With 2016 nearing its end, it’s time to have a look at what awaits us in 2017 and beyond.
2016 wasn’t the greatest of years for MMOs. From the disappointment of Black Desert Online and Tree of Savior to the cancellation of EverQuest Next and the many struggles faced by Wildstar, the market wasn’t in its best shape, which often sparked discussions regarding its longevity. Yet, the year that “slaughtered” many music, TV, and movie icons also brought joy and hope to gamers with the announcement and showcasing of a plethora of upcoming MMOs.
The popular “what will be the game to surpass WoW” topic starts to die out as the industry triggers a shift from the theme park formula to deliver sandbox worlds reminiscent of old-school MMORPGs. Led by an array of indie developer studios, these sandbox titles have been on everyone’s lips and fingertips throughout 2016 and with the coming of the new year, some of them will finally see the light of day.
With that in mind, we’ve decided to list the MMOs we think industry fans should keep an eye on coming 2017 and beyond. Since most of these titles are still in early development, we’ve decided to be fair with them and fans by not playing favorites, meaning this list comes in no particular order.
Identity (ETA: TBA)
Among the projects announced in the past few years, Identity is perhaps the most ambitious of all of them. Developed by Asylum Entertainment Inc. and powered by the Unreal Engine 4, the MMORPG aims to deliver a mix of Second Life and Grand Theft Auto with its seamless open world that’s entirely driven by players. From politics to economy and a variety of career paths, the official servers of Identity will be shaped by the choices players make. Whether they want to be successful entrepreneurs, bandits, cops, interior designers, real estate agents, or just have a few hours of mindless fun with their friends, users will be given complete autonomy over the environment to do mostly as they please.
Revelation Online (ETA: 2017)
The Chinese title Revelation has been in development for over ten years. It entered its first open beta test in 2015 (in China) and in June 2016, My.com (Skyforge, Allods Online) announced it would publish the game in the West. With a medieval Chinese setting spread across a seamless open world, the game features a detailed character creation system as well as a plethora of game modes including open world PvP and a MOBA-styled arena.
Lost Ark (ETA: TBA)
A Diablo-esque MMORPG, Lost Ark is considered the main contestant to NCSOFT’s Lineage Eternal. With gender-locked classes, the Korean MMO entered its first closed beta in August exclusively for Korean players. Not much is known about the game besides a few of its classes, the action-based combat, and a focus on cooperative dungeons.
Dark and Light (ETA: 2017)
A reboot of the 2006 MMO of the same name, Dark and Light is a promising title that has a lot to compensate for. The original release was met with generally negative criticism due to its unfinished state and the developers even faced a lawsuit under the suspicion of stolen technology, which was later confirmed. The original servers have been offline since 2008. Not a whole lot is known about the reboot besides the setting, its massive open world, sandbox elements, non-target action based combat, and the possibility of taming wildlife.
Bless Online (ETA: 2017)
An open world Korean MMORPG with a mix of tab-targeting and action combat, Bless has been under most gamers’ radars for a while now. Powered by the Unreal Engine 3, the title consists of the regular questing found in many MMOs these days plus dungeons where cooperation is key, as well as PvP modes. Much like Dark and Light, players will be able to tame nearly every creature they can fight, being able to send them in special quests or use them as mounts and minions.
Chronicles of Elyria (ETA: TBA)
Yet another ambitious project, the game developed by Soulbound Studios and serving as their debut title focuses on a lineage system where players may take the role of their children should their original characters die. Set in an expansive medieval fantasy sandbox world, the MMO intends to approach mechanics realistically such as with cartography, where players may compose their own maps that in turn can be sold to fellow adventurers. Other features such as combat and crafting should also follow a realistic path and on top of regular adventuring, players can choose to lead a more tranquil life such as that of a farmer.
Crowfall (ETA: TBA)
Crowfall is a PvP action MMO which focuses on a non-linear progression. Players are thrown into a dying world without quests or storylines and they must fight other factions for control over the land. Coming winter, the campaign finishes and everyone starts over on a new server with similar goals.The game will feature player-driven economy largely supported by gathering and crafting, a major part of combat as some classes require resources in order to be able to fight.
Camelot Unchained (ETA: 2017)
Similar to Crowfall, Camelot Unchained focuses on PvP content with PvE elements meant to support that aspect. The game developed by City State Entertainment should sound familiar to Dark Age of Camelot fans as it features a very similar setting with an enormous variety of races and classes. With a unique world map that changes based on which realms have control of specific islands, Camelot Unchained is another throwback at old-school sandbox MMOs with its open approach to progress, crafting, and even building.
Conan Exiles (ETA: 2017)
A survival MMO based on Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian universe, Conan Exiles differs from its competitors by focusing on a highly detailed world filled with PvP and PvE opportunities. Developed by Funcom (Anarchy Online, Age of Conan, The Secret World), the title set to enter Early Access for PC on January 31 focuses on survival as seen in Minecraft, where players must advert the environment by building settlements which can also provide protection against other players. An XBox One version is also planned for Spring 2017.
Star Citizen (ETA: TBA)
Finally, the last but not least important item on our list, Star Citizen is a space MMO aiming to deliver a playable universe with massive planets that players can explore as they see fit. With an established storyline that further expands the game’s lore, its main focus will be the sandbox elements such as free exploration, open world PvP, and player-driven economy. In alpha currently, Star Citizen features two modes, one of which is an FPS arena similar to the multiplayer mode found in Call of Duty.
2017 seems like a promising year for MMOs as Western developers stray from the theme park formula and venture into old-school sandbox mechanics, a change the overall community appreciates and supports. There are other titles we couldn’t feature in this list, but we know a lot of people are excited for them as well. What MMOs are you excited for, whether they are on the list or not? Let us know in the comments and feel free to share this with your friends!