Looking Forward: MMOs in 2013, Part 2
So, now it’s time for Round 2, Part Deux, The Sequel… Well actually, just the continuation of my MMO round-up for the coming year. You may have already read Part 1, if you haven’t what are you doing here, trying to skip to then end? It doesn’t work like that. Go read the first bit, read about awesome games, then come back here and read about more awesome games. If you already did your duty with the first instalment, let’s get on with the goodness.
There’s been a fair bit of buzz around FireFall, in no small part due to the people making it, Red 5 Studios. The name may not mean much to you at first, but they’re pretty well know in development circles because of the tremendously high ratio of former Blizzard Entertainment employees they have. To say they’re a seasoned team would be an understatement, they can boast of being having the team lead and art director from World of Warcraft (Vanilla), along with having the guy in charge of WoW’s launch in Asia, along with the lead-designer of Tribes 1 and 2, pretty solid credentials. They talk a good game too with proclamations of “a real beta” and “working alongside gamers”.
Red 5 Studios’ development process is deliberately unlike any other. Firefall is designed from the ground up with our audience at our core. [...]
Other companies share beta builds only when feature or content is complete, limiting their ability to adapt to feedback. At Red 5 Studios, we’ve been testing Firefall with our community for over a year, starting with the earliest builds. [...] Being a part of Firefall beta is like being an extended part of our development team. There are no XP wipes in the game, so your progress is saved throughout the testing period and into the launch of the game.
So what’s it all about? Well, in an emerging trend FireFall is a sci-fi MMO shooter set in a future Earth. The twist with this one is that a starship disaster unleashes a titanic energy storm called the Melding (Hang on, this sounds a little familiar…) which envelopes the earth, wipes out most of the planet and spawns hostile creatures who self-proclaim themselves the Chosen. The Chosen are presented as an intelligent and malevolent race, bent on dominating the planet through the oldest of methods, war. It’s up to the players to unite into armies to deal with the Chosen threat, with all the logistics and coordination running an army implies. You’ll be strapping on special Nano-technology suits of armour called Battleframes and wielding a variety of highly destructive weaponry, all in the defence of the planet.
What Red 5 are aiming for is pretty ambitious, for starters with the current upward trend in e-sports, they are firmly putting themselves in that market by offering a ‘Spectator Mode’ and built in voice-casting set-up which is coined as a “set of custom tools designed to make broadcasting matches easy and exciting”. They have a video that lays it all on the line when it comes to their e-sports ambitions which has caused a fair bit of excitement in the community. Right now FireFall is in closed beta, however you can sign up at the website in the hope of being sent a beta key, but if you’re impatient to try it out and have some money spare you can gain instant access with the purchase of one of the three levels of Founder Packs. Right now there’s no official release date on the table, though it’s speculated to be some time this year.
This offering is a little more ‘outside of the box’ along with a hefty dose of ambition from the folks over at Carbine Studios. The design style it’s cartoon-y and unique, though it sort of reminds me of Bucky O’Hare and the Toad Wars a little; and with hopes of an interesting fast-paced combat, player housing at launch instead of as an afterthought and using the ‘Path‘ framework for character creation, WildStar has caught a lot of people’s attention.
Another MMO with a sci-fi slant, WildStar is set on Nexus is the legendary planet of the Eldan–a powerful, technologically-advanced race that mysteriously disappeared from the galaxy more than a thousand years ago. The Dominion, a powerful galactic empire, has claimed Nexus and all of its treasures; declaring war on the mercenaries, rebels and refugees called the Exiles, that discovered the planet and now call it their home. Nexus itself is wild and unsettled, with an endless variety of dangerous frontiers just waiting to be explored.
Details of the nitty-gritty of the game are a little thin on the ground at the moment, other than some cute and funny YouTube videos that are available. Thought they do tell us that the Minimum System Requirements are as follows:
- CPU: Intel Pentium Core2 Duo 2.4 GHz, AMD Phenom X3 2.3 GHz, or better
- RAM: 4GB
- Graphics Card: NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GT, ATI Radeon HD 3850, or better
- Operating Systems: Windows XP SP2 (64-bit) or later. 32-bit systems are not supported during beta
The game is currently in closed alpha, with a closed beta planned soon, which you can register your interest for on their website. The likelihood of it releasing in 2013 is unknown, but we can hope.
City of Steam
If you’re looking for something browser-based and aren’t sick of Steampunk yet then look no further than City of Steam, the first dedicated Steampunk MMO to make an appearance, by Mechanist Games. The buzz for CoS has been building rapidly as a result of frequent Dev updates, along with tapping in to the current crowdfudning trend with their Steam-o-Meter, they offer a Collaborator Pack so that they can get even more content than originally planned in to the game.
The game is set in an industrial fantasy world with Steampunk elements. The original inhabitants of the World Machine, a living Mechanisim upon which great nations are founded, were the humans, goblins, orcs and hobbes. However now they are joined by riven, draug and half-mechanical dwarves, because progress on the Mechanism never stops for long.
This is the World Machine, a vast and ancient system of interlocking gears powered by unfathomable energies. Long ago, a race of ingenious conquerors called the Paragons sought to control those energies, but destroyed themselves in the attempt. They left behind a shattered world and a complex legacy.
A world where airships soar through the skies, robotic steam-powered creations patrol the streets, and great factories produce weapons wielded by heroes and villains alike. Compromised of four great nations: The confederated city-state of the Heartlands, the allied kingdoms of Ostenia, the patriarchal Republic of Avenoss and the harsh Empire of Stoigmar; it is up to you to leave the once-great industrial metropolis City-State of Nexus and find your way in the ever changing landscape of the Mechanism.
Mechanist Games are using a technology called Unity Web Player, which is a browser plug-in created by Unity Technologies that enables you to view 3D content directly in your browser, what they’re doing using Unity is deemed to be pretty revolutionary even by the people who created the technology in the first place. Closed beta has recently wrapped up, with the next beta phase due in “a couple of months” according to the studio and no mention of final release, but they are trying to get some interest through Steam with a Greenlight campaign. If you like the look of CoS you should go and show them some love on their site and Greenlight.
There’s always going to be the inevitable list of honourable mentions, because there are so many MMOs on the horizon and because if I wrote at length about every single one my fingers would probably fall off. Anyway, here are some of the other notables you can look forward to this year, if there’s enough interest for a particular entry in this section I may cover it more fully if you ask me nicely.
- Dust514: Another sci-fi MMOFPS, exclusive to Playstation 3, set in the EVE Online universe brought to you by industry stalwarts CCP.
- Pathfinder Online: Recently successfully Kickstarted, ambitious fantasy sandbox MMORPG brought to you by Goblinworks.
- Marvel Heroes: Mix of MMO and Diablo-style game being made by Gazillion Entertainment in conjunction with Marvel, obviously.
- World of Warplanes: MMO capitalising on the surprise success of World of Tanks from Wargaming.net/BigWorld Technology.
There’s a lot of great gaming potential floating around out there as you can see, thought it’d be a bit remiss of me if I didn’t mention the two really big games on the horizon. They strictly don’t fall in to 2013, but Blizzard Entertainment’s project codenamed Titan and SOE’s EverQuest Next are ones you need to look out for in MMO news.