Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

Archive for July 2010

Which free to play games are better? Facebook Games or Browser Games? I never really gotten into the whole “social game” / “Facebook game” scene, but I do know a lot of people who are hooked. I have friends and family that play Farmville and Mafia Wars from companies like Zynga and Playdom, but I never found these games to be fun. The thing I’ve noticed though is that these “casual social games” are surprisingly addictive. Just as addictive as any client based MMORPG or hardcore MMORPG like Dungeons and Dragons Online. Most of my friends that do play these social games play either Farmville or Frontierville, which are for some odd reason incredibly popular.

Which genre is better? Well, both are extremely convenient and accessible. You can play strategy MMORPGs like Evony and Caesary for 10 minutes here and there, and you’re good to go. You can do the same for games like Cafe World and Fishville. The beauty of these games is that they can be played in short 10 minute bursts. Traditional client based MMORPGs on the other hand cannot. Games like 4Story and Atlantica Online for example are usually played in bursts of 3+ hours at a time. More casual gamers can play for an hour here and there, but that’s usually the minimum – because just logging in and getting to a hunting spot can take up to 15 minutes. MMOs like League of Legends and Avalon Heroes are even worse, because you cannot play these games for 10 minutes here and there, because the average game takes upwards of 35 minutes at a time. Some games can take over an hour.

Facebook games on the other hand appeal to a much broader audience, because they can be played in very short bursts. Browser games have the same appeal as I mentioned before – at least for the most part. Actual MMORPGs like RuneScape from Jagex and FusionFall from Cartoony Network cannot be played in short bursts, as these kinds of games play more like actual client based MMORPGs than anything else. Whats surprising is that there aren’t any popular social games on facebook that play like actual client based MMORPGs. Just about every facebook game is designed to be played in short intervals. If say, the browser game Earth Eternal were ported over to Facebook, It could do very well.

Anyway. Which kinds of games do you prefer? Browser based games or facebook games? And which kinds of games? Personally, I’m sick of all the strategy games on browsers, so I play actual MMORPGs on it like Earth Eternal and RuneScape.

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The last few weeks of July have been pleasantly surprising for the free to play MMO / MMORPG scene. Valve released the free to play top-down shoot-em-up Alien Swarm, which is incredibly fun. It’s a completely free to play game that anyone can download and play right on steam. It plays a lot like Left 4 Dead, except with top down camera angle. It’s actually different than more traditional MMO shooters like Operation 7 from Netgame and Wolfteam from Softnyx, as its not first person and it’s a co-op game rather than a competitive one against other players. If you’re a fan of Valve’s work, there’s no reason not to give Alien Swarm a try. It was released in late July 2010, making it a new game.

Soul Master from GamesCampus is another really impressive new MMORPG released in Late July. Well not technically “Released” as the game’s closed beta began in late July, not the full release. Soul Master is a unique 3D anime inspired action MMORPG with strategy elements. Sounds pretty interesting, right? It’s actually a mix of GhostX from GameKiss, Pikmin on the GameCube and Age of Empires on the PC. Like Lunia, progression in Soul Master is completely linear. Players must complete a stage before being able to advance to a new one. Each stage can be played numerous times on different difficult settings, just like in Dragonica Online. Where the game really shines is its innovation though. No other game mixes action MMORPG gameplay with Pikmin like strategy. The game’s pvp is certain to be interesting with its original combat system.

Two other awesome upcoming MMORPGs which released their closed betas in late July are Zentia from ChangYou and King of Kings 3 from Gamigo. Legend of Edda from GamesCampus look awesome to. Wow, there are a lot of upcoming MMORPGs! Zentia is made by ChangYou who also makes Dragon Oath and Blade Wars while Legend of Edda is made by GamesCampus. They are the company behind Asda Story, MLB Dugout Heroes and a few other free to play games. Zentia is currently in closed beta as is King of Kings 3. These games should enter open beta within a month or two at most. Lets hope GamesCampus doesn’t pull a Camon Hero and delay indefinitely, as seeing a good game get delayed / cancelled is the worst feeling in the world. Well, one of the worst.

It’s a great time to be an MMO gamer. Why you ask? Because there are a boat load of awesome upcoming MMORPGs. OutSpark announced a few weeks ago that their action MMORPG Divine Souls will be entering closed beta on July 14. Unlike Outspark’s other games, Divine Souls has cool realistic graphics and intense combat. Their other game’s are largely anime inspired, think Fiesta Online and Secret of the Solsitce. Outspark also should be releasing Erebus: Travia Reborn, soon. Outspark isn’t the only MMOPRG publisher with some good upcoming games. OGPlanet announced Zone 4: Fight District on July 9, which is a fast paced fighting MMO that looks a bit like Lost Saga. Netmarble will be releasing Uncharted Waters online and GameHi is working on a cool kart racing MMO called Transpee. There are no set release dates on either of these games unfortunately, so I’m not going to talk too much about them.

The most exciting new MMORPG without a doubt is Vindictus from Nexon. Nexon actually announced a definitive release date for the game as well. It should be releasing sometime in fall, 2010. Those who want to try it out early can apply for the closed beta on the official Vindictus site though. I sort of hate closed betas, because characters get wiped. I’ll likely wait till open beta to jump into it. I think a lot of people are excited about Vindictus because it looks really different. The gameplay, especially its combat system, is supposed to be much different than traditional MMOs. It’s all action oriented and involves skill. MMORPG Players will actually need to aim attacks and dodge enemies. Nexon is also an incredibly high quality developer, so my expectations are high. I really enjoyed both MapleStory and Mabinogi, so I’m sure Vindictus will be fun. Another reason I’m excited about Vindictus is because Nexon isn’t known for “bloody” games. Vindictus will be reated M for mature, so I’m curious if Nexon call pull it off.

Obviously Vindictus is the most anticipated free to play game, but there are a bunch of other titles coming out soon that I look forward to trying. Games like Luvinia Online from Outspark and MKZ Online from GamersFirst. I want to try MKZ mostly because it’s an FPS game and I’m a total sucker for MMOFPS games for some reason. I don’t know why, but I find myself playing these kinds of games all the time.

I look forward to playing Vindictus the most. But MKZ Online looks neat too. I guess I’ll be able to play them eventually!

Aeria Games recently announced Legendary Heroes, a DotA inspired Fantasy MMORPG. Sounds interesting right? After playing and enjoying both League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth, I’m actually looking forward to Legendary Heroes. There’s one thing that concerns me though. These games set the Aeon of Strife genre bar really high, so it may be a bit tough to beat. I also played Avalon Heroes from Alaplaya, but that game was a total disappointment, but Alaplaya redeemed themselves with Land of Chaos Online (Loco) which is also like DotA, but with a unique action MMORPG style twist.

It’s not too surprising that Avalon Heroes was a disappointment. The game was developed by WeMade – the company behind Digimon Battle and Mir 2.Avalon Heroes has a very old interface and lousy graphics as well as totally unbalanced gameplay. One of the most important aspects of a DotA like MMORPG is balance, which Aeria Games better not screw up. DotA has some 75+ playable heroes which took 5+ years to balance. Legendary Heroes is expected to launch with 60+, so there’s bound to be some serious balance issues. I know Lost Saga from OGPlanet also launched with a bunch of balance issues, but luckily those were hammered out. The game also launched with very few heroes and OGPlanet added new ones gradually, as they made sure each class was balanced.

It’s fascinating to see how fast the Aeon of Strife genre has grown. DotA has been popular for a while, but other game developers only began copying it recently. I believe Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends were the first “DotA Clones”, but there are many more on the way now. Games like Runes of Magic and Allods Online copied World of Warcraft, so it’s no surprise other companies are copying the success of DotA. What makes Legendary Heroes cool though is that its playable heroes won’t be from a generic fantasy setting. Instead, it’s characters will be a random cast from Dracula to Beowulf. Based on the game’s official trailer, Beowulf apparently uses a Chainsaw, which in my book is awesome.

Aside from Legendary Heroes though, there are a bunch of other awesome upcoming MMORPGs on the way. ChangYou announced Zentia, GamesCampus is launching Soul Master soon and Uforia will be releasing Camon Hero in the coming weeks. The free to play MMORPG universe is heating up for the Summer.

It’s crazy how popular World War 2 themed games are on consoles. Just look at all the WW2 shooters and strategy games out there. Amongst gamers, the World War 2 setting is probably regarded one of the most over used. Even though its over used on consoles and traditional PC games, it’s fairly unique to the free to play MMO space. There really aren’t that many world war 2 themed games on the market. The only one I can think of off the top of my head is Heroes in the Sky from GamesCampus, and that one released on July 1, 2010 making it a new release. I guess the reason why World War 2 themed free MMOs never found their way to the market is because most of these games are developed in South Korea or China, which weren’t major players in the second great war. Chinese MMORPGs tend to focus on the “Three Kingdoms” era of Chinese history, which is why there are so many games with “three kingdoms” in their title including Heroes of Three Kingdoms, Warriors of the Three Kingdoms and Three Kingdoms: The Battle Begins. Korean MMOs on the other hand tend to have more cutsey graphics or realistic, but set in a fantasy world.

Since Western developers began embracing the free to play business model recently, MMO gamers should expect an influx of World War 2 themed games. Ubisoft plans on releasing Company of Heroes Online and Electronic Arts already released Battlefield Heroes, which although cartoony is set during World War 2. Even Eastern developers are starting to work on their own World War 2 themed games. WarGaming plans on releasing World of Tanks soon while ijji has already done a closed beta test for Karma: Operation Barbarossa – a World War 2 themed MMOFPS (The first of its kind). Aside from these announced titles, I’m sure both Western and Eastern MMO developers have plans to release other World War 2 themed games in the future.

I’m actually surprised there are no World War 2 themed “MMORPGs” on the market. You’d think that with 100+ fantasy themed MMORPGs on the market, someone would release an MMORPG set during World War 2. Come to think of it, there are very few modern (calling World War 2 modern is a stretch, I know) themed MMORPGs out there. In fact, I don’t think there are any. Second Life may qualify, but that’s more of a sandbox game than anything else and has both fantasy, sci-fi and modern elements in it. I’m actually curious now why there aren’t any modern themed MMORPGs out there.