The community team behind Neocron’s current development should be lauded for how much it works to both keep the game operating and improve upon the sci-fi MMO. Case in point, this week the crew pushed out the Milky Ren update (or as the tech nerds like to call it, Update NE 2.3.242-343).
The patch has a lot of little additions and changes, although there are a few items that stand out from the rest. Several systems and areas have been revamped, including the job center and Tech Haven sectors. Players running through the latter will need to be on their toes, as there are now more security turrets and enemy ‘bots.
Other additions to the patch include a new Fallen Angel apartment, changes in music, a new Hacknet dungeon, improved client stability, and some better textures and decals.
Never heard of this game? Learn about Neocron’s lengthy and fascinating history in our Game Archaeologist retrospective.
It’s the distant future. The high-tech battle armor you wear sharply contrasts with the ruins of civilization that you traverse. You spot an enemy and raise your pulse rifle, firing off shots as you strafe to cover. Technology hasn’t solved the issue of war; it’s just raised the body count.
PlanetSide 2? Nope — this is Neocron, the quite-forgettable MMOFPS from the way-back era. I like to call it “that game with the most regrettable cover art in the history of video games,” but that isn’t quite as snappy.
Going into this article, I have to admit that I previously knew absolutely nothing about Neocron other than the fact that it was a sci-fi MMO that vaguely reminded me of Anarchy Online. Oh, also the fact that nobody I know or perhaps ever will know played it. Was it just a myth? A practical joke to make us believe in an MMO phantom? Only sifting through layers of dust and grime would produce results, so I rolled up my sleeves and started digging.
Happy birthday Neocron! The mature sci-fi MMORPG turns 15 years old this month, having survived rebirths, transitions, and a decidedly niche status during its operation. So what does this game have in store for the anniversary? Secrets, and lots of them.
This week’s patch introduced a couple of new missions and a special anniversary login screen as well as the newly activated character transfer service. But there’s a hitch with this service: You have to complete a special quest first.
“As part of the Neocron 15th Anniversary, the NST have enabled a one-time total transfer of any of your old Neocron characters from Terra, Mars, or Mercury per account,” the team said. “Before you can use the transfer, you must complete the CyroVault restoration mission on Titan with any character.”
The team also hinted at secret new weapons arriving in caches that can be found around the game world.
In my years of coverage of MMO soundtrack music in this column and on Battle Bards, I’ve clearly observed that there are games that are well-known and admired for their music. Most often, these are from popular MMORPGs — your World of Warcrafts, your Guild Wars 2s, and so on. Popular game plus good music equals widespread recognition.
Yet as I’ve pointed out in the past, there are plenty of terrific scores and individual music tracks from lesser-known MMO soundtracks that don’t get the attention they deserve, usually because of a fan’s unfamiliarity with a title. That’s not your fault; few people are as crazy as me when it comes to trying to track down MMO tunes and building a comprehensive library. It’s only slightly frustrating to see these game scores go overlooked because nobody really thought to listen to them in the first place.
So I’m viewing today’s column as an exercise in education, to share what I’ve learned in my journeys and discoveries of MMORPG soundtracks. I present here for your listening pleasure six pretty great tunes from MMOs you’ve probably never played.
One of the lesser-known but still-running sci-fi MMOs out there is getting a massive upgrade for the modern era. Ever since its release in 2002, Neocron has gone through several iterations and owners, surviving all of these transitions. The current community dev team picked up the dormant game back in 2012, renamed it Neocron Evolution, made it free-to-play, and has been working on overhauling its creaky code and dated visuals ever since.
This Saturday, the Neocron Evolution team will release its 2.3 update. The patch includes a streamlined weapon system, reimagined shield mechanics, more setup choices, bug fixes, feature improvements, and engine upgrades that focus on “modularity and configurability.” Better yet, the team promised that there will be more frequent updates going forward.
“Reaching this point has involved the writing and rewriting of thousands of lines of code,” the team shared. “Huge chunks of Neocron’s underlying systems have been gutted and entirely reengineered from the ground up.”
As with mainstream movies, it seems that the MMORPG industry has settled comfortably into the PG-13 zone for its approach and themes. Sure, there’s a bit of blood, skin, and the occasional foray into adult themes, but for the most part these games are playing it safe by not pushing too many boundaries. After all, why limit the potential size of your audience when you’re trying to draw in as large of a group of gamers as possible?
Of course, not every MMO out there deigns to appeal to the family market. Every once in a while we get a game that pushes well into the mature or even adult-only rating territory with edgier content. It’s an uphill battle to get these games out, sometime: World of Darkness and Revival both promised a super-gritty world yet were torpedoed well before launch.
Today we’re going to look at 10 games that don’t just accept mature content as a part of the gameplay experience, they embrace it fully and have earned an M or AO rating from the ESRB. Parental guidance from here on out is suggested.