In each of our articles about Black Desert’s upcoming graphics upgrade, there have been a slew of comments about how the game doesn’t really need it, puzzled remarks that the game is already pretty enough, and hopeful requests for Pearl Abyss to tone down the lens flares or at least allow us to turn off all the bells and whistles. It’s been interesting to witness — I know we’re still in the middle of a massive renaissance for retro graphics, but in general, hardcore MMORPG players are total graphics snobs, to the point that many older games, from Ultima Online and Anarchy Online to World of Warcraft and EVE Online, have all taken a stab at improving their graphics (and in some cases, adjusting their art styles too).
Not all of them have done so successfully, of course; many City of Heroes players, for example, couldn’t make use of the upgrades, and Ultima’s Kingdom Reborn was plagued with issues.
For today’s Daily Grind, I’m wondering: Which MMORPG has seen the most improved graphics over the years?
I think I can speak for most of our staff in saying that in November when Funcom first promised a “major upgrade to both retention and acquisition mechanics and content of the game to counter the declining revenues” in The Secret World, no one expected this.
Ditto in February, when Funcom said it was going “relaunch to broaden the appeal of the game through [a] redesigned new player experience, major improvements to gameplay including combat, [the] introduction of new retention systems such as daily rewards, [and] adjustments to the business model, including allowing access to the story content for free” — people murmured “NGE,” but no one even considered that the studio would dump MMO players overboard in pursuit of ARPG fans.
But in retrospect, the cagey language and lack of actual updates in the game were right there all along, as was the casual maintenance-moding of Anarchy Online and Age of Conan.
For this week’s Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to consider Funcom’s plans here — not the rumors and leaks but the set-in-stone plans — and reflect on what they say about the studio, the game, and the genre on the whole. What do you think about Secret World Legends?
My initial foray into MMORPGs was, to put it nicely, quite ungraceful. I wasn’t even aware that they were a thing until about the year 2000, when I started to notice EverQuest and Asheron’s Call boxes on the shelves. But stories about addiction from friends and the seeming obtuse nature of these games kept me from trying… until fall 2001, that was.
That’s when I saw a sci-fi title lumped together in this unknown category, and I had liked Funcom’s The Longest Journey so much that I thought I’d take a chance on this odd online game. My subsequent experiences in Anarchy Online were fragmented, ignominious, and confusing as all get out. It was so weird, in fact, that I needed a “redo” of City of Heroes several years later to properly get onto the MMO bandwagon (and I haven’t fallen off since!).
So what was it like being a total Anarchy Online — and MMO — noob back in the day, feeling out this game from a position of complete ignorance? Glad you asked, friend, because I’m going to tell you all about it.
What are the best and most popular MMO theme songs of all time? A couple of weeks ago I posed this question to the Massively OP community and encouraged fans to submit their own list of music themes in response. We saw a healthy amount of email votes and comment nominations since then, and I was able to compile a nice list of the top 24 MMORPG themes from it.
There were several surprises, at least to me, in the final results. I thought some games would’ve gotten more nods, while others seemed to come out of nowhere to demand a spot on the list. Each of the themes on this list was put out there by at least two fans, which is why we’re going to start with number 24. I’m thinking we might have an honorable mentions column as a post-script, but we’ll see how it goes.
Today we will begin our countdown to number one, looking at your favorite MMO themes with my own take on each. Let’s get started!
This week on the show, Justin and Bree celebrate a couple of hearty MMO updates, argue about mandatory mount viewing, celebrate the soft launch of Revelation Online, and extol the virtues of the PC Master Race.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
You might have noticed that last week, Anarchy Online finally joined the whole Steam crowd. It was weird to look at that story and wonder who is out there that was holding off, for some reason, from trying out this game for the past 16 years until it finally arrived on Valve’s platform.
Then again, I know many players who primarily rely on Steam to be their complete game ecosystem. If it ain’t out for Steam, they ain’t playing it. I’ll admit that I’m starting to gradually migrate in this direction for both Steam and GOG.com, since it’s nice and convenient to have all of my games organized and handled by these platforms. And they seem to do a good job of allowing me to peruse other games and easily installing them, particularly if they’re free.
Are you one of those who wait for MMOs to arrive on Steam before trying them out? Have you found yourself flipping through the “massively multiplayer” section to see what else is out there?
Funcom’s fourth quarter 2016 financial report for investors landed this afternoon, and it’s a doozy, especially for MMORPG players. Of most interest is the news that the studio is planning on a relaunch of The Secret World in the next few months, with a redesigned newbie experience, revamps to gameplay and combat, dailies, and a business model overhaul.
Personally, I prefer science fiction over fantasy nine times out of ten, even though most of the MMOs that grace my desktop are fantasy games. Sci-fi has had an awfully difficult time making headway into the field of MMOs, with plenty of underperforming or canceled titles littering the way. I’ve heard it explained that the fantasy genre is easier for the common person to grasp because it uses elements of our past — primarily the medieval period — to provide a familiar baseline, whereas sci-fi’s futuristic setting requires world-building from scratch.
Whatever the case may be, Earth & Beyond never really caught on the way that EVE Online did just a couple of years later, and its miniscule population was not enough for Electronic Arts to keep it running. But between 2002 and 2004, Earth & Beyond reached for the stars and gave its own spin on how a space-faring MMO could work. Let’s take a look today at what made Earth & Beyond unique, what it gave the industry, and how it may help upcoming space MMOs avoid a similar fate.
Sixteen years after its debut, Anarchy Online has just now found itself a new home. After a lot of promises and teases, the long-running sci-fi title has finally arrived on Steam to join the rest of the throng of MMORPGs on that platform.
Funcom CEO Rui Casais said that this move is designed to grow the game’s audience: “Anarchy Online is one of the longest living online games in the world and millions of players have made the planet of Rubi-ka their home. Bringing the game to Steam is something we have wanted to do for a while and we hope this will bring in new players as well as inspire veterans to come back now that it is easier than ever to travel to Rubi-ka again.”
While Anarchy Online does offer a free-to-play option, there is also the choice to subscribe for a more well-rounded experience. Additionally, Steam is selling instant boosts to level 200 for $90 and a new player bundle for $20.
Funcom’s Conan Exiles formally launched overnight, sending early access purchasers into the antique but brutal world of Conan the Barbarian. Despite some confusion over the official server list, which has been limited to 100 for now (but with hundreds more player-hosted servers), the game’s launch actually went off rather well, which is high praise for the company whose first MMORPG was once dubbed the “worst launch of all time.”
The studio has also begun discussing its immediate plans for the game, including trebuchets, better animations for captured thralls, and a dye system for gear, among other content and bug fixes. The game is expected to remain in early access for around a year.
Reviews on Steam are “Mixed” as of press time with just under 600 players having reviewed it. Massively OP’s Stream Team played the game last night for those who want to check it out with their own eyeballs before putting up any dough. That stream, plus the launch trailer, is down below!
A little while back, I took a look at the healthiest games in the MMO space at this time. That was a nice, uplifting list, wasn’t it? And all of those titles continue to do just fine, even if one or two might have had a few bits of shocking news along the way.
Unfortunately, this is not an industry in which health is assured. Games can be high-quality and beloved, but they can still be shut down by outside forces. And that’s not counting games that just come out in the wrong time period or launch in an unrecoverable state.
That may sound grim, but we’re already staring at the first two shutdowns of 2017 in the near future, and both of the titles being killed are surprises. One of them might have wound up on this list if it weren’t being shut down, but at this point, it is. So let’s look at the MMOs with the most unclear futures and start hoping for the best.
After a short delay from its original rollout date of December 20th, the new and improved item store is now live in Anarchy Online. You know, just in case you wanted to do any online holiday shopping (for a ‘friend,’ of course).
Funcom is running a promotion with the debut of the new shop: “As part of our holiday event and new shop launch, we’re offering character slots at a 50% discount until the end of the event. Character slots may be found in the ‘special’ tab.”
Anarchy Online players can also enjoy the holiday event, which is scheduled to run from now through January 9th.
Anarchy Online might be a tad tardy to the holiday party, but it’s making an effort. With the game’s December 20th patch, the Winter Celebration has officially returned for another year of merriment and decorations. Santa leets, run free!
The patch added a new membership reward item (the Staff of Cleansing, which sounds like a janitor’s mop all gussied up) and mostly focused on improvements to the item shop. There were price changes, new nano cans, more basic gear bundles, and additional lotto tickets. Funcom is making it so that now item shop purchases will be labeled “NoDrop” from here on out.
Our favorite patch note? “Updated the item shop icon to better resemble a shopping cart, instead of a fry basket.”