it a coat of Marvel paint, and you’re good to go. I don’t mean to trivialize the quality of Marvel Heroes as a game, but that’s essentially what’s going on here. It also works wonderfully as a free-to-play title, allowing you to unlock heroes and costumes with in-game currency over time, or with real money. I can guarantee that the majority of all console players out there would download this game and drop a few bucks – it’s a no-brainer port and a rare instance where I think I may actually enjoy it more on my couch. Throw in same-screen coop as well? Done. Gimme.
MMOs are a genre that’s primarily seen on PCs, but we live in a fast changing world these days. I’ve played DC Universe on my PS4 and look forward to Planetside 2 arriving soon. Do you think any of the games listed here would be good fits for consoles? If not, do you have other suggestions? Let us know in the comments!