Perfect Ten: 20 upcoming MMOs to watch in 2018
It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).
This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!
As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Anthem, Sea of Thieves, The Crew 2, Monster Hunter World, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption 2, Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.
With a great Kickstarter and a strong PAX presence, Ashes of Creation is coming off of a high this year. The question is, can this fledgling fantasy MMO keep the momentum, information, and enthusiasm going? With the alpha zero rolling out this winter, a lot of players will be looking to get into testing next year. Hopefully we’ll see a lot more information about this title and an expansion of alpha testing to keep the buzz circulating.
2. Bless Online
We’ve been waiting for this import almost near forever, but it’s actually coming to the west next year. Sometime. I am concerned about Neowiz’ whole “self-publishing” angle, but hopefully it will work out for this studio and title. While MMO players are starved for new material, Bless’ arrival might warrant more of a blip than a bomb, much the same way that Revelation Online did this past year.
The small indie team behind this unique MMO previously said it had hoped to get the title out the door in 2017, but obviously that didn’t happen. What we Gorgonites (is that a thing?) are hoping is that Steam early access isn’t too far away, especially with the redesign of the user interface and other improvements. After all, that’s what the devs indicated this past fall.
Gorgeous steampunk packed into an eastern MMO that’s designed for a western audience? A lot of our readers are saying, “Yes, please!” pretty loudly to Bluehole’s reveal of Ascent: Infinite Realm. Personally, I’m glad to see an MMO swinging for the fences, and Bluehole certainly knows how to make a crowdpleaser. AIR really was one of the few pleasant surprises from 2017, and it would be great to see it do well as we learn more about it. A western beta is slated for the first half of 2018.
5. Star Citizen
Really, does anything more need to be said here? RSI has to get this long-awaited release out the door and maybe more, because it knows that it can’t delay for a whole additional year without causing world-ending riots. It feels like lowering the bar just to say “get 3.0 out the door,” because there’s a lot more that Star Citizen should be releasing as this is freaking 2018 already, but we’ll be happy if 3.0 happens period.
Pretty much the only people who even believed that Wild West Online was going to launch this year was the people making them, and probably not even them. So now the team is eating delay after delay for the rollout of early access, beta, and launch, which means that 2018 is going to be a bumpy ride in the saddle. Still, there’s some genuine excitement over this western MMO, as evidenced by the attention given to it from the streaming community. I think a lot of people want to play pretend cowpokes.
Speaking of delays (delays are going to be a theme in this massive list), Shroud of the Avatar had to own up to the fact that it wasn’t quite ready to officially launch with Episode 1 this year. It’s getting close, mind you, which is why this online fantasy game’s release is nearly assured for 2018. Then again, I said that about this past year, so what do I know. I’m captivated to see if a launch will manage to draw in a larger crowd or if SOTA is going to progress with mostly the same small (yet dedicated) community.
I keep saying that it’s a mistake to underestimate Worlds Adrift — or to let your eyes slide off of this upcoming title. There’s some serious tech and serious money being poured into it, and the beta showed really healthy activity this year. The team is still ramping up for a “true” early access launch on Steam, so that will probably be 2018’s big news, but past that is anyone’s guess how close this game is to an actual release.
With “big news” coming this January, we pretty much know what the community expects to hear: Beta 1. The steady-but-lengthy development of this RvR title has driven a fan or two bonkers with the waiting, but the team is adamant in taking its time to do the game right. This has resulted in dreaded delays, but I predict that the MMO will see a proper beta test sometime next year and begin its sprint toward launch.
With delays tallying up to a year of added development time so far, the Crowfall team is under pressure to deliver this PvP game sooner rather than later. Fully acknowledging that fact, ArtCraft has publicly stated that it plans to soft launch the game in early 2018, although no firm dates have been set.
11. RuneScape and Villagers and Heroes… on mobile
With the flurry of eastern games heading to mobile in the near future, I feel compelled to remind our readers that we have two western ports that should be arriving fairly soon. Both RuneScape and Villagers and Heroes have made mobile announcements, with the latter coming to iOS after its Android rollout earlier in 2017. Even better, both games are purported to be cross-platform compatible, bringing us the real deal instead of a lesser knockoff.
12. Legends of Aria
Updates and development on this Ultima Online spiritual successor have been pretty infrequent, but the ambition from this small team is there. The team wrapped up its final alpha test earlier this fall, so it is reasonable to assume that 2018 will be all about a beta… and maybe more?
Greatly ambitious or vastly overreaching? You make the call on Chronicles of Elyria, but 2018 should see the team push out some of its pre-launch content, such as its VoxElyria visual MUD client. According to a July 2017 timeline, the team said that players also should see the start of alpha, the release of Kingdoms of Elyria, and server selection come next year.
These two projects have potential to be huge… if we’d actually hear anything more about them past their initial announcements. It really remains to be seen if they’re going to step up onto the public stage next year, but hope springs eternal.
15. Ship of Heroes, Valiance Online, and City of Titans
There is a lot of movement in each of the City of Heroes spiritual successors as they become more playable every day. All three will be in various stages of testing, but the first one that could be out the door is City of Titans (if it sticks to its “fall 2018” launch window). So which one do you think that will end up carrying the biggest torch (emote) for City of Heroes?
With Pantheon’s pre-alpha program finally underway, players are now joining the devs on the path to release. It’s a good sign that 2018 could see the expansion of testing into a proper alpha — at the least — and perhaps even the start of the beta. The team has stated that it expects to spend a year in testing, so my guess is alpha by mid-2018 and beta by January 2019.
This could be a nice little sleeper hit of an MMO with an unusual post-apocalyptic setting and striking cel-shaded style. I’ll be checking out the beta come next spring — will you? If that import isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps you should keep an eye on Closers Online (check out our preview) and Moonlight Blade, with the former already in closed beta in the west and the latter weaving its way through Korean testing.
While Rise of Agon got the jump by being the first Darkfall reboot to launch, New Dawn hopes to have its day when it officially releases on January 26th. I have doubts about the sustainability of a second reboot after seeing Rise of Agon floundering, but perhaps its different approach will draw in a nice crowd.
19. Lost Ark and Project TL
Let’s give a shout out to the two MMOARPGs that have been so very, very long in the making that we’ve been reporting on them for years now. Seeing NCsoft start over with Lineage Eternal as Project TL was frustrating, but at least it means movement on that front. Meanwhile, Lost Ark is planning to launch in Korea and China in 2018. Would we like to see some big announcements and testing with these games? Yes. Yes we would. Pretty please.
20. Dual Universe
Here’s another game that hasn’t had the highest of profiles but could surprise a lot of players with its offerings when it releases. The space sim sandbox had a great pre-alpha test this year and originally planned to go into beta and release over the course of 2018. We’ll see if this is the case, but it’s definitely one game that should be on your radar.