I sat down with Elite Dangerous Senior Designer Sandy Sammarco again at E3 2017, and while the information I’ve got in terms of game info may be a bit old hat for hardcore Elite players, I want to be clear on something: MMO players should take note of how Frontier is doing community events. Even if you aren’t interested in the game itself, the design strategies and execution are things that are reminding this jaded MMO-enthusiast about what got me into the MMO genre in the first place. I don’t really do space sims, and haven’t touched my VR for months (though I could probably hop on normal PC or PS4 versions), but my time with Sammarco has gotten me closer to hitting the “buy” button on the game.
So ARK: Survival Evolved is going to be the first big survival sandbox not named Minecraft or Don’t Starve to not only make it to launch but to get there from Early Access development. Leaving EA is something we rarely see, which is why readers may notice I’m quite critical of games that ask for your money, sell you an incomplete game, and then spend years defending their EA status while continually making money on an unfinished project. To hear that a company once known for making paid DLC for an unreleased game is willing to shake the security blanket that is Early Access fills me with joy and a little trepidation.
Normally, this is where I’d tell you I’ve written up the interview, which is still true. However, as this was in a small group setting, not only do we have a writeup, there’s also a YouTube video for the few of you who have thirty minutes to wade through the (mostly) raw interview. You’ll see ARK’s Community Manager Cedric Burkes in person, hear daring press try to ask hard-hitting questions, and cringe as my terrible hat hair makes a quick appearance at about the 27-minute mark.
With Pokemon Go trying to avoid explicitly calling itself an MMO, Massively OP once again has room for a top contender in the realm of mobile MMOs. There’s just one problem: We’ve got mostly Western readers for a genre that seems to appeal much more to the East. I was given the opportunity to see top global mobile MMO Lineage 2 Revolution and up and coming dino-sandbox Durango at E3 2017. I can see the appeal of both games, but also some limitations. Let’s dig into both.
Phoenix Labs’ not-Monster Hunter monster-hunting game Dauntless is obviously standing in a big shadow after E3 2017. I wasn’t yet fully aware of what Monster Hunter World was doing, but I’ve seen solid games lose to their larger rivals who are slower to innovate in the past. Capcom, while constantly disappointing Mega Man fans, is generally quite good with its co-op hunting series. RaiderZ, a Perfect World published not-MH game that also tackled the monster hunter genre, made minor changes to the formula and came as an actual MMO but still shut down. Though the Phoenix Labs guys weren’t aware of RaiderZ‘s failure, they seemed barely fazed by Capcom’s announcement, and maybe they’re right. Surprisingly, they’ve innovated a few things Capcom itself is doing while also adding a few things Capcom isn’t.
Monster Hunter World‘s reveal caught me completely off guard during its E3 2017 reveal. We’d already had a title announced for the Nintendo Switch, and I’d figured that was our usual non-spinoff MH entry for the year. I’ve admittedly not finished or heavily invested in the series since leaving Japan, but part of that is because the American mobile gaming culture doesn’t really have the fanbase Japan does. In fact, I got into Monster Hunter Tri in a bad way because it was a console title. While the portability of the series really helped me to explore Japan’s gaming scene and meet fellow gamers face-to-face, my gut feeling upon seeing MHW’s console and PC plans was that Capcom might really be able to catch the western audience this time. And that was before seeing Monster Hunter lead designer Yuya Tokuda play the game in real time.
Since there were so many early access issues with Stormblood, I figured I’d try to give you Final Fantasy XIV players a little something to chew on while Square-Enix smooths out the rough edges and handles today’s launch. Building on Massively OP’s Eliot Lefebvre’s recent interview with Naoki Yoshida/”Yoshi-P” at May’s Final Fantasy XIV event, we sat down again with him for a chat at this year’s E3. And while I haven’t personally spent nearly as much time in the game as a vet like Eliot, I’d heard that Yoshida was very much a gamer’s developer, so I was looking forward to talking with him about not just the game, but game design.
He did not disappoint.
I like naval combat in my MMOs. That’s my weakness. Vehicle combat is great, but for some reason, I especially like boats. When I heard there was another pirate multiplayer game being revealed at E3 2017, I knew I’d have to check it out. Fortunately, I’d already been scheduled to check out Ubisoft’s press section of their booth, giving me a rare opportunity to see Skull and Bones behind closed doors.
The pirate’s code(s)
Let’s get this out of the way upfront: Skull and Bones is not nearly the same as Sea of Thieves. At all. Sea of Thieves is a good pirate simulator. You get drunk, you swing a sword, you dig for treasure.
In Skull and Bones, you’re a pirate ship, not a captain. Your ship is your class, like a tank or a sniper. It’s much more about boat play than character play. Don’t think of the triad though, as I didn’t see any “healer” type boat. And don’t think you’re just in a death match, as the pirate aspect was still there, even in my battleground-esque demo.
The Elder Scrolls Online released its first expansion, Morrowind, shortly before E3 2017. MMOs rarely come up with mainstream media, but with Morrowind’s nostalgia power, I heard the name mentioned a few times off the showroom floor. While I’d heard of Morrowind, of course, I didn’t personally get on the Elder Scrolls train until Skyrim — it’s been one of those games making “best of” lists for as long as I could remember. However, some of the things I’d read about the upcoming expansion gave me pause, so I brought them up with ZeniMax Game Director Matt Firor during our conversation at E3.
Surprise! Niantic brought Pokemon Go to E3 2017 and invited members of the gaming press outside the sacred halls of the Los Angeles Convention Center to check out the upcoming raid system at a nearby gym. We were granted not just some juicy details on upcoming changes but a rare chance to interview several key members of the team, including Senior Product Manager Tatsuo Nomura, Global Product Marketing Lead Archit Bhargava, and a bit of time with Niantic Director of Engineering Edward Wu.
Perhaps more so than the Generation 2 update, summer feels like it’s bringing an expansion-like update to the free to play game.
Like many readers, I was originally disappointed when Destiny wasn’t released for PC. I’m not even a Halo fan but could see that the title had promise. Release, though, sounded just OK. I fed my sci-fi MMO-ish need with doses of PlanetSide 2 and Star Wars: The Old Republic and largely ignored the title, aside from the fact that major gaming sites seemed happy with the expansion. I figured it was one of those few decent console games not made by Nintendo that PC players just wouldn’t get. Whatever.
Fast forward to the announcement that Blizzard would add Destiny 2 to its launcher to ensure its PC release. PC fans freak out. World of Warcraft token values skyrocket. Massively OP writers and readers note its potential to define the genre. The chance to demo it at E3 put me on the hype train, but the reality has caused me to pump the breaks.
As I mentioned in MassivelyOP’s Best of E3 Overthinking article, I came away from this year’s con thinking Sea of Thieves was the best playable online multiplayer game with a playable demo there, despite that demo being “terrible.” What I mean by “terrible” is that it created the potential for some of the worst parts of gaming to come true. There’s a reason most MMOs demo a battleground, boss fight, or newbie experience: Those are easy to demo, especially for non-MMO fans. Some demos give players a zone to explore, which is better, when done well. Rarely are people put into a situation where the entire demo requires coordination, but Rare did it, and it paid off, despite the fact that it’s not selling an MMO.
Allow me to explain.
E3 is drawing to a close, with its reveals over and done with — all that’s left is processing our interviews and hands-on pieces. But in the meantime, we decided to take this week’s Overthinking to consider the field. MMORPGs haven’t shined brightly at E3 in a long time, so our expectations are usually low — the con is interesting to us more for what’s happening on the multiplayer front.
So that’s what we asked our staff: What’s the most interesting or grabby-hands MMO or MMO-ish thing from E3 this year? Which game would get your best in show and why? There’s also an extra bonus section on the con itself courtesy of our writer on the floor.