Greetings MMORPG.com readers. I had originally planned on covering the rest of patch 2.1 for Final Fantasy XIV:ARR today but then realized this was my last column of the year and decided to call an audible. I’ll refrain from giving any best or worst lists since those should start popping up on the site soon™ but instead I’ll just give my general impression for the year as a whole.
If I was forced to pick three words to sum up this year it would be: voxel, KickStarter, and Reborn. This time last year if you had asked me what the word voxel meant I would have looked at you like you were growing something out of your head and then proceeded to look it up on the internet. Since then CubeWorld took the internet by storm, EverQuest Next showed the world that you could be a voxel and not have to look like you were built out of Legos, and Trion is doing their best “me too!” with Trove. For a while there was not a YouTube channel that didn’t have a CubeWorld video on it. I think the husband and wife team at Picroma did a great job of making this novelty of a game and a masterful job of marketing it. Hopefully 2014 will see some updates made to the game to breathe more life into it.
ShadowRun Returns, the first game that I ever backed on KickStarter, was released this year. This game was what I hoped for from a ShadowRun game. Whenever I think of ShadowRun I always envision Seattle looking much like LA from Blade Runner. A dark dystopian society full of rainy streets, but instead of cyborgs we have Trolls, Orcs, and Elves. Sprinkle in some arcane and shamanistic magic as well as cyber hackers and you have the fundamentals of what makes SR tick. Harebrained Schemes delivered on all of their promises to backers. This turn based strategy game with a deep story has left me wanting for more. I’m eagerly looking forward to the next scenario that takes placed in Berlin. We also saw veteran MMO developers take advantage of the crowd funding idea. Ryan Dancey and Goblinworks successfully had a second KickStarter backed and are now a year into development on Pathfinder Online. Mark Jacobs and his City State Entertainment team are making a player versus player focused MMO featuring horizontal instead of vertical progression. Finally Lord British himself, Richard Garriott, is taking us back to RPG roots with his Ultima inspired Shroud of the Avatar, Forsaken Virtues, which is an MMO, but isn’t an MMO, and is way too complicated to explain in a few short sentences. Each of these games has something that is a drastic departure from the mainstream norm and are probably not games that would have been backed by a big publisher. Hopefully each of them can be as successful making good on their backer promises and Harebrained Schemes was with SRR.
A Realm Reborn. You are going to see Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn at the top of a lot of gaming websites for MMO Game of the Year. This really is not a celebration of how good XIV:ARR is as much as it is an indictment of how weak this year’s candidates are. While the original release of XIV may have had everything going against it, this rerelease of XIV has everything end up going in its favor. Originally the Elder Scrolls Online and WildStar were slated for 4th quarter 2013 release. There was also optimism that Arche Age would hit the street at the end of 2013. None of those things happened. FF went from coming out in the middle of an overly crowded release window to being the only AAA MMO to come out the entire second half of 2013. Even EQN Landmark Alpha slipped out of 4th quarter 2013 into late 1st quarter 2014. If Square Enix could have dreamt up the perfect launch window for their game this was it. This allowed them to overcome the blunders they had in the first week and not miss a beat. Now with ESO slated for a 4/4/2014 release, and I doubt that WildStar will come out before that, Square Enix has another 3 months to develop some quality content before they have to worry about losing subscribers to new MMOs. That being said I do like Final Fantasy and I’m happy with the way this new vision turned out. Are there things I wished they had done differently? Absolutely, but I have enjoyed my time in Eorzea nonetheless.
But that’s enough from an old windbag like me. I’m more concerned about what you think. What are three significant things you think can encapsulate this year? Let me know in the comments below. Also no matter your faith I hope all of you have a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous new year. I’m looking forward to talking with you more in 2014.
Robert Lashley / Robert Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can find him spending his free time in Eorzea pretending he is a Paladin in the Leviathan realm. You can also chase him down on twitter @Grakulen
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