It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).
This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!
As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Sea of Thieves, The Crew 2, Monster Hunter World, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption 2, Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.
Who says you have to have launched to have holiday events? Not Ship of Heroes. The City of Heroes-inspired indie superhero MMORPG has a new video out this afternoon teasing what will eventually become its Christmas event once the game is in a playable state.
“Meltdown is collecting Christmas gifts by racing around Apotheosis City,” Heroic Games explains. “As he finds each one, he opens it and receives both in-game money (Dust), and a gift that goes into his inventory. We’re also showing picture-in-picture clips of the most important milestones SoH has achieved in each of the last twelve months. Through the PiP, we are sharing an overall tale of success, of moving from a website with a bit of concept art and story, to our current working game prototype.”
The studio is also reminding fans that it’s still planning on launching open beta by the end of 2018 and that donations – with their associated rewards, including access to the alpha – are still open.
Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.
Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.
It’s a hundred identical superheroes in hot pants facing off against a giant robot, and that robot does not stand a chance.
The following video may look a little odd, but it’s an important one for the Ship of Heroes team. It shows an internal large-scale raid test in which a hundred player clones duked it out in the same instance at the same time, maintaining a 30 frames per second rate throughout. The team says that these numbers shows how the superhero MMORPG will be able to pull off incredible fights among large groups of players and enemies in the future.
“So far, no other MMORPG using Unreal Engine 4 has publicized numbers this large,” a press release said. “Apparently the devs at Ship of Heroes are planning to provide large raids for at least 50 players right from level 1. This stands in a marked contrast to the common MMO trend of making raids endgame content that require grinding or buying loot boxes — or both.”
The Ship of Heroes team is working hard on building this City of Heroes spiritual successor and hopes to have a beta out by the end of 2018. A combat alpha is scheduled to begin next month.
Magic in space? Ship of Heroes is determined to make it work.
The superhero MMORPG announced today that it will be including a magical subset of heroes and villains into its lore and gameplay. All superpowered humans with magical ability are part of the Attuned, a general-purpose group with this kind of affinity. But tucked inside the Attuned is the sinister Red Sigil, a cult that believes that mages should be used as the “first line of defense” and be put in charge of the giant ship.
“While superhero mages tend to fall into a few general categories, there are countless types of magic in the galaxy, including some odd outliers that are difficult to classify,” the team wrote. “The mages of the Attuned hate the Prometheans above all others, and this antagonism is reciprocated. The Attuned fundamentally like the ship as it is. Even the Red Sigil only want to seize control of the ship’s political system and revenues; they would be happy to have super-powered subordinates if they could effect a coup.”
Do you miss playing your Controller in City of Heroes? One of that game’s spiritual successors wants to resurrect the concept of a mez-happy superhero who throws down crowd control and status effects as a way to exert domination over a battlefield.
The Ship of Heroes team delved into crowd control powers in this week’s blog post, saying that mez abilities “make a game more complex and give players greater flexibility in how they defeat enemies.” The developers listed nine specific crowd control powers they are considering, with at least five of these being included for launch. These powers range from slows to sleeps, from confuse to terrify.
Even if mezzing isn’t your thing, there are always debuffs to toss onto enemies to make their defeat easier and buffs to share with allies to bolster your team. Fifteen examples of each type of debuff and buff powers were listed, which should be more than enough to spark your imagination as you think of what kind of hero you want to build when this game goes live.
So Marvel Heroes has about six weeks to live thanks to the impending shutdown of the game following Disney’s decision to drop Gazillion as a business partner. That’s going to leave some superhero MMO players once again without a home, and though the game’s current Steam numbers can’t hold a candle to the number of players affected by the City of Heroes closure five years ago, we’re left with the same situation – and a similar roster of games vying for refugees.
The big superhero MMORPGs are still DC Universe Online and Champions Online, the former of which is certainly better supported with content, the latter of which may have more of that Marvel feel. There’s also three strong crowdfunding superhero MMOs still trying to fill the CoH vacuum: Ship of Heroes, City of Titans, and Valiance Online. Which MMO would you recommend to Marvel Heroes refugees? Would it be another superhero MMO, another superhero game or ARPG altogether, or something else? If you’re a former MH player, where are you getting your fix?
With Ship of Heroes’ beta test about a year away, fans of the sci-fi superhero MMORPG have a lot of time on their hands. Hopefully some of that time will soon be spent fiddling about with a new and improved character creation tool.
The team reported that the recent test gave invaluable feedback for the system: “The alpha showed that the CCT is a robust tool which functioned well on every computer, and that it has some amazing features, especially for customizing the face of the character. But we also found some bugs.”
These bugs and the responses of testers has prompted the team to make the character creation tool far better than before. Improvements planned include more camera views, more costume pieces, a slider for height, a larger range for waists, a revamp of the hair models, more skin options, more eye types, and the possibility of allowing players to add symbols to costumes.
If you’re missing the Halloween flair of City of Heroes today as I am, maybe point your eyeballs at Ship of Heroes instead. This particular spiritual successor has just revealed its Dark Magic Blast powerset, akin to the Dark Miasma-flavored powers in the original game.
“Dark Magic Blast fulfills the promise that there would be magically derived powers aboard the FHS Justice,” Heroic Games told us. “Dark Magic Blast is the first powerset created entirely with custom animations and FX produced by the dev team at Heroic Games. The powers are all unique, exclusive content; no purchased assets were used in their creation.”
The marks the fourth powerset revealed for the game, adding to Lightning Blast, Street Sweeper, and Fiery Blast. Alpha is still on target for the end of this year, with beta at the end of 2018. Check out the spooky new images and reveal video down below!
It’s sacrilege to say it, I’m sure, but I never loved lightning powers in City of Heroes – lightning wasn’t much of a damage element, instead being focused around sapping power from enemies, meaning you had to work so much harder on a lightning toon than on most other damage dealers. That isn’t the case in City of Heroes spiritual successor Ship of Heroes, however, as a new video and set of screenshots demonstrates today.
The lightning powerset, the third of eight planned for reveal in 2017, does get some self-buffs and debuff components, but otherwise, it’s a nasty damage dealing set that serves as as a primary powerset for the Devastator class and a secondary powerset for Support toons (the demo character in the video, if you’re wondering, is Support).
Heroic Games notes that the animations and effects in the video are work-in-progress and will be altered and improved in the future as the team has specifically expanded to “add professional FX and animation personnel so that [it] can upgrade [its] powers.” The studio also points out that this video marks the first demo showing off night effects as well as the first showing targets reacting to being smacked in the face with damage powers.
Quietly zipping along this fall is City of Heroes spiritual successor Ship of Heroes, which has been running a small external alpha test with backers focused on its character creator tool, the first such alpha wave for the game. Heroic Games now says that test has drawn to a close as a “resounding success.”
“Ship of Heroes has three current character models – a female, a male and a really big male. Each can be outfitted with civilian clothing or with hero costumes, and the items can be mixed and matched. Each article of clothing has primary and secondary colors that can be set using RGB values, giving enormous freedom to each player to design a unique character. In addition, over 300 morphs can currently be applied to each character, allowing even greater levels of customization. Every character in the game can be distinct and unique from other characters.”
Notably, the team says its feedback revolved around wanting more hero costumes, a wider variety of costumes, more skin tones and colors, and body morphs including height, all of which is still in progress.
A few years ago, we counted basically three City of Heroes successor games, all made by indie studios. In 2017, we still have three core titles on the way — it’s just a slightly different three. In light of that, MOP reader Pepperzine proposed today’s Leaderboard: Which of the five City of Heroes spiritual successors are you looking forward to the most?
- City of Titans – CoT was the first out of the gate, with a successful $678,189 Kickstarter back in 2013. It’s expecting to release a playable pre-alpha for backers by the end of this year.
- Valiance Online – Valiance ran its Kickstarter in 2014 but raised only a fifth of its $150,000 goal. Since then, it’s solicited backers through its website. Its founder alpha began in July of this year.
- Ship of Heroes – SoH startled everyone when it was announced less than a year ago. Though it canceled its Kickstarter bid in April and trimmed back its launch scope, it has continued on with serious development, most recently charming would-be players at PAX. Limited combat alpha testing begins in December with raid beta expected in June of 2018.
- Heroes and Villains – H&V was the third successor to be announced, but it’s had a much quieter run. Plan Z Studios does still frequently update its website with development notes, the most recent being on supergroups, but it has yet to open crowdfunding.
- Redside – Redside popped up earlier this year with a really barebones Kickstarter aimed at bringing back the villain elements of City of Heroes, but that Kickstarter failed to fund (by a lot) and studio Brass Lampworks’ website is no longer active.
To the pollmobile!
Even though we are quite a ways out from playing Ship of Heroes for real, it is not too early to start becoming familiar with the different enemy groups that a superhero character might encounter on these giant space ships.
One of these groups is the Yekus merc clan, which sound like cannon fodder in the making: “The Yekus Mercenary Clan is a multi-species group from the lower end of the price range. Their specialties, insofar as they have any beyond cheap manpower, are scouting and skirmishing […] However, like many of the mercenary groups in human space, they make a habit of trying to find and recruit humans with superpowers to join their clan.
The Ship of Heroes team showed some of the concept art for the Yekus, including the gang’s brown-and-olive outfits and headgear. The mercs will be crafted using the same character creator as the one players will use — and indeed the same character creator that we should be getting to tinker with later this year.