Upcoming MMOs 2013

by Tyler Edwards, Feb 6, 2013

2012 was a roller coaster year for the world of MMOs, with a number of big name games releasing. Some met players' expectations, and others... didn't, but the MMO landscape has changed greatly from what it was a year ago. MMO fans are ever looking to the future and the next big thing, and a new year is upon us.

With 2013 comes an entirely new crop of MMOs for us to drool over. We here at WhatMMMO have collected some of the most intriguing new titles, and we're here to tell you why you should be excited about them - as well as what about them gives cause for concern. It's up to you to pick which is your "next big thing."

Note that at least some of these will probably release later than 2013, but the coming year should bring us lots of juicy info on them, if nothing else.



In a nutshell:

A free to play action MMO based on the hugely popular Forgotten Realms setting for Dungeons and Dragons.

What's cool:

Neverwinter draws from the iconic lore of the D&D campaign setting Forgotten Realms, - a setting that has already been the basis for many acclaimed video game franchises, such as Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights.

Eschewing the rather stale combat mechanics of traditional MMOs, Neverwinter features action combat with realistic targeting and no auto-attack. Many skills have short cooldowns, while others are recharged by fighting, creating a fast paced and dynamic experience.

Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Neverwinter includes access to the Foundry, a tool that allows players to create their own quests and dungeons. Cryptic intends the Foundry to be a core feature of the game and is working hard to make the Foundry both as accessible and as powerful as possible.

What's not:

Does the world really need another theme park fantasy MMO? Even hardcore fans of the genre would be hard pressed to answer yes to that question. That's not to say it's impossible for another fantasy theme park to succeed, but Neverwinter will have an uphill battle to convince players it's worth choosing over its competitors.

Furthermore, neither the game's developer, Cryptic Studios, nor its publisher, Perfect World Entertainment, have the most sterling reputation. Their most well known games in the West would likely be Champions Online and Star Trek: Online, and neither game has exactly proven itself a runaway hit.


The Elder Scrolls Online:

In a nutshell:

An MMO based on the acclaimed Elder Scrolls series of games.

What's cool:

It's an Elder Scrolls MMO. It draws on all the rich history and deep lore of the Elder Scrolls universe that people have come to love over the years. At last, you will be able to roam the lands of Tamriel, including familiar locales like Skyrim and Cyrodiil, alongside thousands of other players.

What? You need more than that? TESO will also feature three different playable factions, massive realm versus realm PvP battles with potentially hundreds of player combatants, and a combat system featuring active blocking mechanics among other unique features. TESO also takes some cues from Guild Wars 2; grouping will not be required to gain rewards from assisting other players, and traditional tanking mechanics will be absent.

What's not:

Single player concepts don't always translate well to the world of MMOs. We need only look to the dramatic rise and fall of Star Wars: The Old Republic to see proof of that. A lot of things that make sense in a single player game won't work at all in an MMO, and vice versa.

Already, there's a fair bit of controversy over the many major changes from traditional Elder Scrolls mechanics found in TESO. The game is third person perspective, not first person. There is sticky targeting rather than skill based aiming. It's not possible to explore the entire map on a single character due to faction restrictions.

TESO will have a difficult tightrope to walk if it wants to work as an MMO while still preserving what defines the Elder Scrolls experience.



In a nutshell:

A post-apocalyptic MMO shooter released to coincide and tie in with a sci-fi television series of the same name.

What's cool:

Defiance takes place after an apocalyptic war between humans and an alliance of aliens collectively known as the Votans. The war left both sides utterly devastated and changed the very landscape of Earth. Now, humans and aliens alike struggle to survive in this new and dangerous world.

The fascinating thing about Defiance is that it is both a television series, airing on Syfy Channel, and an MMO shooter for the PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3. Supposedly, both the show and the game will influence each other. One is not tacked on to the other; they are two sides of the same coin.

Defiance : the game promises fast paced and action packed gameplay featuring dynamic events, open world challenges, and intense PvP.

What's not:

Whenever you do something different, you risk failing spectacularly, and Defiance is very different. The thing that makes it so unique - its connection to the television series - could prove its downfall.

There's the risk that people may feel alienated if they don't both play and watch. Those who are not gamers may resent the need to play an MMO to get the show's full story, and gamers may not feel the game is worth checking out if they haven't watched the show.

Consider also what will happen if Defiance: the television show only lasts a season or two - which seems very likely given the fate of other recent sci-fi television shows. Trion Worlds, developer of Defiance: the game, is then left running just another sci-fi shooter without its most defining feature and with the stigma of forever being linked to a failed television series.



In a nutshell:

A lighthearted science fantasy "space Western" set on the mysterious planet Nexus.

What's cool:

Everything about WildStar oozes a unique style and personality. WildStar's "Western in space" feel draws obvious inspiration from Joss Whedon's cult classic Firefly, but there's a lot about WildStar - from its cartoonish art style to its quirky sense of humor - that's completely unique.

WildStar also offers some interesting gameplay innovations. In addition to traditional classes, players in WildStar can choose one of four paths - soldier, scientist, explorer, or settler - with each providing unique perks and content. Explorers can find secret areas, while settlers can construct infrastructure to aid their fellow players, for instance.

WildStar also promises a slightly more involved combat system than the traditional MMO. Many enemies will use powerful, telegraphed abilities that players must avoid. Aside from the obvious benefit of not being hit by a deadly attack, successfully avoiding these telegraphs will grant additional bonuses, such as increased experience.

What's not:

WildStar's goofy humor and stylized graphics are the sort of things people will either love or hate. While a lot of people have already fallen in love with the game's cheery personality, there are a lot of others who will take one look at a doe eyed squirrel woman with bunny ears and never touch the game again.

The path system also seems like an idea with a lot of potential pitfalls. With at least a quarter of the game's content supposedly devoted to paths, there seems a lot of potential for players to determine a "best" path, leading to nothing but grief for members of the others. It's also an unusual complication that may prove off-putting to newcomers.


Project: Titan:

In a nutshell:

An unannounced MMO by Blizzard Entertainment that has been under top secret development for several years.

What's cool:

It's an MMO by Blizzard Entertainment - the creators of World of Warcraft, the most successful MMO of all time and a game that continues to utterly dominate the genre. It's hard to imagine the game codenamed Titan could be anything but a groundbreaking mega hit.

Otherwise, it's hard to define anything to get excited about because we simply don't know that much. It was reported to be a new intellectual property unrelated to Blizzard's previous franchises, but new rumors state that is not actually the case and that Titan is instead a "spin-off" of one of the main franchises. Given that there is evidence that Titan is a sci-fi game, this points speculation towards the Starcraft franchise of games.

What's not:

We know almost nothing about Titan beyond that it exists. No matter what it turns out to be, someone's going to be disappointed, and while there's all the potential in the world for it to be amazing, there's also all the potential for it fail, as well - unlikely as that is where Blizzard is concerned.

Beyond that, this is the second MMO from the company that unleashed World of Warcraft on the MMO community. That means Titan will probably end up being the most highly anticipated MMO in history, and in the face of that, it's hard to believe any game could live up to expectations, no matter how good.