The Soapbox: The sunsetted MMORPGs I miss the most

    
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The Soapbox: The sunsetted MMORPGs I miss the most

I’m pining for the fjords.

Not in the way that would assume I’m becoming some jaded and angry MMO fan; I’m never going to stop appreciating what’s new and coming when compared to where we’ve come from. But now and again, it’s nice to just sort of sit in silence and trip backwards to games and times I’ve had previously. MMOs, MMORPGs, and multiplayer titles that I used to love but have since fallen away or otherwise are no longer with us. It’s a bittersweet trip, but I often try to focus on putting plenty of sugar in the coffee.

I wanted to share some of those thoughts here. To celebrate those times and experiences. To look back with a sad smile at the games that I used to love. I admit that a lot of these thoughts are coming from a place of nostalgia and are likely missing the granular details that ultimately saw these games fall away, but that’s kind of what nostalgia can do, and I see it as a benefit in this case.

Landmark

Naturally, I’m going to start with this game, especially since it’s been the subject of conversation among the MOP staffers and is the game that spurred this train of thought (and in turn, this writing). When Landmark first announced its sunset, my initial reaction was one of a mixture of sadness and indifference. As time has worn on, however, I find myself missing a lot of its core features, especially the creative ones.

About 80% of the game for me was wandering around any given map and finding neat things to see, while the other 20% was playing with and putting together a lovely little space for myself and any visitors. The tools were weird, but robust enough that working through that weirdness made the payoff feel good. What makes this loss sting more is we’re likely never going to see anything like it ever again.

dang

WildStar

Another obvious addition (for me, at least), this MMORPG had more personality and style in it than most games out then or since. I’ll admit that the Ratchet & Clank-style visuals were the first things to draw me in, but as I played my Healslinger I found so much more to love beyond bright colors and a cartoony plasmapunk style.

In fact I loved my characters so much that I did things I would never have thought to do before, including entering PvP arenas as a healer. I loved Healslinging that much. I’ll be the first to admit WildStar had a lot of problems, but I was also willfully blinding myself to them because so much about the game was great. Especially the people I used to play with.

Atlas Reactor

This game was too unique for its own good, frankly. It managed to mesh turn-based strategy with a game of chess and added a big dose of character to make it feel approachable. And it worked, bringing a game that really was easy to learn but hard to master, as overwritten as that praise can be.

I think one of the big reasons I was so enamored with this game is because of its character. I adored PuP both as a cute yet deadly robo-puppy and as a character whose gameplay was about entering stealth, waiting for a right moment, and striking hard and fast. I hope something like this one comes out again, but at the same time I still have mementos like my PuP pin and this banger of a tune.

Master X Master

Yeah. I liked this game. A lot. Mostly the MMOARPG elements, anyway. I even liked its team-based deathmatch arena. The MOBA segment, which was likely the bigger focus of the title’s development, was not really important or interesting to me. MXM was another game that was full of personality that was hard to deny. Especially with regards to its original characters — the roster of NCSoft luminaries was never a big draw.

An even bigger draw for me was the gameplay. This game was multiplayer twin-stick bullet hell shooter bliss, and I would spend many hours running dungeon after dungeon with PUGs for goodies and levels. The controls felt so tight and the ability to swap between two characters provided a depth that was enjoyable. I really wanted to learn characters and flesh out synergies. It sucks that this one went down.

Hit me.

Gigantic

Everything about Gigantic should not have worked for me. It’s a competitive, team-based, PvP’ing MOBA title. About the only thing it had going for it was an alluring art style. But then I started playing it and got almost immediately hooked. Especially to my girl Mozu.

What made this game work wasn’t just a character that I immediately glomed on to and wanted to learn, though. It was its sense of conveyance, its focus on objectives, and the pacing of its fights. At the beginning, it wasn’t immediately obvious what needed to be done, but playing a few matches made things clear, and the tug-of-war that happened in fights was extremely engaging. Gigantic still stands as the only MOBA I ever loved.

S4 League

Another game that I liked in spite of nearly everything about it, S4 League comes to mind as one of the most frenetic and fun team deathmatch shooters I’ve ever played. I remember combat and movement meshing together in an engaging and delicious way that, once again, made me want to improve.

I think what ultimately killed the enjoyment was the game’s cash shop, with temporary weapons being a thing instead of something you could earn or unlock permanently. I despise temporary items, especially when they’re cash shop items. Still, I kept playing and enjoying the core gameplay for quite a long time.

This is how we fall.

City of Heroes

This one is probably one of the weirder cases for me. On the one hand, I absolutely loved the game to pieces when it was first around and was among those who mourned its unceremonious end at the hands of NCSoft. On the other hand, Homecoming appears to have brought into stark relief that I’ve said my goodbyes.

After a certain point, you have to let the past go and look forward to the things that are coming, and there are certainly intriguing things in the works, and my time with Homecoming for Choose My Adventure only seemed to affirm that sometimes you just can’t go home.

That said, I’m playing again, in my own free time with an entirely new character, trying like hell to ignore the influence of the fact that I had prior connections that have since gone dead. It’s been far more challenging to do than I ever thought it would be, but I still want to make it work. Because City of Heroes still looks and plays like nothing else out now. And because, as I said, that’s kind of what nostalgia can do.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively OP writers as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews (and not necessarily shared across the staff). Think we’re spot on — or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!

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Anthony Hart-Jones

For me, it’s World’s Adrift which hurts the most. Maybe the wound is still too fresh, less than a year later, but I had such fun drifting with my daughter on an airship which looked too flimsy to fly.

I suppose part of that was that it was just different enough. It had building and it had progression, but it also had space. We saw people often enough to feel like an mmo, but seldom enough to feel like we were exploring a ruined world.

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Jerry Coudrain

Tfw they make a list of sunsetted mmos and include a game that has not shut down lol

S4 is still going

Vaeris
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Vaeris

Hmmm…Asheron’s Call, Fallen Earth. Kind of miss Warhammer Online:AoR but only because my 8 year old is PvPing in WoW and I would have liked to team up with them in WAR.

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Chad Wells

AC is still out there, doing ok. I play on a no bot server. I don’t play it a lot. But it is still fun to go back and play from time to time.

Same with Warhammer, it doesn’t grab me the way it did during live though.

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Saxon Myers

For me, it’s Firefall

Specks
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Specks

Wildstar takes the #1 spot for me, but Landmark is a close second. Marvel Heroes and Herowarz deserve to be on this list for me too…Maplestory 2 will go on there soon since it’s about to shutdown here as well. Sega Heroes is a mobile game and it, too, is soon to shut down, though it’s not an MMO apart from some “pvp” aspects…I somehow feel like it’s worth noting though, as I only recently dabbled in mobile games, and the shuttering sure seems to happen there even more than here. I think the loss of games permanently is pretty sad no matter which arena it’s in.

Wildstar got me to get out of my comfort zone as well. It wasn’t the first time I played a healer – I loved playing full support priest in Ragnarok Online, for example – but Wildstar got me raiding for the first time. it got me in a premade group running veteran dungeons. yes, I even stepped into pvp. I had so much fun in this game that I wanted to experience everything it had to offer and it never disappointed me. I enjoyed every single thing I did in that game. I played every healer as well – and I loved each one for the uniqueness each healing spec brought to the fun of healing. Man, I miss healing my friends and randoms during world events. (drusera’s tree, anyone?)

the only reason some of these others mentioned aren’t on the list for me is I unfortunately never got a chance to try them. I’ve heard only good things about so many of these. It’s so frustrating to me that these incredible worlds that so much time and effort went into – both on the devs’ side and the players’ sides – are simply lost to the ether with a flip of the switch so to speak. Not making enough money so time to toss it into the abyss forever, never to be seen or heard from again. And rarely do we mention those who achieved peace and freedom from both internal and external hells in these virtual worlds…those people who are now kinda stuck trying to find a replacement. Virtual worlds are a very real escape for people, and some people come to think of them as a second home. Think of that what you will, but I feel really bad for those who need that more than others and then are left behind when those games shutter. It’s bad enough in normal times, but in these crazy times? I’ve seen a few people mention how much they badly miss their favorite shuttered game lately and how it would be such a big help during this quarantine time having those safe happy zones to just wander through. Escaping into that favorite chosen world would be ideal right now, but some of us got unlucky with our favorites. Finding a replacement for these worlds is something very difficult depending on how unique the game you loved and lost is. (I still haven’t really found a replacement for Wildstar, though playing Trials of Mana lately has been a nice escape)

for the lucky ones, they get renewal servers made by people trying to salvage something that officially we can’t have (like CoH) but for the unlucky ones, we just kinda drift in a slow river of memories playing Goldilocks with games that don’t quite scratch any of the itches our favorites did.

this is such a bittersweet topic for me and close to my heart. as much as I tease you guys for shooting me in the heart every time a Wildstar screenshot shows up on my twitter feed, I do appreciate the reminder that it existed. every time those screenshots come up, I’m sure it makes someone new wonder to themselves “hey, what’s this from?” and they learn about it. I loved and lived in that world for quite some time, and I hope it’s never forgotten. thanks for this post!

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Bruno Brito

GIGANTIC ;-;

Btw, about S4League: what killed the game was their godawful P2P connection system. Every single match was a laggy clownfiesta. Solid core game. Terrible implementation.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Definitely Atlas Reactor. The great thing was that is was not a pure PvP battler. You could do Co-op and all bot matches too.

My top three that I miss and wish I spent more time in while they were around are Vanguard, Dungeon Runners, and Auto Assault. I wish AA had launched free to play, or lasted long enough to do so. I beta tested it and found it fun, but didn’t want to drop a monthly sub on it.

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Utakata

WildStar: May it raise from the ashes once again. /bows

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Bruno Brito

I believe it’ll come back <3

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Chad Wells

Would be fun to still be playing this game.

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Bruno Brito

There’s a private server in the works.

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K8 D

Wildstar and Free Realms. FR helped me cope a lot with anxiety and chronic pain. I miss it a lot :(

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Global Agenda and Firefall.