Is the Future of MMO’s Here Yet? Written by Sean “Blazek” Emes, Edited by Jordan “Doomhammer” Kahn
Every year we are consistently promised the same thing: new Massive Multiplayer Online games with tons of invested time and money that will be the new generation of MMO’s! Yet we continue to get more of the same year after year. Will 2012 be any different? So far we have two huge titles planned to release. EnMasse Entertainment’s TERA will be released in May, and NCSoft’s Guild Wars 2 will be released…eventually. There’s also the faint hope for something good to happen with Star Wars: The Old Republic, and of course there’s the obligatory World of Warcraft expansion since their last one didn’t work out the way Blizzard hoped. So will any of these games actually change the way we play MMO’s?
If any game is going to deliver a complete experience this year the best chance comes from Guild Wars 2. Granted the game implements most of the same mechanics and systems we have seen before, but it’s the way in which it is done that is impressive. The combat is still a lock-on targeting system, yet the diversity in weapons and play-style offered for each class will keep combat ever changing, and in PvP that means one class will not always fight the same way. The personal story system gives an uniqueness to the game that will help to keep players interested in leveling and possibly even happy with playing through the game as other classes. But these strong game elements both pale in comparison to what they have to offer with world vs world combat. Not since Dark Age of Camelot have players been so excited for a PvP system, hopefully developer ArenaNet will come through for us.
Unfortunately Guild Wars 2 is still quite a ways from release. But we may get the innovation we’re looking for as early as May with the release of the Action MMO, TERA. TERA is a game putting most of its advertising money into the fact that it is the first true action MMO. While this fact is arguable, namely against titles such as Darkfall, it does seem to be the first MMO that does it well. The combat takes a third person shooter approach with limited lock-on abilities and player actions determining most of ability success. While the combat is enjoyable, especially fighting in groups against tough NPCs, only time will tell if is it really enough to make up for the game’s flaws. TERA still uses the archaic questing system of “kill x, gather y” and crafting is very simplistic. Additionally, the political system has seen very little light and it is questionable if it will even be in at launch. The jury is still out on this one, but time will tell.
So what if the new releases fail us? Is there anything to go back to? Star Wars: The Old Republic is still kicking and has the nice new 1.2 patch to bandage up some of the worst issues. The patch promises more content for both PvE and PvP, along with gear to supplement them. Guild banks have finally made their way into the world, along with the much needed UI customization, and finally the long promised Legacy system will be introduced. While all of these features are nice and shiny, it still begs the question, “will players stick around?” After all, isn’t Bioware just following the same updates technique that has turned so many players away from World of Warcraft?
Speak of the beast; Blizzard is attempting to make some pretty big improvements in the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Mists of Pandaria. After Cataclysm, many players were fairly unsatisfied with the “changes” that were going to bring the game back to its roots. While the last expansion was not what we had hoped for, Mists of Pandaria offers some new content, challenges and new social activities to give the game more flavor. The most notable of these include the challenge mode, which rewards players for trying harder in 5 man dungeons, and Scenarios, which are essentially goal oriented PvE matches. This should give players another way to break up the quest grind with something a bit more exciting. There has also been a bit of buzz about the pet battle system, and lastly we are given a talent tree rework… again. I guess the very least you can say is that blizzard is attempting to give players a fresh experience.
Overall 2012 does have a good list of offerings to the MMO crowd, particularly ones who want a change from the norm. However we have been promised over and over again that some new MMO would be the one to look out for and so far it’s been nothing but disappointment. If this year is more of the same, perhaps it will finally be time to officially switch to StarCraft 2, or just kill the PC and head back to Dark Souls and Halo.