Back at the beginning of December, I posted a list of what I considered to be the biggest MMORPG stories of 2016. However, there were notable exceptions in that list of news that fans thought should be included. Unbeknownst to them but knownst to me, I had a second list in the works: the biggest MMO surprises of 2016.
That’s right! Today we’re going to revisit all of the big news that pretty much nobody saw coming (and if they say they did, they’re lying, but let them have it – it’s what they live for in this internet age). Being surprised by this genre is one of the reasons why I love writing for Massively OP — you never quite know what will pop up on any given day.
Sure, some surprises are sour and unwelcome, but others can be delightful and exciting. We’ve got both on this list, so let’s wrap up this year by seeing what stories gave us double-takes and were the buzz on everyone’s lips!
BlizzCon’s opening keynote was a massive disappointment to anyone looking for big reveals of World of Warcraft news, but it turned out that the devs kept all of the juicy details for a WoW-specific panel that weekend. We got the full scoop on the next three content patches coming to the game, including micro-holidays, a new zone, flight, and oh yeah, a visit to the planet Argus in Patch 7.3.
We were hoping without much hope that Amazon’s announcement of its first three games in development might cross over into our genre, but I don’t think many people truly expected to hear that one of these titles would be a full-blown sandbox MMORPG. We don’t know much about the supernatural-historical New World just yet, but just knowing it is in the works, period, was a major win for MMOs after a lousy year.
After ArenaNet abruptly announced the suspension of all legendary weapon development back in March, much of the community took it as a sign that we would never see the full spread of weapons promised by the game’s first expansion. However, just as abruptly, ANet gave the go-ahead for additional weapon development in September, catching the community off-guard. Disco ball sticks for all!
There are a lot of well-known names in World of Warcraft’s development team, but Chris Metzen was one of the biggest of them all. The developer had been with Blizzard since the mid-’90s, having worked on the RTS games and Diablo before moving on to the MMO. However, in September he decided to hang up his hat to spend more time with his family. We can’t begrudge him that.
What’s going on with Firefall? We didn’t get an adequate answer to that this year, but fans of the title got a shock when the MMO seemed to have suddenly shut down in August and disappeared from Steam. It came back up, but there are few that are holding out hope that one day soon it will go down for good.
Once upon a time, No Man’s Sky promoted itself as a multiplayer space exploration sim, which is why Massively OP started covering it. Yet as the game neared its (disastrous) launch, the studio started backing away from claims of interactive multiplayer features and issuing all sorts of confusing and contradicting statements. It was only part of the overall tapestry of failed promises that rocked NMS on release, but for us, it was significant.
Quick: What does SWTOR need the most? If you said “a brand-new user interface element that allows players to open up lockboxes faster than ever before,” then you definitely work for BioWare. Also, you’re a bonehead. Also also, you’re probably responsible for the whole lockboxes-within-lockboxes idea. Did you identify the point in your life when you sold your soul to the marketing team?
It’s always such a shame when an MMORPG doesn’t even get out of the door before it gets canned. The gothic sandbox Revival was “indefinitely suspended” back in March with a slim-to-none chance of its future, er, revival. As the game drew heavily from crowdfunding for finances, its end met with not just a few grumblings and gnashing of teeth from the community that bankrolled its development.
With a focus that was always muddled and divided, perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised to see that Daybreak finally threw up its hands and formally split H1Z1 into two titles: a PvE survival sandbox and a PvP arena fighter. The move did not seem to make anyone that happy, in particular the PvE fans who felt as though their game was neglected for much of the year.
In a late entry to this category, Turbine came out of the blue to announce that it was ditching all four of its MMORPGs. The once-great indie MMO studio is now focused on producing mobile titles, apparently. This might be good news for LOTRO and DDO, which both carried their devs team to a new studio, Standing Stone Games, but it was the end of the line for Asheron’s Call 1 and 2, which will sunset in January.