This past week we were introduced to Citadel: Forged in Fire. The game heralds a survival style game with wizards, melee, spells, and dragons. It is a solid entry into the genre that has been around for a while and done extremely well among MMO fans. There are others in the genre that have also done very well. Conan Exiles has been fantastic for Funcom and yet still more may be on the way.
These two games represent a quick version of what an MMO really should be. Leveling, gear, and crafting come early in the game to build your character. You do die many times though in order to try and build yourself to a safe level.
My experience in DayZ was a play and quit relationship. I would play for a few days, survive, get decent guns and equipment, then ultimately be killed, like everyone else, usually by another player. So, I would scream, throw something, and walk away for about two days. This cycle would repeat itself over and over for about a month when I had to finally move on to another game.
The question here is with so much loss of your character at death, is there a way for games to bring you back in some fashion? Just like the three lives in games during the 80s arcade revolution. You eventually went to resurrections with massive penalties, with World of Warcraft you had resurrections with almost no penalties. Here we are back at the extreme death and loss era 2.0.
In some ways it is better, brought on by Minecraft you have millions of kids playing a game with permadeath. They get it, they have to work for it, and when they lose, they pick themselves up and start over. Not a bad approach overall. So the question is, can we fit in some form of middle ground with less of a penalty on death?
The basis for equality here could come in the gathering of resources to start you off. In Citadel you are grasping for spell components and weapons. In Conan any resources to make weapons and armor. Starting this process over again takes time, maybe there is a way to shorten this process once you have progressed further. Almost like check points? If you make it to level 10, from that point on you start at level 10. Old school MMOs had PvP zones that were broken out by level and they worked very well.
While both Conan and Citadel are high fantasy games, could there soon be an offering with Orcs and Elves as well? The high fantasy genre has not seen a major offering in a while and could use some love as of late. It could very well be that so many MMOs have lasted over time and continue to do well. Elder Scrolls Online remains hugely popular on console and PC alike. So, where is the hardcore high fantasy survival game we all may want to play?
For now, both Conan Exiles and Citadel Forged in Fire offer a great view into the sandbox survival MMO we have all been looking for. I've personally not had time to dig into Dark and Light, but I'm being told it's rough but very deep as well. Try them out if you have not, and expect more games to come into this genre in the future.