The MMORPG for a while there was rumored to be dead or dying. It seemed like a universal ideal: having a multiplayer fantasy realm where the whole world could participate, and then not have that invisible digital society suck. Ever since the days of MUDs (Multi-User Dimension, if you check your Jargon File reference), attempts have come frustratingly close, but never perfect, like cold fusion.
But MMORPGs have struggled through the filters and a few have emerged just as great as we anticipated they’d be. Blizzard’s Warcraft series is hailed as the genre’s most smashing success. Meanwhile, in the most unexpected game development since the release of Duke Nukem Forever, old-school Runescape has ported to mobile and miraculously seen a revival just when it was ready to be retired to the old gamers’ home. How did that even happen?
So here’s hoping one of these other upcoming games hit the same sweet spot. A good MMORPG is much-attempted, but hard to get right, requiring an investment of both top developers and a good community. We’ll sort by projected release date, although some of the “TBA” dates are early-access or closer to completion.
- Legends of Aria – Citadel Studios – Trying to take a page from Minecraft, this game is shooting for user-controlled custom worlds and environments that cane be altered by the player.
- Lost Ark – Smilegate – A fantasy-themed action MMO which has generated optimistic progress reports.
- Camelot Unchained – City State Entertainment – A very traditional Kickstarter-funded MMO where you build your own base, then defend it from other players.
- New World MMO – Amazon Studios – An alternate-history themed MMO set in the 17th century where you get to rediscover America, but using magic.
- Dual Universe – Novaquark – A sci-fi space-based MMO, a rare breed that we haven’t gotten right yet. It’s being touted as a wide-open sandbox format that’s user-editable (there’s Minecraft influence again).
- Chronicles of Elyria – A Kickstarter-funded MMO with new twists like the idea that your character has an actual lifespan, aging and dying in-game. It will also have a finite world that will be changed and molded by successions of players.
- Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen – Visionary Realms – Focus on social interaction and teamwork.
- Crowfall – ArtCraft – A Kickstarter-funded MMO that’s trying to resemble Game of Thrones. Good luck with that! Also to have a player-driver economy.
- Trials of Ascension: Exile – Forged Chaos – A new page in MMOs, this is a “host your own” toolkit where you can set up your own private island, with your own rule set, and have full customization up to user-defined biomes. Don’t like other games, build your own!
- Ascent: Infinite Realm – Bluehole – PUBG developer is creating a steampunk-themed MMO.
- Identity – Asylum Entertainment – It is promising absolute freedom and hyper-realism, with literal in-game houses you have to buy, also with player-based economy.
- Ashes of Creation – Intrepid Studios – Focused on player-molded environments and structures ranging from farm hovels to vast fortresses and grand castles.
- Dark and Light – NP Cube – A fantasy survival MMO with magic skills. Endless sandbox world.