The MMO market is booming, thanks in no small part to the titanic success of Blizzard's World of Warcraft. WoW has spawned a whole new generation of online gamers. As Blizzard's cash-cow begins to age, many of them are looking for a new MMO experience. Developers are lining up to try their hand in massive online games, which means two things for us.
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1. We get to play a whole slew of really bad-ass multi-million dollar video game productions that run the gamut from fantasy hack-n-slash to gigantic space battles and,
2. A whole crop of new franchises are being established (and some old ones being revamped; see Star Wars) and it'll be this generation of gamers that gets to decide which ones will thrive and which ones will fail.
I've put together a list of three of the hottest MMORPG's in development right now. Every week on the MMO Round-Up I'll catch you up on new developments in these games, or introduce others.
1. Star Wars: The Old Republic
Remember the Knights of the Old Republic, the Star Wars RPG that was better than most of the films? Well now the same folks are working on a new Star Wars MMO, set 300 years after the events of KOTOR, and 3,500 years before Lucas introduced horrible child actors and borderline-racist alien caricatures to the series. Needless to say, it looks fantastic.
You can check out the cinematic here. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it's one of the best looking trailers I've seen in a long time. Of course, a sweet-looking cinematic means very little about the quality of the game in question.
We know nothing about the actual gameplay so far. Bioware has stated that the in-depth story will be one of the focal points of the game. Role-Players rejoice. There will be a variety of different planets to choose from, and players will have to pick between Republic and Sith at creation. It's been announced that you will be able to travel down the Light or the Dark side based on your in-game choices, although it's not clear if that means we'll get to switch between Republic or Sith after character creation.
Dates of a beta test have not been given, nor do we have even a tentative release date yet.
2. Jumpgate: Evolution
Eve Online has never managed to accumulate a vast, WoW-like userbase, but it has still been extremely influential in the MMO market. The developers behind Jumpgate: Evolution clearly pulled a lot from Eve when they started putting together their sequel to the original Jumpgate.
To put it simply, Jumpgate Evolution is Eve with PvE functions, a solid external storyline, and some artificial economic structure already in place. You can find out more information about JG: E in our developer interview. Jumpgate Evolution is due out in 2009, and beta testing could begin as early as next month. Go here to sign up.
3. Global Agenda
There have not been very many MMOFPS games released so far, with a few exceptions like Planetside. That's why I can't wait for the release of Global Agenda, a brand new “spy-fi” MMO from Hi-Rez Studios. Global Agenda will feature small and large scale team-based combat in a persistent world.
It's not just about PvP either. There will be a wide assortment of PvE missions and organizations for players to interact with. Hi-Rez is also pioneering “PvPE”, a new gaming mechanic that will allow players to modify an instance before their opponents enter.
Global Agenda looks like a cross between WoW, Planetside, and Team Fortress 2. It's got big badass suits of armor, huge swords and other melee weapons, and death matches galore. It also contains giant robots that you can control and murder people with.
That's all we've got on the MMO Round-Up this week. Join me next Friday, when I go over some new high-concept MMOs in the early stages of development.