We’ve looked back at 2015 for the launched games EverQuest and EverQuest II, the long-lasting beta of Landmark, and the MIA-and-presumed-dead (by some) EverQuest Next. Now it is time to look ahead at 2016. Instead of noting what we know, we get to speculate on what could be. What is on the horizon for this franchise? How will Norrath weather the next four seasons? Obviously a working crystal ball would be ideal right about now, but without one, we are left with trends, hopes, and outright wishful thinking. In 12 months we’ll see just how many of these were accurate predictions! Here’s what I see happening, what I want to happen, and what needs to happen in this next year for my favorite franchise.
world of warcraft
Official Site: World of Warcraft
Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
Launch Date: November 23, 2014
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Subscription (Cash Shop)
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Good news, World of Warcraft tanks – you’ll be taking more damage in Legion! And that really could be the good news, depending upon how you look at a lengthy diatribe about the philosophy of tanking and healing in the next expansion. The designers note that there was a consistent issue in most content of tanks being almost completely self-sufficient in dungeons, with healers only needing to occasionally heal the tank and any damage needing to reach absurd levels to actually threaten the tank. This also meant that anything breaking away from the tank would usually kill a healer or DPS in one or two shots due to damage scaling.
The result is something of a paradigm overhaul, with tanks taking more damage and active mitigation being toned down while enemy damage is also toned down on a whole. So tanks will be taking more damage, but the end result will likely be an environment where healers have reason to heal more, tanks aren’t purely ironclad damage sponges, and everything undergoes a subtle paradigm shift until the next expansion shifts it again.
The Legion Alpha is coming back online today! Be sure to check out the updated known issues list here: https://t.co/GeZdg8uaPd
— Arvaanas (@Arvaanas) January 13, 2016
You may remember that it was not so long ago that fans and testers were told that the return would mean a new build with new issues, benefits, downsides, and so forth. No word yet on what’s in the new build, but then, we only just found out that it’s coming back up today. Keep your eyes peeled for more information once those test servers are back online and running.
We’ve added something new to the collection of goodies you get when you purchase the Digital Deluxe Edition of World of Warcraft: Legion. Take on the terrors of Diablo III in style with the Legion-inspired Demon Hunter helm transmog. Wear it with the Wings of the Betrayer, and you’ll truly look the part as you hunt demons across Sanctuary. Both of these items, along with everything else in the Digital Deluxe Edition, are available in-game now when you pre-purchase.
A year ago, Kotaku published a piece called The People Who Only Play One Game. The author was talking about the rabid, cult followings that blockbuster games like League of Legends, World of Tanks, and World of Warcraft maintain, made up heavily of people who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves gamers but who do consider themselves a fan of that one game. They’re not really interested in a genre or a gaming culture; they just want to play One Game.
While I do remember the days of moving from MMORPG to MMORPG, lumberingly, every few years, one game at a time in order, I don’t think I ever really thought of myself as a one-game MMO player. But I knew people who were: We’d pick them up in our guild for a game, and they’d stay behind when we moved on. There are still people from our EverQuest group toiling away there, 15 years after we left. For them, it was always about the One Game.
How about you? Are you a one-game MMO gamer? Do you know anyone who is?
Massively OP reader Damonvile recently sent us a link to a Medium piece on Steam declaring 2015 the best year for Steam — ever. Sales were up for Valve over the course of the year, peaking in December in spite of the Christmas day snafu. Intriguingly, the data suggest that over the last few months, the release pace of new games overall has slowed considerably and possibly even peaked, a trend we’ve suspected applies to our genre as well.
For MMORPG players, though, Steam isn’t quite the end-all, be-all of gaming. Many of the biggest MMOs — like World of Warcraft, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2 — aren’t available on the service, and those studios that do place their games on Steam are often crowded out by hordes of F2P games or simply use Steam as a hook into their own service and client (something that drives me bonkers!).
How about you? Do you use Steam for MMOs? Do you use it at all?
In 1999, the year that EverQuest released, work was already underway for another fantasy MMO called World of Warcraft. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that gamers got their first look at the game, but screenshots do exist from this ancient era of WoW development.
Perhaps you’ve seen some of these pictures, perhaps not, but it’s always a fun trip to see the very early stages of a game that would come to dominate the industry. This gallery contains one of the first pictures of WoW from 1999, the character selection screen, some funky models for the Forsaken, and the very first Molten Core raid.
Mounts might have once been a practical mode of transportation and a not-so-transparent speed buff for slow-moving MMO characters. Nowadays it’s more about personal expression and customization. What mount you use is an expression of status and preference, showing the world what you’ve attained and what you think is wicked awesome.
Do you have a favorite MMO mount? Sure you do. Probably my all-time favorite was the wacky engineering helicopter in World of Warcraft that I crafted on my own. I’m also oddly fond of the two-headed turtle mount in RIFT that came with my pre-order package.
What’s yours? Sound off in the comments and bonus points if you include a screenshot!
The good news for eager VR fans is that EVE: Valkyrie‘s first alpha test will start up on January 18th for use with the Oculus Rift DK2 headset. This comes hot on the heels of the Oculus Rift price announcement, which is means that the headset (and EVE: Valkyrie) will run you a hefty $599 to pre-order. Which is great news for people who have that much money to drop on a specialized monitor that works with a small selection of games, but it’s not exactly the mainstream revolution.
Other beta news? Aw, sure, why not? It’s been a busy week.
- The folks at Nerd Kingdom have received $8.5 million in additional funding for TUG, which is great! The result is that they’re probably going to be delaying updates for a year-ish to port the game to a new engine and may very well completely change the game’s business model to being free, which may be less great.
- Fans of Life is Feudal can look forward to the game starting up its MMO testing in March this year.
- You can currently jump into Divergence Online via early access on Steam, if you’re in the need for some crafting-based sandbox testing. The game’s developers had a bit of a rant about review codes and asking for same, to boot.
- Still no ETA on the next round of testing for World of Warcraft: Legion, but we do know it will feature a new build with new content.
- Another round of beta testing for World of Tanks is taking place on the PlayStation 4.
- The testing for City of Titans has not yet started, but it will likely start in 2016.
Plus, you know, we’ve got that whole list down below. If there’s something we’ve missed despite our best efforts, let us know down in the comments!
Indie sandbox Chronicles of Elyria captured MMORPG players’ attention last autumn when it began revealing details about some of its more unusual mechanics, including its character aging and death system. A new dev blog this week sheds more light on how character aging works — and how you’ll use cash money to live again once you’ve croaked for good.
Soulbound Studios says that player characters live between 80 and 120 years, equating to up to 105 in-game years, assuming you don’t go and die in the meantime. If you die infrequently, your character will live approximately a year in real-time. If you die a lot, however, those deaths are lodged against your character’s lifetime.
“If you’re someone who dies an average of once per week,” write the devs, “you can expect to live approximately 8.75 months without needing to buy a new Spark of Life.” Now do the math on dying daily: “Every day counts as three days of play time. The average of 354 divided by 3 is 118 days. That’s 16 weeks, or approximately 3.75 months before you need to buy a new Spark of Life.”
Last week, MMO designer Raph Koster made a Twitter comment that’s stuck in my mind:
SWG has had quite a year for a game shuttered years ago.
— Raph Koster (@raphkoster) December 31, 2015
Hell yes it has. It’s getting mainstream and indie attention left and right. As well it should: Even if you hated it, you can’t deny that it was a unique piece of sandbox art in an MMORPG field since dominated by World of Warcraft clones. And yet talking about it makes me sad. When we write about it, the best we can do, call-to-action-wise, is tell you to go play an emulator.
There are great MMORPGs still alive that deserve attention too, games that you can go play right now. Which one do you think our readers should give a try? Which old MMORPG deserves more love?
Over the winter holidays, we wrote about game analytics consulting firm Quantic Foundry, which has published what it calls its “Gamer Motivation Model” — essentially, it’s an updated Bartle test for modern gamers that groups gamer types into three “clusters of motivations.” More recently, co-founder Dr. Nick Yee — yes, that Nick Yee — has discussed how gamer motivations align with personality traits.
In light of the fun we had taking the Bartle test a few months ago and the news that Bartle himself is publishing new books offering insight into our genre, we thought we’d take the Gamer Motivation test ourselves, share our results and our thoughts on the test, and provoke you to do the same.
The first year of Massively Overpowered had its ups and downs, like anything does, but I think we had some pretty great content in there. Like, really great content. And now it’s my job to tell you several of the best pieces which you may or may not remember, and that’s hard for me to do because I work with a lot of talented people on this site.
My goal with this list, then, is to look back at stuff that wasn’t just good when it was written but still has plenty of bite right now, stuff that you can read several months on with all of the impact it had at the time. That meant that there was some really good stuff that wound up being just a bit too time-focused for the list. I also left myself off of the list as much as possible, before you ask. So what are some of the best pieces of last year?