Massively multiplayer online games have gotten a bad rep over the years, but those who play them know the joys of an immersive, adventurous world. Thanks to a sweeping scale, many MMOs can offer players whatever experience they want, be it raiding, questing or battling.
A quick look at the titles due for release in 2014 show the genre is still alive and well, with fresh ideas and ever-improving hardware. To add to the excitement, many studios are giving gamers behind-the-scenes looks at their creation progress. Thanks to beta sessions, developer chats and lots of trailers, the landscape for MMOs looks very promising.
Here are seven new games slated for 2014 launch that are taking risks and pushing the definitions of what an MMO can be. In other words, plan to lose all your free time diving into these fun, creative worlds.
Bethesda Softworks has maintained a cult following for its Elder Scrolls series for years. These sweeping sagas let players roam across various regions of Tamriel, learning magecraft, joining the Dark Brotherhood or just harassing city guards who took arrows in the knee.
That open-world mentality seems like a natural fit for an MMO. With Elder Scrolls Online, players will get a chance to wander the snowy mountains of Skyrim and the mysterious Black Marsh. Bethesda has a reputation for great storytelling in its games, so expectations are high for the online game. It is set in a time before the RPG games, so expect to see different struggles between the races and lots of new villains to take out. The latest betas have been making big strides in polish; the art style will not disappoint franchise fans.
The original EverQuest title was one of the early entries in the MMO genre, and it’s getting a long-awaited overhaul. Some elements of the upcoming EverQuest Next will probably look familiar from those first days, but David Georgeson and his team promise a revolutionary approach to the game style.
Although EverQuest Next probably won’t hit shelves for at least another year, we’ll get our hands on EverQuest Next Landmark quite soon. Landmark is a blank canvas that gives players powerful in-game tools to build just about anything they can dream up. These creations in the game will be available for purchase by EverQuest Next players, through the Player Studio. Sony Online Entertainment will take a cut, but the players with the most impressive items will also pocket some cash for their inventions. EverQuest Landmark is winding down a promising alpha stage, and we’re hoping to see Landmark’s official launch at some point in 2014.
It’s not exactly a new game, but the new expansion for World of Warcraft marks a big change in the granddaddy of MMOs. On the visual side, the Blizzard team is revamping the player character models to bring the nearly decade-old game more in line with contemporary graphics standards. On the story side, players will head back in time to the days before Draenor’s destruction. So the zones will all be familiar from the Burning Crusade expansion, but with a completely different look and feel.
In addition to the new look, Warlords of Draenor is slated to include some intriguing new features, such as garrisons and much-needed updates to account-bound items.
Between the recent blockbuster movie and several successful past video game collaborations, LEGO seems well poised to take over the world. This year, we can expect to see the company’s foray into an MMO with LEGO Minifigures Online. Details are still a little scarce on the game, which is scheduled for a summer 2014 launch, but from the promotional materials available thus far, we can expect zany powers and lots of lighthearted fun.
If you’ve secretly hoped for a miraculous return of the epic space Western, Firefly, then start looking to your computer rather than the airwaves. Firefly Online will let players adventure around the universe in their own ships, commanding a crew and battling Reavers. In fact, it looks like the ships will be just as customizable as the player avatars. They’ll also get the usual MMO fare: questing, trading, crafting and collecting goodies around the world.
In December, the Quantum Mechanix development team announced the game would be available on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS platforms in the summer of 2014. Fingers crossed they can stick to it.
If you don’t want to dive headfirst into Joss Whedon MMO, fans can still get whiffs of Firefly from WildStar, an upcoming MMO that blends Western with sci-fi. Set on the planet Nexus, the game combines a cartoonish art style with an oddball sense of humor. It’s in beta, which means an official release date could drop any time.
The game is clearly aiming to encourage cooperative play. All new characters will start in the same tutorial zone, and players will enjoy a mentoring feature for teaching lower-level friends. Finally, Circles is as a separate social group from Guilds, so chatting with all your friends and teammates should be easy.
Another title pushing the boundaries of social gaming, Destiny has been a buzzworthy project since its initial announcement. Rather than billing it an MMO, the game is most frequently classified as a “shared-world shooter.” In this genre, players will be able to play cooperatively or competitively, dropping into each other’s experiences with fully customized characters and lots of specialized fighting styles.