Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Revisiting the latest greatest hopes of MMOs

Four months ago i started a list of promising upcoming online games. I am especially interested in the ones which promise true persistence, giving meaning to player actions unlike the endless rat-farming of WoW-clones. Given that i recently ran across a couple of new ones, i'd like to revisit the old list and add to it. This time i'll be ranking them from least to most likely to be worth a time/money investment.

Not Worth Bothering

Dead. It's gotten too late for them to resuscitate it now. The website is still useful because of the old fans trading tips about upcoming Dawntide-like games.

Planetside 2
Does not live up to its potential. In an effort to make gameplay more exciting and fast-paced, they managed to make player actions trivial. What's more, the microtransaction system is already beginning to pile 'must-have' items into the game, purchasable with real-world currency. It is slowly turning to a pay-to-win system.

Looking less and less like an MMO and more like random arena gameplay. Though it promises large-scale PvP, there's no talk of it having any effect on the game world. If it doesn't have battle-lines to shift, it'll end being as trivial as PS2.


By the time i'd really get into Xsyon at this point, it would be time for newer, better-funded, better-publicized games to come out. Seems they're already struggling for more customers. It's a pity. Seems like a good project, but since i've already missed the boat, it's gone. If Albion, Repop and Camelot all turn out to be duds, i'll give it another look to see how it's progressed. Otherwise, i just don't want to invest time and money into it.

Life is Feudal
Unfortunately, it seems more and more amateurish, less clearly thought out than the others. An idea like playing unrelated minigames in lieu of crafting can only dilute the game experience. They seem to have put the cart before the horse (aesthetics before functionality) in some respects and the lack of updates on their progress makes it seem like it's about to vaporize.

Albion Online
One of the new discoveries. It promises territory conquests, meaningful PvP but... it's pay-to-win. Despite their insistence that it's not, they are lying through their teeth as far as i can tell. Much like Project Entropia in ye olden days, and EVE later on, legitimized cheating will become the game's ultimate virtue.
Their optimistic scenario of a paying player losing the sword he bought with real money to someone else is much more realistically read as a player paying to have an instant advantage in a fight over you and take the loot you've worked days to acquire in-game.
Cheating should never be legitimized. If they backpedal a bit on that issue and limit the advantages you can buy yourself, it'll be well worth looking into. Otherwise, i have no intention of taking a rusty knife against Richie Rich and his gold-plated battlemech.


The Repopulation
Still very interesting. New updates to monster AI make it sound like the most fleshed-out and diverse online PvE content yet. Environmentally-influenced player visibility sounds like it'll make sneaking a reality - client-side UI cheats notwithstanding.

Camelot Unchained
This game apparently shares at least one project lead with DAoC and WAR, and the man is saying all the right things. He talks the talk from crafting to PvP to difficulty settings. As things stand now, this is the most likely project to deliver, though it's the farthest in the future. While the Repopulation may get bogged down in PvE somewhat, CU touts the PvP-centered web of interaction i see as central to a persistent world. Where Albion tries to sell a pay-to-win system, even i remember this Jacobs character's hardline stance against gold-selling in WAR. While Xsyon is very difficult to get into, these people know the value of intuitive basic mechanics and developing complexity from player interaction. Where LiF loses itself in diverging visions, CU shows promise of both complexity and coherence.
Soldier on, i barely know anything about this game yet but i'm loving every word of it.

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