So over the past few years MMOs have been in a sort of decline, with the changing style of payment models for online games posing a problem for several MMOs in the recent past, there are other challenges as well. Players are searching for a different experience in their online games, something other than the Theme Park roller coaster ride that WoW (among many others) has given them.
Recently I’ve been hearing about several new games that intend to deliver a unique experience by going back to the genres Sandbox roots that I wanted to share with you, in case you’ve been looking for an MMO with a different feel from what is out there right now.
I’ll start off with one that some of you are probably familiar with.
Albion Online goes back to the genres roots, and then simplifies it, making the gameplay itself the star of the show.
With no character levels, no classes, no specs or skill trees, Albion Online lets the player choose how they will play the game minute to minute by using the player’s equipment to determine which skills they have.
A top down camera view, with click to move controls brings the game back to old school online games such as Ultima Online and Diablo.
Simple, Cartoony graphics work to both give the game a fresh and unique look, as well allow the game to be Crossplatform, playable on PC, Mac, iOS, Android, and on your Browser.
This game features some Hardcore elements such as the ability to take any and all items from a dead player, and weight system that slows you down or prevents you from moving if you are carrying too much. This game looks like it will be blast for PvP action, and Strats is already forming a Guild to be ready for release. For more info on Albion Online go to their website
This is another that some of you may have heard of since there have been a few posts about it in the Strats community.
Crowfall boasts fully destructible worlds that players cycle through one after the other, fighting and destroying until the “Campaign” is over. Then players go to a new world, never to see that previous world again. They also have persistent worlds owned and controlled by players where the player can control the rules and settings that govern their world.
Unlike Albion Online, Crowfall will feature “Archetypes” which can then be specialized into multiple “Promotion Classes”
The gameplay will be doled out in “Campaigns” lasting 1-3 months each. Each Campaign takes place on a unique, procedurally generated “World” this is in effort to keep the gameplay fresh, every few months you will experience a whole new world with new enemies, new landscape, and new towns.
The game also features seasons, each campaign will begin in the spring and end in the winter. On top of the changing seasons, a mysterious force known only as “The Darkness” is infecting each world and slowly corrupting it, so as the landscape changes from summer to winter, the enemies change from bad to horrifying.
Crowfall seems to have a lot of potential and is slotted to launch Dec. 2016
For more information on Crowfall check out their website
Project Gorgon is an Indie MMO that focuses on trying to make the world the player is in feel like an actual place, and give a natural feel to the gameplay and environment.
They achieve this by focusing on small details such as not being able to catch someone on fire when they are in water, or keeping the items you sold in a merchants inventory to be purchased by other players, or dropping items on the ground to be picked up by someone else.
They also have quests and items in random places far off the beaten path to reward players for exploring. Exploring is also a good way to discover new skills. Doing something for the first time may reveal a particular skill associated with that action.
Project Gorgon does not feature a character level, but instead has levels for individual skills. I’m sure many of you are familiar with games that have skills which level up as you use that particular skill, but Project Gorgon takes that concept one step further by linking certain skills together. If you want to be a good swordsman level up your calligraphy skill it will increase your hand eye coordination and boost your sword skill.
Another unique feature of Project Gorgon are the “Words of Power” which can be discovered and then typed into chat to release a magical effect.
It should be noted that Project Gorgon is in the very early stages of development. For more info on Project Gorgon check out their website
Shroud of the Avatar
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is a new MMORPG by Richard Garriott (AKA: Lord British) Creator of the Ultima Series and Ultima Online.
Shroud of the Avatar will feature a classless character system with 20 skill trees to level up and build your own unique class from. The game will feature an extensive crafting system, as well as player housing with hundreds of options for customization. All buildings and shops in the game will be owned and operated by other players.
Shroud of the Avatar has a very unique combat system which allows you to choose abilities from your skill lines and use them to build a “Deck” upon entering combat you will be dealt a “Hand” in the form of your action bar. As you cast spells or use abilities the cards will disappear from your hand and be replaced by another random ability from your deck.
Shroud of the Avatar has three modes in which players can play the game, they can play Solo, with friends only, or Open (like a traditional MMO).
The game is currently in alpha and boasts a unique system to pledge money to the game allowing players to actually choose which in-game features their pledged money goes toward, effectively voting on what features will be in the game at launch.
The game is also being preceded by a series of fantasy novels by Best-Selling Author Tracy Hickman.
For more info on Shroud of the Avatar visit the website.
The popular table top game Pathfinder is making it’s debut in the digital world with Pathfinder Online.
The game will feature all of the classes and skills that players of the table top game have come to know and love, as well as custom classes that the player can tailor to their preferences.
Like most of the other games on this list Pathfinder Online will be a Sandbox game, focusing on letting the player make their own adventure with the tools the game gives them. Unlike most of the games on this list, Pathfinder Online will have a character level.
Pathfinder will also feature an “Alignment” system, so while open world PvP is encouraged as a big part of the game, attacking an innocent player unprovoked could cause your alignment to change. Also, performing certain illegal actions can result in a PvP “Flag” alerting other players that you are hostile/criminal. In addition to these in-game mechanics, the devs are instituting a “Don’t be a Jerk” policy, simply stating that toxic or abusive players will be asked to change their behavior or leave.
In addition to traditional harvesting, Pathfinder Online will have a unique feature called "Outposts"
Outposts are constructed by the player to produce a steady stream of resources rather than harvesting the materials one at a time.
Perhaps the most radical concept in Pathfinder Online is how the player levels up Skills. Skills are leveled up through Real Time XP Accumulation, this means the character is gaining the same XP no matter how much the player is online, or what they do when they are online. So skills level up at the exact same rate for casuals and hardcore players alike.
To read more about Pathfinder Online check out their website.
If reading about these upcoming MMOs has given you the itch to play one but you don’t feel like buying into an Alpha phase game, try Wurm Online. Wurm Online is currently out and F2P, featuring a sandbox atmosphere, hardcore full loot PvP, and lots of building.
For more info and/or to download the game, check out their website.
There are of course several more coming in the next couple of years, some of which I probably don’t know about, and others that most of us here have probably already heard of such as EverQuest Next, or Black Desert Online. I will leave links for those in case you want to learn more, but I wanted to focus on the games that weren’t getting as much publicity. Thanks for reading.
Black Desert Online
Camelot Unchained Edit: Added at the excellent suggestion of @dontcallmejames