The Daily Grind: What was the most innovative MMO of 2019?

    
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Many years ago, we used to give an award for the most innovative MMO. It fell by the wayside as we expanded our awards to figure out how to honor upcoming and indie titles in other ways, but I like bringing it back as a Daily Grind now because innovation has been a buzzword for so dang long in our genre. You can’t swing by the subreddits for top MMOs nowadays without seeing people complaining about the lack of innovation, especially in the big titles.

But I’ve seen it in the smaller ones, and I bet you have too if you stop to think about it. So that brings us to today’s question. And remember, I’m not asking you to just name your favorite MMORPG. I’m asking you to pick one that actually offered some serious innovation, something to drive the genre forward, something we’ve not seen a whole lot of before. Last year, I noted Pantheon’s perception system, and I’ll add to that Book of Travels’ emphasis on discovery and roleplaying.

What was the most innovative MMO of 2019, launched or not – and why?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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Cemalt

There is no such.

I’m biased, because I bought an indie game in Early Access on Steam called Reign of Darkness which only features 1 zone and a few dungeons and I wish it it to succeed and while it has nice ideas, it’s not innovative.

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Sarah Cushaway

None of them. Innovation in this genre is so lacking it’s pushed me away from MMO’s entirely until we get truly next-gen stuff going. Been messing around on the Isle and other random indie games instead, because FFS, at least those have some fresh ideas.

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Bruno Brito

FO76.

I’ve never seen such ambition in making the biggest dumpsterfire ever.

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Random MMO fan

None of them. Some people mentioned Project Gorgon, which is nothing more than a pet project by some person which is not a full game and never will be (as it should). I even saw someone mention Anthem, which is amusing since it is nothing more than Destiny clone with flying suits, code for which was repurposed from Battlefield planes and it is actually just a simple co-op FPS with absolutely nothing “massive” in it.

The truly innovative MMORPG needs to have the gameplay which would give purpose to people with all kind of preferences, from people who like to grind PvE monsters in perfect safety from PvP (very easy to do – look up “Deep Dungeons” in FFXIV, add few 100 more floors and several dozens of very tough bosses and you’re done, you can keep expanding this every few months, gear would be unique to this type of dungeon and not be useful anywhere else aside from cosmetic looks with all stats disabled outside of this place) to people who like to participate in large PvP battles with 100’s of visible players and permanently capturable castles/cities in War Zones which need to be at least as large as all PvE zones and need to have unique resources to crafters who can craft items which are always necessary (easy to do – make PvP with full loot and permanently breakable gear) to players who can socialize with each other whole day without the need to do PvE or PvP stuff (easy to do – make graphics beautiful with beautiful character design and 100’s of animations and huge variety of cosmetic items and ability to build unique housing and ability to host various events from concerts to fashion shows to RP events which can be all announced using in-game message board).

Extra bonus point for implementing VR which can give ability to your character to create your own animations using full body motion trackers which would increase amount of people socializing with each other or doing any kind of RP or piloting a flying vehicle or driving a ground vehicle if your MMORPG allows this as a mini-game or for PvP purpose.

But we all know MMORPG developers are too lazy and too greedy to do all of this in a game, even companies like Amazon.

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Crowe

I didn’t play any particularly innovative MMOs that launched in 2019.

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Utakata

I only saw marginal improvements this year… :(

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Sorenthaz

Project Gorgon pretty much wins by default since it’s basically the MMO where you experiment and play around with so many different things, including transformations that completely alter how you play the game and interact with others.

I’d also like to give Ashes of Creation: Apocalypse a nod (since it’s a tech demo for the MMO proper) in regards to one pretty creative weapon, i.e. their Gimoire of the Fallen Sky weapon. It’s a spellbook that lets you flipping zoom in with a sniper scope and drop meteorites from above on folks’ heads. Alternate fire (i.e. its ability which is on a cooldown) will rain a meteor storm wherever you point it at. I guess thinking about it, maybe there’s something like it in some shooter somewhere where you can point at a spot and drop a bomb down from afar (similar to the Ghosts from Starcraft but in first/third-person shooter perspective), but that was pretty dang creative for a medieval fantasy weapon. Definitely preferred them doing things like that instead of just doing what Realm Royale did where folks just get guns.

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Anstalt

As you said that the innovation can come from MMOs that aren’t yet released, then I will vote for Camelot Unchained. The amount of innovation in that game is just staggering! Highlights:

1) The game engine. This is the first game engine design specifically to support massively multiplayer numbers. I wish this wasn’t an innovation as this is the unique selling point of the whole damn genre, yet for some reason most devs don’t bother, they just ignore the “MM” part. But being able to support such a large number of players is amazing!

2) Horizontal Progression. First MMO I’m aware of that is being designed this way. Given that vertical progression segregates the community and makes it harder to play together, switching to horizontal is what is needed for the genre, helping us to play together and get the most out of this amazing potential.

3) Unlimited group sizes. Again, for the Massively Multiplayer genre, devs have never given us many tools to help organise such a large amount of players. CU is giving us unlimited group sizes, meaning that we could have 500 people in the same group, in their own sub-structures, making it easier to organise and lead. I can’t wait to see how the community utilizes this tool. I’m hoping it leads to more structured large scale PvP with advanced tactics etc.

4) Create your own skills. Rather than unlocking skills as you level and complete tasks, you instead unlock components and then build your own skills. This should hopefully lead to way more customisation for players, but I also suspect there will be a hell of a lot of FOTM going on.

5) Delayed progression/gratification. In a normal RPG, you kill something, you immediately get XP. In CU, that won’t be the case. XP/rank/whatever only gets handed out once a day, based on your cumulative actions for the previous 24 hours. So, if you spent your day guarding resource caravans, the game would recognise these actions and reward you for them, balancing your actions against what others have done. If you’re a griefer, you may never get any xp because the game recognises your actions when assessing the day. This is designed so that players stop worrying about the rewards and the instant gratification and instead can focus on the actual gameplay and having fun. Whether this feature works out or not has yet to be seen, but it is definitely innovative!

6) Design and build your own structures in the actual, playable game world, and then defend it against the enemy. The CUBE system just sounds amazing and we’re already seeing some crazy looking fortresses, cathedrals and the like being designed by the community. MMO players have long been complaining about their inability to influence the game world, well, in CU we can build across the game world and even change the shape of the landmass. Definitely innovative, but fingers crossed this doesn’t result in a bunch of dick buildings everywhere…..

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Joe Seabreeze

I haven’t been following this game, but that sounds great! It’s almost too good to be true, so I’m rather skeptical. I hope they can do it without it being a cheater’s dream

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rosieposie

Fallout 76, there really is no competition.

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Jon Wax

Wild West Online brought people together if only for a moment. Pretty innovative way to get folks grouped up.