Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever 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!
In this week’s edition, we’ll be catching up with three (pseudo-)MMOs that you might not have thought about in a while. So what’s been going on with Divergence Online, Tree of Life, and Eternal Crusade?
Boy, does this one dredge back up some memories — mostly of news and not of actual gameplay. If you’ll recall, Divergence Online was a scifi sandbox MMORPG that claimed to be heavily inspired by the late, great Star Wars Galaxies and created by Ethan Casner of Stained Glass Llama Corp. There were some legitimate doubts about this project — especially with concerns over blatantly using SWG assets — but even so, it emerged on Steam early access back in January 2016 to mixed reviews.
From the start, Casner took a strangely antagonistic stance toward the community and media (evidence of which is still present on the game’s minimalistic website). However, it really started to get weird at the end of January 2016 when the game abandoned Steam sales while claiming review harassment. The following week took us on a bizarre rollercoaster ride of updates, with DMCA takedown complaints, threats against Valve by the studio, the store page going offline, the store page coming back online, and the MMO eventually being sold again. You can revisit this whole drama llama saga to refresh your memory.
But the question is, once the dust from all that settled down, what happened to the game itself? The answer is that it looks as though Divergence was a massive dud, either due to bad design, hostile reviews, or a combination of the two. In an attempt to make some money off the game and capitalize on then-current trends, the devs created a survival spin-off title called Divergence: Year Zero that arrived in October 2016. It too sold poorly.
Now in 2018, it’s clear that any effort, funding, and development toward both titles has ceased. “The returns have not been sufficient to warrant taking it as far as we would have liked,” said the team on the Year Zero Steam page, going on to announce that it would be keeping the servers on for players to enjoy it as a “purely crafting and exploration game.” We’re not quite sure what Casner is up to, but apparently it involves building huge virtual castles.
Tree of Life
Following a visual overhaul, Tree of Life brought its newly stylized sandbox to the larger community with its August 2017 launch. Since then it’s carved out a small niche of fans who thrive in the crafting and building lifestyle and appreciate the absolutely adorable graphics.
However, it should be noted that there is fierce opposition to Tree of Life, especially on Steam, where it has earned a “mostly negative” score. Some of the bigger beefs that players have had include a lack of developer communication and generally poor performance. Probably the biggest issue cited revolved around an alleged post-launch wipe that erased players’ progress up to that point.
So on one hand, it’s had a rough first year and only sees a few dozen players log on at any given time these days. On the other hand, Tree of Life has been putting out updates and events fairly regularly since launch, so it’s not entirely dead.
This game was always an odd duck in our roster. It certainly wasn’t the Warhammer 40,000 MMORPG that fans craved and desired, but its status as an online multiplayer game with some measure of progression meant we couldn’t ignore it either — especially with that IP. And so over the years we have tracked Behavior Interactive’s Eternal Crusade up through its launch in October 2016. In our two-part impressions piece, MOP’s Matt noted that it was both unfinished and not very fun it this launch state.
“Assuredly, there were moments during my time in the game when the stars aligned and I, startlingly enough, found myself enjoying it,” he said. “But even those ephemeral moments didn’t inspire anything beyond a kind of complacent sense of entertainment, and they were nowhere near enough to compensate for the tedious dullness of the intervals between them.”
Patches and updates continued to roll out post-launch, and in March 2017, the game switched over to a free-to-play model and saw its daily active users triple overnight. However, it didn’t hold on to those numbers for very long. Eternal Crusade bled population numbers fairly consistently with only a few exceptions since then (Steam Charts notes that only about 150 people are playing per day right now).
This year has been somewhat quieter for the game, possibly because Behaviour Interactive has shifted its focus to the survival shooter Deathgarden and the Westworld mobile game. The studio did briefly consider a battle royale mode, but mostly it has been content to push out the very occasional update and host a tournament or two here and there. April’s Patch 1.8 brought out a pair of new maps, a dozen additional weapons, and a lot of work on combat balance. The dev team promised back in August that it is working on another content update for this fall that includes another map, cosmetics, and changes to banners and squads, but we have still yet to see this come to fruition.