Perfect Ten: 10 MMOs I’m optimistic about in 2019

    
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I'm not back on any BS, I never left it.

It’s still early enough in 2019 to do articles about the upcoming year, right? Well, I’m doing this one anyway, so if it’s too late then we’ll just have to deal with it. It’s easy to get caught up in talking about major issues in the genre, or community debates, or arguing with anthropomorphic versions of various game studios ad forget to point out that there’s stuff in the genre that I’m actually just… optimistic about.

That isn’t to say that any of the games on this list are unambiguous good things with no problems or that there’s no possibility for things to turn out badly. Heck, some of these entries are cases where I just as easily can write an unpleasant ending for the game instead of a happy one. But I’m optimistic about all the titles on this list, for reasons I will elaborate on… now.

Let's see if this is true or not.

1. Final Fantasy XIV

Oh, let’s be realistic, you knew this was going to be on here. I’m really always pretty optimistic about Final Fantasy XIV, which is probably unsurprising given that it’s my main game, puts out a reliable stream of high-quality content, and is also the only game wherein you can befriend a group of catfish-people by making them food sculptures. But this year feels like a particularly optimistic year, with the game’s third expansion due out in July and plenty to be excited about when that happens.

This is not to say that the expansion couldn’t be unimpressive or worse than its predecessors, nor does it mean that the game is immune from missteps. It just means that I think this’ll be a year of really enjoying myself in FFXIV, and hey, that’s enough.

DIVE

2. Anthem

By contrast, here’s a game I haven’t actually played yet at all. It may even be a while before I do play it. But I’m still optimistic about Anthem, even as I think it’s going to be a starkly divisive title; I suspect there will be people who either really like it or loudly ask who in the world wanted a Destiny clone from BioWare.

So why the optimism? Well, I think this is an MMO subgenre that actually does have a lot of potential… and from the work already done on multiplayer modes for the Mass Effect games, the foundation is there for this to be really fun. Yes, it’s lacking in certain elements that I consider very important, but I’m optimistic that those elements can be added and improved with time, and so I’m hopeful. We need more entries in this particular category.

How it all works.

3. Crowfall

Stuff is happening with Crowfall. That’s helpful! Really, this is a game that has always had an aesthetic and a gameplay philosophy that appeals to me, right down to the idea that the game is open PvP but is focused in how that’s supposed to work. From the outside looking in, this looks good.

People playing the test versions may have a very different point of view. But my optimism is undeterred.

I LOVE TO KNIFE FIGHT BABY

4. Ascent: Infinite Realm

Yeah, there are rumblings of reasons why perhaps Ascent: Infinite Realm will not be the new hotness. Perhaps the new warmness. New lukewarmth. And if that’s what happens… well, I’ll be sad, but not crushed. It happens, after all.

But I’m still optimistic, because this is a game that has so many elements just highlighting that this could be extremely My Thing. Steampunk MMO with walker robots, airships, and a Victorian naval aesthetic? Sign me up. I’ll play this when it’s localized even if it’s not good. My love can power through lots of bad.

I've never known, really.

5. Trove

In all fairness, I’m worried about Trove. I’m worried about any game that was previously in Trion’s wheelhouse, but Trove in particular feels like a unique delight that must be protected and which I’m scared might not be. There’s lots to recommend it and lots of reasons to be worried…

Yet really, this is also one of the studio’s two standout titles in recent year, and so it seems likely that this one has a brighter future than some of its contemporaries. Optimism! It can’t be like Gamigo bought these games just to shutter all of them, right?

Here we go again.

6. The Elder Scrolls Online

All right, it’s time to stop talking about how The Elder Scrolls Online took its more lackluster launch state and really improved over time. At this point, the game’s updates and improvement have fallen into a pretty steady cadence… in a good way. Frankly, I’m optimistic about the title because while I don’t expect to be wowed by it (I’ve got other things for that), I expect it’ll finish the year without majorly flubbing anything.

We can think of some other titles that probably will flub things this year, but… again. Optimism.

Please.

7. City of Titans

2018 was not a great year for this particular superhero project. It wasn’t a terrible one in the sense that it could have been worse, but I’m mostly hoping that 2019 sees a lot of good developments for City of Titans and the start of players being able to, well, fly around and be super. And since I get to be optimistic here, well, I’m going to be optimistic and say it will be.

This isn’t to say that I’m not hopeful for any of the other post-City of Heroes projects to do good things. This is just the one on which I’m turning my Optimism Laser. And if that actually does anything… well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Not so ugly now.

8. Star Trek Online

Here’s the thing about Star Trek Online. While I’ve long adored the game, it’s had a big problem for several years in that all of the new material for the franchise was being produced in the alternate timeline from the films. But the past couple of years have seemed to involve the owners remembering that people actually really like Star Trek as a franchise. (It’s almost like the reason Enterprise tanked was the show itself instead of the franchise. Hmm.)

That means new stuff is happening. Sure, the current main series is a prequel, but it still expands the world and gives the designers new things to play with, and one of the fixed points in STO’s design philosophy is that it’s better to pull things from the television shows than just make up new stuff. So having more to draw from – and even more soon, it seems, with the talk of more shows – give me a lot of reason to be optimistic.

I probably don't exist.

9. Peria Chronicles

Yeah, all right, I think this game isn’t real. It cut some really neat-looking promo reels, but considering the long silence I think that’s all we’re ever getting. But I want it to be real and so, again, I’m being optimistic. Peria Chronicles is coming, and it’ll bring food, and water, and it’ll smite our enemies.

BURN IT

10. World of Warcraft

Optimism? Here? Yes. As much as I put this down as a game with an uncertain future, I am actually optimistic about World of Warcraft. Not because this expansion feels salvageable at this point, no; we’ve got a trash fire of a year in front of us. But because I think this is the trash fire wherein it’s just too much to continue ignoring how the game’s design philosophy is hurting it.

That’s my spot of optimism here. It’s a hope that falling numbers and negative reception bring around a look at the game and a realization that the Mythic raiding paradigm is killing the game, helped not one whit by haphazard class design, bloated leveling, and storytelling that would need to step up significantly to reach “acceptable.” The sort of thing that can prompt a large-scale reworking of fundamental pillars, perhaps even of the game.

It may be a long shot, but hey, that’s what optimism is sometimes.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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Kevin McCaughey

Pwease misser – can we have Panthion?

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Chris Walker

Interesting list. I’m surprised CU wasn’t included — it’s my personal #1. And I’ll continue playing ESO throughout 2019, because, well, it’s fantastic.

Final Fantasy XIV wouldn’t make my top 10 because I can’t stand the anime art style and lack of character customization. But I know some people love it and I’m always glad to see an MMORPG doing well.

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Castagere Shaikura

How is Anthem an MMO?

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rosieposie

This was depressing to read. If this constitutes optimism, I think we should all probably just kill ourselves.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

Whoa. Not offing myself because game developers are mediocre. There are other hobbies. More like those companies need to 180, stop making MMORPGs (which arguably they have already) or shut down.

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Joe Seabreeze

What a sad list.

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Oleg Chebeneev

This list is so random. Like some MMO names put in through random numbers generator.
Also no Lost Ark which was a huge success in Asia and no coming to the west? Wut?

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Toy Clown

I’m glad someone hasn’t forgotten about A:IR! I’m excited about the steampunk MMO, too.

Expansion-wise, I’ll be super-busy with ESO and FFXIV this year. I noticed that BDO is putting PvE content into the game. *Gasp!* I’m going to have some optimism for more.

Xijit
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Kickstarter Donor
Xijit

The problem with A:IR is “Bluehole.”

… I have had more than enough with how they run their games.

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Fervor Bliss

Maplestory 2 has been nice so far.

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Sarah Cushaway

Most of these games (including the oft-lauded FFXIV–so linear and gated without one iota of class customization I’ll NEVER understand why people prefer this even over modern WoW) don’t interest me in the least. I am interested to see what ESO does with the new expansion, and also interested to see if the next WoW expansion addresses some of the GLARING issues that have ramped up over the past several expansions (though Legion was OK and certainly more interesting than BFA…which has got to be right down there with WOD in terms of WTF).

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PanagiotisLial1

In gameplay, FF XIV was hands down the worst AAA budget themepark game experience I ever had

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Vincent Clark

I’m morbidly curious what your benchmark is if you feel FFXIV is the worst. Each to their own of course :)

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Sarah Cushaway

FFXIV is waaaaaaaaaay too gated and linear and has absolutely NO class customization. So, for me, that puts it pretty close to bottom, not including crappy Korean p2w garbage that I don’t bother with anyway.

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Vincent Clark

For class “customization”…FFXIV currently has 3 tanks with specific and different play styles. The same can be said for our healers and ranged and melee dps. To me, that is more important than having 3 or 4 different specs on a single class. Because, in the end, it becomes an unbalanced mess and the majority of people normally choose only 1 spec anyway. ESO is a different beast altogether. There is such a thing as too many options (imo). I get that half the fun is figuring out the ins and outs of your class, but at some point…let’s just say I want to spend my time playing the game, not trying to figure out how to play the game. I enjoy the fact that my Bard and Summoner have one “spec”. The fun, for me, is maxing out my rotation as much as possible and then enjoying the content that is provided.

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PanagiotisLial1

Every aspect of the game is boring, questing, storyline, handling, graphs, you name it but FOR ME I dont expect you have same likings with me and I am happy for you to have fun with FF XIV – for some people its hard to accept people differ and got different likings. Obviously there are lots people who like it but I dont. Same way lots here like fortnite but I dont.

Anyways for me the pre-order and the 3 months sub I pre-bought was a waste. I disliked FF XIV A Realm Reborn

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Vincent Clark

Everyone has different tastes and likes different things, I totally get that. My point is, you said it was the worst AAA budget themepark game experience you’ve ever had which is a pretty bold statement so I was just curious what you are comparing it to. No harm, no foul.

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PanagiotisLial1

Cause it was for me. I cant think of any worse experience I ever had with an AAA MMORPG. Its the absolute worst for me. I had more fun even in Perfect World International(2008-10) than it. WoW was better(for the time I played 2010-13), ESO was 3x better for me, LOTRO was better back when I played it(2009-2012). There are more games too but isnt fair to compare it to sandboxes. I also understand that not being an FF games fan(i like a few but not too much) I dont have the same traction others may have. Example STO has many flaws but I am a Star Trek fan too so I overlook them – I guess its same for fans of any IP including FF fans for FFXIV

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Vincent Clark

Fair enough. For what it’s worth, I’ve never been a FF game fan, FFXIV was my first. And yes, LOTRO was at it’s peak during that time.

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PanagiotisLial1

I see, for what is worth, my second worst AAA option, was Rift on its good days and right after it i would place GW2, but if i didnt have better(for my prefs) options to play, i think I would still have some fun on them.(“enemy” of the good is the better or best if you understand me) For FF XIV it just rubbed me all the wrong way so only way I could play it is having a good group to play with from start. To be fair I didnt call FF XIV garbage – all AAAs are at least decent to me-but it doesnt click with me. By the way I also dont like when games got all classes on one toon as well – I can overlook it, but i dont like it since it sort of contradicts with the RP consistency of a toon

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Sarah Cushaway

Keyword: TO YOU.

A good many of us LIKE some class customization, even with balance issues. I despise linear. If you like linear, cool. Not everyone does.

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Castagere Shaikura

It’s so slow compared to other MMO’s. I just couldn’t take it anymore.

bereman99
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bereman99

WoW hasn’t had proper class customization in nearly 10 years.

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DargorV .

Current ff14 >> Current Wow

Simple as that.

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Sarah Cushaway

It isn’t great, but hey, at least every 15 levels you get SOMETHING to pick. And considering modern WoW and FFXIV are both heavily, heavily gated and linear? The only thing that puts WoW above FFXIV for me IS the fact it has -some- skeletal remains of class customization left. Also, it doesn’t have crappy anime style artwork, but that’s a personal thing–I despise anime artwork and themes.

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Rahayan_Darkleaf

This ‘class customization’ in WoW is an illusion. It always was, and always will be.

You’re either following the path that has already been mathed out by others, or you are gimping yourself and any party you enter for the sake of ‘options’. Most of those options are subpar.

I assume you’re a raider, because frankly, that’s the thing in WoW: you’re basically limited to that. If you’re a raider, you’re following class guides.

Tell me, how is that different than FF XIV that basically lays out these cookie cutter builds for you anyway?

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Sarah Cushaway

Is it an illusion now? Yep. Was it pre-Cata? Nope. Most people didn’t (and still don’t, frankly) do hardcore endgame stuff, and just having the CHOICE to mess around with different builds was fun. Many, many people miss that fun. And no, I’m not a raider. Never have been. Never will be. My vanilla guild used to have “build a class” contests and then we’d go out and see how they worked. Great fun. Great times.

FFXIV doesn’t even give you basic choices–everything, everything is gated and extremely linear. It’s even MORE linear than Modern WoW, which is pretty dumpster fire right now. Nice assumptions there though, bro.

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Rahayan_Darkleaf

It has ALWAYS been an illusion, stop trying to tell yourself that! Pre-cata you had vanilla, where Warriors were tanks and the rest was absolutely shit at it. Then you had Burning Crusade, where classes started taking on an identity, which was fucked again by the end of the expansion. Maybe 1 expansion where there was such a thing, but every built the exact same way anyway because to survive a dungeon in BC, there was a viable build and that was it.

You had the illusion of choice because, as I said, 99% was subpar and simple not viable. We have the same problem in FFXIV right now, but where they call it “jobs”, WoW calls it “specs”. It’s the same thing!

The fact you and your guild did these events, is good for you, but does absolutely nothing in terms of raw data. These personal anecdotes add nothing when I say more than 95% of players ran one specific build. Your guild with 100 people in it does nothing when millions play the game.

That ‘many, many people’ are people you know personally and people you’ve seen shouting on forums. That’s not data. Numbers that show that the subscriber base for WoW is actively declining, that’s data. And they don’t miss the “fun” of talents, they miss the times when the game had community, had a purpose, was fun instead of this money machine it’s now become. Don’t twist truths in favour of your own little world. You are not ‘many many’ people.

Yes, FFXIV is linear, I agree with you there, but that honestly was not even the point. The point is that class choice is an illusion, which FFXIV does not even bother to make an illusion out of. This job plays this way, this job plays that way, exactly the same thing as WoW has done with the old system, and even more so with the current system. ‘Everything is linear’ is not an argument in this discussion.

Bro.

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Sarah Cushaway

Listen bro, you can love FFXIV all you want. Fine. Great. But no, vanilla WoW did not just have “illusion of choice” UNLESS you were a hardcore end raider. Most of us weren’t. And most people miss the old trees, like it or not. Some of the fun of the game was trying different builds. You can sit there and tell me that wasn’t a thing–but you’d be wrong. Because it was very definitely a thing for many people. Even if yes, they had to go cookie-cutter at end game, many, many people–myself included–like to toy around with different builds while leveling or doing 5-mans. Just to see what we could accomplish and for the challenge of it.

All your FFXIV white-knighting in the world does not negate my experience or the fact a good portion of players between Vanilla and Cata did exactly the same thing as my guild and I did–toyed around, had fun, made some silly builds, had a blast leveling with said builds and doing 5 mans. And no, back then, the majority of people were NOT hardcore raiders. If you actually “ran data” (instead of just making stats up, which you did) you would know this. Like you’d know the fact that approximately 66 guilds cleared old Naxx; raiding in those days was a second job the majority of players did not commit to– so yes, while raiders ran cookie-cutter builds, the average player could do whatever they liked. Some ran the standard meta, some just fucked around and had fun.

Which you can’t do in FFXIV ;) you’re stuck. Forever. One build. No fun.

harbinger_kyleran
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harbinger_kyleran

I’ve decided to make 2019 a “bye” year, at least when it comes to hopeful MMORPGs.

Hmm, same as 2018, and 2017 and 2016 etc. etc.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

I…think I see a trend here…