In the pantheon of SOE’s (now Daybreak) flagship EverQuest franchise, there used to be a whole family of MMOs gathered around the table every evening. There was Papa EverQuest, looking a little wrinkled and worn but also radiating fame and authority. Next to him was Mama EverQuest II, a powerful matron of entertainment. And EverQuest Next used to be a twinkle in their eyes before it was extinguished.
Then, in the next room over was a cabinet. The cabinet was locked. Inside that cabinet used to be a weird abnormality that certainly looks like a member of the family, but one that hadn’t seen the light of day in quite some time. This member subsisted on the scraps of an aging console and the fading loyalty of fans, hoping against odds that one day he’d be allowed out for a stroll or something. His name was EverQuest Online Adventures, the EverQuest MMO nobody mentions.
EQOA was a strange abnormality in SOE’s lineup. While it was one of the very first console MMOs and heir to the EverQuest name, it was quickly eclipsed in both areas by other games and left alone. Yet, against all odds, it continued to operate on the PlayStation 2 for the better part of a decade before its lights were turned off. Today, let’s look at this interesting experiment and the small cult following it created.
Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “What ever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.
Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately?
That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing. Today we look at whatever happened to PlanetSide 2, A Tale in the Desert, and Istaria (witness protection program name: Horizons).
MMOs these days shy away from calling themselves massively multiplayer, so it’s always strange when a game that we wouldn’t assume is an MMO confidently adopts the label. I’m talking about Foxhole, a war game we might have binned alongside World of Tanks or PlanetSide 2, but it appears to be more like Battleground Europe, as its devs call it a “massively multiplayer game where you will work with hundreds of players to shape the outcome of a persistent online war.”
“Foxhole is a large scale war game with emergent gameplay and unique sandbox features. The pre-alpha version of Foxhole has already been live for over a year and over 200,000 players have helped us shape the game as it is today. The process of developing the game with a live audience has allowed us to deliver on the gameplay that makes Foxhole so different from other online war games. We hope to continue this journey of development in Early Access, and make Foxhole an even better experience than it is today.”
Did we say early access? We did — the game hit early access yesterday and has surprisingly good reviews, probably because it’s a lot more finished that most of the pieces of crap that stumble into the program.
Earlier this week, MOP’s Justin expressed frustration over lockboxes, feeling especially provoked. “As both a player and a journalist, I find it insulting when an MMO studio wants me to get excited about its lockboxes,” he tweeted. “They are poison.”
MOP reader and gamer Iain (@ossianos) wants to hear more about poison! “I’d be interested to read an article on your thoughts, and those of the MassivelyOP staff, on how MMOs could otherwise make money,” he tweeted back.
Challenge accepted! And perfectly timed for this week’s Massively Overthinking topic. Imagine (or just remember) a world without lockboxes. How would MMOs and other online games survive without lockboxes here in 2017? What should they be doing instead, and what might they have to do when the inevitable gachapon regulation comes westward?
It’s been a while since we checked in with the conflict over at PlanetSide 2, so what’s shaking with this multi-arms MMOFPS? Actually, quite a lot: The team pushed out a big patch yesterday that made significant revisions to the game’s Indar continent.
These changes focus on “improving combat flow in and around many bases, as well as increase the overall flexibility of the lattice. The central three bases, Ceres Hydroponics, TI Alloys, and The Crown are among the handful that have received massive revisions.”
The update introduced the Heatwave weapon series with its hot rod flames-slathered decals, a new NS-45 sidearm, and the VS Zealot Armor. Players should expect to find that the meta has shifted somewhat, with three continents allowed to be locked at any time and only 600 players needed to open up a second continent (down from 900).
When Daybreak announced last year that it was cancelling the highly anticipated EverQuest Next project, the series’ forward momentum lurched to a halt. This wasn’t helped by other EverQuest entities that have been retired over the past few years, leaving only the two aging flagship MMOs to carry on the legacy of the franchise.
For franchise it is. It might be fuzzy in people’s memories (or simply absent from them), but there was an era where EverQuest was the MMORPG at the top of everything, and Sony Online Entertainment wasted no time in capitalizing on its popularity. Spin-offs, sequels, and alternative versions spawned into being, creating a library of EverQuest games.
In fact, there are more than enough to fill up a full list of 10 titles — and then some! So today let’s look at some of the lesser-known entries in EverQuest’s ever-expanding franchise and muse about what might come to this series in the future.
Over the last couple of weeks, the monetization of unreleased games has become a pervasive and uncomfortable theme for the MMO genre. Just in brief:
The frustrating bit is I could go on, and this is just for games that aren’t even formally launched yet. So for this week’s Massively Overthinking, I want to take the temperature of alarm regarding these types of business models for unlaunched games. Is this all par for the course, in line with what we expect from the new MMO market? Have they gone too far yet? If not, what’s too far? How do we feel about this type of pre-launch monetization run amok?
As Ashes of Creation takes aim at the $3M line for its Kickstarter campaign, Intrepid Studios announced that it has made several significant hires to its development team, some of which come from the Daybreak fold.
The hires include Lead Economic Designer Rocco Scandizzo (Psyop Games), Lead Programmer Kevin McPherson (EverQuest, PlanetSide, Vanguard, and Shadowbane), Lead Technical Designer Akil Hooper (EverQuest II, Fallout: New Vegas), Senior Character Artist Mat Broome (H1Z1, DCUO, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest), and Alex Khudoliy (Amazon).
Another interesting announcement is that Intrepid is partnering with Panopticon Labs to develop fraud detection and prevention tools for the game to make it as secure as possible.
Ashes of Creation devs will be on hand this evening at 6:00 p.m. EDT for a final Kickstarter livestream. The team also posted a brief video showing some of the winter effects in the different game environments, which you can watch below.
The graveyard of Sony Online Entertainment and Daybreak Game Company is certainly full enough to be considered a threat if there was ever a zombie uprising among MMORPGs. From PlanetSide to Free Realms, there are plenty of live games that were disposed of in this grim fictional burial ground. But there are also those stillborn titles that never had the change to make or break in a live environment. EverQuest Next might be the most fresh in our minds, but go back a handful of years and you might have seen players lamenting the loss of a different promising SOE game: The Agency.
The Agency seems like a natural fit for the studio’s focus on first-person shooters and a willingness to branch out from strictly fantasy territory. Instead of dragons or stormtroopers, players in this game were to face off against terrorist organizations and dastardly spy agencies, all in the pursuit of living out the ultimate James Bond fantasy.
But instead of sitting on our desktop, The Agency exists only in a forgotten corner of this imaginary cemetery. Today, let us tenderly brush off its worn tombstone and remember what we can about this canceled spy shooter.
Ages ago on the MMORPG subreddit, a player made a bold statement: MMORPGs are designed for low-skill gamers.
“I remember being dazzled by EverQuest and Ultima as a child,” he wrote, reminiscing about his memory of high difficulty old-school games. “I recently loaded up [Star Wars: The Old Republic] again, and I’m shocked. Piss easy. Everything. XP falling from the sky. Mobs dead in one GCD. Brainless. The same reason I quite every MMO. I never meet people, I never feel challenged. I just feel bored. ‘Wait till endgame’ isn’t gonna cut it anymore. I’m over it. I’m done. I feel like I’m just hitting the ‘Reward’ button again and again and again, solitary and alone, like a stupid little rat in the cage.” He then basically blames the perceived shift of the genre on people who don’t want games to be “like a job”: “The genre just seems to be fueled by mediocre, anti-social “consumers.”
I wanted to pull this back out to see whether our staff and writers agree with the claims — and whether we all have some advice for this fan, who concludes his rant by asking people to change his mind. Howsabout it, Overthinking fans?
Massively OP reader and frequent tipster Gibbins wants us to play match-maker.
“I love the wonderful world that Bethesda created with the Fallout franchise, not too bleak but very post apocalypse with a very kitsch ’50s feel from the time of duck and cover educational films, but I wish it were multiplayer. The huge volume of mods for Fallout is also is a massive bonus, giving the game great variety and replayability. On the other hand, I also love the satirical in your face style of GTA Online and its no-holds-barred multiplayer experience, but I wish there were more to the story and more support for mods. Both games offer so much, and I would love to see how each studio would add to the other’s game. Which two development teams would you like to see married… and which game would be their love child?”
Let’s complicate Gibbins’ request and say that the love child game must be an MMO! I’ve posed his question to the team for this week’s Massively Overthinking.
Last night’s startling news that Daybreak plans to sunset Landmark abruptly in February (while forbidding player emulators) sent the MMORPG community into… I’ll call it “resigned and weary outrage.” At Massively OP, we just spent the last month reliving last year’s EverQuest Next cancellation thanks to the fact that it “won” so many awards — Biggest Disappointment and Biggest Story, the reader vote for Biggest Blunder — and was our most-commented-on article of the year. Landmark’s sunset is sadly just a capstone to a year already dominated by Daybreak’s decisions.
(The bummer is Landmark also narrowly took our serious award for Best Crafting, which it probably deserved, but most MMO gamers will never get to try it to understand why.)
Our comments last night were filled with concern for Daybreak’s remaining games. We counted around 14 games canceled, most of them in the last few years, with DC Universe Online, PlanetSide 2, EverQuest, EverQuest II, and the two H1Z1 halves being the only games left under the DBG banner (plus the mystery game they’ve been hiring for — and it’s now publishing Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online but doesn’t actually own or develop them, so they’re probably safe). Do you think Landmark was the last remnant of a bad business decision finally getting cleaned up, or are you concerned for Daybreak’s other MMORPGs?
If you thought we lost a lot of MMOs in 2014 and 2015, wait until you see 2016’s list.
It’s easy to shrug off some of these, like the non-MMORPGs, the games shutting down in far-flung countries, or even Hellgate, which sunsets and revives at least a dozen times a year now.
But others sting. Asheron’s Call, due to sunset in January, is probably the smallest MMORPG on the list, but it casts a mighty shadow over the genre and will be deeply missed by veterans. The cancellations of EverQuest Next and Revival still stings. PlanetSide had a long and storied run, while DUST 514 may yet live again. And our youngins will now miss out on introductory games like Super Hero Squad Online and LEGO Minifigures.
Farewell, old friends.