The Elder Scrolls Online (TESO)
The Elder Scroll series has surprised, awed and entertained us for hundreds of hours over the last decade or so. The world of Tamriel has expanded with each successive iteration of the series, and this new title will explore all of your favorite locations from previous games. These locations may not look the same, simply because the MMO is set nearly a millennium before the events of Skyrim, and 800 years before the events of Oblivion, and chronicles the rise of the antagonistic Daedric Prince Molag Bal. You can play as the Aldmeri Domination (Altmer, Bosmer, Khajit), the Daggerfall Covenant (Bretons, Redguards, Orcs) or the Ebonheart Pact (Dunmer, Nords, Argonians). The game has already been in development for five years.
With the sheer number of MMOs being released left, right, and center this title stands out because it already has a well-established fan-base that supports. I believe a huge part of the reason for World of Warcraft’s success was because there was a massive fan following and a believable world that had already gone through several iterations in single-player games. This populated the world with beloved (and hated) characters, lore, plotlines, and made the conflicts much more personal when you could face them with your friends in an online setting. I believe the same formula will work for The Elder Scrolls Online, and it’s established identity will catapult it into the next big thing, perhaps even, dare I say it, the actual WoW-killer. TESO is aimed for a late 2013 release.
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Jordan Weisman's Shadowrun universe gained prominence because of the queer, yet fascinating amalgamation of cybernetics, magic and fantasy in the same complex universe. Despite similarly names and Kickstarted funding, Shadowrun Online should not be confused with Shadowrun Returns, a tactical RPG, or Shadowrun Tabletop, a, uh, tabletop RPG. It is the year 2070, dragons rule corporations, Orks street gangs battle it out over turf, and elf hackers infiltrate the all-encompassing matrix. You can play as a spell-slinger, brawler or even a hacker. You can choose from a myriad of weaponry and complement your skill-set with cybernetic enhancements.
A really cool selling point is the perspective-based system. Mages will see auras and be able to glimpse into the spirit plane, whereas hackers will see the matrix overlay over the world, allowing them to hack into anything. The story is player-driven, and events triggered by players can make their way into the pen and paper game, thus reshaping the overall Shadowrun universe. Much like TESO above, Shadowrun Online enjoys the diehard support of a dedicated fan base, though perhaps not as large a fanbase as the former. The developers have promised a beta by May 2013.
Firefall has a complex plot. To summarize greatly, an asteroid crashes into earth causing a nine-year dark age. Crystite, a new element, is discovered that can be harnessed for unlimited energy. Humanity plots the asteroid’s course, finds the world it came from, sets up a shipping lane for crystite and eventually develops a massive teleportation device to speed up the process, called Arclight. This device, on its maiden deployment, tears space-time, causing The Melding, a giant space storm, to ravage earth, transforming everything it touches, leaving scant pockets for humanity to survive in, and ushers in The Chosen, a race of beings bent on destroying humanity. The Arclight crashes in Brazil, and an energy field keeps The Melding at bay.
The game is cel-shaded and looks very cool. Crystite combined with earthen elements can create powerful combinations, such as lightening, extreme cold or even anti-gravity. You can use jetboots in your armor, called the Battleframes. Every piece of equipment (including the Battleframes) can be changes or upgraded or altered. The Battleframes announced so far include Recon, Assault, Biotech, Engineer and Dreadnaught. There will be PvE, PvP, and ladders that embody both vertical and horizontal challenge. The developers, Red 5 Studios, boast a lot of talent that worked on the original World of Warcraft, and as such bring to the table the same tireless ethic for providing the best experience to the player. The game is currently in beta.
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Remnants of GSC Game World, owners and creators of the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. franchise, formed Vostok Games, and started working on Survarium, an MMO that seems to have an unnerving amount of similarity with the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. universe. Several of the features, such as anomalies, artifacts and impassable terrain due to an ecological disaster will be featured in the new title, as well as the survival and role-play elements that made the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series such a success.
Once again, despite being external to the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, I think a rational adult can make the claim that the MMO is the spiritual successor to the series, and given the fan-base the former title and studio enjoy, chances are many of those have migrated over to this new venture. A beta is expected in 2013.
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