Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for the Biggest MMORPG Disappointment of 2016, which was awarded in 2015 to World of Warcraft's setbacks: Blizzard's massive sub slide and content drought. Hey, at least it won't go two in a row!
Disappointments can be games, launches, patches, trends, stories, sunsets, all manner of topics in the MMORPG genre and orbiting sub-genres. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don’t forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.
The Massively OP staff pick for Biggest MMORPG Disappointment of 2016 is...
Do you scoff, chortle, or sneer when you hear the phrase "casual raiding" among the MMO community? You might be laughing at your own ignorance of modern trends, according to Frank at Overly Positive.
"Led by a movement in games like WoW and others who want to create more inclusive endgame, raids have gradually become more accessible to casual players," Frank writes, "whether that is from reduction in the required number of raiding players, removal of difficult gated requirements, or the ease by which you find other people to do raids with. Some people might call this a perversion or a ruining of the idea of raiding, but I’d say that it’s more of an evolution of the practice in MMOs."
Strap yourself in (we're all about safety here at MOP), because we have a huge tour of the MMO blogosphere today, including a farewell to Chris Metzen, a roast of Angmar, and a visit to one of the most beautiful player homes in online games.
There are always going to be differences in opinion about what should be done with an IP based upon a franchise. That's just natural. The same core universe could be used to make a sprawling sandbox with weak combat but a robust non-combat market and profession system, or it could be used to make a combat-focused experience that focuses on energetic fights, nifty story moments, and little else. In both cases, even if you don't like the end result, you can understand exactly why the IP was used for this.
Our column today is not about those games. No, this is about games that completely failed to make use of their licenses to IPs, produced totles that did not in any way logically follow from the license that was given, or otherwise took pure gold and turned it into something... less than gold. There's room to debate whether some of these IPs would ever make good MMOs, but boy, the uses we have were pretty bad.
As the team recovers from DragonCon, PAX West, Legion's launch, and Labor Day, it's anything but normal around the Massively OP office. It's fall, and that means that we're wading into expansion and launch season for MMOs, including a couple of significant titles this past week.
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.
It's a grand day for the genre-hopping Otherland. The MMO has officially moved out of early access and released as a free-to-play title after a very short open beta period. The title has also returned to Steam after a period offline, which seems to be a habit for the troubled MMO.
All characters and progress in Otherland has been wiped for the launch, and those who bought into the early access program can log in to grab a bundle of bonus rewards for their new avatars.
The dev team said that it has a couple of big patches in the works: "The next major content update will contain an overworked combat system with improved enemy AI for an even more action-loaded gameplay. Also, another larger expansion around Christmas time is already scheduled, with a level cap raise, new quests, and a brand-new world."
The Tad Williams-inspired sci-fi MMO Otherland shuts down today for a week of open beta. When it returns for its planned September 8th launch, it does so as a free-to-play game. Writes Gamigo,
"In preparation for the Open Beta, Otherland has received numerous updates during the previous weeks introducing new functions to the game. The tutorial has been updated, the game's performance has been fundamentally improved, and various additional quests as well as new factions have been implemented in the story. Most importantly, the extensive crafting system has been completely reworked, with the addition of hundreds of new recipes. The battle system is undergoing a heavy re-design as well: the improved enemy AI will provide an even more action-driven gaming experience that will be further sustained by more fluid motion patterns and revised skill sets."
The game has already had a weird time on Steam, having disappeared from the platform for a solid two months this past spring. Its early access packs are currently on sale from 30%-50% off their original $19.99-$49.99 prices.
Massively OP's Andrew scoped out the preview version for us last year, as did Massively OP's MJ via stream, which we've included below.
Otherland's 5.5.50 patch this week is a big one for the crafters in its playerbase. "The crafting system has been fully revamped in this patch to make crafted items the backbone of gearing up and steer Otherland towards a more player driven economy," Drago Entertainment says.
Player crafters will use the SOMA resource in their trade, determining the stats, level, and power of the finished product (or whether it's purely cosmetic).
"The design goal for the future is to have crafted items being the best items in the game, superior to drops and quest rewards," the studio says. "Only faction rewards and very rare event driven bosses are intended to be equal or better."
When Otherland returned to Steam earlier this week, Drago promised that it would soon be accompanied by two sizable updates. Players didn't have to wait long for the first of these, as Patch 5.5.42 dropped today.
The patch strives to bolster the game in many areas, starting with a level cap increase to 60. The update tour continues with the addition of 90 daily quests, 20 locations, 12 Mars side quests, better tutorial hints, higher enemy difficulty, an overhaul of SOMA drops, and an increase in group size in preparation for the game's first raid.
Players looking to become part of a team can join one of Otherland's new factions: "With this patch we are introducing the faction mechanics along with the first three factions: White Army, Red Army, and the Hackers residing in the Bad Sector area below Lambda Mall. Factions come with their own UI to track your reputation progress and we introduce associated daily quests along with it. "
When you're in early access, it probably doesn't help your cause to disappear from the world's most popular digital games store for months at a time. Otherland has no doubt taken a hit for its absence from Steam since the end of January, but fortunately for the studio and fans alike, the title is now back up on the platform.
"It took quite a while, but Otherland is finally back in the store," Drago posted. "There are still some smaller issues to deal with like adjusting pricing slightly in some territories and the upgrades from standard edition to deluxe and collector's edition not showing up in the store, but those should be fixed right after the holidays."
The studio said that it has a pair of large updates in the works for near future deployment with factions, dailies, a level cap increase, and more. Otherland is available to buy on Steam early access for $20 to $50.
On its webpage, Otherland boldly and repeatedly advertises that it is available on Steam. Well, no it's not -- and it hasn't been so for some time.
The trouble began back in late January, when Otherland was removed from the Steam store due to developer Drago requesting that the game be moved to a different account. This might have been prompted by talks to change the game to a different publisher. Ultimately, the move was more complicated than the studio anticipated, but Drago reported last weekend that Otherland should be coming back "any day now."
Daybreak's announcement earlier this month that it will be splitting H1Z1 into two games triggered a flood of responses from the MMO blogging community, some pronouncing doom while others offering insight into what might be going on behind closed doors.
Healing the Masses considers the move part of an ongoing scam with the game and "abnormally idiotic." The Ancient Gaming Noob predicts that Daybreak will further change at least one of these games' names to avoid confusion. Inventory Full notes that splitting MMOs up into two or more games or parts is hardly new. Tyrannodorkus said that the different game modes probably warrant separate development but selling them as two titles is a "scummy move." And Me vs. Myself and I finds himself confused, bewildered, and losing faith in Daybreak.
We've got more captivating discussion from the MMO blogosphere after the break, including a look at World of Warcraft's impermanence, an exploration of Otherland, arguments over the holy trinity, and more!
If you're trying to play Otherland through Steam today, you might be noticing the store page is offline.
Drago Entertainment dev Lucjan told concerned fans on January 28th -- through the Steam community page that is still up -- that it was intentional, sort of.
"We have requested for Otherland to be moved to a different Steam Account.
Looks like Steam just got to do it and that's why Otherland is temporarly unavailable. While I'm not directly involved in that process, I would guess that is should become available again by tomorrow."
He doesn't explain why the move was necessary, why the move was conducted in the middle of a Steam sale of Otherland that ends February 1st, or why it's still not up several days later.
A week or so ago, we reported on the release of an eastern title called Dark Era that was largely unremarkable save for the fact that it allowed players to travel to six different eras in time, to meet historical and fictional characters.
Personally, I didn't hold great hopes for the game, but it cheered me up slightly to see an MMO -- any MMO -- tackle time travel as a core theme instead of a fun side quest. It also made me wonder if a time travel MMO on a large scale was actually possible. Thematically, Otherland might be the closest we'll ever get, but it'd be cool to be able to jump through the centuries, from the past to the future, and even dabble in a bit of paradoxes and cause-and-effects.
That'd be a headache to program, of course, and it would always be compared to the perfection that is Chrono Trigger. As a thought exercise, do you think a time travel MMO could work? How so?