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.
This week, Dual Universe started its Kickstarter, and - oh, you've already got your checkbook out. Great, it's half a million for this one. Oh, and it's going to have a subscription business model, just if that affects your betting odds.
Meanwhile, most of this week's beta news centered around stuff leaving beta testing. No, really! Just keep reading.
- World of Fishing launched on Steam as a free-to-play title, thus allowing you to spend all of your time doing something that every MMO includes for no comprehensible reason. Seriously, what is with MMOs and fishing? Of all the things for every game to include, why is fishing more universal than housing or decent combat mechanics or character customization or anything else? But at least World of Fishing is up-front about it.
- The early access period for Otherland has ended, replaced with a full-on launch for the title. There are lots of jokes that could be made here, but most of them are spoilers for the novels. Go read those.
- Early access for Dark and Light has not started yet, but it's intended to start this fall. Mark your calendar. Repeatedly, since "fall" isn't a month, but mark them just the same.
- The team behind Revelation Online has revealed that the game does indeed feature PvE, if you were worried about it. Revelatory! It's also taking appearance very seriously; you can make your own jokes about revealing yourself.
- Last but not least, Divergence Online has started a mid-testing Kickstarter campaign to add giant robots to the game. If you've been testing the game and thought that it really needs more giant robots, get out your checkbook once again.
Do we even have a list left below? Of course we do, don't be silly. Let us know if something on that list managed to slip into a launch or launch-ish state down below in the comments, though. We can't promise we'll agree with you, but we can promise that we'll think of you as very attractive for at least four minutes.
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."
Boy, it feels like we've been waiting for this for a whole year, doesn't it? World of Warcraft: Legion launched this past week, putting an end to a lengthy major patch drought and also sending everyone out on an island vacation. Or something. There definitely are islands, that much is a certainty. Our impressions are available in three parts covering the opening moments, the order halls and artifacts, and the leveling experience.
Is that not enough news for you? Well, let's cover some other beta news, then. Come along!
- The launch for half of H1Z1 is finally in sight. Yes, just half of it, as the shooter-based King of the Kill is launching on September 20th with a price hike. No word on the other half, and the console version is apparently "paused," so who even knows what's going on with the game any longer.
- Otherland is heading for launch as well; it's currently in open beta and is hitting the real launch state on September 8th. No word on whether or not it will actually suck you into a strange world full of rich people's half-remembered childhood fantasies, but we can only assume.
- Twin Saga opened its servers back up for open beta, raising its cap to 65 and adding the Dragonknight class
- Guardians of Ember is hitting early access at the end of September, pushing itself as a hybrid between traditional MMOs and a hack-and-slash game. If that's exactly what you've been waiting to hear, well... good news?
- Even Project Gorgon is eyeing a launch date at this point. Admittedly, it's a vague plan for some time in 2017, but it's still a time.
There's also our usual list just below, complete with games that didn't make it into actual launch or whatever this week. If something has arguably already launched, i.e. a free-to-play game with no more wipes and a functional cash shop, do let us know if we missed it in the comments. If you have thoughts about a beta you're playing, let us know that in the comments, too. Actually, let us know if you saw a cool dog on the way to work today. We're not picky..
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."
Yes, we've all had fun with today's joke, but you can probably 100% believe the fact that Otherland is back on Steam after a two-month absence. That two-month absence in and of itself is kind of unbelievable, but the fact that it came back is downright plausible. The game has also received a patch after its return, which is a bit more unbelievable, but all the same I hesitate to say that you would not believe it, dear readers. You clearly have a keen eye and a knowledge of what is and is not believable.
Other beta news did indeed happen, which you can probably believe:
- We bit farewell to EVE: Valkyrie now that it has launched alongside the headset it was made to be played upon. That's not poetic or praise for the headset, it was literally made to be played on Oculus hardware.
- Tree of Savior has begun its early access period, which means that you can access it. Earlier than other people, even!
- The next public build of Saga of Lucimia is coming at some point in April. We can also conclusively say it's probably not happening today, because it would have already happened. It's probably not happening April 31st, either.
- As Camelot Unchained speeds toward beta, people got a peek at several of the game's mechanics for lighting, clutter, and armor. We then had a chance to talk with Mark Jacobs himself not once, not twice, but... wait, no, it actually was twice. It was fun both times, though.
- Have you been waiting for the chance to get good and hammered as a Monk tank while testing World of Warcraft's next expansion? Because that spec has finally been added, allowing you to drink and tank to your heart's content. Other things were probably added as well, but we'll get to those when we sober up.
Do we have anything more for you? Well, yes, we do; it's a whole list of things in testing just below. Perhaps you'd like to check those things out down below? And perhaps you'd like to let us know if something slipped into launch without us noticing? And perhaps you'd like to bring us a ham sandwich? Seriously, we like ham sandwiches. No mayo.
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."