Perfect Ten: The MMORPGs to watch in 2016

A long time ago on another website far, far away, I held a tradition of kicking off the new year by listing the top 10 MMOs that deserved attention and were likely to launch that year. These days, however, the industry has changed quite a bit, most notably with early access, open development, soft launches, and crowdfunding blurring the lines of testing and play.

Therefore, I felt that a slight change was needed with 2016's list. Instead of rattling off 10 titles that I think are going to release in the following 12 months, I'm going to mention games that strongly bear watching in the new year. Some of them will undoubtedly release, while the rest remain in alpha or beta testing, but all could have an impact on the industry and in our online communities.

Because I'm limiting the list to just 10 entries, some up-and-coming games won't be mentioned. I have my reasons (secret, dusky reasons), but if you disagree about these or the exclusion of any title, pipe up in the comments!

1. Late to the Party: Blade and Soul

January's launch of Blade and Soul in the west has my keen attention at the moment -- not because I want to play it, but because this is a game that western players have wanted for years now. In fact, it became a running joke that NCsoft would never bring it overseas no matter what the demand.

Now that it's about here, will there be a suitable audience for this wuxia title? I've heard some despairing that the publisher waited too long and that the timing isn't right. I'm not so sure, especially considering how few major MMO launches we've had over the past year. Will it boom, bust, or middle out? I am dying to know the answer. (Eliot wasn't so impressed, however.)

2. Eye Candy: Black Desert

Speaking of Asian imports, Black Desert is coming our way sooner or later, although there are strong fears that this sandbox will be altered too much from its original state to be as beloved. But if any game can succeed based on its visuals alone, it might well be this incredibly beautiful title. Personally, I predict that it will be a spitting cousin of ArcheAge, looking to draw in players disenchanted with that title. Will players trust another Asian sandbox import that's been tweaked and modified?

3. Return of the King: Camelot Unchained

Dark Age of Camelot forged itself a strong niche in the early 2000s by taking PvP and turning it into something grand and meaningful. Players who have been yearning for a sequel will soon get a spiritual successor in Camelot Unchained, led by DAoC's Mark Jacobs, now bearing years of experience and lessons learned. With an insanely robust crafting system, 30 classes, and good ol' RvR, Camelot Unchained could well be an indie breakout hit that earns your subscription dollar.

4. The Next Generation: Star Citizen

You might not have heard of this game, but Star Citizen has quite the ambitious spirit fueling its space sim development. While the MMOish persistent universe won't be seeing a 2016 release, there will definitely be some significant steps toward a full-featured game as testing goes forward and Squadron 42 prepares to ship. Or, according to some, Star Citizen will collapse and implode all universes, real and digital. I'm banking on a more successful run, myself.

Hype and drama aside, it's easy to understand why this game has so many people excited for it. Space sims aren't the same-old fantasy rehash, and there's sheer desire on the part of both backers and the game's developers to play in a world with such a wide feature set.

5. The Grimdark Sandbox: Revival

Not every MMO is looking to rope in the entire family. Revival, for example, is downright proud in showing off its ugly, gritty side and appealing to a much more mature crowd. Mixing gothic horror and a grimdark world would certainly set any game apart from the pack, but what Revival offers past that is a desire to create a sandbox world is drenched in true roleplaying systems. If you can get past the shock value of having things like prostitution and slavery in an MMO, you might see that there's a whole bunch more to consider.

6. PvP Valhalla: Crowfall

Take a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, toss in industry veterans who know their stuff, and create recyclable PvP campaigns that have beginnings, middles, and ends. What will we get when Crowfall comes out? Maybe a lot of talk and little substance. But maybe a high-profile title that seduces the PvP set while wooing first time combatants with its housing system, art style, and choice of campaigns. Crowfall has a long, long way to go, but 2016 will definitely ramp up its testing and spark more conversation about what kind of game this will be when it finally does release.

7. The Brilliant Indie: Project Gorgon

Perhaps the best-kept secret of in-development MMOs, Project Gorgon is a veritable treasure trove of creativity that's been masked by sub-standard graphics and an unfortunate name. If you're looking for a game that rethinks how MMOs work and offers so many interesting things to do (including leveling up as a cow or fighting a conspiracy of psychic mantises), you're going to want to check this out.

At least the visuals are due for an upgrade with the game's Kickstarter funds, and a Steam release is due some time in the early part of 2016. Fingers crossed that it picks up momentum and gets the attention it deserves. Yes, I am totally biased for this game.

8. The Old-School Revival: Shroud of the Avatar

Speaking of spiritual successors to old-school MMOs, Shroud of the Avatar is definitely the closest we'll ever get to a straight-up Ultima Online 2. Even better, the game is being developed by Richard Garriott without the string-pulling of EA, which means that he's making the game he's wanted to make for years. With a highly active community behind it, Shroud could be a sleeper hit if and when it comes out with its first episode. My concerns primarily have to do with its accessibility and macrotransactions (get a mortgage on your home so you can buy one here!), but I'm really liking what I'm seeing elsewhere.

9. The Cross-Platform Wunderkind: Albion Online

It seems as though indie sandboxes are a dime a dozen in the MMO space these days, making me envision some sort of weird reality TV show where they knock each other off until only one remains. While I'm not going to mention many of the others here, I will say that Albion Online is most definitely worth noting. It's got some... interesting ideas in regard to its housing and PvP systems, but the visuals are charming and the efforts to make this a truly cross-platform MMO (including mobile!) bumps it up in my estimation.

10. The Fallen Angel: EverQuest Next

Saying that you are looking forward to EverQuest Next's release is kind of like being a middle-aged adult who still believes in Santa Claus (apologies to our younger readers, who totally know that Saint Nick is real and has them on the "nice" list). People look at you funny and offer up a slew of snide comments.

But you know what? I haven't given up on Daybreak's next chapter in the EverQuest franchise. I hope that it's still being worked on and that in 2016, we're going to suddenly start hearing a lot about it. I think it's the kind of big-budget, big-idea, next-generation MMO that we need, and I don't see anyone else picking up that mantle right now. So go, you crazy EQN. Prove your doubters wrong!

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line "Perfect Ten."
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98 Comments on "Perfect Ten: The MMORPGs to watch in 2016"

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CastagereShaikura
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CastagereShaikura

I don't know if this will be a full on mmo but it will have online play. I got turned on to this by a friend. Its in open alpha now but check it out. And i would like to hear what massively thinks about it.

http://ninelives.smokymonkeys.com/

CastagereShaikura
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CastagereShaikura

tominva2012 Yeah non of those games do anything for me..

tominva2012
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tominva2012

Sadly, I'd rather play a new campaign for Guild Wars 1 than any of these games or, for that matter, most any of the MMOs currently up and running (including the SWTOR) I'm currently playing). 
There has been a lot of fuss and bother about "WoW clones", but, frankly, I wish someone *would* clone Guild Wars (the original Guild Wars, mind you), with its skill/weapon system, dual classing options, etc., generating a very similar sort of game.

SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably
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SirMysk Needs (More) Coffee, Probably

1. I think that B&S will do alright. Right in the middle.
2. Black Desert: I don't know anymore. From what I've seen on streams it looked incredibly same'ol and boring, but I'm open to being wrong about it.
3. Camelot Unchained. Obviously this is going to be a success and I'm not even into PvP.
4. Star Citizen. This will get me to buy my first flight stick in a couple of decades.
5. Revival. I don't even know. I'd love a... "grim dark" setting. I'm rooting for it, but it's way too early for me to guess at.
6. Crowfall. Meh. Looks so very meh. I don't understand the hype at all, but best wishes to them.
7. Project Gorgon. I haven't the foggiest, but the cow bit amuses me.
8. Shroud of The Avatar. Nuff said.
9. Flash-in-text online... wait.. what? I couldn't finish the promotional video on their website. :-/
10. EQNope.

EpicViking
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EpicViking

In the ways of "MMO"'s my list for 2016 would be

Star Citizen
Shroud of the Avatar (havent played it in an update or two, just isnt enough stuff to do at the moment for me to wanna "test" it.
The Division and Escape from Tarkov is my top two on the list so far, and while they aren't traditional MMO's, i hope they give me the stuff i want in a "MMO" environment. Star Citizen looks to have everything i want in a space game, but its in no way a shape where i want to back it yet. Other than that its just Legion exansion that has me on my toes.

disUserNameTake
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disUserNameTake

boredinBC I'm not rooting for them to fail, but I really think this game has overestimated the number of people who are interested enough in a new RvR game to keep it viable population-wise.  But we'll see....

allionline
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allionline

I'll Be Watching You...

World's Adrift - Probably the only upcoming game I'd consider kickstarting and/or buying at launch.
Star Citizen - I'm skeptical but interested.
Project Gorgon - If they improve the graphics, I'm in.
Chronicles of Elyria - Very skeptical but very intrigued.

Arrobee
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Arrobee

Warking Siphaed Sorenthaz CF fans, always looking for a way to jab at CU, can't let both games evolve and be their own thing. The games aren't even focusing on the same niche.

CF is for MOBA players. You got your twitch based skill shots. Limited skills and set skill layout. Short duration maps. Cash shops to trivialize the whole point of those maps. They even threw in a little SimCity so you can build a town, or buy a town, depending on if you are their niche market of whales.

CU's crafting is based off a MUD Mark created long before SWG. So if it resembles SWG, then we know where Raph got his ideas from? ;)

Did you just try to discredit a game that is loosely based on arthurian, viking and celtic mythologies, because it didn't have your story of choice in it?

Arrobee
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Arrobee

Loopstah Comments like this make me laugh. Focusing so heavily on graphics is possibly the reason players aren't sticking with the games they play. Once the 'Ooo Shiney' wears off, you're left with nothing to do.

Give me sub-par graphics with engaging gameplay any day. Also, can we say Alpha/Pre-Alpha builds?

Games need to go back to their niche roots. Companies can't afford to be WoW, and they never work out; getting everyone hyped for a game that ultimately falls flat. Pick a niche and focus on it, they will love you in return.

milosanx
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milosanx

Really not excited for many or any of them. Either they are hyped "got potential" games, or just the same ol' story for mmos.

Project Gorgon, seem interesting, but still no world altering which I love.

Star Citizen as I have it, if we see it or not that another question.

Tbh, Elite dangerous Horizon could have some really good things added to it this year and its actually here.

Apart from that, Come visit me in Wurm, I've got lots to do and could use a hand :)

Syppi
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Syppi

Satyros Nobody had seen the Jedi mentioned in quite some time and yet they came roaring back!

Satyros
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Satyros

Heheh.. EQN being mentioned in an article.. Haven't seen that in some time..

Nanulak
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Nanulak

Impact on the industry....you have to look no further than CU and its BSC ideas.  If everything works out as planned, this game, will be a game changer.  Optimistically speaking CU is on top of my 2016 list.  SC is very interesting but I have my reservations on how good it will be.  CF looks interesting but bot enough to invest at this point.

PaganRites
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PaganRites

Kudos for the Revival mention.  I think this game is going to be amazing.  Also Camelot Unchained, Black Desert, Star Citizen!  It's going to be a great year for MMOs.  Also love the direction Crowfall is taking.

SwobyJ
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SwobyJ

I'll be watching 4/10 of these... tops. MMOs really aren't happening to me, more and more, and I stick around here for some sense of online community, and due to my hopes for VR MMO gaming for the future.

Vexia
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Vexia

breetoplay Vexia Oh, that makes sense. I guess I just don't care because I'm one of those people who has no qualms with the name "Tree of Savior" as well. :P Name your game whatever you want, developers, I'll still try it out.

jonny_sage
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jonny_sage

schmidtcapela jonny_sage A Dad Supreme I never said everyone enjoyed sandboxe. I took issue with the claim that people dont stick with them.  Themeparka are define by people not sticking with them. You ride the rides and go home, or go to another park.

tilles87
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tilles87

I'm already having a good amount of fun with Project Gorgon, and I'm looking forward to Crowfall more and more.

breetoplay
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breetoplay

Vexia It was a placeholder name, and it doesn't make much sense or have much appeal beyond hardcore MMO folks who don't care about names. :D

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

Sorenthaz A Dad Supreme 
Given that Star Citizen will provide an official private server application, with customization options and modding capabilities, and given how many players seem to prefer to play alone, I would bet most Star Citizen players will be playing outside the official servers.

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

jonny_sage A Dad Supreme 
It depends. Not everyone enjoys sandboxes (or even can enjoy them). In fact, from where the market is going now, I would say most players prefer themeparks to sandboxes, at least when it comes to MMOs.

It's something I found about my preferences somewhat recently. I love single-player sandboxes, I quite like MMOs, but when those two are put together I tend to avoid it. I start a new MMO Sandbox, toy with it a little, and — if PvP didn't drive me away earlier — leave it before long, often due to how little control I personally have over the environment and how much influence the collective of players have over my own experience.

In the end, I found out that I love sandboxes not for how dynamic they are, but for how much control I, personally, have over them. Put them in a multiplayer context, where I have to share the control with other players, and the experience ceases being interesting for me.

jonny_sage
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jonny_sage

A Dad Supreme jonny_sage No, the point you agreed with was that people dont stick with sandboxes, 

"Players always like the idea of sandbox games, but in reality never last too long in games that offer that option. 

"Yeah, that definitely seems to be the case"

When it isnt. You can make all the analogies you want, but the evidence shows that sandbox games are longer lasting because they are open ended. The whole stereotype with themeparks is you ride the rides and then go home.

zyrusticae
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zyrusticae

A Dad Supreme "[...]seizure-inducing graphics will take it's toll eventually on most Western players."
"Throw in non-consensual PvP in spots and that's enough to kill over half of a possible Western market right there."
This confused me greatly, because it sounds like you're talking exclusively about Black Desert when you mentioned both of them in the preceding sentences.

GoJammit
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GoJammit

I'll try the two Korean games at the top of the list if they are free to play and I have the time. Kinda dead on mmos right now. I've updates this and that, logged in, stared at my inventory for a while and then discovered hours later I had done nothing more than watched porn and wasted time on Facebook. I've even gone to playing some old school RPG called the last Remnant lately. 
The only thing I'm looking forward to this year is Squadron 42 and testing the Star Citizen PU.

Loopstah
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Loopstah

Giggilybits Loopstah To be fair i was in a bit of a negative mood when i wrote that post, so i can see why i may sound cynical and discontent. As long as people are enjoying the new games that are coming out, who am i to judge and say otherwise.

GoJammit
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GoJammit
boredinBC
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boredinBC

Tsiya boredinBC Im hoping for meaning full combat interactions....not just a merry go round of capture the keep.  :)

Kwasimoto
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Kwasimoto

boredinBC Lheiah Interesting fact: in Asian cultures, burning stacks of hell money / ghost money / joss paper on a person's altar is believed to deliver that wealth to the person's soul in the afterlife. Games probably don't get to see that benefit.

Giggilybits
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Giggilybits

Loopstah Are you one of those glass half empty type of people?

Samizdat
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Samizdat

Definitely looking forward to Crowfall and Worlds Adrift. Keeping an eye on CU but there isn't enough there to really draw me in. More interested in action combat and CF's campaign system.

Deathgod881
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Deathgod881

No mention of Asta?

Zulika_Mi_Nam
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Zulika_Mi_Nam

I will be watching 5 out of those 10.
..and I believe 2pac is still alive, I do not hold out the same hope for EQN.  It now appears that the likeness of a great IP was used drum up interest and dollars in something unrelated - like a bait and switch.

francis courant
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francis courant

Crowfall and Camelot Unchained <3

2016 will be a great year for the backers of both games =)

Rumm
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Rumm

I wasn't a PvP player until I played DAOC and WAR. I haven't been a PvP player since WAR closed down. CU can't come soon enough, ready to get back into some real RvR.

boredinBC
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boredinBC

DeadlyAccurate I played in some of the CBTs.  It's a theme park MMO with very typical quest fare, very easy early leveling and a very Korean/Asian interface/design style....
If that hasn't completely driven you away then you should try it.  The combat is wonderful.

Warking
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Warking

Siphaed I think Crowfall will pull more pvp players due to its variety of campaigns, it has 3v3 and more and Raph Koster himself is involved in the crafting systems. The Eternal Kingdoms setup is also a great thing for open minded rp-pvpers.

Vexia
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Vexia

Wait, what's unfortunate about Project Gorgon's name? Am I missing something? >.>

confectionally
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confectionally

I hope you're right about EQN Justin :(  I got interested in it and in EQ in general just in time for the big Daybreak implosion, lol...

Oleg Chebeneev
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Oleg Chebeneev

How in hell two most anticipated upcoming MMOs Lost Ark and Lineage Eternal arent included in the list? Also if TC: Division was called many times an MMO on massively, its a crime to not include it here.

My top 5 most anticipated MMOs in that order:
1. Star Citizen.
2. Lost Ark
3. TC: Division
4. Lineage: Eternal
5. Moonlight Blade

Laeesh
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Laeesh

Camelot Unchained > Revival > Project Gorgon = (not on List "Project Genom")

Very excited about the coming year

Oyjord
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Oyjord

CU+SotA=happy me

schmidtcapela
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schmidtcapela

There's only three of those that I would even consider playing: Star Citizen (though only as an offline game), Shroud of the Avatar (the jury is still out on whether I will bother with the MMO aspect), and EQN.

Of these, I already have purchased both SC and SotA during their respective Kickstarts, and for as long as DCUO lasts I should have a free All Access plan that should include EQN.

DeadlyAccurate
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DeadlyAccurate

I might install B&S when it releases just to see what all the fuss is about. I haven't really followed it, but it won't hurt to try it out. I'm not sure which, if any, of the other games will grab my attention. Star Citizen will have to fully release and not have a cash shop for me to consider it. Actually, while I'm always willing to try out F2P games, I'm only interested in games with no cash shop, so it's mostly sub-only games I'll really look at.

FeveredDreamer
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FeveredDreamer

Haha that EQNext line hurt my feelings a lil bit... but yeah I'm looking forward to Black Desert and Crowfall.

se7engames
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se7engames

Project Gorgon... currently playing the beta, kickestarted it, and ready to roll :)

I played the beta weekend of Black Desert, I may just get the game so i can play with the character creator, that was my favorite part.

MatthewYetter
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MatthewYetter

The only title I'm personally watching at this point is Chronicles of Elyria.  Every single Dev Diary that has been put out so far has been downright awesome, showing a developer that has really thought things through to find a way to make a sandbox both fun and meaningful.

A Dad Supreme
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A Dad Supreme

jonny_sage A Dad Supreme I don't think the goal is to be the 'longest running' when doing an MMO. For reference, you can look back to yesterday's article about games that players forgot were running. 
I think the overall goal is to have a game with a high or very healthy population and the only way that usually happens is either a lot of 'fun' (subjective) content from the developer or tools that allow players to make the 'fun' on their own (sandbox). 
I'm not discounting your opinion; I'm simply saying you are picking a different point to discuss vs the point I raised which is people like the idea of what a sandbox means or offers, but in practice it matters little because ultimately most players look to developers to provide content in a nice box.
It goes to Sorenthaz' point about time investment. Something like landing a ship in Star Citizen sounds great, but if an actual landing takes 5-10 minutes each time you enter a solar system or spacedock, that 'sandboxing' feature of allowing you to land how you want everytime will get old and most players will want (and maybe ask for) and addition loading screen to save time.

jonny_sage
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jonny_sage

Reesracer looked for some videos, but there appears to just be art so far, so it just vaporware for now.

Tsiya
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Tsiya

boredinBC I can't wait. I got into DAoC as my first real pvp game, and group dynamics are totally different from 1v1 or even 5v5. I don't really pvp in any other game, but with the differences they're putting in from the original I think they're going to do well.

jonny_sage
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jonny_sage

A Dad Supreme most of the longest running MMOs are sandboxes. Theme park riders are the ones that constantly move from MMO to mmo.

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