Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Hiding from the Burning Crusade

If you've been following the development of any MMORPGs out there besides World of Warcraft then you know that there were a lot of games scheduled to be released Q4 2006. As late as the E3 expo numerous games like Age of Conan, Lord of the Rings Online and Vanguard were still holding to release dates this year. However, a few months later most of them were changed to Q1/Q2 2007. In the case of Vanguard it was a well needed extension but for a lot of other MMORPGs it seemed as if it was a delaying tactic.

So far this year the only new MMO that I was aware of was the ill fated Auto Assault. The game fell flat on its face and combined with the falling numbers of City of Heroes/Villains caused some layoffs in NCSoft support. After that the market has been quiet as a mouse with almost all releases being pushed after the new expansion for World of Warcraft. It almost seems that originally it was suspected that Blizzard wouldn't make their Q4 2006 release date and other developers scheduled accordingly. But with the push for new hardware and the alpha already well on the way it seems as if Blizzard scared off the competition this winter.

Keep your eyes open for these upcoming MMORPGs.
Huxley Q1 2007
Lord of the Rings Q1 2007
Age of Conan Q1/Q2 2007
Tabula Rasa Q1/Q2 2007
Vanguard TBA 2007
Warhammer Q4 2007

It will be interesting to see which of them are able to carve out a niche in a market dominated by World of Warcraft. Its funny also in that these new games seem to be matching up against one another in a duel format. Its like in Hollywood when they made Armageddon the other side just had to make Deep Impact.

The Fantasy PvP match-up
Age of Conan vs. Warhammer Online

Age of Conan has realistic graphics and the ability to create player based towns. Warhammer Online has wow-ish graphics and the realm combat system that made DAOC so popular. Both will have a lot of avatar customization but no magic in Age of Conan. Then again who wants to worry about all the problems of balancing casters with melees.

Winner: Age of Conan. Warhammer will be eaten alive by the improvements made in the WoW pvp game.

The Scifi MMOFPS match-up
Huxley vs. Tabula Rasa

Huxley is more of a graphic intense FPS with a few MMO qualities. It will have corresponding versions for both the PC and Consoles which could boost its popularity. Tabula Rasa has more itemization and seems to be designed for small squad based combat. Graphics look good on both games which might make it for high end gaming machines only.

Winner: Tabula Rasa wins since Huxley feels like a console game and I predict will have problems holding onto subscribers for longer then a couple months. Also Lord British the lead dev on Tabula Rasa will create a lot of initial interest in Tabula Rasa.

The Fantasy based PvE match-up
Vanguard vs. Lord of the Rings

Vanguard is going through a complete revamp and trying to cut some of the hardcore game play that was chasing everyone away. The only problem is that their graphics still seem kind of lackluster. Lord of the Rings seems to have better graphics and a recognizable style. The only problem is there is absolutely nothing new being included in the game. At least Vanguard is messing around with new crafting and diplomancy systems.

Winner: Everquest, which will still exist long after both these games are dead. PvE centric fantasy games have their niche but at the moment the market is going to be flooded. I expect more hardcores to stay with Everquest at around 100k subscribers which is a record I doubt either of these games will break. Look at Dungeons and Dragons Online for a good example of the future of these two games.


Saylah said...

HA-HA. Good match-ups. The last was my favorite. I think EQ1 and EQ2 will out last some of the newer arrivals. I remember hearing on the MOG Army podcast that many of the games I'd been waiting to try had been pushed back to 2007. Huxley is among them. Kinda sad, but understandable. I think some are waiting for the hype of BC to pass before entering the space with their new game. From a business perspective it makes total sense. We know a good % of WOW players are going to give BC a go immediately. For some it will extend the life of the game. For others, it may not and they will really be ready for a change it BC doesn't hit the mark for them

Still as a player it's kind of ho-hum at the moment. My priest is providing just enough life to keep me going and I've already pre-ordered BC. If it doesn't WOW me, pun intended, I will definitely be trying something new.

Ben said...

I really don't think that BC is going to make WOW PvP all that much better. BG's will be empty after everyone gets the couple of good items they need to buy from them. World PvP will either be empty if it doesn't give anything useful, look at EP and Silithus now, or be full of sufficiently vicious high levels to be unwelcoming to the casual player. The Arena will certainly have its niche, but provides nothing even close to the persistant high level combat that AoC and WAR are promising. Of course, I won't hold my breath that either of them delivers the goods.

Wolfgangdoom said...

Great Blog! First time reader and poster. Like many of the other players in the World of Warcraft, I too am looking to BC to renew my faith in the game. I'm not much for raiding because doing the same instance 100 times isn't something I would consider to be much fun, however, I do enjoy PVP now that they are cross-realm. PVP in WOW lacks something that I believe AOC and Warhammer will hopefully deliver, and that is the ability to customize your environment. WSG battles are the same format everytime, as are AB, and AV, which is why I think players get burned out on PVP once they reach Exalted. Player controled cities with architect being a trade skill, should help to give players a sense of community PVP rather than praying for a good team of twinks to be on your side everytime you enter WSG.

AOC looks particularly interesting to me as it is going to be rated M. I'm not one of those people who thinks unrestricted violence is good for young kids, but for adults, this game is exactly what I and allot of my friends have been waiting for. As far as AOC not having magic casters, that is news to me. On the list of classes, it looks like priests will be magic users-especially stormcaller priests- as will the mage class