The MMO genre can sometimes feel like a whimsical sea of shifting sands, but it’s not without its axioms. Open betas will almost always mean soft launches, game development benchmarks will take longer than expected, and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will always be one of the best-conceived and poorly-executed MMORPGs ever made. Yet, sometimes the sands shift enough to reveal patterns for those who are good enough at predictions to get a glimpse of what awaits for MMOs, RPGS, and other games.
I am not one of those gifted fortune tellers. Here are my MMO predictions for 2016!
Black Desert Online Will Surprise Gamers Everywhere by Being Good
If you’ve been following coverage for Black Desert Online closely, you may not be as unsuspecting as the gaming public in general as to what Pearl Abyss and Daum Games have in store. From what I’ve seen of the CBT content, Black Desert Online looks to be an extremely detailed MMORPG with astonishingly beautiful visuals and a myriad of gameplay systems that challenge what we’ve come to expect from contemporary MMOs. If the localization team can make the game feel like a triple-A title and not a hurried import, socks will be knocked off for sure.
EverQuest Next Will Go into Closed Beta, Announce Launch Date
With all of the changes that Daybreak Games have undergone recently, it’s anyone’s guess what is the status of EverQuest Next at this point. One has to think - or hope - that the erstwhile Sony Online Entertainment team has been able to stay the development course and gotten what they’ve needed from Landmark testing to move forward. CBT by the end of the year, with a proposed 2017 launch date, seems a generous estimate, but nonetheless possible.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen Will Make Me Want to Play Vanguard
Oh Vanguard, we hardly knew ye. And possibly, the person who knew you best, other than the peeps at SOE who took over its stewardship, was designer Brad McQuaid at what was once known as Sigil Games. Brad’s new company, Visionary Realms, and their indie project, Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen, may not be attempting to create a direct sequel to Vanguard or something even similar in scope or concept. Still, you’d think that some of the design tenets that the Sigil team held dear have to be alive and well within Visionary Realms’ approach. From what I’ve seen so far, I can guarantee that Pantheon is going to make me want to play Vanguard, and I hope that Visionary Realms’ game is going to scratch that itch.
Shroud of the Avatar Will Test the Boundaries of Old School, High Concept MMO Design
For most MMO and RPG players, Richard Garriott and the Ultima universe need no introduction. Ultima VII was the game that got me into western RPGs, and Ultima Online, MMORPGs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if many of our readers have similar stories. Garriott and Portalarium’s sandbox MMORPG, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, seeks to employ several old school, high concept MMO systems, such as a player-driven economy, open PvP, and classless character progression, along with a single-player offline mode. It looks to be a newly-minted MMO experience with classic RPG design values at heart, and will be a test to demonstrate if the genre is still open to those ideals.
Guild Wars 2 Will Announce and Deliver Post-Heart of Thorns Living World Content
ArenaNet is known for being somewhat cagey about their future releases, which is a good thing, as they ordinarily give their content an appropriate amount of time to bake so that it’s polished come launch. With Guild Wars 2’s first expansion, Heart of Thorns, releasing over three years after the base game, it’s unlikely that we’ll hear anything about a second expansion for some time. However, the folks at ANet are intimately aware of the need for live updates to keep a game community fresh, and it’s more than likely that we’ll see some news for the next Living World season, with new content starting later this year.
What are your MMO predictions for 2016?