Saturday, November 25, 2017

View From The Long Grass: Upcoming MMOs 2018-2020

Syp posted a very useful checklist of upcoming MMOs. Forty-four of them, a lot more than I would have guessed were out there in development right now.

I'd heard of most of them but even so I'd have been hard put to bring some of the names to mind. The handful on my own watchlist would be New World, Ashes of Creation, Camelot Unchained, Crowfall, Pantheon, Project Gorgon and WoW Classic.

Of those, I kickstarted Project Gorgon for myself and Ashes of Creation for both myself and Mrs Bhagpuss, so I believe I pre-own at least the game and a month's sub for each of them. AoC I'm keen to play, eventually, but Project Gorgon has been around for so long already I'm struggling to retain much interest in its eventual launch.

Camelot Unchained seems to be taking a lot longer than expected. I'm mildly curious to try it because Realm vs Realm is a great concept but I wasn't the greatest fan of DAOC, which had more longeurs than it ever had frissons, so I'm not over-excited. As a subscription-only title I can't imagine playing it for long.

Crowfall is in much the same basket but it has the benefit of being faster-paced and set in seasons, which appeals. It's buy to play, which is my preferred payment model, and I'm interested in the permanent world aspect. The competitive game not so much but I'm more than willing to give it a try.

Not having followed Crowfall's development particularly closely I'd missed that the game's currently available in Early Access, with a live server up 24/7. There's an announced launch price of $50 but the cheapest buy-in right now is $70.

In theory that doesn't get you in until Beta 1 and the game is currently way back at pre-alpha 5 but according to the official website "The following test groups have been activated for playtesting: Pre-Alpha 1 and 2, Alpha 1 – 3, Beta 1 and 2." Everybody, in other words.

Still, I'll pass for now. There will be an open beta prior to launch. I think I can wait for that, although it could be a while because Crowfall is already well behind schedule.

When we'll see WoW Classic/Vanilla is anyone's guess although I'd bet on it arriving before Amazon's New World, which I wouldn't expect to see this side of 2020. WoW Classic will be a short run affair, I imagine, but one that I might dip in and out of for years, while New World is a completely unknown quantity.

Pantheon, the one I most want to play, is currently in some kind of alpha. You can buy-in for $1000. I'll pass, thanks all the same, Brad. If it goes to a more reasonable Early Access though - say $50 or less - then I'll probably jump. All the videos I've seen make it look eminently playable already.

At launch (not before 2019 I'd guess) it will be either Buy To Play or Subscription. I'm surprised at that - I thought it had been nailed down as a sub game - but the FAQ currently reads: "We are considering either using the traditional subscription based model or a model where the player buys the game and then has the option of purchasing mini-expansions or ‘modules’ after launch." It will also have a permanent free trial so everyone can experience the first five or ten levels before making up their mind.

So, that's seven titles out of forty-four. Of the remaining thirty-seven there are plenty I'd try on a whim if they're free to play or have a free trial but none that I can imagine giving much more time than I'd need to take a few screenshots and gather material for a blog post or three.

And then there are the four Syp came up with that I'd never heard of: Caravan Stories, Freeman: Star's Edge, Soulworker Online and Tale of Toast. I went to take a look...

Caravan Stories looks interesting. It's gorgeous, for a start. It has a striking visual conceit with anime characters against what looks like (but presumably aren't) hand-drawn backgrounds. There's a lot of video on YouTube already, including plenty of gameplay, most of which seems to involve auto-running.

There are also several official Trailers, the first of which (above) gave me strong Zentia vibes, a very good thing. I can't see this being a regular game but I would expect to get a Twin Stories style month or so out of it once the English translated version appears. It's also cross-platform with Android, IoS and PC.

Soulworker Online has a premise that could have been designed to put me off: "In Soulworker Online, gamers play as psychic teenagers who use their emotions (or “soul”) to fuel their Soul Workers". Looking past the emo, though, I found a rather attractive game that's winning comparisons to the well-respected and much-missed  Rusty Hearts.

It sits extremely comfortably on a 9.3/10 rating from more than three thousand votes at one MMO site. Definitely worth a look since it will inevitably be free to play. Hardly like to be a stayer, though.

Freeman: Star's Edge appears to be yet another Star Citizen/EVE Online affair. Pass.

Which leaves by far the oddest of the bunch, Tale of Toast. The cuddly, quirky name is appropriately misleading for this unsettling offering, possibly the creepiest MMO I've come across since the skin-crawling Glitch. The disconnect between what this game looks like and how it plays is stunning.

Here's the Greenlight video - a bright, simple cartoon world full of loveably cute chibi characters...

and here's the gameplay pitch: "Tale of Toast is an open world MMORPG with hardcore PvP mechanics and where dying actually means something, and is inspired by old school MMORPGs and boardgames. Experience battles throughout the entire world against other players and guilds with the goal to take their items upon killing them, and risk losing your own upon your death."

Read the official description and yes, it does mean non-consensual PvP with full item loss, everywhere in the world. Pretty nearly, anyway.

So that's nice. It's free to play so if it ever launches, which I doubt, I'll probably give it a try. What have I got to lose? Apart from all my stuff, obviously.

And that's what we have to look forward to over the next two or three years. Unless anyone has any other suggestions?

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