The MMORPG world is a volatile beast. With dozens of MMOs released each year, gamers are forced to wade through the not – so – good games to the true gems hidden in the mire. On top of that, release dates are finicky, some games are stuck in limbo for months after the predicted launch date, and some never make it to beta at all.
I’ve devised a list of 5 MMOG/RPG titles planned to launch (“planned” being the keyword here) in 2009 that look to be the most promising. Hopefully these games can give any jaded WoW players out there something else to look forward to when even Hello Kitty Online seems tempting.
Alganon – 2009 PC; Public Beta Starts June 2009
Alganon seems as though it will be a standard MMORPG. The story, races, and jobs available are all basic fantasy fare; choose between jobs like soldier, assassin or healer and play as various races segmented into two opposing sides – Asheroth or Kujix. It sure sounds a lot like WoW, doesn’t it? However, Alganon brings several intriguing implements to the table.
Alganon utilizes a secondary job system similar to the sub-job function in Final Fantasy XI. Players have the option to use abilities from a second job class to supplement one’s main job, allowing for diversified job capabilities. What seems to be one of the most important goals of Alganon’s development team, however, is the “studies” system, which will regulate character growth. Alganon hopes to create a game that will appeal to both casual and hardcore gamers at the same time. The “Alganon Studies System” rewards hard core gamers and casual players in different ways, allowing for those with less time on their hands to keep up and remain competitive.
Alganon appears slightly generic at first glance, but it aims to correct many of the pressing complaints gamers have concerning current and past MMORPGs.
Jumpgate Evolution – 2009 PC; Beta Sign – Ups Now Available
Jumpgate Evolution is just one of the sci-fi MMOGs slated for release this year, boasting beautiful space environments and ship design in this space combat title. Gamers are encouraged to explore the game’s vast universe using a series of “Jumpgates” (hence the title) that connect different areas of space.
The battle system makes use of a “twitch-based” combat system in which PVP and NPC battles intermingle. Battles scale from one on one to “epic” incidents involving many pilots. Jumpgate Evolution looks to be a viable contender for anyone who seeks a sci-fi MMO with a lot of PVP interaction.
Earthrise – 2009 PC; Beta Sign-Ups now available
Earthrise is a post-apocalyptic MMORPG that takes place in the aftermath of the Third World War. Gamers get to play as a new and improved race of humans that are now immortal thanks to advances in cloning. The story premise is highly intriguing, as players must either support or rebel against the tyrannical government which has the sole right to determine who survives and who dies.
Earthrise depends solely on skill increases – there are no pre-determined job classes, races, or levels. Players have the responsibility to shape their characters’ skills as they progress through the game. Storyline and quest progression is easily soloable, but Earthrise also offers group interaction in its PVP campaigns and optional end-game bosses.
Champions Online – September 1, 2009 PC, XBox 360; Beta Sign – Ups Now Available
Cryptik Studios presents Champions Online as its newest contribution to the superhero MMORPG genre. Featuring shiny cell-shaded graphics, Champions allows players to make highly unique heroes with their character customization tools. However, customization does not end with your character’s physical attributes – gamers will be able to select the super powers their “champions” will be able to use in combat.
In addition, players are required to create their own personalized arch-nemesis that will test characters throughout their time in the game. After a character is created, players will be unleashed into an expansive universe that allows one to leave the boundaries of the city itself and explore space and other parallel worlds. Champions Online builds on the premise of City of Heroes, hopefully allowing for a more immersive experience.
Aion: The Tower of Eternity – Fall 2009 PC
NCSoft is certainly taking its sweet time to release Aion, a highly anticipated fantasy MMORPG. After finally being released in South Korea, Aion garnered considerable praise in the East, including a Best Korean Game of 2008 award. Aion is currently in the localization process for western audiences. Preliminary reviews of Aion have offered a mixed-bag of critiques. Aion has been accused of being “just another fantasy MMO” while at the same time being praised for its innovative gameplay.
One unique feature of Aion that has many people anxious for its English release is the flight system. Characters within Aion will have the power of flight, to be used for transportation as well as combat. Players will be able to engage in battle both on terra firma and in the sky. Aion also allows for extensive character customization.
While there are eight job classes are available, the game implements a “Stigma” system which will allow players to combine abilities not normally found in one job class to create a well rounded fighter. If Aion fails to provide anything else, it does have its graphics going for it. Using the Crytek engine, Aion will certainly give your PC a run for its money rendering the game’s visually stunning environments.
Don’t sell your WoW pod just yet. 2009 has a few tricks up its sleeve as far as MMOs are concerned. Perhaps you won’t find the next World of Warcraft or Everquest, but these upcoming titles seek to offer something new to online gaming.