Not So Massively: A wishlist for MMO-adjacent online games in 2020

    
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With the year drawing to a close, my thoughts turn ahead to 2020 and what new gaming experiences it may bring. I am an optimist when it comes to the gaming world, so my mind inevitably turns to what amazing new virtual experiences we might be gifted with in the coming year. The field of not-so-massively games is one of the great new frontiers of gaming, so there’s extra potential for something special there. Let’s take a look at some of my hopes for the world of not-so-massively games in 2020.

News of Anthem‘s rumored reboot

I am intrigued by the rumors of a reboot for Anthem. (Eliot suggested it be titled Anthem: Second Verse, and I think that’s a brilliant idea.)

As I have made clear, I am mostly happy with the current state of Anthem, and I think most — not all, but most — of the criticism leveled against it is unjustified. However, I am not totally detached from reality. Even I must acknowledge that at this point the game’s image has been quite thoroughly ruined, whether it deserves it or not. Given that, a reboot may not be the worst idea.

It also helps that BioWare is doing this relatively early in the game’s lifespan. There’s not the same level of investiture you get over years, so people are less likely to be upset by major changes. Hopefully they won’t make the mistake of completely erasing player progress when the transition happens, though some disruption may be inevitable. Personally as long as I keep my cosmetics, I’ll probably be satisfied.

I’ve already discussed my hopes for Anthem‘s future, so there’s no need to repeat myself too much. My main desire is simply for more content, especially more lands to explore with new biomes. The same jungle map does get a bit old after a while.

I also want more Javelins and/or a more robust way of customizing existing Javelins. If a total revamp of the game is on the table, perhaps the latter is more realistic than I hoped. Perhaps we could see the addition of new playstyles, like a Storm focused on support abilities or an Interceptor with stealth capabilities.

I just hope the core gameplay isn’t changed too much. Anthem‘s combat and flight mechanics are virtually perfect, and nothing needs to change there. I do hope the characters survive the transition, too. I’m rather attached to my oddball neighbors in Fort Tarsis.

Launches for Lost Ark and Torchlight: Frontiers

With Diablo III in maintenance mode, Diablo IV shaping up to be contentious, and neither Grim Dawn nor Path of Exile quite to my taste, I’m eager for a strong new ARPG to sink my teeth into.┬áRight now, there are two upcoming games that look like they could be contenders.

I’m not the biggest Torchlight fan in the world, but Frontiers is looking fairly promising. My main concern is that the story might not grab me enough, but mechanically, it looks like a really fun game. I’m especially impressed by how strange and inventive the classes are. I always want more fresh ideas when it comes to class design.

With no Western release officially announced, it’s hard to find a cohesive source for information on Lost Ark that’s in English, but certainly the buzz around it is incredibly strong, and the screenshots look amazing. I just hope the localization is good; I’m really tired of Eastern games where all the dialogue looks like it was run through Google Translate. It makes games look cheap and lazy.

I’m also slightly concerned by the fact it is more of a traditional MMORPG. I know that excites a lot of people, but I feel ARPGs may work better with small groups. It’s such a chaotic genre to start with that adding too many players into open world zones might run the risk of turning everything into total anarchy. But we’ll see.

Right now, we don’t have a launch window for either, though there is evidence Lost Ark may be heading our way sooner rather than later. My hope is that 2020 will bring release dates for both games, and if we’re really lucky, said release dates may even be in 2020.

An RTS resurgence

You may have noticed by now that I’m a pretty big fan of real-time strategy games. Back in the ’90s, they were all the rage, but in more recent years they’ve been relegated to a neglected niche genre. I am beginning to feel the time may be right for that to change, though.

Remasters of the Age of Empires series and soon Warcraft III are reminding us of what the RTS genre can be at its best. A Year of Rain has ambitious (if possibly unrealistic) aims to make RTS the “in” genre again. Kingdom Under Fire II has made an ambitious (if flawed) effort at combining RTS with an MMORPG.

None of this constitutes an earth-shaking change by any stretch of the imagination, but it does feel like some momentum, however small, is being built toward a resurgence of the RTS genre. How likely that is to actually happen is anyone’s guess, but I think the moment is right for it, and it’s definitely something I want to see happen.

Technology has evolved so much since the days when RTS games were in vogue. The genre could become so much more now. I’m especially intrigued by the potential of introducing more multiplayer mechanics into the genre. StarCraft II‘s co-op has been one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had, and for all its flaws KUF2 does show that you can get some pretty amazing gameplay out of splicing together MMO and RTS.

The world of online gaming is changing. As the gray area between single-player and MMO becomes ever wider, Massively OP’s Tyler Edwards delves into this new and expanding frontier biweekly in Not So Massively, our column on battle royales, OARPGs, looter-shooters, and other multiplayer online titles that aren’t quite MMORPGs.
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