I got to the point where I have to talk about the time consumers: online games. I’ve been sinking a dangerous amount of time playing online, so, naturally, I was interested to see what the year 2018 has in store. This list might not be so big, but keep in mind that I’ve already listed plenty of games with an online component in previous articles:
Sea of Thieves
Release Date: March 20
Sea of Thieves is an online action-adventure with pirates. Just by taking a short look at Sea of Thieves it has become obvious that Blackwake was a source of inspiration, however the former comes with the much needed production value and the marketing power of Microsoft.
In Sea of Thieves the players work together to control and maneuver a keel to navigate an open environment searching for treasures and engaging in sea battles. The keel gameplay seems complex and refined requiring each player to assume a role for optimal control. However, the overall gameplay features seem to be lacking. There is a simplistic ground combat system and a series of quest that revolve on solving riddles to find treasures and escape with them. There isn’t a defined progression system, be it for the character or the ship, so it is hard to tell where this game is heading exactly. Its charms reside in a visual design that’s cartoonish yet capable of rendering the most beautiful and agitated sea I’ve seen in a video game.
Sea of Thieves seems like an entertaining game to play with friends. However, a Microsoft Store exclusivity and the raising questions about content do put me in doubt. I’m ready for a cooperative experience involving pirates, yet I’m not willing to pay 60$ without knowing exactly what I get.
Release Date: May 8, currently in Early Access
Funcom is a studio that had its ups and downs over the course of its existence, but it’s banking some great licenses that many players want to see put to good use. Such is the case with Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian which was successfully turned into an online survival game.
Conan Exiles draws heavy inspiration from Ark: Survival Evolved which in turn took quite some inspiration from Rust. But each of these games has evolved on its own due to a focus on certain unique elements that separate them. In the case of Conan Exiles, that element is its universe. Saved by Conan himself, the players have to make the best out of the chance they were given. Gather resources, build bases and fight other players to survive in a dangerous and unpredictable wasteland. The gameplay is violent and brutally hardcore and grouping with other players increases the chances to succeed. The work of days can be turned into ashes in a night and nobody is safe from the power of the gods.
Conan Exiles has been quite well received by the community, selling more than 600,000 copies in less than a year and it’s now preparing for a full release.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Release Date: Q1
Fatshark is making up for everything that was lacking from End Times – Vermintide with its sequel, Warhammer: Vermintide 2.
The 5 heroes return now with 5 careers available for each of them and a progression system that’s not relying solely on itemization. Talent trees and abilities have been added to allow players to define their play styles. But don’t worry, the itemization still plays a key role with new loot and crafting items being awarded after each mission. With all these empowerments for the heroes, new enemies were necessary and the Chaos forces join the Skaven in their effort to ravage the world. Prepare to face Chaos Warriors and Chaos Spawns alongside other powerful enemies and challenging bosses.
Warhammer: Vermintide 2’s gameplay videos and list of features showcase a game that’s improved in every aspect. Even the visuals haven’t been left behind with the switch to Unreal Engine 4 making a visible difference. I’m quite excited to pick my hammer and gun and fight to save the Empire!
Skull & Bones
Release Date: Q2/Q3
Ubisoft is tapping into the waters of online naval combat with Skull & Bones. The game takes place during the Golden Age of Piracy and has the players struggle for the supremacy over the Indian Ocean as pirate captains of their own fleet. From the comfort and safe harbor of the personal hideout, the players can pick and customize class-based ships and recruit crews in preparation for their next heists. Alone or together with up to 4 other captains, you can plunder the seas, attack trade routes and fight enemy captains or the dangers that dwell in the depths of the ocean. The combat is more on the spectacular side with a more arcade approach for clear entertainment value.
Skull & Bones has some impressive features and I’m not sure how they will work altogether. But considering the market for progression driven skirmish games is quite crowded, the scale and PvE elements could give Skull & Bones an edge.
Release Date: TBA
The designer of the incredibly popular Payday series is now at the helm of a new studio working on a new game. GTFO is a co-op FPS and the debut title for 10 Chambers Collective.
Join a team of scavengers exploring a vast underground complex in the search for rare artifacts. Fight nightmarish monsters in a coordinated attempt to extract with the artifacts. Collect better gear to take on harder challengers while trying to find answers about your past.
The combination of futuristic and horror elements make for a setting with limitless options, a huge advantage for a PvE oriented game. The graphics seem to complement the setting and gameplay by building up the tension through an atmospheric visual design. We don’t know exactly what more to expect from GTFO other than the few guidelines provided by the developers. But if the success of Payday tells us anything is that GTFO is in the right hands.
Release Date: February 9 Alpha
DEAD DOZEN is one of those rare online multiplayer games with a rather asymmetrical gameplay. A group of 12 players are trapped in an old soviet facility forced to cooperate for survival. Loot equipment, barricade doors and fight against the ghouls rushing to kill you. But don’t worry, death is not the end in Dead Dozen. Upon dying, players transform in ghouls themselves trying to eat their old teammates.
Release Date: Early 2018
I’ve been talking about Crowfall every time I had the chance. This ambitious MMORPG is set on reinventing the genre by adding new concepts and is soft launching this year. This doesn’t mean Crowfall will be complete, but it will take years until the game turns into the refined Game of Thrones experience everyone is expecting it to be. So the developers have taken the decision to open up the game to the public while still heavily working on it.
With the soft launch we can expect all the cool races and classes so we can experience the skill based action combat and the game’s unique progression system. Some campaigns will be available using a procedural generation to build worlds by combining crafted assets. These campaigns will be player driven experiences where guilds will build and conquer on their quest for world dominance.
It’s hard to go through all the features Crowfall has to offer in just a few sentences, the complexity of this game exceeds that of most MMORPGs I’ve played. But even with a soft launch, Crowfall will provide plenty of content.
Escape from Tarkov
Release Date: TBA, currently in Closed Beta
Two years after having stepped into Alpha, Escape from Tarkov is preparing for a full release. To be perfectly honest, I’m a bit skeptical about this. As someone who plays Escape from Tarkov every day, I know the game is quite a long way from what the developers have promised. However, there is a reason I fight my way through this inescapable city every day and that’s a gameplay experience like no other.
Escape from Tarkov is a crossbreed between simulator, loot shooter and narrative driven MMORPG. The abandoned city of Tarkov consists of a series of raids consisting of PvP and PvE. The players have to fight through, loot and extract or die risking the permanent gear loss. A series of tasks give a narrative context to the action and slowly leveling skills provide the character’s improvements necessary to survive. To fight you need guns and Tarkov has plenty, detailed to the smallest screw and customizable from trigger to the last extension of the barrel. Almost each gun can be torn apart and built anew using new and better components enhancing its combat capabilities. This plays an important role into the shooting mechanics which are as immersive and realistic as shooting can get in a video game.
Escape from Tarkov is a love or hate kind of game, but if you can find your way around the hardcore and complex gameplay, you’ll find an experience like no other. There are obvious problems for a game that’s still in development, but the package here is unbelievably promising and I really want this game to deliver.
Wild West Online
Release Date: TBA, currently in Early Access
MMO games have used a commendable amount of settings over the years, despite fantasy remaining the most predominant one. However, I can’t recall any game taking place in the Wild West.
Wild West Online is an open world MMO in which the choices are left to the player. The notion of hero or villain is not a preset, but rather a result of the player’s actions. Fight for the law or against it or just mind your own business trying to get rich in a non-violent way, but beware, your actions can have drastic consequences. A system of reputation and bounties will ensure that those on both sides of the law will be treated accordingly. But while PvP is at the heart of the game, there should be plenty to do for those who want a more PvE oriented experience. NPCs will grant various missions and role-playing focused servers will be a thing. There’s also a series of free updates planned which will provide more content for the players, marking the game’s first season.
Wild West Online’s limited budget doesn’t make this game any less ambitious, being another welcomed departure from an MMO framework that has become tiresome. The game is available through Early Access on the official website since November 15, but the game could come out this year.
World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth
Release Date: TBA
I might be done with World of Warcraft, but this MMORPG is still going strong after more than a decade, with another expansion in the horizons called Battle for Azeroth.
The conflict between Alliance and Horde doesn’t seem to end despite the latest invasion attempts from the Burning Legion. Three new races will join the fight for each faction as Zandalar and Kul Tiras open up their gates for exploration. A new mode inspired by Warcraft RTS named warfronts will serve as a cooperative experience in the effort to strengthen each faction. Level up to 120, customize your gear with titanic might and get ready for new dungeons and raids.
For the players held captive by the mighty World of Warcraft, Battle of Azeroth is yet another reason to continue on. For me it seems like the story is stuck in its ways, but as someone who still follows the Warcraft lore, I’m waiting for this expansion to surprise me.
Release Date: TBA
There have been plenty of successful crowdfunding campaigns for space games and still we barely have any to play. Dual Universe is a single-shard (one server) sandbox MMORPG with a player driven economy, trading, politics and warfare. Imagine an EVE Online in which the players can fully control their ships and have their own character to explore planets and interact with the environment. Dual Universe is a game of gigantic scale, starting from secured zones where players are under the protection of NPCs and expanding to uncontested solar systems where new organizations can establish their dominance. Ships, space stations, vehicles and cities, this game has them all, providing the right platform for a world that’s evolving based on the player’s actions.
Explore the universe, build bases, trade, form or destroy alliances and take part in ground and space battles. Dual Universe is the kind of game that space enthusiasts like me have been dreaming for since Freelancer. Let’s just hope (again) that the developers at Novaquark can turn our dream into reality.
Release Date: TBA
2D MMOs are a rare sight nowadays, but once in a while a promising one pops ups on the radarand this year it is Dead Maze.
Dead Maze is a free to play isometric MMO with plenty of survival elements taking place in a world ravaged by the zombie apocalypse. Team up to fight the hordes of undead while scavenging for any resources. Monitor your thirst, hunger and fatigue and build your own camp to increase your chances for survival.
By now many players are fed up with the zombie themed games. But while I played my fair share of them, I still think there is plenty of creative territory left unexplored and Dead Maze is stepping into the unknown.
It’s tormenting to see so many attractive online games knowing my limited time and commitment to already existing games. It’s challenging to deal with this ever expanding part of gaming, but there is a lot to miss out if ignored. I guess I’ll have to be selective with the online games that will get my attention in 2018.