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Five Under the Radar MMOs

Jon Wood Posted:
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#2 Dark Age of Camelot

Dark Age of Camelot used to get a lot of attention from gaming sites and audiences alike and the time that interest dropped off, in my opinion, can be directly linked to Mythic's announcement of Warhammer Online and the now defunct Imperator.

As the stories surrounding both Imperator and WAR began to take shape, the attention of both Mythic and the general public were directed elsewhere. Then, with the acquisition of Mythic by Electronic Arts, marketing attention was split even further with the additions of Ultima Online and the then-still-running SIMS Online to the Mythic roster. It was right around that time that any promotion or marketing for DAoC just seemed to dry up.

It's actually interesting, given that Dark Age of Camelot is the game that made Mythic a valuable enough commodity to draw in EA's interest in the first place. The reputation for great Realm vs Realm combat, a concept that Dark Age of Camelot pioneered, made the idea of Warhammer Online something worth investing in.

With all of that being said, Dark Age of Camelot has actually started to crawl its way back up into the public consciousness. After Warhammer's failure to meet both fan and company expectations, many forum-goers have been making waves about the older game, often suggesting that DAoC's three faction RvR system would have been a more natural fit for WAR than its current two faction system. There have even been calls for Mythic to move away from Warhammer and look at creating Dark Age of Camelot 2.

I think that it's safe to say that any rumors that Mythic were actually considering making a sequel to this off the radar game would pop it immediately back into the public consciousness.

#1 Final Fantasy XI

Final Fantasy XI might be the single most important MMORPG that has somehow managed to slip off of everyone's radar. The bottom line is that players who aren't actively engaged with this title, just don't really hear about it.

Many factors contribute to Final Fantasy XI's stealthy ways. First, if you're not a fan of the FF franchise, they all just seem to blur together. It's hard to keep a grasp on which Final Fantasy game people are talking about at any given time. Second, Final Fantasy XI isn't your typical MMO. The combat system alone for this title is pretty foreign to classic MMOers and has the potential to make them scoff and turn the other way. Finally, I think that the game has been around long enough that people will dismiss it out of hand as being out of touch with today's MMOs both in terms of design and graphically.

The thing is though, they'd be wrong. I mean, while I can sit here and talk about all of the reasons that people who don't play this game don't hear about it, I should also mention that there is what some might consider to be a surprising number of MMO players who are passionate and dedicated to this game and its world.

The very differences that set FFXI apart and hide it from the more casual MMO fan: The combat system, the grouping aspects, older graphics, and more, are what actually still draw an audience to this six year old title.

More attention is quick in coming for Final Fantasy though, as the game's developers are working on an MMO follow-up to the game in Final Fantasy XIV. The cognitive dissonance that the number causes for a sequel aside, a great deal of buzz is being generated by this upcoming title and should serve to draw at least some focus back in on the original.

Final Fantasy XI Screenshot

The bottom line is that the number of games that are currently happily operating under the radar is simply huge and different players, especially those inclined to visit a site like MMORPG.com, are bound to be playing games that the rest of the potential audience is missing. Please, feel free to use the comment thread attached to this list to give examples of other games that you feel aren't getting the coverage and recognition that they might really deserve.

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Jon Wood