The list of online/multiplayer games is shorter than expected this year, mostly because I attributed various games that qualify for it to their respective base genres. But even so, 2017 has a lot of online action to offer from the customary MoBAs to fully-fledged MMOs.
Release Date: Q2-Q3, currently in Early Access
Battlerite is an online skill based arena brawler from Stunlock Studios, the makers of Bloodline Champions.
The game is built on the skeleton of its predecessor with the same top down camera and similar action controls using the keyboard for movement and the mouse for aiming abilities. Most abilities are skill shot requiring fast reactions, careful aiming and even enemy movement prediction giving Battlerite’s gameplay a high skill cap and a great potential for eSports. There is no farming required to get better items or level up abilities, all players are equal and the builds for each champion come from battlerites, ability enhancing traits that players choose from at the beginning of each round. The game has a decent variety of champions split into three categories: melee, ranged and support, as well as multiple arena style maps with various layouts fit for 2v2 or 3v3 matches. There is also a cosmetics system working with the built in character progression and microtransactions.
Battlerite is an extremely promising game which has sold of 500,000 copies since its Early Access release in mid-September 2016. I sunk many hours in this game and I continue playing it on a daily basis. The player base drop in the last month doesn’t scare me as the game has been constantly tended to with balanced patches or content updates. The developers are currently working on the biggest update yet, planned for mid-February. Battlerite is also intended to be a free to play game and it will become so later this year when Stunlock Studios are convinced that it has enough content to support its business model.
Release Date: TBA, currently in CBT
The skirmish concept popularized by World of Tanks has grew over the years and Yager Development is using it to create a game featuring gigantic space ships engaging in a battle of tactical maneuvers and skill.
I had the chance to test this game since the beginning of the closed beta and it shows great promise. The battles are slower paced and more tactical than what World of Tanks or Armored Warfare have to offer and the combination of ship classes and abilities works wonders. The visuals are pretty impressive as well, being powered by Unreal Engine 4 the game renders pretty good particle effects and environments depicting awesome futuristic battles in the lower atmosphere of planets or in space.
I’m not someone who enjoys the tedious progression system featured in this type of games, but I liked Dreadnought’s gameplay and I want to see more from it. Sadly, a recent update has forced a terrible grind onto the players diminishing the player base considerably. I’m hoping the developers will listen to the players’ complaints and address this issue as it will be a shame if this game doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.
Escape from Tarkov
Release Date: TBA, currently in Alpha
Behind Escape from Tarkov’s initial appearance as an online shooter hides a survival game with elements borrowed from MMORPGs.
Set in the almost deserted post Soviet Union city of Tarkov, the game is combining elements from DayZ and Destiny into a compelling survival shooter with an extremely detailed loot component and an RPG skill progression. Players will be able to explore different instanced areas of the city called raids, some extremely large while others being nothing more than a building, and scavenge for loot. AI controlled enemies are roaming these areas as well as other players which makes each raid incursion a thrilling hardcore experience where you can escape with new items or lose everything. The big selling point of this game is the unmatched gun play which allows for different animation stances and an advanced shooting system that’s extremely realistic. The itemization greatly complements the combat allowing players to build their own weapons from parts and customize them the way they want with different barrels, stocks, scopes, foregrips and much more. The RPG character progression is similar to The Elder Scrolls games allowing players to level up their skills, e.g. lock picking, the more they use them, the twist being that skills lose levels if they are not constantly used.
Escape from Tarkov is a mix of multiple concepts in a setting that greatly resembles STALKER but rooted in reality and with a narrative that gives meaning to the player’s actions and why they try to escape this city. There will be no microtransactions and no unfair business to give players advantages, but DLCs are expected to come out after release, most likely expanding the city with new areas to explore. Escape from Tarkov has an undeniable potential and I’m dying to test this game out.
Release Date: TBA
Absolver is a Souls inspired martial arts RPG brawler from the indie developer Sloclap, composed of former Ubisoft Paris employees.
The players will take control of a masked warrior under the control of the new rulers of the fallen Adal Empire fighting to determine if they are worthy to join the Absolvers, a peacekeeping organization. The character progression requires picking a style and a weapon of choice as well as configuring a deck-like system of combat techniques. The game features a fluent combat system in which players alternate between 4 different stances to deliver devastating attacks or avoid dangerous combos in PvE or PvP battles.
Absolver is the debut title for Sloclap and has been in production since May 2015. The game is set to release later this year featuring exclusive content for PS4.
Arena of Fate
Release Date: TBA
Crytek has been expanding its development to new genres and in 2014 the studio announced Arena of Fate, a free to play MoBA developed by Crytek Black Sea. The studio was closed in 2016, due to the publisher’s financial problems, but the game hasn’t been cancelled.
Arena of Fate is a classic style 5v5 MoBA with a 20 minutes time limit and a slight change on progression. The gold gained throughout the match can be spent to acquire new traits which enhance the hero’s capabilities. The hero’s roster features of over 30 characters from literature, history or legends split between 7 different roles including heroes specialized on destroying or defending lane towers.
Arena of Fate is currently in Closed Beta and as of yet no announcements have been made about a potential release or the continuation of development after Crytek Black Sea was shut down.
Release Date: TBA
Camelot Unchained is a MMORPG partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign that helped raise over 2,200,000$.
As a spiritual successor to Dark Age of Camelot, the game will focus on large scale PvP with new mechanics to enhance the experience. The main feature is the Three Realms, a persistent world split between three factions where the cities are built by the players part of a never-ending war for supremacy. The players will have to defend their settlements, burn the ones of their enemies and engage in a PvP/PvE battle in the TriRealm dungeon.
Craft, build, defend and conquer in a game with a reactive combat system where spells can combine for new effects. Camelot Unchained feels like a pretty hardcore PvP experience where not only the player’s skill but also the community will play a crucial role.
Release Date: TBA
Without trying to hype things or get myself too hyped, Crowfall is the MMORPG I’m eagerly waiting for to change the familiar landscape of Guild Wars 2.
At the first glimpse Crowfall looks like any other 3rd person MMORPG with some similarities in visual design to World of Warcraft, but past this point everything this game has to offer is extremely unique. It all starts by jumping over the leveling part straight to the end game and by changing the classic MMO worlds for a system of campaigns. Five in number, each campaign is procedurally generated and has a unique set of rules that define it. The campaigns go through a cycle of life and death as well as seasons which drastically affect the gameplay. When the campaign ends everything is gone except the player’s characters which can travel to new worlds with a new cycle and abide by new rules. Campaigns can last from 1 month to a full year and the only one that won’t be affected by time is Eternal Kingdoms which holds the housing. To join a campaign players have to choose between the three races which include the customary humans, but also unique sub-races like minotaurs or centaurs. The classes are many, each unique in style and adapted for a more action oriented combat system.
The features of Crowfall are many and I won’t go as far as to mention them all, but the intriguing ones involve pantheons and physics based siege battles.
As a MMORPG consumer it is hard not to get sucked in by the hype generated by Crowfall’s great potential and a funding of over 10,000,000$ stand as proof to that.
Release Date: TBA
Announced in 2011 as a sequel to the original Lineage which was released in 1998, Lineage Eternal has suffered numerous delays to the point I thought it will never come out. But the project is alive and kicking, currently in a closed beta test in Asia.
This MMORPG with a Hack & Slash flavor takes a bit of artistic inspiration from Diablo 3 mixing it with some actiony gameplay into an attractive package, which hopefully doesn’t have the crowded UI that comes with Eastern online games.
Despite its isometric camera, Lineage Eternal will have all the common elements associated with an MMO. The game features an open world environment suitable for questing and PvP, randomized dungeons, raids and the mandatory organized PvP in the form of arenas.
The stream of videos from the closed beta show a good looking game with varied classes and some pretty epic boss battles. NCSoft has promised that Lineage Eternal will launch simultaneously around the globe, so westerns have no reasons to worry about other than more postpones.
Mirage: Arcane Warfare
Release Date: TBA
Chivalry is getting a younger and more distant cousin in the form of Mirage: Arcane Warfare, another first-person skirmish game with a medieval style from Tom Banner Studios, but now set in a fantasy world.
In a world ruined by civil wars players will have to choose between 6 different classes and engage in savage battles in a setting heavily inspired from Arabian and Persian culture. A skill based combat system which combines steel and magic urges the players to get creative in a battle of reflexes and wits as they try to severe the limbs of their opponents.
Chivalry is a one of a kind and many players enjoy it even today more than three years after its release. Building on the foundation lain by its predecessor but with a new setting and more refined gameplay mechanics, Mirage: Arcane Warfare could be a real success.
Release Date: TBA
Playerunknown is one of the winners of Make ARMA Not War contest with the Battle Royale mod. He later went on working on a similar project for H1Z1 and now has been signed up by Bluehole, known for Tera, to create Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds.
In the well-known style of the mode the game has 64 players spread throughout an island scavenging for resources, gear and weapons. As the roaming area shrinks, players are pushed towards fighting until only one is left alive. The game features a considerable amount of gear and weapons as well as a few vehicles to have fun with and the performance during a match is rewarded by a character progression system.
Battlegrounds looks like a mix of the two projects Playerunknown has worked on with ARMA-like gameplay mechanics and a bit from H1Z1’s visuals. The Battle Royale mode is generally popular and I see no reason that Battlegrounds won’t do well.
Sea of Thieves
Release Date: TBA
The pirate game we were all waiting for is finally happening. Sea of Thieves is an online action-adventure developed by Rare using Unreal Engine 4.
We can finally crew up with friends and other players online to take control over a keel in a highly co-op focused game that requires each member of the crew to do their part. Collect resources for crafting, hunt for treasures and fight against other players in a seamless world of vast dangerous waters and not too friendly lands.
Sea of Thieves is one of the most highly anticipated games of this year and the buccaneers’ hopes are riding on with it.
Online gaming is looking good! MMOs are back in force with new games that try to break free of the outdated recipe which has pushed players onto new genres, while MoBAs and online survival games are not the sole attention of developers anymore. Either you like to grind for gear or tremble at the thought of losing all your stuff, play against other players for glory or engage in large scale battles for fun, this year has you fixed.