With 2012 looming on the horizon, the team at ZAM is thinking about the past, present, and future of MMORPGs. Up today is Staff Writer Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland!
We’re heralding the New Year with a personal examination of the MMORPG industry from the viewpoint of each member of the ZAM Network News and Editorial team. Writing today is ZAM Network Staff Writer Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland. Happy Holidays!
Be sure to check out the rest of ZAM's End-of-the-Year Introspective Series! Get to know the team at ZAM!
- Staff Writer Patrick "BakersMan" Do had a lot of fun with DC Universe Online, and is looking forward to TERA and MechWarrior Online.
- Staff Writer Mike "Krelumian" Schaffnit spent most of his 2011 embroiled in World of Warcraft and Dragon Nest, but he's hoping Guild Wars 2 will deliver for next year.
- Editor-in-Chief Chris "Pwyff" Tom mused about this year's big F2P shift, and he's quivering with anticipation for groundbreaking new MMOs like The Secret World and Firefall.
So goodbye and fare thee well, 2011! For me (your affable and dashing staff writer, Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland), the year opened with some planar rifts and went out with a lightsaber on a Speeder bike. I completed my first full year as a ZAM writer in October, and had the chance to sample several games I never would have heard about otherwise. There were joys and sorrows, trials and betas, but here's a look back at my favorites from 2011... and what I'm looking forward to in 2012. Besides the awesome end-of-the-world parties next December, of course.
2011 brought out a ton of new games, but Rift was the game I was looking forward to the most... Trion did not disappoint! Their flagship game is thriving, and has churned out more content in several months than some games do in several years. It's been one of the games I've reviewed the most, and I had the chance to meet the staff several times (shout-out to my fellow Telarans: MEEEEEAAAADDD!). Rift took an obvious approach to MMORPG creation (“If it ain't broke, don't fix it”) and then expanded upon it. Almost everyone with some online gaming experience who has played Rift has said “Hey, this part is like WoW/EQ2/Warhammer... but... better?” Of course, that doesn't mean much if you dislike those games (and they're all fine in their own rights). But I was impressed with Rift and likely will continue to be.
One of my favorite memories of the year was the Rift Extra Life fundraiser.
What I was not expecting to find was a free-to-play game with a lot of quality and almost none of the traditional RPG elements. Glitch turned out to be an amazing find. It drops the traditional HP/MP/swords and magic found in almost all the games we cover and focuses on online interaction. It's like a Facebook game but of much better quality; imagine a Facebook game that combines Kingdom of Loathing's humor, EVE's skill learning system and the Sims life management aspects. Then give it a smart-talking magical rock, piggies that love to be nibbled and some deities that look like an acid trip induced hallucination. Yeah, Glitch is awesome.
Not everything I reviewed was great, of course, and I try to be honest about that when I write my reviews. I was underwhelmed by LEGO Universe, although even I didn't expect them to announce the game's ending early in 2012. And some other games were just out of my sphere: World of Tanks and APB: Reloaded are both going to interest FPS and PvP players. However, I usually find myself as the victim in those situations, making my enjoyment of them quite limited. There were several particularly unappealing games from the Eastern markets as well, such as Ether Saga Odyssey. But that doesn't mean all of the games from Perfect World Entertainment were bad: Rusty Hearts ended up probably being my third favorite game that I beta-tested this year.
Having this game, but not having a computer to play it right, is TORTURE!
So, what do we have up next? On a personal note, I've ordered myself a new gaming computer that will arrive just after the holidays! I plan to test it with more Star Wars: The Old Republic (check out our SWTOR forums). I've had a taste so far, and it sounds great (literally sounds great: the music and the voice-acted quests and cut-scenes are my favorite parts). Guild Wars 2 is coming out and I'll be the first to admit that it makes me drool. Some of the games I've played from Beta will continue to grow and develop: Rift is always coming out with new content, Rusty Heats will be released, Glitch has one of the most active and friendly design teams ever and they constantly churn out new items, skills and content. While people will complain about World of Warcraft's Cataclysm expansion, I actually enjoyed most of it (of course, I don't raid much...), and I'm looking forward to seeing what their new expansion will bring. People might be talking about how “WoW is going down!” but it still has many millions of players more than almost any other online game out there. Don't count Blizzard out yet. Cataclysm was merely a setback.
New Year’s Resolution: Give my articles more of a personalized touch. Stating “just the facts” is fine and dandy, but boring as hell. And when it comes to trying games, interact more with other people. I play most of my online games like single-player games that sometimes require additional help. I want to focus on playing them for the social aspect: getting into guilds, making connections, running dungeons, forming groups. Really put the “Multiplayer” aspect back into MMO!
See you all in 2012!
Paul "LockeColeMA" Cleveland, Staff Writer.