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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Too Many Heroes?

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With the recent announcement that Sigil is making an MMO based on the Marvel comics franchise (something that was long rumored) that makes for three major MMO's, current or planned, based on the superhero genre. Holy market share mayhem, Batman!

The three contenders:

NCSoft with CoH/CoV: This is the one that's out already and the one without an official license. I loved CoH and I still think it's the best looking MMO I've ever played. The combat just feels
fun and the travel powers are superb. I have to admit I did get burned out after a while and the game lacked the complexity of an EQII. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, just different and perhaps more suited to the subject matter. From what I have read they have done a good job of continuing to add content. CoV, the expansion, has added new features and has received nice reviews but I have not played it yet.

Sigil with Marvel : I find it a bit troubling that Sigil is taking on another major project before Vanguard is released. For one, they have not proven themselves yet. But more importantly, I would like to see them really focus on Vanguard even after it is released. MMO's are not games that you just launch and then move on to the next one. The content and tuning should continue with the same intensity as the initial creation. I also didn't think they had a large staff at Sigil but I could be mistaken and I'm sure they are growing. I don't see how the McQuaid vision of hardcore, strategic gameplay could apply to a superhero MMO but I have to say I am intrigued to find out how it does. Since the game will apparently be playable on the 360, I would guess it will have to be accessible to the console crowd.

SOE with DC: SOE has the rights to make a DC Comics MMO. In fact, that's why they bought Matrix Online - those rights
were part of the deal. From the direction they have gone with SWG, I am guessing this will be something of a twitch-based game, probably with collision detection. I would also guess that it will be playable on the PS3. I have no idea if any of those guesses are accurate - they could go in a totally different direction. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those ideas. It could be fun and they do have a lot of experience running MMO's. Knowing SOE, there may be in-game advertising (since the setting allows it) and perhaps some kind of Station Exchange feature. But again, I don't know for sure.

Can the market support three super hero MMO's? Will one or more of these games fail? CoH/CoV will have been out for a while before these games come out (4th Quarter 2007 for SOE, unclear for Sigil) so it is possible gamers might leave it for the new shiny. But in the end, I'm sure it's gameplay that will decide the victor in this war of the comic book worlds.

I always identified more with Marvel characters, but DC does have some truly big hitters. I don't think the licensing of DC or Marvel gives that much of an advantage. It gives you some recognizable locales and villains to fight, I suppose. We may just see the famous heroes as NPC's that give you your "quests" or missions. To me, that wouldn't be exciting at all.

What would be cool is if you could "hire" a hero to fill out a group, similar to what Guild Wars allows. Need a tank? Grab the Hulk. Perhaps they could scale according to the level of the mission, i.e. take Daredevil with you to fight street crime and the Silver Surfer when you are taking on intergalactic foes. It would be cool to fight alongside your favorite comic book heroes.

Bonus points to the game that somehow makes fun use out of secret identities.

To add to the entertainment value, Marvel
previously sued NCsoft (in what I thought was a rather foolish lawsuit). Is it possible that NCSoft will now sue Marvel if their game is a CoH clone? I have no idea, but the whole thing will be fun to watch.


Blogger Quylein said...

It's been said by Brad a few times that the recorces decticated to Vanguard will not change. They are hiring out a whole new team for there other MMO's. He also said that he was in charge of numerous projects like that when he was with SOE so it's not new to him.

As far as proving themselves.. EQlive was Created by alot of the team on Vanguard. Only differnce is they are no longer Verant now they are Sigil.

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