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A Look At The First MMOs of 2011: DC Universe Online, Earthrise, RIFT, and Xsyon Earth 2012

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Posted January 19, 2011 - By Guest Writer




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A Look At The First MMOs of 2011

Last year we saw many MMOs launch from Hello Kitty Online to Final Fantasy XIV. All the while we’ve seen many more progress through beta, but never quite make it out of the gate before the end of the year. The new year is upon is now and we have four shiny new games scheduled for release in the first three months of 2011. Check out these titles that may be consuming all of your free time this winter. 

A Look At The First MMOs of 2011

DC Universe Online 

Sony Online Entertainment debuted their long awaited superhero MMORPG, DC Universe Online last week after pushing the launch date from November last year. Trumpeting the creative vision of fan favorite comic artist Jim Lee and a license from one of the big two American comic book publishers, this title went head on against existing superhero MMO titles, Paragon Studio’s City of Heroes and Cryptic Studio’s Champions Online. Unlike the other two titles, this one has interaction with well-known superhero creations such as Superman, The Joker and Batman, as well as PlayStation 3 compatibility to go with its PC playability.

More than that, DCUO is not just a game of hotbar ability cooldown timing like so many other MMOs. This is much more of a console game with its right-click/left-click attack system. The ability hotbar is there, but the standard auto attack is not except from your frantic mouse mashing. Like Nexon’s recent free-to-play MMO Vindictus, this title is geared for action.

One of the main draws of DCUO is your ability to interact with well-known superheroes and villains. In the character creation tool, these superstars of the superpowered set serve as your mentors. And once you get past the tutorial, you will be running into them, receiving quests from them, even fighting by their side. There are PvP armor sets modeled after your mentor so anyone on the playing field will know which side you play for. You truly feel like you are in their world.

A Look At The First MMOs of 2011

Earthrise

A scifi MMO centered on sandbox PvP with offline skill progression and intricate crafting? I’m not talking about EVE Online, but Masthead Studio’s Earthrise, scheduled to launch February 4, 2011 with a digital download option, a monthly subscription fee and a single world server. Game play in Earthrise is more in the style of Planetside’s first person shooter action, than EVE’s ship-to-ship battles and megacorporation espionage. There are no classes as the game relies on an open skill-based system to allow for the greatest flexibility of armor and weapon choices for the player.

PvP will include arena, free-for-all zones and guild rivalries. Players can buy insurance to protect their hard-won gear in the event of their untimely death at the hands of supern00bPWNZor. There are also PvE elements for those who don’t want to be non-stop ganking. The crafting system is intricate with loot that can be broken down into components and reconstructed into bigger, better and badder models. The economy will be driven by player-made goods.

There will also be PvE quests and exploration for those who like to discover far away places. And get one-shotted in those scenic locations if they stray too far out of the safe zones. With simple controls Earthrise may appeal to new gamers, while the planning and effort involved in controlling the planet’s powerful resources will appeal to the hardcore “raider” mentality. Either way, this title will face competition from last year’s post-apocalyptic MMOFPS Fallen Earth in a bid for players’ hearts and pockets.

A Look At The First MMOs of 2011

RIFT: Planes of Telara

Trion’s RIFT: Planes of Telara may at first seem like another fantasy RPG clone in the vein of EverQuest, World of Warcraft and those many, many other titles that have come before it. There’s the familiar classes, the endless gear grind, kill and fetch quests, PvP zones and all the usual trappings for the genre. But this fantasy MMO launching on March 1, 2011 has two stand out features that make it worth a second look: its class progression system and dynamic content.

Class progression is a multiclassing system that gives the player more flexibility in character ability and advancement than seen in more MMORPGs. Archetypes fall into the standard categories of warrior, cleric, rogue and mage. Once an archetype is selected you will be able to eventually choose three specialties out of eight available for each archetype. For mage, most of the specialities are the “blow stuff up in a spectacular fasion” dps focused. However, there is a healing specialty and a enhancement (group buffs) specialty for mages to choose from as well.

Similarly, rogues have both a dps and tank speciality, clerics have healing, dps and tank options and warriors have tank and dps choices as well. This allows for some serious mixing and matching to tailor your character abilities exactly the way you want them. Sure there will be the usual min/maxing power players, but I’ve always been drawn to rarely played classes and RIFT provides that kind of uniqueness. Plus, they brought back the Bard, a group enhancement rogue specialty that harkens back to the EverQuest class. But with less horrible, horrible grinding. I love you, EQ. Really.

Another facet of character progression is the skill tree. We all know and love the RPG skill tree with its agonizing prerequisites and flashy signature abilities. The RIFT twist here is this skill tree has roots. As you unlock abilities in the tree “branches”, other abilities and bonuses automatically unlock in a secondary tree below the main one. The branches are for customizing your character, the roots are core abilities and upgrades you need regardless to function in your role. Players will be spending endless hours theory crafting the best combinations and that’s a sign of an intriguing system.

Dynamic content is another strong suit for this title. Rifts are appearing all over the land and creatures from other planes of existence are spilling in to Telara. Players must slay the creatures and close the rift. What’s the big deal about that, you say? The rifts change the playing field constantly. One may open over your quest hub and you must battle it down before you can turn in your quest objectives. Another rift may hit a local town and you must group on the fly with nearby players to stem the flow of beasts pouring out of it. Small rifts, big rifts, random rifts, dev driven rifts on event weekends. Now, you’re starting to get the idea of the immediacy and fun of the game.

A Look At The First MMOs of 2011

Xsyon Earth 2012: The Prelude

And now for something completely different. No elves and orcs, spaceships and phaser blasters, superheroes and supervillains. Notorious Games’s Xsyon is nothing but pure, unadulterated, post-apocalyptic sandbox. You may have to read that last sentence a few more times. Allow me to explain.

The modern world has been wiped out and with it all technology, memory of technology, books on technology and anything else that would be above rubbing two sticks together to make a fire. As a settler in this brave new world, you choose how you want to live. Warrior, trader, crafter or farmer are all encouraged. Don’t like to fight? Become the leader of your settlement. Don’t like to be a leader? Set up a trade route. You can do what you like as the world around you expands and develops.

To some, this is far too open ended. If you like to know what to do and how to do it, any of the above mentioned games will serve you well. But if you want to forge your own way in an evolving world with no clear track to victory but what you decide with the help of others in a shared environment, Xsyon may be just the MMO you are waiting for. It launches March 1, 2011.

Of course, there's that MMO from a galaxy far, far away coming sometime this year, but these should keep you busy until then. What are you looking forward to?

A Look At The First MMOs of 2011: DC Universe Online, Earthrise, RIFT, and Xsyon Earth 2012
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