June 2, 2010 10 Comments
I’ve always been an unabashed sci-fi nerd. I started off reading sci-fi in my youth, and that progressed into the fantasy genre, naturally. Not because the two actually bear a close resemblance, but because in every book store you’ve ever been to, the two are grouped together, out of some strange demarcation of nerd-dom. If you are walking through those areas of Barnes & Nobles, you must be a dorky, socially inept, 20-something virgin, amirite? Okay mini-rant at social perceptions is over. Anyway, I really enjoyed reading the Ender Series, the first Pern novel, and a slew of other great science fiction as a kid, and still to this day read some of the more “mature” authors, and this mirrors over to cinema and video games as well. To me, sci-fi has always been just a different setting to relate the story of humanity. The focus of the genre can often be on the techie stuff, and space, and all the other bells and whistles that people expect to come along as a trope, but I find it to be more frequently about the people than I do in the fantasy genre. So, imagine my joy in the last year or so of surge of non-fantasy related MMOs coming out.
Of course, we’ve all heard about Star Wars: The Old Republic. If you have missed out on this, you haven’t been reading here, or anywhere on the internet. A fusion of Bioware and Star Wars has never failed us before in the single player realm, we’re all hoping for equal success in the MMO arena. I’m not expecting to receive greatness, but I am hoping.
In the same vein, and in a less serious role, we have the newly announced Clone Wars Adventures. It’s going to be a game similar to FreeRealms, in that, not as they are calling it, but a “Virtual World”. The emphasis allegedly is on mini-games, but still, playing a Jedi online with others playing a Jedi online should be interesting. The pricing model is supposed to be a mirror to FreeRealms also, free with an option to subscribe.
A new spaceship driven scifi game, Black Prophecy, of which I know next to nothing about, other than it’s insanely good-looking screen shots, is coming…sometime. I do know, that the back story was written by a sci-fi author of the name Michael Marrak. Wikipedia says he won an award for something he wrote. Visually, it’s similar to EVE, in that the ships are sharp, utilitarian, and gritty.
Along a similar vein, is the fallen-off-the-radar Jumpgate Evolution. This game has been in development for what feels like an eternity. It’s supposed to be a fast-paced, PvP, space combat MMO. The website advertises pre-orders will start soon, so take that for what you will. It looks like this is supposed to be an accessible, fun, fast-paced, and light MMO. I’m interested to see how this really plays out.
DC Universe Online, which I consider to be science fiction, even if it’s primarily a part of the “comic-book” genre. They just announced that they have a release window of sometime in November of this year. I’m a comic-book nerd too, so this is great for me. I don’t think I’ll play it, as I was never a big DC fan (outside of Green Lantern and Batman), plus I have WAY too much other stuff to get into/keep playing. Still, it’s one more notch in the sci-fi bed-post. Plus, I’ll shameless link anything that looks remotely like this (now that’s some concept art for you!).
Rounding out the coming-up list is Perpetuum. This is the big-giant robot sci-fi of battle tech days. There are few things cooler than big robots, and one of those is giant robots (with guns!). I’m an Armored Core fan, and games like this have the potential for a TON of customization and fun combat. Visually, it looks like EVE, and I heard for a while it used a lot of the same UI elements. The closed beta is in progress, and there is a blog that tracks all the stuff going on right now. It’s one of the top-of-my-list MMOs to keep an eye out for.
Dust 514. EVEs FPS tie-in. It will be using the Unreal engine, is set in the EVE universe, as is supposed to tie-in with the existing game somehow. The potential is insanely cool to think about, and a recent interview with CCP had a developer talking about their desire to give players the ability to experience any of their science fiction fantasies and ideas. That’s a huge goal, and the stance the company takes on accessibility and gameplay is one that I greatly appreciate.
And then you look back at what is out now, especially the “recent” releases.
The gold standard of sci-fi MMOs, is of course, EVE. I absolutely adore this game, and actually decided to re-up my account this month. It’s something I really wanted to get back into since I tried it just before my daughter’s birth, and fell in love with it then. I don’t know if I’m going to return to the journal-entry style of talking about it, but I definitely would love to continue along with some fan-fiction-esque writing to go with it for my month back. The release of its latest expansion has created a first step to the previously mentioned Dust 514, with the harvesting of planetary resources.
Global Agenda, the future FPS, team-based, quasi-MMO wasn’t a huge splash. Still, it’s out there, being played, and is a cool side-treck to guns and special agents. I played the free trial, and it seemed like it was somewhat enjoyable, but I didn’t actually get to play PvP, only the PvE co-op missions.
Champions Online is another of the comic-book genre that was released in the last year or so. I still contend this is a decent game, just lacking in end-game content, and depth of play. The gameplay is fun, the graphics are entertaining, and the questing is still some of the best I had in terms of pop-culture hilarity, and the feeling of being powerful. It’s just too much of a game on rails for me. It’s the epitome of the themepark, solo-player MMO. Not enough incentive to partake in meta-game activities, or do a lot of grouping. Which is sad, because the few dungeons I did were a lot of fun.
Stark Trek Online. I can’t talk about this much. Space battle looked pretty cool. Everything was shiny and bright. The essence of Star Trek seemed to be captured in the game, but I was never a huge Trekkie. This is the bedpost notch I don’t really remember, but just know it seemed like a good idea and don’t have any bad memories of.
Fallen Earth is the post-apocalyptic wonder of MMO experience. An MMO I keep wanting to try, but never getting around to. Reportedly, it’s a more sandboxie themepark, with a lot of character development potential in terms of personalizing abilities and direction. An indie developer, that made a game with a seemingly strong niche following. Good for them I say. I really do need to check this out.
I won’t talk about the notch I’d rather not give credence by acknowledging it’s presence, but I will. Poor, poor Tabula Rasa. Don’t try to get there using the old website’s url, the only mention you’ll find of it at NCSoft seems to be here (and that as probably some type of oversight).
So, 12 (or 13 including TR) games that have been, or will be coming out that are NOT fantasy. There you go, play, and enjoy the future.