Why do you play MMORPGs? What keeps you questing through these ever-growing worlds? I think a lot of us might answer like Zyrusticae in Blade and Soul here, as we enjoy inhabiting and exploring virtual fantasy worlds.
“See, this is the sort of thing I play MMORPGs for,” Zyrusticae writes. “That sense of ‘place.’ Being somewhere else, even if it’s only behind a computer screen. Old shots, yes, but still some of my favorites just for that. It’s a very pleasant feeling, really.”
Will you find your sense of place in the following player screenshots? Let’s find out!
When it comes to notable years in the MMORPG genre’s history, 2008 stands out as one of the most significant. World of Warcraft’s debut onto the scene in 2004 caused an upheaval in ways far too numerous to go into detail here. Suffice to say that its overwhelming popularity drew the attention of game designers who looked at the staggering numbers of players and found themselves envious of the potential to grab a slice of that money pie.
Many projects went into high gear following WoW’s launch, with plenty of them trying to copy the formula and structure that Blizzard established in the hopes of making it at least partially as big as that game. So-called WoW clones began to pepper the market and there was a sense that gamers were ready to move on from World of Warcraft to the next generation of MMOs. In many players’ minds, this would be either 2008’s Age of Conan or Warhammer Online, two big-budget MMOs with strong IPs that carried a lot of the weight of expectation.
Little did anyone realize that 2008 represented a bubble that was about to burst on the industry and the WoW clones that followed — including Warhammer Online. Today, we’re going to take a look at “bears, bears, bears,” the high hopes of Mythic Entertainment, and how WAR became a casaulty on its own battlefield.
I didn’t know much about Eudemons Online before the folks at 99.com reached out to us about this giveaway, but apparently this game has been around for half of forever and was one of the earliest MMOs to succeed in the free-to-play market in the west, with its anime stylings and isometric, almost Ultima Online-ish old-school flavor. Yeah, it’s one of those games I’d normally judge for the boob ads on the cover, but MMOHuts has a great video from way back in 2010 that actually shows off the real gameplay pretty well, so yep, there’s a real game under there.
Of course, that was 2010, and in 2018, the game is still getting updates, including the one live this week. Patch 2009, dubbed just Goddess, introduces four new dungeons, a new map, summonable servants, and the awakenable goddesses themselves. And if you’re in the mood to try the game out for the first time, you’ll want to take advantage of the free newbie pack the studio has set up for our readers.
Last week, in the comments under the Bless optional subscription brouhaha article, I made an offhand comment that apparently got MOP commenter Sally’s gears grinding. I was trying to sort through why Bless fans are mad, and I wrote, “Neowiz has been promising no P2W for months, but it’s really hard to have an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win.”
Sally didn’t disagree but said it was a “shock” to see it spelled out on Massively OP of all places: “In the current free-to-play climate, I see [the MOP] community as one of the last bastions for subscriptions. So a shot at subs from here struck me as ‘et tu, Brute?'” And Sally’s right! A lot of MMORPG vets enjoy F2P and B2P games but also hate double-dipping, and the subscription, or at least a mandatory sub without the usual gamblebox and pay-to-win trappings, is one way to guarantee healthy game design for the players.
On the other hand, if I’m honest, I truly cannot think of an MMORPG with an optional subscription that isn’t pay-to-win in some way. They’re trying to incentivize you to sub, after all, so they have to make the perks worthwhile, and very rarely do they stop at cosmetics. My Trove sub makes experience and drops fall from the sky. My Ultima Online sub lets me own a house and run vendors and hoard most everything. I’d say that games like Elder Scrolls Online, which hands out generous amounts of cash-shop credit for subbing, are on the better end of this argument, but then there’s that pesky crafting bag to contend with.
What do you think: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win in some way? Got a contender in mind?
Bugs, you better live it up, because your days are numbered. Ultima Online is preparing a big bug push (squash?) with June’s Publish 100. The long-running fantasy MMO will indeed hit triple digits on its publishes next month, and the devs are encouraging players to submit any bugs they’d like to see fixed in the patch.
One recent feature that the team promoted in this month’s newsletter was the new and improved Town Cryer. This system was “completely revamped” to spread news and upcoming events across the entire server.
“Even in the midst of Publish 100, we have our eyes on Publishes 101 and 102. There are host of new features to fit the seasonal nature of those publishes, including Halloween and the holidays,” Broadsword said. “We also have some really exciting items coming to the Ultima Store in the coming months including the Virtue Shield, new hair and horn styles, beards, a new mount, and more!”
Yes, this is going to come in as the shortest Choose My Adventure series, but I feel it’s got a good reason to be so. I went into Ultima Online with a very simple question: Is the game worth playing now as a free-to-play title for the curious? I very quickly got the answer to that question: No. Definitely not. And writing a whole lot more on it is just going to continue to harp on that point.
That’s not to say that there aren’t at least a few more words to be spared on the subject, of course. There are a lot of games with a free-to-play option that players have said don’t feel like free-to-play titles; you can technically play without paying, yes, but the game doesn’t seem to want you there and keeps hitting you with paywalls. That wasn’t the problem I ran into with Ultima Online, though. If anything, it seemed like the game didn’t want me there at all. Not as a free player, but as a new player.
Last month, I took a few hours to put together a care package in Ultima Online for Eliot – a bag of gear, potions, bandages, money, that sort of thing. As someone who’s played it off and on since the beginning, I know better than anyone how rough it is to start there fresh, and I wanted to twink him a bit so he’d have an easier time with his Choose My Adventure and not completely hate the experience. And in doing so, I started thinking about the very concept of twinking and wondering whether it’s on the wane.
For starters, I seldom see anyone use the term anymore; maybe it’s the word that’s fallen out of fashion, or maybe its non-gaming meaning has cost it some luster. But then I wondered whether it’s more that modern MMOs and their nearest online game neighbors simply embrace the “account-wide” nature of play, from account achievements to shared banks, such that people don’t even consider swapping gear between toons that didn’t technically earn it to be twinking at all.
Over the years, I have never felt bad even for a second about twinking my own alts or those of my friends; in my mind, twinking makes an MMO game more an RPG about roleplaying than a survival game about surviving, but I know others disagree and will rant about heirlooms or battleground twinks indefinitely if prompted. Do you still twink your MMORPG characters? Are you a fan of the practice, and do you think it’s slowly being phased out as a necessity in MMOs?
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from TERA, Neverwinter, Battlerite, The Black Death, Royal Blood, Saga of Lucimia, Skyforge, Prosperous Universe, Pokemon Go, Ocean Legend, Ultima Online, Reign of Guilds, Dofus, Final Fantasy XI, Destiny, and Osiris: New Dawn, all waiting for you after the break!
So… this is an interesting situation for me. I’ve had a number of games that I’ve played for Choose My Adventure that I haven’t particularly liked; some of them because they’ve been fine games that just don’t agree with my sensibilities, some of them games that are actually just flat-out not very good. (You know where the archive link is.) But Ultima Online at this point is the one game that seems to genuinely not want me to play it.
I’m not talking about system impenetrability or anything like that; I’m talking about the game itself falling into all sorts of paroxysms of not working for no readily apparent reason. More to the point, falling into paroxysms of not working in ways that do not even appear to have technical solutions, or ones that I can suss out. It’s like the code is rebelling against letting me log in or something.
By the time that World of Warcraft came on the scene in 2004, the MMORPG industry had already gravitated toward standard when it came to the interface — specifically, the camera angle. MMO players and devs seemed to prefer third-person views that either peered over the shoulder of avatars or followed right behind them. For decades now, we’ve grown used to watching our characters’ rears as they jog along, and we can’t really imagine the experience otherwise.
Yet when you think about it, while this camera perspective is overwhelmingly used in the genre, it’s not the only one that crops up in MMOs. We’ve seen both old and new titles experiment with the camera angle, sometimes out of style and sometimes out of necessity (here’s a great Gamasutra article on the subject).
For today’s list, we’re going to look at 10 MMORPGs where the camera is positioned in a different way than you’d normally expect, especially if you are coming from modern games.
On this week’s show, Bree and Justin dive into the Russia gaming crisis, tackle a trio of significant MMO patches, and celebrate the coming of a cute-looking title. Plus there’s always those challenging community podcast questions to keep them occupied!
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:
Hope you haven’t booked that summer vacation just yet, because Legends of Aria would like to interest in a fantasy holiday. The studio announced this week that it is a patch or two away from open beta, which it hopes to start in June.
The wider testing base is necessary, Citadel Studios said, in order to “start addressing the issues we can only find with lots of people.” So there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be in and enjoying this Ultima Online spiritual successor before too long, assuming that you are interested.
Following June’s open beta, Legends of Aria will go into an early access soft launch through its own client. Citadel is still holding back on its plans for going live on Steam and rolling out a marketing campaign as it evaluates how the next few months progress. However, the studio said that in all likelihood these events will happen this autumn.
If all goes well, later this year we will finally be treated to an actual Harry Potter MMORPG in the form of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. While that will be a mobile ARG in the vein of Pokemon Go, it will still be a big step into the online space that MMO fans have been craving for nearly two decades now.
Obviously, Harry Potter continues to be a mammoth franchise for J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts, which has handled the video game license over the years. While there have been single-player Harry Potter titles, especially on consoles, no MMORPG emerged even at the height of the IP craze that swallowed up Star Trek, Star Wars, Warhammer, and more. So why not?
The truth is that Harry Potter Online almost did happen. Its brief existence and development isn’t too well-known, even today, but the wasted potential has always tantalized me with what could have been. Using a time-turner, we will go back to the late 1990s today and peek in on a possible future that came to fruition.