Massively Overthinking: The MMOs we wanted a decade ago

    
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Back in May, MOP’s Justin penned a fun blog piece on his Bio Break blog about the games he wanted all the way back in 2013 – i.e., 10 years ago. It’s a massive list, and some of the games aren’t MMOs, but many of them are. Maybe the saddest part is how many of them never came out at all.

I thought it would be fun (“fun”) for this week’s Massively Overthinking to ask our writers and readers to think back to 2013 and the games they were anticipating all those years ago. We have an awards post from that year that nominated quite a few MMOs, including EverQuest Next, WildStar, EverQuest Next Landmark, ArcheAge, Destiny, Pathfinder Online, TUG, and The Elder Scrolls Online, but Justin’s list has even more. What were you pining for? Did it launch? How did it go, and if it didn’t, how did it all come crashing down?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): I was still mostly reporting on cons at the time, but oof, that was a harsh year. Just going off Justin’s personal list and sticking to MMOs:

Wildstar. Oof. My guild was initially excited by this one, but the first clue that something was up was when marketing videos and some copy made it seem like you could level up just as a crafter, but digging into some of the dev diaries (and leaked beta info) showed that wasn’t the case. My first hands-on with the game at E3 was also my first disappointment with it (and the first, and only time, I took a hit for a game’s rep when I should have been more objective about it being more of the same with an original IP and comedy elements).

ArcheAge was a massive disappointment. I had done a lot of the beta tests in multiple languages and my guildies were 100% in… until we started to see how it was being changed for release, and not even just the English-language version. Earlier betas frontloaded more features so the game felt more alive than most MMOs at the time. While there was still a decent amount of that at launch, you didn’t get the same sense of freedom, so most people I knew didn’t even make it to launch. Those who did, including one person who tried it as their first MMO period, just couldn’t stick with it, though that person was just overwhelmed by the genre. There was a fine line AA tried to walk, but I think we’ve all seen it slipped one time too many.

The Elder Scrolls Online was another one, though I recall being kinder to this one. Honestly, I remember it seeming a bit more like Star Wars The Old Republic in that it felt a bit more single-player in a shared world. What’s funny is it was fine enough as a concept at launch, but ended up being retooled to be so much better, even if I didn’t end up playing it much, as I generally went where my guild went.

Even though I’m an Asheron’s Call fanboy and never played the first two EverQuests, EverQuest Next and Landmark both got me hyped. I still think it’s weird that only Landmark launched, but I played that one into live. I still recall MJ and I fighting to give it awards at least one award season. I guess Minecraft for an older audience just didn’t work out well enough for the accountants to keep it afloat.

I never got 100% on the Star Citizen hype train since I was starting to burn out on broken promises at this point, but I was hoping for a full release so I could give it an honest whirl, especially after I got a taste of it at E3 one year. Yeah, that’s gone nowhere.

Weirdly, one thing I had hoped for was a new Asheron’s Call, but wasn’t playing either of them until near the end. I had been favoring AC2 so it hurt when it got shut down for the second time and no one brought up private servers as they had with the original. I’m glad AC1 at least is still around, but I still don’t get how neither game is still up while some older, less inventive titles without sequels are still marching along.

Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): For someone who writes about games, I’m fairly poor at keeping up on the various new games in development. Around this timeframe I was aware of Guild Wars 2 (which had just come out in 2012) and Elder Scrolls Online, both of which I ended up playing. I had heard of Wildstar but was not excited about it. Mostly, I had my head buried in Lord of the Rings Online and was more concerned with losing LOTRO friends and guildmates to the MMO flavor of the day.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): It was EverQuest Next for me, and fortunately my words are recorded and still online to jog my memory! I do remember that 2013 was a rough year for me (had lost four games, including Star Wars Galaxies and City of Heroes), and I was trying to carve out a home in Guild Wars 2 but still casting about for something to satisfy my sandbox desires. EQN would’ve done it, but unfortunately, SOE imploded and Daybreak just couldn’t follow through on its promises. I’m actually more mad about Landmark, though, since at least Landmark existed in a functional state. SOE had no business pulling it offline. Hey Daybreak, want some goodwill? Put it back up.

I do find my 2013 opinion on Elder Scrolls Online to be interesting, especially since I was a hardcore TES fan. I was concerned that the game was hedging on its MMO roots, trying to split the baby to the point that it had no definitive direction or playerbase. Turns out I was right; the game was a bit of a mess at launch (that was the year we gave GOTY to nothing). But ZOS eventually stitched that baby back together, so it avoided what so many of us thought would be its fate, and now it’s in the big five! But at the time, it was definitely dampening my interest.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I only really was eager for Landmark/EverQuest Next and… well, we all know how that went, don’t we? I was also very happy with WildStar (warts ‘n all) but that also went the way of the MMO gaming dodo. I guess I just love things to death. Cue the Type O Negative music.

Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): I scrolled back on my own personal blog, which is just a few months shy of 10 years old, and if I was looking forward to much in 2013, I wasn’t talking it up. I was talking about this MMO I had impulse-bought a while ago and then bounced off of and how I was just coming back and wasn’t sure if I was going to stick around: It was Guild Wars 2, and, needless to say, it stuck, and now here I am the Guild Wars 2 columnist for Massively OP. At the time, I was leveling an Asura Engineer, who was then level 39 (she ended up being my first 80, and still one of my mains). I was also talking about why I wouldn’t be buying The Elder Scrolls Online. Whoops, now it’s one of my favorite MMOs too.

Anyways, that’s not really answering the question. I know I was mildly interested in Wildstar, but it was as hard to sell me on a subscription-only MMO back then as it is now, so I was planning on patiently waiting for the inevitable F2P conversion. In hindsight, I wish I had spent more time in that game during its heyday.

I was also excited for Star Trek Online’s first expansion, Legacy of Romulus, and the addition of the Romulan sub-faction. I think Legacy was peak STO for me personally. I even bought a whole pack of Romulan cash shop ships, the bulky Scimitar and its two variants, which was a big investment for me in 2013. Dang, now I want to play STO again.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): You know, that was the last time I was really truly hyped for games to come. Because of the subsequent burns, I’d tried to block this all out of my memories. But now that Bree has ripped that bandage off, I decided to take a peek. What my whole heart was most eager for was EverQuest Next and Landmark. I was so excited for EQN, I had already created a new blog for it that was a travel blog/journal for my adventures in Norrath. And EverQuest Next Landmark? Oh, the sandboxiness just made my heart flutter! More sandbox games and virtual worlds were my preference, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that Star Citizen, The Repopulation, and ArcheAge also held my interest. I was watching TUG a bit, too. I was aware of Elder Scrolls Online and thought I’d play, but only because a friend was very interested in it.

How did all that go? Heh. Reliving the pain here! I got to play Landmark and enjoyed it all the way until the moment it was shut down, but I stll miss it. EQN? Yeah, that never happened. So the one my heart was desiring the most was the biggest let down. This is the deepest disappointment, and the one that turned me off to being hyped for upcoming games. I ended up playing ArcheAge for a long time and enjoyed it quite a bit — until it merged servers and destroyed all the properties I took a year to build up. Star Citizen? Well, I have logged into it and even streamed it a few times, but it has never captured me like I’d hoped. (I even remember how I felt when I sat down with Chris Roberts way, way back then to talk about the game. Sigh.) I really thought I had played and even streamed TUG a tiny bit, but can’t prove that by me. At least, I haven’t found the proof of it, so maybe it was all imagined. Amusingly, I play ESO and GW2 the most now and stream them regularly; even though I didn’t really care for them at launch, a decade later they are my main go-tos for adventuring with my friends. Go figure.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): That was quite a time a ago. Ten years ago I was newly wed and gaming still taking up a large portion of my time. I think I was tepid about Wildstar. I listened to the MOP podcast and followed the site so Wildstar had my attention, but once I heard the devs come on and push that raid and raid only lifestyle, I knew it was going to be a hard pass. I think the only game I was actually hyped about was Guild Wars 2, which I was fully installed in already by that point.

I just had no time for anything else but GW2. It was my full time game. No time for other games.

Tyler Edwards (blog): I think the only game I was anticipating back then was EQN, and even that was more cautious optimism than fervent excitement, IIRC. I don’t get overhyped easily.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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