With the massively multiplayer online roleplaying scene dominated by such giants as Lord of the Rings Online, Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, and Eve Online, a number of obscure MMORPGs worth a look might have slipped through the cracks or suffered the fate of such giants as City of Heroes and Star Wars Galaxies were it not for their loyal communities. Among the MMORPGs besides those already listed currently enjoying prominence are Rift, Aion, The Secret World, Guild Wars 2, and Dungeons & Dragons Online.
With the battle of the MMORPGs threatening to heat up with the imminent release of The Elder Scrolls Online, a number of offbeat MMORPGs might slip even further into obscurity were it not for a strong fan base. However one can only look to the examples of City of Heroes and Star Wars Galaxies to know that a loyal community is no guarantee of survival in the MMORPG arena. Granted, the demise of those two games had somewhat skewed causes, such as not wanting to compete with newly released MMOs in the same vein. Such was the case in Galaxies making room for Star Wars The Old Republic. In the case of City of Heroes, it was the misconception that somehow that game would diminish the player base for NCSoft’s newest title Guild Wars 2.
So here are a few MMOs that might be worth a look, all free to play:
This is as close as it gets to a Fallout Online though it is more reminiscent of the original title that spawned the Fallout franchise, Wasteland. The game is set in post-apocalypse America and features the usual baddies: mutants, raiders, mutated creatures and other assorted dangers. The player also have the option to craft vehicles, weapons, and armor from gathered/salvaged materials.
Licensed by the SyFy channel, this space combat sim based on the wildly successful gritty reboot of the 70s Battlestar Galactica, starring Edward James Olmos, has something unique that the other MMORPGs don’t: it’s completely browser-based. As would be expected, the first thoughts of a browser-based game are point-and-click limited animation of the characters. Battlestar Galactica is a full-blown simulation completely coded for browsers. Graphics and gameplay reveal an astounding level of complexity. The game is also strongly bent towards player versus player with the option to create either a Colonial or a Cylon.
Need an Eve Online fix but not the subscription fee? Taikodom is as close as it gets. The graphics are on par with that of Eve’s and is actually billed as a social game rather than an MMORPG that is space based. The usual is available in an MMORPG: upgradeable skills/equipment. Originally Brazilian, it has gained popularity since its English beta release in 2007 and currently enjoys a strong, some might say decidedly anti-Eve, community.
The first science fiction based MMORPG to be released, even after over 10 years, it still enjoys a fiercely loyal player base. The game has recently undergone a core game engine facelift to bring the graphics close to the level of modern MMOs. It is worth a look even if for no other reason than the diverse character class and intricate skill progression, on top of a huge gameworld experience.
Pirates of the Burning Sea
As would be suggested by the title alone, the setting is the height of the age of pirates on the high seas of the 1720 Caribbean. Once touted as a sea-based Eve Online, it has an element currently not present in Eve: ground-based quests. As in Eve and many other MMORPGs it has a player-driven economy. Graphics, though rich and detailed, tends to be a bit skewed where the avatar is concerned, but that in itself is refreshing.
Other obscure MMORPGs exist, both good and not-so-good. Also a nod to Guild Wars which, though not quite obscure, still enjoys a strong playership. The trend for most MMORPGs these days is to have an umbrella company to reside under, such as Perfect World. Still, many obscure MMORPGs deserve at least a look to fit the tastes of most gamers.
Editorial by Lee Birdine