MMORPGs To Watch In 2016
While the influx of new MMORPGs has slowed to a trickle in comparison to the market of years ago, continual support, new content, expansions, and renovations continue to make the genre one of the most compelling offerings on PC.
This feature was originally published on February 22, 2016.
While some of today’s best offerings are also available on console, the roster of titles available on PC is deeper than ever and allows players to pick a title that syncs up perfectly with their own personal playstyles and interests. While this list is by no means an attempt to track every single MMORPG out there – there are so many right now – we’re looking at titles that we think are worth watching this year. Titles are listed in no particular order or ranking.
World of Warcraft
While Warlords of Draenor found plenty of vocal opposition to its “anti-social” garrison structures and questionable crafting changes, this year’s Legion promises to restore massive faith in the game through a variety of new systems and structures. The Demon Hunter class is sure to conjure up a legion (ho ho ho) of Illidan acolytes, gliding through the air with fury. Even more interesting than the new class is the inclusion of artifact weapons that grow in power and change appearance as players move through new content.
These artifacts form a new sort of talent trees that players can dump points into and reach new levels of customization and class-specialization uniqueness. One of the goals of Legion is to make sure each class specialization is its own flavor again, something the recent years of expansions have somewhat homogenized with sweeping class changes. With class halls, a level-up structure that allows players to tackle new zones and quests in any order, a broad dungeon basket for leveling up instead of strict level-assigned instances, and tons of other new things, Legion looks like it’s going to be a blast for those looking for the next chapter of Warcraft.
Tree of Savior
The “spiritual successor” to the once-lauded Ragnarok Online (which had a rather ill-fated second offering in Ragnarok Online 2) looks to bring back the cutesy charm, whimsical music, and fun-filled boss encounters of ages past. Whether or not this sort of job-centric, somewhat grindy MMORPG can survive in today’s environment remains to be seen, but after participating in the beta test my hopes are high that Tree of Savior can bring back some of that old-school charm and great gameplay that made Ragnarok Online one of the best MMORPGs to play so many years ago. Unique, shifting job classes, great co-operative gameplay and guild wars, and big bosses and dungeons defined Ragnarok Online. Let’s hope that Tree of Savior can capture some of that magic and bring it back in 2016.
Blade & Soul
NCSoft West’s martial-arts MMORPG may have plenty of generic monsters, quests, and other MMO fare, but the combat sets it apart from its competitors in a big way. Combo-centric combat that feels more like an active fighting game than a tab-target MMORPG allows players to grapple, launch, counter, parry, and much more in a fashion that’s fluid, fun, and extremely compelling.
Check out our full Massive on the game here. There’s a ton of content on the way this year, including the highly anticipated Warlock class.
Guild Wars 2
With the core game going full-on free-to-play and the expansion offering a wealth of new content and ways to engage with the game, Guild Wars 2 is in a strong spot in 2016. With the inclusion of guild halls, raiding, and more ways to experience endgame with alternate advancement and story participation, Guild Wars 2 maintains a unique style in a crowded environment. If you’re into PVP, Guild Wars 2 has plenty for your competitive spirit to shine.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Emerging from the ashes of an initial botched launch and complete overhaul, Naoki Yoshida’s vision of a Final Fantasy MMORPG has resonated with fans since, offering compelling and nostalgia-laden gameplay. With last year’s launch of Heavensward, players have been treated to even more fun Final Fantasy themed content, from flying chocobos to gambling at the Golden Saucer. More content rollouts and expansions are expected in the future for this subscription MMORPG.
Since Sony Online Entertainment transformed into Daybreak, we’re not entirely sure what we can expect moving forward on these two EverQuest-releated products. While what we’ve seen in prior years left us curious as to Landmark’s mixture of Minecraft and MMO and EverQuest’s Next’s A.I. systems looked incredibly interesting, we’re not sure when the next big news is going to come down the pipe. Maybe it will be this year!
WildStar has gone fully free-to-play, so anyone that was hesitant to try the lighthearted sci-fi take on the traditional MMORPG is now encouraged to do so. Featuring combat systems that require attention and timing, WildStar is one of several MMORPGs out there that has eschewed the tab-target system entirely in favor of fast-paced battles.
While the original game featured dungeons that were incredibly difficult and even somewhat inaccessible, many changes have gone into effect with the game’s redesign as it shifted to free-to-play, making the world more approachable and less suited for “old-school raider” types. While challenging content is still available, it’s not the only content out there.
While EVE is certainly still a destination for the hardest of the hardcore space pirates and corporations, it’s a lot easier to get into the game now than it ever has been. Granted, you still may find yourself staving off pitiful pirates and mining chunks of ore for some time before you’re ready to experience the meat of the game – diplomacy and intrigue backed up by massive ships – but taking your first steps into the space world of EVE can be breathtaking.
Whether or not you’ll stick around to be stabbed in the back by a shady dealer or lead your own fleet into a catastrophic, galaxy-changing battle is up to you, but the core game has continued to advance nicely with meaty, asteroid-sized content chunks.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
While Star Wars: The Old Republic has always had plenty of content to explore (well, all right. Maybe a little after release), things have become considerably more interesting this year as the story becomes a more focused part of the experience, with players able to enjoy a solo-centric path that lets them take in more of the lore and world as content trickles out over the course of the year. It’s always a challenge to incorporate single-player content to a MMO universe, but so far we’re interested in seeing what happens next, both for the story and the massive multiplayer world.
Black Desert Online
This game may be known more for its character creator than for its actual content at this point, but we’re looking forward to seeing how things fare for this title after launch this year. There’s no denying that Black Desert Online is a beautiful looking game, but does it have what it takes to compete in today’s environment? Is the content unique enough and does it have a compelling endgame? We’ll soon find out. While the game has been available in other countries for some time, it’s time for North America to get a taste this year. Of note is that Black Desert Online will launch as a “buy-to-play” title instead of the popular subscription or free-to-play MMO models.
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues
While Richard Garriot’s spiritual successor to the Ultima series can be played in a variety of ways, one of these ways is online with other players. Unlike many other MMORPGs, Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues will also feature a complete single-player mode for those looking to travel and interact with the world completely solo.
Potential cool stuff to do in the game includes purchasing persistent housing, crafting and gathering, and skilling up spells and combat maneuvers. We’ll see what Lord British has in store for us this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online
We didn’t really know what to expect from this one – things were sort of touch and go at launch. With a bustling console release and plenty of additional content coming over the course of last year, ESO is actually in a really great place for aspiring adventurers looking to cut their teeth in one of gaming’s most revered lore locations.
Check out our impressions on ESO from way back when – things have gotten more interesting and content continues to roll out at a pretty steady clip, so we’re definitely keeping an eye on this one in 2016.
Trion World’s fantasy MMORPG may not get mentioned in as many conversations today when it comes to MMORPGs as it once did, but it’s still a relevant free-to-play blast. Over the last few years, the content offerings have gotten quite interesting with the inclusion of pet systems, new souls (classes), and tons of new areas to tackle alongside the old concept of shutting down rift after rift. The endgame has been flush with challenging new content, while more casual players can enjoy seeing what goodies their minions bring back to them when they log in.