6 MMOs Deserving Reserrection
by Tyler Edwards, November 14, 2012
Resurrection is something you see plenty of in MMOs. Whether you're respawning at graveyard or being brought back by a friendly player, death is rarely permanent in these games. However, for the MMOs themselves, death is much more permanent, and resurrection much more difficult to achieve. Many technical and financial hurdles face any MMO that has been shut down, making their return extremely unlikely. But one can dream, and so for this list, we will cover some of the sadly departed MMOs most worthy of being given a second chance at life.
6: Earth and Beyond:
A sort of spiritual predecessor to EVE Online, Earth and Beyond was a space based sci-fi MMO released by Westwood Studios in 2002. Players could play as one of three variants of humanity, each with three classes, and progress through one of three methods: exploration, trade, or combat. Apparently, Westwood had a thing for threes.
Earth and Beyond was fairly innovative for its time with its multiple methods of progression, emphasis on exploration, sci-fi setting, and monthly updates to advance the story. Its graphics were also good for its day, featuring spectacular interstellar vistas and many diverse planetary environments.
However, it was not perfect. Many found its gameplay to be very repetitive, requiring much travel back and forth to perform fairly dull trade tasks. All that warping through space tended to separate you from the rest of the players, making the game feel lonely to some, and it required a massive time investment to reach its lofty level cap of 150.
Ultimately, Earth and Beyond lasted only two years before being shut down. It's obviously far too late now for it to return, but the framework of an interesting game was there, and it's fun to imagine how it could have evolved if it had survived longer.
5: The Matrix Online:
No prizes if you guessed that The Matrix Online was based upon the blockbuster film trilogy starring Keanu Reeves.
The Matrix Online featured some unique and complex gameplay. For instance, its classes were divided into three broad archetypes - coder, hacker, and operative - which could then be further customized by speccing into sub classes and acquiring a variety of different abilities. It also had unique combat, divided into free fire and a bullet time close combat system called "interlock."
Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Matrix Online, though, was that it was considered the official continuation of the Matrix storyline after the final film, told through new mission packs and cinematics released every few weeks. It even received the blessing of the Wachowskie brothers, the creators of The Matrix franchise.
Unfortunately, The Matrix Online went downhill as the months and years progressed. Production values fell, the endgame was lacking, and some very questionable story decisions were made - we're talking writing out all the main characters and giving people laser eyes for some reason. The game closed in 2009 with a final event to wrap up the story, but even that event just added insult to injury, as it was so buggy as to be unplayable for many people.
4: Project Copernicus:
Okay, this one might be a bit of a cheat. Technically, you can't resurrect a game that never launched. It never died because it was never alive. Still, there's something tantalizingly tragic about the tale of Project Copernicus that makes you wonder what could have been.
For those not in the know, Project Copernicus was the codename for an MMO in development by 38 Studios. It would have been set in the same universe as 38's single player RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Then, of course, 38 Studios declared bankruptcy, going down in a blaze of disgrace and controversy.
It now seems that Copernicus will probably never see the light of day, and we're left with just tantalizing hints of what it could have been.
We know it would have continued Reckoning's story, relying on the vast mythos created by R.A. Salvatore for the franchise, and that the eternal life granted by the Well of Souls would be a central part of the game's plot. We know it would have been free to play from the start. We know that it had some very pretty landscapes, but that's about all we know.
Of course, it may have been terrible. But then again, it may have been great. We'll never know.
3: Tabula Rasa:
Tabula Rasa was a game with a lot of potential. It was a sci-fi title in a genre strangled by fantasy. It was the brainchild of Richard Garriot, the famed developer of the Ultima franchise and the man who coined the term "massively multiplayer online roleplaying game."
Tabula Rasa offered a number of innovative features, such as a class system where players evolved into increasingly specialized classes as they leveled instead of picking one at the outset. This unique class system was made even more interesting by the ability to clone your character at certain levels, allowing you to go back and pursue new possible builds and choices without starting a new character.
TR also provided a different spin on MMO combat, combining elements of first person shooters with the traditional RPG model, and offered a dynamic world where players could battle NPCs for control of crucial bases and control points.
That all sounds good, so what happened? The simple answer is that, like so many other games, it launched before it was ready. It was buggy, it lacked content, and its learning curve was far too steep for the average player. Ultimately, it didn't have enough subscribers to stay afloat, and publisher NCsoft closed the game.
The game went out with a bang, giving players a massive final event to conclude the game's story. With such potential and such commitment from its developers, Tabula Rasa is a game that really deserves another chance.
2: Star Wars: Galaxies:
Much has been written about the tragic tale of Star Wars: Galaxies, both here on WhatMMORPG and elsewhere. Released in June of 2003, it quickly attracted a respectable fan base with its deep sandbox gameplay, despite significant bugs and missing content.
But then along came World of Warcraft to completely redefine the definition of success in the MMO field, and SW:G's developer, Sony Online Entertainment, wanted in on the action. They set about completely redesigning SW:G with two major overhauls known as the "Combat Upgrade" and "New Game Enhancement," effectively turning the beloved sandbox MMO into little more than just another WoW clone.
These changes essentially broke the game, leaving many areas severely bugged and eliminating entire play styles. Many fans were heartbroken by these changes, but SW:G continued to limp on for many years before being abruptly shut down in 2011.
This game and its fans were so mistreated that it's almost impossible not to wish SW:G could be given another chance. Certainly, the fans loyal enough to stick with it through all those years deserve better than they got.
The main question would be what version of Star Wars: Galaxies to resurrect: its original version before the Combat Upgrade and the New Game Enhancement, or the later version rebuilt from the ground up.
1: City of Heroes:
The long running superhero MMO City of Heroes is one of the most respected MMOs around, garnering praise from fans and critics alike from its launch in 2004 right up to the present day. It has won numerous awards and drawn accolades for everything from its impressive character customization to its development team's accessibility and openness to player feedback.
CoH has had two major expansion packs over its long life. The first was its "expanshalone," City of Villains, which was essentially its own self-contained MMO that could be played on its own without purchasing CoH, though both shared a single subscription fee. The second expansion, Going Rogue, tied the two games together, allowing people to switch from hero to villain and vice versa, as well as to create neutral characters and later choose to become either a villain or a hero.
CoH has inspired many tie-ins from other media, including novels, comic books, and a collectible card game.
However, all good things must come to an end. This past August, publisher NCsoft announced that they were shutting down City of Heroes and closing its developer, Paragon Studios. The servers are scheduled to close on November 30, 2012.
This has triggered a massive fan backlash, and there has been a large grassroots movement by both the fans and Paragon to attempt to keep the game running, but as of this writing, they have been unsuccessful, and it seems City of Heroes is now doomed.
This news has caused much shock even among those who have never played CoH. After all, if such a well liked and respected game can end so abruptly, it could happen to any MMO. It may not be an exaggeration to say that the entirety of MMO fandom would sleep a little easier if City of Heroes was spared the axe.