13 Best MMO Games in 2015 and 2016
Looking for the best MMOs to play in 2016?
As an avid MMO junkie, I feel secure in expressing that for far too long MMOs have more or less been dressing up a basic concept in different costumes but it hasn't been til the past few years that some games have dared to be different… though not necessarily innovative.
This list is a collection of different types of MMOs (not just MMORPGs) that are daring to be different, pushing forward graphics, combat, movement and, in some cases, the very concept of how MMOs are supposed to be built; while others are long awaited favorites whose name came up everywhere on the “omg, come out already” lists. Some are commercial, some indie. And some are simply old favorites being resurrected into a new era.
As always, if something's missing (paring it down to 13 was surprisingly difficult), add your own in the comments!
Damnit, Uncle Bob.
So, a Game Of Thrones-ish inspired MMO/RTS love child? “Scare-roused” doesn't seem appropriate, as I don't love my games that way, yet here I am both frightened and giddily intrigued by the prospect. I'm not too used to my games stabbing me in the back (as opposed to corporations who come in and take over the things I love and then ruin them), so this sets an interesting precedent. While the combat element seems fairly linear in the pre-alpha footage revealed so far, the dimension they're adding to the world you'll be playing through is new and different, and that's something worth looking into.
It's not a game world, but multiple worlds, and time is a factor in the state of those worlds. Some of those worlds are persistent and player-run, and some are slowly being eaten away by The Hunger. When a campaign ends on that world, the world is done and gone forever. Yay you for daring to be different.
Release: Maaaaybe, hopefully 2016. They've been dependent on crowdfunding, and the more donations they get, the more resources they have to get things done.
Two words: Butt. Theatrics.
The best way I can think of to describe what this game has the potential to be is a gamer's vending machine. Is there something you want to play? Is there a particular mode in which you'd like to play? Gearbox's Battleborn is seeming to promise it all, or at least most. The hero selection pulls from any and all genres with the elven archer, the clockwork butler, the ammo-spitting heavy, the ax-crazed dwarf berserker, the ninja, and more – so many more – which is where I thought they developed their tag line of "For Every Kind of Badass."
However, more than offering just a variety of heroes, Battleborn offers a variety of ways to enjoy it. It can be played solo or co-op, in game arenas against others or against the computer, or just follow typical story and quest progression mode. Something for almost everyone, and if Gearbox has shown anything through their Borderlands games, it's that it knows how to make things colorful, larger-than-life fun, which only adds to the game's potential for it.
Release: February 9, 2016
11. Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade
Ha haaaa, suckerrrr. You'll eventually see why I laughed. Have some in engine Alpha footage.
I was about to sweep this one into the “too ambitious to be released before I die” pile, until I noticed it just recently went into Closed Alpha. I know that's not much, but in a game that feels like it's been stalled for forever and a half, this is a hella-big step forward. Now, I'm not a dyed in the wool Warhammer fan, so that's not why I've been eagerly awaiting this game. I am, however, pretty into gigantic faction vs faction vs faction fights, which is what this was promising in the form of Space Marines vs Chaos Space Marines vs Orks vs Eldar. And who doesn't love a good WAAAGH?
Sadly, though I was looking forward to PlanetSide 2 meets Warhammer 40k, they had to pull back on just how gigantic those matches will be. However, it's still calling itself a “massive tactical war game” and it's adding something the others don't have: a fifth faction that helps keep the playing field in balance ala NPC Tyranids.
It should have in-game voice modulation (not just voip, but one that changes your voice) and will also launch with a PVE mode that it compares to the horde modes in Space Marine and Mass Effect 3. If they can deliver on all they promise, this game stands a good chance of being a heretical good time, whether or not you're in love with Warhammer itself.
Release: sometime in 2016. Hopefully.
10. World of Warships
How does that not look exciting? AND it's free to play.
From the developers of the much enjoyed World of Tanks, World of Warships is the third in the “World of...” trilogy by Wargaming, and is a naval-themed free-to-play military MMO with 12 v 12 matches. Depending on the ship and its role, the game can take on various feels, such as the sneaking suspicion that you've just been immersed in a RTS if you're cruising around in a carrier. It takes a keen eye, good guestimating, and teamwork to pull off a successful match, but is intense and educational fun. Educational? Why, yes. Learn about real ships from various navies from around the world and different eras in history.
Release: It's already out!
9. Heroes of the Storm
Vengeance has never looked this good. For reasons. The reasons are boobs. Oh, and stabby wings.
Blizzard's contribution to the MOBA community, Heroes of the Storm has everything you'd expect from a MOBA combined with Blizzard's wizardry when it comes to making things shiny and new, and with its own twist. It offers 7 different maps so far, with varying types of gameplay on those maps, as well as secondary objectives, and it pulls in heroes from across the Blizzard universe, from WoW to Diablo to StarCraft – you get the picture.
But what is probably its biggest strength, while at the same time being its biggest complaint by a salty few, is that it has taken out the individual aspects of playing a MOBA – the last-hitting for gold so you can buy the thing and then the next thing and then go die under a tower, cold and alone – and exchanged them for team experience. It's very much teamplay oriented in theory as well as in practice.
While some people think this makes it “MOBA lite” or “My First MOBA,” this does give it an edge, making it playable for a wider audience – veterans and novices, team players and former ham-stars. And what's inherently wrong with being a “my first...” anyway, so long as it's fun?
Release: It's already out, and it's free-to-play.
8. Star Wars: Battlefront
Because I'm sick of the E3 trailer, enjoy this one instead. Contents: Endor, a widdul baby walker, and a glimpse of air zoomyzoom.
If you've never played a Star Wars: Battlefront game before, consider it Star Wars: Battlefield. It's that kind of game, except that it has lightsabers and AT ATs, X-wings and the Millennium Falcon, and you can swap between first and third person views. You get to fight across multiple maps such as Hoth, Endor, Tatooine, and Sullust (a treat for fans, as Sullust has never been seen before), as either rebel scum or imperial filth in 8 to 40 man fights. You'll even be able to play as specific heroes and villains like Luke Skywalker, Boba Fett, or Darth Vader through power-ups. There will be ground combat, air combat, DOG FIGHTS! Or tone it down and play alone or with a friend simply doing missions.
It's difficult to get wargames wrong, and it's hard to get Star Wars wrong – not impossible, but definitely a feat. This game promises to be every bit as enjoyable as its predecessors with a decade worth of new technology to kick it up a notch.
Release: Beta begins in October, with the game due out on November 17. Happy birthday to me.
7. Lineage Eternal
Skip to around 4:20 to get an idea of how the combat works, or just watch the whole thing to see ALL THE THINGS.
For starters, it's a Lineage game, so expect a grind. It's an ARPG MMO where the experience they're trying to get across is that of you being the leader of large groups against other large groups, which Guild Wars 2 players will be familiar with. It has quests, of course. It has PVE as well as PVP modes, with specific items reward in each mode of gameplay, and a sort of Diablo III or Path of Exile-looking set-up (minus POE's crazy skill web).
The combat, however, has a new and interesting twist where your mouse/cursor movement dictates what's going to happen where. Swipe a swath of death across your screen to build a wall behind you, or erupt a path of fire through the mass of mobs in front of you. Either way: neat-o.
This style of gameplay was specifically built in order to accommodate handheld devices, such as your phone. Yes, you can play Lineage Eternal on your phone... as soon as it's available in the US, at least.
Release: Global closed beta begins Soon™ (sometime this winter), which means actual release should maybe be early to mid 2016, but that's not official anywhere, so don't use this as something to keep yourself warm with at night.
6. The Division
In the words of Mr. Torgue: PLOT TWIST. Here's the E3 gameplay demo.
Highly anticipated is Tom Clancy's: The Division, where the premise is that you're a regular person who's received special training (as part of The Division), and who is “activated” once New York falls into chaos after a virus is released on Black Friday that effectively leads to an apocalyptic scenario. Or, you know, maybe you're part of the problem and you'll gun down your teammates at the end of a quest and steal their loot.
The Division will be a FPS PVP Survival MMORPG stuck in perpetual Christmas. There will be no classes, only skill trees that you can scrap and redo as you see fit and the weapons and armors you accumulate – as well as a drone app for your tablet with its own special brand of gameplay.
Rather than typical talk-to-person quests, you'll have map objectives you can complete at any time. And though you can play alone, the PVP aspect of the game will essentially make soloing hard mode… so maybe find some friends and get your sleeper-agent murder hobo on.
Release: March 8, 2016
5. Tree of Savior
So, it looks basically like encounters I've had in every other MMO, but stylistically… freakin' adorable.
For fans of the original Ragnarok Online (of which, I'm willing to guess there's many, considering how often this title came up), one of the grandaddies of MMOs, the hype behind this game is that it is its “spiritual successor,” being masterminded by a former lead designer of the original RO – Kim Hakkyu – encompassing all that made RO what it was while bringing it into this decade.
It looks like an old school console adventure. You're going to be tiny and cute, and everyone's going to be tiny and cute and move in “2.5D” (as opposed to 3D), and there's going to be cute noises and big ugly-yet-cute monsters and coin explosions.
Release: Beta testing has begun and the release is slated for “2015,” but with the final quarter fast approaching and no official word from the devs, maybe this will be a Best Of 2016 instead.
4. Blade & Soul
At its core, it's the basic gear grind to raid concept with arena PVP thrown in, but the movement mechanics open a whole new dimension for combat, and are what will make this game a whole new sort of beast with letting you climb, glide, and zip around like your blood-thirsty yet super kawaii inner manic pixie has always wanted to. Alright, maybe it's a bit more majestic than that. The combat is heavily influenced by martial arts and a high fantasy disregard for the laws physics, which is the base formula for anything super awesome to look at.
Speaking of looks, vanity items appear to be a big slice of this game with a sea of highly stylized and hyper sexualized outfits (dem boob physics, yo) and crazy in-depth base character customization. It's incredibly pretty and will be free-to-play. Fans of Guild Wars 2 may do a couple of double takes when it comes to character models/hair and environment, but considering they share the same publisher, NCSoft, it's not a huge surprise. If their free-to-play model mirrors GW2's at all, then this game will absolutely be worth trying out.
Release: Expect it in the US sometime this winter.
The gameplay trailer. Clean, smooth, and feels good on the eye holes.
With Blizzard's take on their love for Team Fortress 2-style gameplay, Overwatch is a team-based shooter with basic group roles and match maps… mashed up with MOBA elements. Instead of guns, guns, and more guns, Overwatch will have a MOBA-sized multitude of unique heroes with ultimates to learn, all fitting into one of four roles, and this has resulted in gameplay that's entirely its own, with a push toward mobility based off of what the heroes themselves are meant to do… like fly. By no means is this supposed to be a “TF2 Killer” but it's definitely a new and different flavor to a favorite type of gameplay with a lot of potential for tons of fun.
Release: Beta begins on "Fall 10th," apparently. Thanks, internet. Thanks, reddit. From what I can gather, if it's not in beta as of today, it will be very soon, with "Fall 2015" being an actual official thing.
2. EverQuest Next / Landmark
The concepts in development. No wonder it's taking them so long.
Another grandaddy of all MMOs, playing EverQuest now seems like an absolutely primitive and masochistic endeavor by comparison to what's grown from its legacy. However, despite its caveman-esque game mechanics, EverQuest managed to masterfully created an environment, a feeling, that has stood up to every other game I've played since.
So of course I'm hardcore fangirling and dreading at the same time the prospect of EverQuest Next. The game will be returning to its roots, revisiting old EQ and Norrath, but with some lore and character twists. Gameplay-wise, it's building itself to be the largest sandbox MMO yet, though with a catch – EQN will be in two parts: EverQuest Next (the main game) and Landmark (the builder). It's highly ambitious and plans to include some support for Oculus Rift as well.
Release: As is the story with some games on this list and games that didn't make this list: ambition leads to setbacks (as does, in this case, SOE fracturing off into an understaffed Daybreak Games). If all goes well, look for it in 2016.
1. Black Desert
The combat movement trailer. I don't know about you, but it got my hotkeys tingly.
Voted the best MMO by worldsfactory.net at Gamescom 2014, Black Desert is being anxiously awaited in the US. A korean high-fantasy sandbox MMORPG by Pearl Abyss, the game will have two factions and a typical questing system, with exception of the small twist of having to work your way up to being able to talk to quest givers in towns; however, the game has incorporated new and interesting things into its gameplay to set it apart from other MMOs.
It has a parkour system, and momentum is a factor in the movement both in general and in combat (no more turning on a dime). The combat system is dynamic with the building of attacks and combos; meanwhile, the world itself is a living thing. There will be weather and it can be exploited for strategic gameplay purposes. It can also have an effect on a character – you CAN get cold. NPCs and mobs are influenced by the time of day or night. And for you sim-loving sim-lovers, there is instanced, customizable player housing.
And, being Korean, it's crazy pretty – from character creation to combat, with both looking absolutely spectacular.
Release: It should be fully available in North America in 2016, with the possibility of beta testing by the end of this year.
And that's it. Through prognostication and a little voodoo, these names were pulled from the internet and narrowed down, so mileage may vary per title. And, naturally, there were names that almost made it, but didn't quite – such as Skyforge, Camelot Unchained, and Unreal Tournament. I even considered GW2's upcoming Heart of Thorns expansion for how game-changing it should prove to be. There's just so much to look forward to! Hopefully, some of these titles will be the ones laying the groundwork for what's to come in the future of gaming.