It’s the end of the world as we know it — and for some reason, we are still gaming. I guess that your investment in that electromagnetically shielded internet cable line paid off handsomely.
Even though the apocalypse wiped out most of human civilization and altered the landscape forever, it’s not dull times and meals of roasted rat from here on out. The post-apocalyptic wasteland offers exciting adventures, many opportunities to contract tetanus, and more than one MMO that seeks to give a vision of what life may look like after the bomb, virus, or Great YouTube Comment War settled.
So in today’s Perfect Ten list, we’ll be going through 10 MMOs — past, present, and future — that made the desolate and mutated wastes their stomping ground. What does the world look like after the end of all things? Here are their visions.
1. Fallen Earth
What’s amusing to me about Fallen Earth is that in this game, none of the NPCs really know how the world ended. From the best reports, it was a whole mix of things, but that doesn’t really matter when you’re trying to reclaim civilization from the wreckage of what once was. While this game is facing an uncertain future as its new owners try to shore up its code and tech, Fallen Earth still offers one of the most underrated, full-fledged MMORPG experiences in a post-apoc wasteland.
2. Fallout 76
Speaking of shoring things up, do I really need to lay out the messy first year of Fallout 76? This title exists in the shadowy lands between MMOs and multiplayer weirdness, but if Bethesda can pull their heads out of certain orifaces, the studio might be able to redeem the promise of an intriguing adventure with friends through the West Virginia of tomorrow.
There’s something about the apocalypse that turns everyone into demolition derby drivers, I guess. Mad Max probably had a lot to influence that, which is why we get games like Crossout. Still in development, this vehicle MMO is another title that’s offering a lot while flying under the radar of most. If you’re looking to crash, crush, or blow up other cars while you drive around at 100 mph, this game has your need for speed.
When Turbine came to approach its sequel to 1999’s Asheron’s Call, it decided that the world would need to be greatly different than what came before it. Hence, players will be saved from a cataclysmic event on Dereth by popping through portals and then reappearing in unfamiliar landscapes hundreds of years later. With a mixture of familiarity and newness, Asheron’s Call 2 is perhaps the most unique and unconventional post-apoc title on this list, showing a world that was more green and exotic than bombed-out brown. Asheron’s Call 2 also gains the rare distinction of an MMO that was cancelled, resurrected, and then cancelled a second time.
Crowdfunded a couple of years back, Edengrad has been slowly but surely creating a survival sandbox MMO to give people the opportunity to live out their grubby scavenger dreams. It obviously draws great inspiration from the Fallout games, but Edengrad has yet to really make much of a splash among gamers.
It may be easy to overlook amid all of the aliens and high-tech weapons, but Defiance’s earth is one that is recovering from a massive cataclysm that forever changed the landscape in bizarre ways. For my money, that’s a welcome relief from the usual grubbing-in-the-radioactive-dirt than we usually get. Plus, there are laser guns.
7. The Division series
Soon to be a major motion picture near you, the Division franchise takes bio-engineered plague and tosses it right into the middle of a bustling civilization to see what happens (spoilers: lots of death). The twist? A hidden army of sleeper agents who are activated to help restore civilization from this near-collapse.
8. Auto Assault
As I mentioned previously with Crossout, there’s a strange subset of post-apocalyptic lovers who would rather drive than walk around a crusty dead world. At least in NCsoft’s late, lamented Auto Assault, you actually had the option to leave your customized vehicle to explore on foot for variety’s sake. Man, this game actually sounded pretty cool.
9. Last Oasis
This upcoming post-apoc sandbox MMO offers a pretty interesting scenario for its backdrop: The earth has stopped spinning, resulting in shifting zones of extreme hot and cold. In-game, this means that players have to keep traveling via giant wooden walkers to loot habitable zones before they become inhospitable once more.
The earliest game on this list, Terra was developed by Kaon Interactive and came out in 1996. It was a mixture of first-person shooter and vehicle combat that wisely used a mostly-barren wasteland as its setting. Hey, computers back in 1996 didn’t need to be taxed with tons of polygons, especially when they were trying to access online multiplayer at a good frame rate!