5 MMOs That Were Gone Too Soon (And 3 That Should Have Been Gone Sooner)
MMORPG Gamers generally love the worlds they inhabit. Over the years we have seen some beloved games, with worlds that many players called home, vanish, and all that is left are the memories. We’ve compiled a short list of games that we wish were still around (in an official capacity) along with a few games that may have overstayed their welcome just a bit.
Gone Too Soon – Star Wars Galaxies
It started as a title that somewhat struggled to find its footing and transitioned through several iterations throughout its nearly 8-year run, but Star Wars Galaxies offered much more than a simple theme park experience. Star Wars Galaxies was a home to many that played it, whether they were Human Bounty Hunters, or Twi-Lek Entertainers. The addition of Jump to Lightspeed was a major, highly sought-after addition, that added space combat in ways that amounted to custom building of ships, space parties, and thrilling dog fights.
Even with Star Wars Galaxies long list of features that many more recent games struggle to get right such as player housing and meaningful crafting, Sony Online Entertainment struggled to find a good balance with combat. After mixed reactions to a Combat Upgrade that was never fully balanced, the New Game Experience rolled out, completely reinventing not just combat, but classes and leveling altogether, which put the last nail in the coffin for many veteran players. Even with the NGE, players were still sad to see this game close for good. SOE no longer runs SWG, but that hasn’t stopped several fans from developing emulators of the title. While this is a noble act, many of us know, it will never be the same as when the game was truly in development. When you look back fondly on Star Wars Galaxies, the real question is, which version of it are you missing?
Gone Too Soon – Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
Mythic Entertainments Realm vs Realm title, Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning is a game that many gamers attribute as the cornerstone of open group quest gaming today. At the time of release, WAR was already one of the most anticipated games in development, and this carried through to high review scores, and appearances on “Best Of” lists throughout the industry.
Many players rejoiced at the interesting class choices, the inclusion of multiple open world Realm vs Realm encounters, and the championing of Public Quests, which will forever be etched as one of WARs crowning achievements. With so many well received accomplishments, many were surprised when Mythic reported slumping subscriber numbers, and massive losses that eventually led to the loss of the licensing agreement with Games Workshop, essentially ending any hopes of turning the game around. Still, to this day, Warhammer Online is a game that many have a fond memory of, and one that deserved better than how it ended.
Should Have Gone Sooner – The Matrix Online
You would imagine that a game created after one of the biggest movie franchises ever made, that essentially revolves around a virtual world we all inhabit, and consists of three clearly defined factions, would be a game that we all could rally behind. Unfortunately for The Matrix Online, you must do much more than simply provide a popular premise from a multimillion-dollar franchise. MXO was a victim of its own innovation. Many players had trouble coming to terms with a disjointed combat system at launch, that locked players into cinematic Kung-Fu style battles, which often worked poorly with multiple opponents.
The premise of every quest being unique was interesting in its conception but proved lackluster in practice. Not everything in MXO was poorly executed, and over time, the development managed to make the most despised features palatable, but at that point it was too little too late. Monolith Productions, or Sony Online Entertainment, after the transition, should have cut their losses when they learned that their combat direction would never fully materialize into the cinematic gameplay they were hoping for.
Gone Too Soon – Vanguard Saga of Heroes
The late, great developer Brad McQuaid of EverQuest fame in coordination with Sony Online Entertainment spearheaded a massively ambitious project with Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. There were so many things that Vanguard did right, but performance issues problems were persistent through launch, and continued for several years thereafter. Vanguard had some systems that set it apart from most other games, with a Diplomacy system that required its own set of skills and gear, to a very interactive crafting system that was often difficult at the best of times, and insanely repetitive at the worst of times, many of these features had the right idea, but the wrong execution.
Vanguard was also known for its very large, although at times, poorly optimized, world, which was broken up into “chunks” which led to stalls in exploration due to “chunking” or loading when you approached the next mass of land. In time, everything eventually got better with Vanguard, but SOE wasn’t interested in putting time or money into developing games that weren’t very popular, which left Vanguard: Saga of Heroes out in the cold despite a very vocal niche following.
Should Have Gone Sooner – Bless Online
Neowiz Games, developers of Bless Online, the well-received DJMAX series, and several other upcoming Bless related titles, is a developer that doesn’t lack the ability to create excellent games. In my opinion, as I expressed with my original review of Bless Online, they simply lacked the direction to create a game that resonated with an audience. Unfortunately, it took several releases, and multiple game closures for them to understand that Bless Online, for all its outstanding character models and revamped combat mechanics, didn’t resonate with very many at all in any of the regions they released in.
Bless Online struggled to gain a footing in the west, eventually self-publishing the title, but at that point, stalling interest from other regions should have been enough writing on the wall for Neowiz for them to reorganize their resources, to other, more deserving titles. Neowiz, despite closing down Bless Online globally, is still determined to bring the world of Bless to the masses, no matter the cost it seems. Bless Unleashed, an entirely new adaption is set to release at some point in 2020, along with a newly announced mobile title, Bless Eternal.
Gone Too Soon – Tabula Rasa
Lead Designer Richard Garriott worked with notorious game publisher NCsoft to create this sci-fi alien MMORPG that ended up leaving us far sooner than it should have. Even after all these years, questions persist on how much this game actually cost to develop, and whether a rift between Garriott and NCsoft regarding his promotional space flight (which we still question the viability of its promotional value) may have led to the quick shut down of the fairly well-received title.
In many ways, Tabula Rasa was well before its time. It featured a soft targeting system that played closer to a third person shooter, and focused on events where enemies would attack bases, which required players to coordinate PvE efforts. Despite bugs and balancing issues that most games come across at some point in their development cycle, Tabula Rasa was truly a game that deserved more than a short 2-year run.
Gone Too Soon – City of Heroes
Could you imagine a list of games that left us too soon without City of Heroes appearing? Everyone should have seen this coming, as there have been so many “spiritual successors” announced over the years, and now a rather popular emulated version, City of Heroes Homecoming, has arrived to satiate gamers who just can’t quit Cryptic Games’ once beloved property. City of Heroes had it all. You could play as a hero, and eventually, you could play as a villain. You had multiple options for classes, abilities, visual customization, travel powers, and even difficulty sliders for content.
Looking back now, you may think that the combat system is outdated, and the graphics could use a complete overhaul, but the simplistic combat mechanics and low polygon visuals are part of the charm that made City of Heroes a superhero title that has inspired so many others to take up donations to replicate it.
Should Have Gone Sooner – Marvel Heroes Online
Many MMO gamers, us included at MMORPG.com loved Marvel Heroes Online in all its iterations. For an Action Role Playing Game it did a lot of things right, such as combat, difficult content, and a steady stream of character additions that delighted fans over the years. Gazillion had some growing pains over the years, but, for the most part, there was a rabid fanbase that wanted to see Marvel Heroes grow and get better over the years. In 2016, then CEO David Brevik left Gazillion, in a move that irked fans of the game, and shortly thereafter, Marvel Heroes began a steady decline. Had gamers known what was in store at the time, Marvel Heroes Online would have been better off ending with the loss of Brevik. Despite successful launches of a console version, Marvel Heroes Omega, updates began to slide, with integral content missing its release dates.
Many questions persisted about what went on at the time before Marvel Heroes closure. Whether Disney pulled their license due to upcoming projects conflicting with one another, or if harassment allegations at the time regarding the new CEO Dave Dohrmann, caused Disney to rethink their decision to do business with Gazillion as a whole. Console gamers were up in arms after the newly launched version of Marvel Heroes Omega, was set to close so shortly after launching, leaving players who had invested large sums into character unlocks questioning whether they would get their money back. In the end, both Microsoft and Sony provided refunds to those affected, but not before gamers watched a much-anticipated title disappear from their gaming library.