Back when Daybreak announced that EverQuest’s 19th expansion would be titled Rain of Fear, I instantly found myself tripping over the name. I shouldn’t have — it’s a few simple words that are first-round picks for spelling contests — but it defied the traditional naming conventions for MMO expansions. Many people I talked to kept wanting to write “reign” instead because “rain” seemed like a deliberate misspelling by some sun-starved intern.
Homophones aside, Rain of Fear is hardly the worst expansion title I’ve ever seen. The industry has had its share of bad names, from the confusing to the downright unpronounceable. Sure, we get used to these titles, and perhaps it’s nit-picky to lug them out at such a late point in many of their lifespans, but petty is my middle name. My first name is Tom. And these are 10 poorly named expansions. Deal with it.
Anarchy Online: The Notum Wars
Let’s get this straight: None of these names are truly atrocious. It’s just that these 10 fail at being a captivating, courageous, or understandable name in some way.
So why should we start with The Notum Wars? Tell me the truth: Does that name really grab you? I thought not. “Wars” should always be prefaced in fiction with an exciting or bold word. “Notum” is not only a slight mispronunciation away from “naughty,” but it’s simply dull. It’s like if I were to call a movie “The Gluten Wars” or “The Clone Wars.” If I do that, it’s because I am late for an appointment and am just reading whatever word is in front of me at the breakfast table.
It’s so hard to mess up the “The ______ Wars” format that I have to put Anarchy Online on the list for filling in that blank with a blank.
I told you I was going to be petty.
EverQuest: The Legacy of Ykesha
Now I feel like I’m dog-piling on EverQuest, but since that game’s had around 145 expansions, it’s bound to have a few stinkers by default. Daybreak has actually done a fine job with most of the names, but this one rubs me the wrong way.
How come? “Ykesha” is a nothing word. It’s gibberish and tells me nothing about the expansion. Two science-fiction and fantasy naming tropes that bother me are when writers use apostrophes to make words sound alien and when writers slam non-neighborly letters together to create awkward proper nouns. “Ykesha” sounds like what a cat horks up. That makes me a lot less interested in its legacy. (Bree tells me it was originally a sword or something. This isn’t helping.)
Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan
And here the creator of the expansion suffered a mild stroke halfway through the name.
Ultima Online: Samurai Empire
I dislike this for the same reason that I’m not overly fond of RIFT: Storm Legion. The name doesn’t gel. They’re two strong words that should be totally fine in a three-legged contest but end up sounding a little juvenile in reality. I can see an eighth grader drawing a doodle comic called “Samurai Empire,” but I have a hard time picturing businessmen giving that name the OK for a major product release.
Also, if you’ve got samurai in your expansion, there are just so, so many cooler titles out there. This is lack of imagination at work.
Star Wars Galaxies: Rage of the Wookiees
Wookiees get stereotyped all the time as ‘roid ragers, and I don’t appreciate SWG profiling them as such. Wookiees raging? Get out. I’m shocked they didn’t follow that up with Shuffles of the Ewoks, Misfires of the Stormtroopers, and Beeps of the Droids, really.
Leave Wookiees alone!
EverQuest II: The Splitpaw Saga
EverQuest II: The Splitpea Soup.
EVE Online: Red Moon Rising
EVE Online expansions favor strong single words that are sometimes an ideal follow-up for ’60s English rock bands. But here a critical error was made, and the time for our attack has come.
It’s like CCP transformed into a bad country crooner overnight, trading in spaceships for a beat up guitar and a failed marriage. Or if we want to go a different tack, it’s a couple of phrases short of a botched Lucky Charms commercial: red moons, pink clovers, and so on.
Also — and here comes the pettiness — moons don’t rise in space. They kind of just float there.
City of Heroes: Going Rogue
Nothing about this title works. Nothing. First of all, CoH already established the naming format by the time it got to City of Villains. Going Rogue is the second expansion (shh, don’t argue semantics, I honestly don’t care), and already you’re getting away from the most recognizable element of your name.
Second, what does “going rogue” tell you? That sneaky backstabbers have branched out into MMO development? It’s unusual to have an expansion start out with a verb, I’ll grant you that, but it’s such a vague clause that I have felt apathetic about it every time I’ve read it somewhere. City of Turncoats or City of Heroes: Switcharoo aren’t much better, but at least those stay on message.
Lineage II: Freya
None of the other titles on this list gives me an eye twitch, but this one does. NCsoft, what the heck were you thinking? It’s just a single name that communicates nothing unless you’re a lingerie fan. Lineage II: Harry. Lineage II: Gertrude. Lineage II: The Artist Formerly Known As Prince. You see the problem here?
Dungeons and Dragons Online: Menace of the Underdark
We need to accept this as a geek community and move on: George Lucas ruined the word “menace” for at least 40 more years. Every time I see that word, I add “phantom” in front of it, and then I go into convulsions. Or even worse, I put “Dennis the” up front and then perish of an acute lack of humor.