The MMO genre is in a strange and uncertain place right now — but also one that is quietly thrilling. We’ve long passed the days where studios were pumping out World of Warcraft retreads in the hopes of hitting the same formula that made Blizzard’s title so successful. We’ve seen some major projects fall by the wayside (we’re looking at you, Project Copernicus and EverQuest Next) while crowdfunded efforts and indie studios have picked up the MMO torch to start venturing into risky and undefined territory once again.
So as MMOs forge forward, so do players looking for the next exciting thing. Every year Massively OP likes to put together a list of the developing games that you should keep an eye on, and here are 10 (plus some extras!) MMOs that should be making waves in 2019. See anything on this list you’ll be playing? Let us know in the comments!
The combination of a cult favorite ARPG series with a straight-up MMO design has had our interest ever since its reveal earlier this year, and we cannot wait to get our hands on Torchlight Frontiers when it comes out. With quirky classes and a robust player housing system, this might be the perfect MMO to sandwich into your evening play sessions.
With high production values, experienced MMO devs at the helm, and an ambitious design, Ashes of Creation is high up on many players’ wish list. It’s currently only in alpha, which means that launch is still a ways off, but 2019 should see this title ramp up in prominence as it moves into beta testing and firms up its feature set.
The first Division had a lot of initial buzz, which dropped off significantly — but then staged a mild comeback as Ubisoft gradually patched up the multiplayer shooter with ever-more content. The sequel, which is due to arrive in March, is a second try to really sell this series to a wide market as the action shifts from New York City to Washington D.C.
Mark Jacobs and his team at City State have been doggedly developing this unabashedly realm vs. realm MMO. This past year’s beta test was a big step forward for the title — but could 2019 see a launch? It won’t be a blockbuster release, but there’s a small but dedicated market for a well-thought-out PvP MMO.
Speaking of which, don’t take your eyes off Crowfall in the near future. The absurdly slick (and beautiful) production values, campaign choices, and housing worlds have made this a must-have for many. The pieces to this MMO are falling into place with the first real campaign happening this winter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the game saw a soft or hard launch in 2019.
The wildly imaginative Project Gorgon hasn’t taken anything in MMOs for granted since its early testing debut many years ago. While some people balked at its full price during the Steam early access this year, the PvE MMO keeps building up word-of-mouth and should be making a full launch in 2019. Of course, I said that last year, but hope springs eternal!
While I think a lot of us were very hard on this project early on its its lifecycle, the quiet determination of Brad McQuaid and his team to get it made has gained a lot of respect and attention over the past year or so. Ever increasingly, I see Pantheon mentioned in chat and comments by people looking for the next fun MMO. Is it a new hope for the genre?
8. Lost Ark
The Korean MMOARPG that wowed us many years ago with its stunning graphics is starting to pick up steam as it moves through testing phases. We wants it, oh yes we do. There’s no idea or word about when it’ll come out in the west, but any news about this game has our undivided attention.
9. Star Citizen
As Star Citizen’s alpha test continues to gain steam and rake in the money, the massive lumbering project moves forward. There isn’t any one single launch to be anticipated here, but rather a whole bunch of smaller and significant milestones that will open up this game universe to its slavering backers.
There’s little doubt that nostalgia sells, and WoW Classic will be giving players a heavy dose of that when it takes them back to the Vanilla era next summer. Everyone and their brother will be checking this out when it launches, but the question is how many of them will stick around to form a long-lasting community?
Need a few more games to anticipate in the new year? Here’s my list of honorable mentions that have potential:
- New World:Amazon’s still being rather coy about full details and looks into its first MMORPG, but with testing underway and some tantalizing screenshots, it might be poised to pounce in 2019 with much bigger reveals. Messy gankbox or visionary design? I’m leaning toward the former, but there’s always room to be surprised!
- Skull and Bones: I think a lot of us keep forgetting that Ubisoft’s multiplayer pirate game is still on deck for 2019. But with Sea of Thieves and Atlas out there, it may face fierce competition before it even launches.
- Saga of Lucimia: The hardcoriest of hardcore and the groupiest of groupy games, Lucimia is aiming for a very specific niche within the MMO community. Will it find it?
- Identity: This be-anything, do-anything contemporary life simulator just started testing. Hopefully it’ll build up some good buzz — and solid features — over the course of 2019.
- Ascent: Infinite Realm: This steampunk MMO had our attention back in 2017 with its reveal, but it’s been far too quiet in 2018. Let’s hope that it’ll emerge back on the scene in 2019.
- Ship of Heroes, Valiance Online, and City of Titans: Make no mistake: MMO players are still very, very hungry for a City of Heroes successor. Happily, there are three promising contenders in the mix, and all of them are moving forward at varied rates. I doubt any will release next year, but larger testing pools and more publicity should help generate buzz for their eventual launch. All three have strengths and weaknesses, but having triple the possibilities means that we’re likely to get at least one in our hands for sure.
- Chronicles of Elyria: I’m torn between admiring the anything-goes ambition with the untested team that might be biting off more than it can chew — and is selling far too much to its backers ahead of time. The visual MUD should be interesting, though.
- The unnamed MMOs: I’m hoping we’ll hear more about some of the unnamed MMOs that are rumored to be in the works, including Cryptic’s Magic MMO, Nexon’s secret projects, John Smedley’s efforts over at Amazon, and the hinted-at EverQuest 3.
- Harry Potter: Wizards Unite: Is the mobile ARG field primed for a worthy successor to Pokemon Go — or is this a fad whose time has come and gone? We’ll see when Wizards Unite arrives on phones everywhere.
- Temtem: This Pokemon-inspired MMO raked in a ridiculous amount of money and might well be the game that ends up being more successful than any other title on this list. Don’t dismiss it outright is our advice.
- Rend: This MMO-like survival game has some good word-of-mouth buzz and could be recruiting players in increasing numbers as its early access progresses.
- Dual Universe: Looking for a space sim MMO that will actually launch in your lifetime? Dual Universe could be the more modest answer to Star Citizen that we sorely need.
- Fractured: We’re cheering on this flexible fantasy MMO as it moves into alpha testing in Q1 2019. PvE, PvP, or a mix of the two? You can have your choice in this game!
- Shadow’s Kiss: There’s a thirst for blood out there — and also a good, solid vampire MMO. With Dogma apparently dead, this is pretty much your only shot right now.
- Legends of Aria: I think that this Ultima Online spiritual successor has a long way to go yet, but the fact that it is getting itself out there and trying to generate some interest speaks well for its prospects.