In the annals of MMORPG history, 2016 might well go down as a very odd duck of a year. While on the surface it might not seem like there is a lot happening with big-name IPs, we’ve already seen an avalanche of activity in regard to MMO crowdfunding, early access, launches, expansions, business model shifts, virtual reality, platform releases, and so on.
And the year isn’t over yet! MMO fans have quite a bit to look forward to before 2016 closes out. As studios have released information about their short-term plans, we’ve started to get a better picture of what to expect in the coming months.
So join us as we go through the top 10 most exciting MMO developments yet to come in 2016!
While early fall has historically been packed with MMO launches, this year World of Warcraft practically has it all to itself. That’s good news for Legion, which is scheduled to go live on August 30th and carry players into a new realm sporting a more flexible design.
Legion should provide WoW with a popularity and subscriber bump, but a lot of fans are waiting to see if this expansion will help to reverse some of the perceived missteps from Warlords of Draenor. Blizzard has also promised that players will be getting more updates during this expansion cycle, which means that Legion could well be ushering the MMO into a new era.
2. Shroud of the Avatar’s persistent state
No, Shroud of the Avatar is not launching (yet it kind of is). When Release 32 arrives at the end of July, the game will perform its final wipe before going into a persistent state. Call it a persistent alpha, a soft launch, or what have you, but the fact of the matter is that adventurers will be able to start playing for keeps as the world continues to be built around them.
3. Neverwinter and Star Trek Online’s console launches
Cryptic has seen great success with Neverwinter’s Xbox One career, which has propelled the studio into spreading its games to even more platforms. Neverwinter is heading to the PlayStation 4 on July 19th, while Star Trek Online is making its console debut on both XBox One and PlayStation 4 sometime this fall. Meanwhile, poor Champions Online is hopping up and down going, “What about meeeee?”
4. Star Wars: The Old Republic’s season 2
Since coming out last year, SWTOR’s Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion marked a new era for the game that featured a gradual and (somewhat) constant rollout of new content and stories. With the 16th and final chapter about to be revealed, eager players are looking forward to the second season or follow-up expansion, which should be coming out later this year. Knights of the Eternal Throne, anyone?
5. Guild Wars 2’s living world season 3
While we’re on the subject of seasonal content in MMOs, Guild Wars 2 is finally bringing back its living world concept after a long break. We don’t know a lot about season 3 yet, although we can expect more main story quests, more PvP maps, more raiding, and a release window for the first episode later this month.
6. Crowfall’s soft launch
ArtCraft is being a little cagey about its development schedule, but in a recent letter to the community, the team said that while game features are getting pushed to next year, it is aiming for a “soft launch” to get fans in and playing the alpha (or beta) ASAP. Could this be by the end of 2016? We wouldn’t include it on this list if it wasn’t a distinct possibility!
7. Master X Master’s launch
We’ve called Master X Master “The most MMO-like MOBA around” and we’re sticking to that. This upcoming NCsoft title pulls characters across many of the company’s games and offers more than just traditional lane-pushing MOBA action. For example, there’s the option to play in PvE co-op mode with progression. Suffice to say, this title has a lot of Massively OP’s staff excited — could it be the MOBA that finally lures in those of us scared of the game type?
8. AdventureQuest 3D’s launch
Count this as my dark horse entry for the list, but I’ve developed a soft spot for this upcoming cross-platform MMO. A game that you can pick up and play between PC and mobile devices, enjoy short, rewarding sessions, and experience regular (and wacky) world events? Count me in when AdventureQuest 3D releases this October!
9. Albion Online’s final beta
And speaking of cross-platform MMOs, Albion Online is moving into an exciting beta test finale starting on August 1st. Not only will founders experience an expanded and enriched game world when they go into this multi-month test, but the news of a “final” beta has given the community hope that there’s some sort of release right around the corner, perhaps as soon as the end of 2016.
10. Revelation Online’s beta test
Another game that’s garnered some serious attention as of late is Revelation Online, partially due to its incredibly beautiful art. Sign ups are being accepted right now for this fall’s beta test, and while there is no release date set, we know that a lot of work is being done to prepare the Chinese import for its upcoming western launch.