WoW Killer – An overused cliche applied to every big-name MMO to hit the market since 2004. A term guaranteed to generate hundreds of blog articles and thousands of hype-laden comments from everyone who insists that *this game* will be the one to dethrone World of Warcraft as the “King of all Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games”.
So you probably won’t see this added to the Oxford English Dictionary anytime soon, but if I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen or heard this term, I’d have enough money to pay for the development of my very own MMO. At the very least, I could buy the assets of 38 Studios and get the Kingdoms of Amalur MMO published. Just for fun, let’s have a look at the long and not-so-distinguished list of MMO releases that were hyped as our favorite cliche, shall we?
Aion – Hrm, buggy gameplay, derivative Asian-grinder-style game… Nope. Having NCSoft backing you doesn’t do much to make MMO players feel warm and fuzzy either. Seriously, if they’ll kill City of Heroes, how long of a leash do you think this game has? Destined to the great ash-heap of Asian Grinder MMO Clones. If you can explain the difference between this game, Lineage or Lineage II to someone who isn’t an MMO player then you seriously need to go outside.
Warhammer 40,000 – Puh-leeze. “EA” and “MMOs” go together like “Kim Dotcom” and “Salad Bar”. While I understand that Games Workshop was first with the whole “Orcs vs Humans” thing, EA was a few years too late to market with this game. It’s like World of Warcraft without all of the “Massively Multiplayer” action.
Rift – It’s a good game. Seriously, as much as I’d love to snark on this game. I can’t. It’s really good. Rift taught me that without your friends or “gaming buddies”, MMOs are just single player games with a chat room full of people you wouldn’t willingly associate with otherwise.
Lord of the Rings Online – Winner of the “As long as there are hardcore Tolkien fans, there will be players in this game” award. The biggest no-brainer MMO release of all time. Kudos to Turbine for taking the time to make a decent game anyway. If you’re a hardcore role player and you enjoy the world created by Tolkien, this is pretty much Nirvana for you.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – More proof that if EA were in charge of your life, you would meet a Swedish bikini team while hiking up a mountain of money, but, upon closer inspection, the bills would all be fake and the Swedish bikini team would have a scorching case of herpes. (No, I’m not bitter at all, why do you ask?) A Star Wars game that launched with space combat “on rails”, every single race being some color of humanoid (No Wookiees, seriously?!?), and every bit of money put into voice acting and single-player quest lines and you’ll find yourself with a dozen characters at max level and absolutely nothing to do. I look forward to coming back in two years when they’ve added enough end game content to keep me from getting bored in a couple of weeks.
Tera – If you’re a fan of the “Anime Aesthetic” then I’m sure you’ll enjoy this game. Of course, if you’ve seen an ACTUAL naked woman… Seriously, the “upskirt” point of view combined with a running animation that looks like the women of the world of Tera have fire extinguishers lodged securely in their nether regions makes this game a long term favorite of basement dwellers everywhere. I don’t want to come across as sexist so for those of you out there who prefer to look at brawny menfolk, I have good news. They look just like brawny menfolk do in every other game out there. Seriously, do an image search for “Tera” and tell me how many pages you have to go through to find a picture of any character that isn’t female or anthropomorphic.
Age of Conan – Another entry in the “I’m not bitter file”. I met a lot of the guys at Funcom during Dragon*Con and personal interest aside, it is one of the most beautiful, best sounding, innovative games I’ve ever seen. The combat controls are unique and the game wasn’t shy about profanity, nudity, or anything else that most game developers shy away from when trying to appeal to a mass audience. That said, it had way too many levels for the amount of content that was available at game’s launch. It should have launched with the same amount of content and a level cap of 50. Now that it is free to play, I highly recommend that you take a look.
and now… The Elder Scrolls Online.
As much as I love The Elder Scrolls games, I have no higher hopes than it will be a decent game that is fun to play for a while until the next big thing comes along. Anything beyond that is a bonus. The cold, hard truth is that World of Warcraft is a unique entity in the world of online gaming. There are lots of games out there that are really good and cost nothing to check out. Stop wasting your time looking for the next huge thing and find a game you enjoy and people you can enjoy it with.