In life I am known as Adam Tingle, a mild mannered gap year student with a grudge against the modern world and a temper to accompany all things casual. I have no special abilities, I cannot commit to heroic deeds, I have just one party trick which includes double-jointed bones and a bendy neck. In short I am a little unspectacular.
If you were to approach me on one of many online virtual worlds, however; I am a man of courage and bravery, good will and greater deeds. I am Jarvidor of Middle Earth; a level 48 Guardian with a taste for wild-life genocide. I am Tingler of Azeroth; a level 57 Paladin with a magic sword and a passion for leather working . In short, I am a nerd of epic proportions. But that isn’t the point.
Since purchasing my beloved PlayStation 3 around six months ago, one thing has kept me from completely claiming this device as my one and only. This lone crusader that has kept me bound to my PC is the genre known as Massively Mutliplayer Online Role Playing Games. While it will never inspire greatness or excitement from its title, it will encourage the goblin lovers amongst us to arousal.
Since a tender age this genre has captivated my attention, strolling through a sprawling digital landscape claws at my imagination like no other. Meaningless trails to level caps conjure tales of mirth and adventure. For those of us who have tasted this heavenly ambrosia of gaming, we are hooked and addicted, under its thrall asking for more and more. We are the consumed.
It seems odd that a genre that commands multiple millions of dependent gamers is restricted almost entirely to the PC format. Apart from a few subpar Phantasy Star Online titles I fail to name more than a handful of MMORPG’s that have made the switch to consoles. I simply refuse to believe this is due to the climate of taste that console gamers stick by.
In all logic, the PS3 is very well adapted to the MMORPG genre. Built in capabilities for Wireless Internet; free usage of the PlayStation Network; countless gadgets, such as clip on keyboards and head sets. As PlayStation fans, we are well equipped to reach for Goblin slaughter and virtual oblivion.
So with all this aside, what can PS3 owners expect in the way of Online Roleplaying in the coming months and years? Well surprisingly, quite a lot actually. Leading the charge of impressive androgynous Elf play is Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV.
For all of those familiar with the somewhat mixed bag of Final Fantasy XI, its sequel seeks to readdress certain elements which left players a little confused and scared. The Job System, now known as the Armoury System, has been refined and worked upon. A player can become whatever they please with a simple swap of equipment. This makes for great free-form gameplay and also removes the restrictions imposed by your average class system.
Final Fantasy XIV focuses less on group play and allows for the unsociable amongst us to flourish. Solo play has sought a balance with group play and it seems that Square is shaping their latest online outing to be as accessible and enjoyable as the best of them. Taking influence from World of Warcraft, Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, Final Fantasy XIV looks set to conquer the minds of JRPG and casual gamers alike. Expect land masses the size of Africa and epic adventure sometime 2010.
It seems almost confusing that the PS3 doesn’t have a number of MMORPGs splattered amongst its catalogue of games as of yet. Sony themselves are known for revolutionizing, and to an extent, creating the massively multiplayer genre that we know and love today. Its time that we introduce Sony Online Entertainment and their hidden bag of tricks.
Free Realms, DC Universe Online, The Agency and hushed rumors are coming from this development giant. Starting with the former, Free Realms is a free-to-play MMORPG that’s already available for the PC. Although its visuals border on the childish, the game is unexpectedly full of charm and entertaining gameplay. For those of you that love a freebie, Free Realms is one to watch.
Another game from SOE that’s sure to excite is DC Universe Online. While this is not the most original title to the hit the market (City of Heroes and Champions Online) it does sound more ambitious than its released peers. Choosing to start in either Metropolis or Gotham City, you’re able to create either a hero or villain and impress yourself upon an unparallelled interactive world that dynamically changes to player actions.
Expect plenty of spandex, laser bolts shooting from several orifices, questing with Superman, Batman and many of the most adored DC super heroes and villains. The release date for DC Universe Online is set for April 2010, but in my infinite wisdom I would expect it a tad later.
Finally the last major title to come out of SOE in the coming months is The Agency. While this game is more MMO than MMORPG, it’s shaping up to be something quite unique. On paper the game sounds like an epic game of Team Fortress 2, of sorts. On creating your character you can choose from two orginasations; U.N.I.T.E, a sort of goody goody agency; or ParaGON, a mercenary army with any customer in mind.
The game will see you traveling to various hubs taking on missions solo or with friends to pop caps in some muthas. The core of the game is gunplay and SOE are stressing that The Agency will play like a shooter and not some horrible RPG/FPS hybrid. This is expected sometime in 2010 as well.
Now for the rest, although some are not yet confirmed for the PS3, it would be silly for us to think that they won’t eventually come its way. On this front we have the possibilities of Champions Online and Age of Conan. While the latter has stuttered and stalled at launch, Funcom’s MMORPG has picked up pace and is now delivering a gameplay experience that’s high in its entertainment value and addictiveness. Still the game’s console port is reportedly a year behind schedule, but we’ll pin it to 2010.
So if you’re an online role playing fanatic like myself, plenty of games are shuffling their way to release. 2010 is shaping up to be a great year for virtual hijinks so get yourself ready, mould a comfortable dark space and create yourself a fantasy alter ego. There are Goblins to kill and armour to be made.