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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Whole New World: Part I

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Well, I will likely be playing EQII for the foreseeable future and this blog will keep up it's EQII focus. But, I promised a while back I would check in from time to time on upcoming MMORPG's. This will by no means be a definitive list but just a mention of the ones that spark some interest in me. And from time to time I'll update with news on the games I mention here. This report will be split into three separate posts appearing over the next few days. As an added bonus, I have included a joke MMORPG idea I made up in each of the three posts. See if you can find it!

Vanguard: I, along with a lot of other people, have a lot of hopes pinned on this game. If I had to guess today this might be the next MMORPG I invest serious time into. It is fairly typical swords and sorcery stuff and Sigil is not really trying anything radical or new. They are just trying to improve on what's already out there with things like interesting combat, an effective UI and difficult, hardcore gameplay. Of course, things can go wrong fast and I'll be keeping an eye on it. For now, they're saying all the right things, but check out their extensive faq for yourself. They mention one of my favorite novels, Snowcrash, so that's a good sign.

Pro: They seem to be strongly against the secondary market if that is an issue for you. I believe they have a good team of designers with serious history in the industry. They are attempting to really work on the mechanics and make it a deep, immersive game and they are not afraid to take what works well from other games. Vanguard is intended to be a seamless or "zone-less" world which means no zone load screens.

Con: The game is being published by Microsoft. May just be an updated Everquest clone. May not be out for a while.

Wish: This looks like the greatest MMORPG in history! Just kidding...its cancelled. Interesting to see that a game so far in development can fall apart so fast. This is a big and growing market, but not necessarily an easy one.

Guild Wars: A lot of people are very excited about this one. They are using a lot of instanced zones and are very focused on PvP. And, in an interesting twist, there will be no subscription fees. You still have to pay for optional expansion packs but not for the regular patches and updates. Like so many games, it is set in a swords and sorcery type atmosphere. This one is actually being released today or tomorrow I believe. Here is some environment eye-candy. From the buzz I'm hearing, this is going to sell a lot of copies.

Pro: Did I mention no subscription fees? A lot people I trust really liked playing this game in beta and are definitely going to buy it. Did I mention no subscription fees?

Con: I just couldn't get into this game. I played it in beta and really did not enjoy it. I thought the game world seemed shallow and non-immersive. The PvE action was boring and the PvP just wasn't fun for me. I know I am being a bit vague but I can't really put my finger on why I didn't like it. Like I said, many people I trust love this game so it is probably just a matter of my personal taste. Most of the people also talked like l33t haxxors but that may change after release. I also question how good the support will be with no subscription fees but then, how much worse than a regular MMORPG could it be?

Shot Online: Okay, I know a massively multiplayer golf game is not the usual fare but it apparently does have some RPG elements. Your golfer gains levels and you can upgrade your clubs and other equipment. Believe it or not they claim there are even "rare items." Of course, you complete against other real players in matches or tournaments. The graphics design is very anime in it's style. I actually plan to play this for some light fun when I get a chance. And no, this isn't a joke - it's a real game.

Pro: It's free right now. It seems to be in the final stages of Beta so enjoy the free golf while you can. I know people who really enjoy this game as a diversion.

Con: It's golf. Also, I hear some of the English in the game is rather well, unusual. They apparently don't have a good translator.

World of Warcraft: Okay, I know this one is out already and I hear it even has a few players. And a big point in WOW's corner with me is that I already own it, though I've never installed it.

Pro: Huge subscriber base. Generally very positive reviews.

Con: Well, it's beyond my ken to really get too into this. I advise you read the forums. But, some of the highlights are the wait times, the lack of patches, honor system issues and GM's with an attitude. There is also the general belief that less mature players play WOW but I don't know if this is true. I definitely know some very intelligent people who love this game. For me the biggest con is that I love to get in on the ground floor of MMORPG's. I like when the world is fresh and new and everyone is finding everything out together. When joining a game like WOW in mid-stream I always feel like a latecomer who missed out on all the fun.

World High School: This one sounds really interesting. Relive your high school days (or just continue them if you're still in high school). You gain levels in one of three separate fields: Athletics, Scholastics, and Shop Class. Of course, there are subclasses so you might be level 32 in Calculus or Tennis while still only level 6 in Sex-Ed or Circular Saw Use. Instead of guilds, there will be clubs. It will be interesting to see if the jocks and nerds commingle or keep apart. There is a pretty severe "death" penalty - if you are caught cheating or breaking the rules it's one to three hours of real time detention for you. They say they are implementing a free college expansion but rumor is you will have to pay for it. No violence here - any PvP will be settled by the power of your clique, catching people talking about you on three-way voice chat and gossip smear campaigns. The high-level endgame features such quests as running for Student Body President and protesting the use of live frogs in Biology class.

Pro: There will be plenty of live events, like Prom, Homecoming and Exams.

Con: I'm not sure I like how they implemented the scholastic system. You have to do actual math problems and stuff.

Well, tune in soon for Part II where I tackle a big-time license and some more obscure games. And please let me hear what games you are and are not looking forward to.


Blogger Mercurie said...

Thanks for writing about upcoming MMORPGS. I am looking forward to Vanguard myself. It looks like it could be interesting. Shot Online and World High School sound rather dull to me. I never have been into golf and I always hated school (maybe World University would be cool...I loved college). Two MMORPGs that are supposed to come out some day that I am interested in are Pirates of the Burning Sea and Pirates of the Caribbean Online. The problem with the former is that it takes a DSL or cable modem connection to even play--no dial up. )-: The latter is a Disney product and I don't know how good it will be. Anyhow, I've always wanted to be a pirate, so they could be my sort of MMORPGs!

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Zeamyr said...


I cannot say I am particulary updated on computergames (with the exception of EQ2), but when reading fast through this, i noticed that there were attached links to all the games, except one - World High School. So I guess I found your little joke.... ;-)

9:52 PM  

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