You know how some people like to push this narrative that “MMOs are dying?” If that was actually true, then my job to round up all of the up-and-coming titles every year would be far simpler. I’d look at a desolate wasteland, let my tears fall upon dusty soil, and turn in a scant column.
But the truth is that the MMORPG genre is exploding in all sorts of new and unexpected ways, with scores upon scores of games in development. In today’s column, I’ve pulled together 11 of the most notable projects that should be making waves in 2023 — along with so many additional honorable mentions that it’ll make your head spin. Dying? This genre is giving birth to litters like you wouldn’t believe.
Let’s kick off with our top 11 upcoming MMO projects to watch in 2023:
Ashes of Creation
If you’re looking for a full-fledged and innovative MMORPG made by a crew that’s largely drawn from experienced ex-SOE devs, then Ashes of Creation is ready for your adoration. A lot of people are excited for its world-changing node system, gorgeous visuals, and the fact that it’s already gone through two serious alpha tests. The issue of omnipresent PvP is a sticking point, and here’s hoping that Intrepid pulls a New World and offers PvE servers to draw in a wider audience.
Riot’s Runeterra MMO
We don’t know the name. The team said that the studio might yank the project if it doesn’t meet expectations. And it’s still a while in the coming. Yet we’re already salivating for any scrap of news related to Riot’s Runeterra MMO, especially considering that it’s got ex-World of Warcraft dev Greg Street as the lead and a rich universe already established in League of Legends and Runeterra itself. Fingers crossed for a full game reveal in the new year!
ZeniMax’s secret MMO
For a good while now, ZeniMax has been working on a second MMORPG to go with its popular Elder Scrolls Online. With over 200 developers, the weight of Bethesda behind it, and news that it’ll center around a new IP, this game’s poised to be an instant “must have” the second that the studio takes the wraps off of it. Whether it’s a Star Wars MMO or something else we haven’t even imagined, we can’t wait to see what this crew is dreaming up.
It’s safe to say that a lot of MMO gamers have complicated feelings toward the ArcheAge franchise. But there must be hope out there that XLGAMES can pull off Jake Song’s vision of the ultimate sandbox, even if it takes a full-blown sequel to do so. The studio started ramping up promotion of ArcheAge 2 last year, and perhaps we’re suckers who wear our hearts on our sleeves, but we can’t wait to see how this develops. Expect some form of testing in 2023, with a projected launch in 2024.
Cozy life sim Palia ran through a couple of alpha tests this past year with the promise of more to come. While the title is still a ways out from launch, the studio’s indicated an increase in playtests this year — and perhaps more than a trickle of new information? C’mon, we want to hear more about this colorful virtual world!
Funcom’s finally returning to MMOs with Dune Awakening, and despite concerns about shaky company performance in the last half-decade, this is still an exciting prospect. It’s certainly getting a lot of push and promotion, especially as the IP has seen a resurgence as of late. The studio’s taking signups for the beta, but hasn’t set down dates for when this PC and console title is planning to release.
Can you have an MMO without being “massively multiplayer?” We’re about to find out with the newly announced Wayfinder from Digital Extremes. This online action RPG looks one part survival game, one part WildStar, and one part Monster Hunter. The good news is that we won’t have long to wait for this one, as early access is planned for spring 2023.
Throne and Liberty
The MMO once known as Lineage Eternal and Project TL may actually see the light of day in 2023. NCsoft’s been hinting at Throne and Liberty for years, but now it’s cranking up the publicity machine for this action MMO. It looks quite pretty and has the potential to be a crossover hit between the east and west.
This project came roaring out of a coma this past fall, and now we’re actually looking at Blue Protocol releasing before the end of the year. There’s a lot to be excited about with this MMO: Amazon as its publisher, the cel-shaded graphical style, and the post-apocalyptic storyline. Korea and Japan are getting it first, but we can hope that this means the version we’ll enjoy will see some of the kinks worked out.
Considering how popular and innovative Warframe’s been, you best believe we got stoked when Digital Extremes announced Soulframe as its next big online title. However, instead of being a scifi title, this free-to-play action hybrid MMORPG will exist purely in a fantasy realm.
Not quite an MMO but we’re going to fudge it for this list anyway, Diablo IV is certain to make huge waves when it splashes down this coming summer. Blizzard is incorporating even more MMO elements into this sequel, and so far the early previews sound promising.
While we just listed 11 very promising projects, it’s by no means the be-all, end-all of MMORPG development. So here’s a list of 50 additional projects in the works to get you pumped:
- Horizon: Sony and NCsoft are teaming up to make an MMO based on this popular action-adventure franchise.
- Star Citizen: Development continues, money pours in, and another year falls off the calendar. Will we ever see its full launch?
- Path of Exile 2: This sort-of sequel, sort-of revamp will add a whole new storyline to the ARPG.
- Mad World: With development complete, an early launch this year would be nice for this oft-delayed title.
- Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen: A lot of people want this one, but it’s still mucking about in pre-alpha, so don’t hold your breath.
- Ship of Heroes: The City of Heroes successor which is most likely to launch, perhaps sooner than later.
- Crimson Desert: Pearl Abyss said we might see this anticipated title in the second half of 2023.
- WoW Classic Cataclysm: We can reasonably expect Blizzard to make an announcement that this controversial expansion is coming to the classic shards.
- Camelot Unchained: A $15M infusion might help get this RvR title across the finish line… we hope.
- Shadow’s Kiss: A Kickstarted vampire MMO that’s long in the tooth.
- Corepunk: Badly running behind schedule, this cyberpunk fantasy title needs to succeed.
- Nightingale: This Victorian steampunk survival RPG has us genuinely excited.
- Ashfall: Post-apocalyptic adventure shooter coming to mobile and PC in 2023.
- Raph Koster’s Metaverse: Whatever this MMO legend is cooking up in his labs, sign us up.
- The Wagadu Chronicles: This afrofantasy title looks quite unique.
- Bellatores: This medieval MMO was supposed to launch in 2022, so we’ll see.
- Monsters and Memories: The nostalgia is strong with this throwback MMO.
- Fractured: With Gamigo behind it, this indie title has a lot more clout these days.
- Valiance Online: This superhero MMO pops up once in a while to say it’s not dead, but who knows at this point.
- Redfall: This humans-vs-vampires looter shooter from Arkane is stirring up serious buzz.
- Ares: Rise of Guardians: Kakao’s got a flashy scifi MMO on deck for us to enjoy.
- Alganon: Derek Smart said that this shelved MMO should be coming back. We’ll see.
- Aion 2: We know it’s in development and not much else.
- Skull and Bones: Ubisoft’s long-delayed pirate title may make landfall in 2023.
- Profane: A free-for-all PvP MMO for all you wolves out there.
- Bitcraft: Indulge in all of your building desires with this sandbox.
- Galaxies of Eden: It’s looking like a kissing cousin to Star Wars Galaxies, if that interests you.
- City of Titans: Another City of Heroes spiritual successor that’s stalled out.
- Ilysia: Not a lot of pure virtual reality MMOs in the works, so here you go.
- Past Fate: A Kickstarted fantasy MMO that’s treading the alpha waters.
- Into the Echo: Time travel: The MMO? Sounds intriguing.
- SEED: This colony builder’s had a rough time as of late.
- Starkeepers: Massively multiplayer… Valheim?
- Unnamed Spry Fox MMO: This Netflix acquisition is working on a non-violent “cozy” MMO.
- Project Gorgon: Perhaps this will be the year that the long-in-the-testing MMO actually releases.
- Blade and Soul 2: Out in Korea, it’s anyone’s guess when this sequel might come our way.
- To Jin Yong: Tencent has a Wuxia-themed MMO heading for a global rollout.
- Project LLL: NCsoft is making some sort of MMO shooter that bears watching.
- Unnamed EVE Online shooter: Reportedly, CCP is still working on some sort of EVE FPS.
- Unnamed Jagex MMO: We know that this company is working on at least one, and perhaps more, MMORPG projects behind closed doors.
- ARK 2: The sequel to the popular survival game should arrive this year. Sometime.
- AdventueQuest Worlds Unity: This 2-D reboot of the classic game is slated for a 2023 launch.
- Age of Water: Gaijin’s making an aquatic adventure MMO… with pirates.
- Unnamed Blizzard survival game: Blizz teased this one in early 2022 and hasn’t said much about it since.
- Odiin: Valhalla Rising: Lionheart is delving into Nordic myths for this MMO.
- Annex: Former CCP devs are making something MMOy and arcticy with this one.
- Peridot: Is Niantic trying to replace Pokémon Go with this?
- Jade Dynasty World: A revival-reboot of the MMO that sunsetted in 2018.
- Eternal Kingdom Battle Peak: A rare Japanese-made fantasy MMO.
- The Lord of the Rings: Return to Moria: Become a Dwarf and reclaim the underground kingdom with a handful of friends.