The MMORPG genre has stagnated for years, but it’s not without its efforts. But to no avail, big-name studios have tried to create new iterations on the old formula, and millions of dollars have been pumped into Kickstarter dreams. Even so, the most popular game in the genre is almost two decades old while the second most popular, by the same formula, is coming to an end on its 10th anniversary. With that in mind, I don’t think the formula is the problem but rather the medium itself hasn’t evolved. The future of ‘next-gen’ MMORPGs really needs to be in the VR space or things might not change.
Desperate for change
With flash in the pan success New world and Lost beer keg, it’s clear that audiences are craving a new taste of MMORPG. They are willing to try anything that comes along and the companies with enough marketing power behind them have proven it.
New World hasn’t changed much between the last few beta tests and the official release, but that hasn’t stopped nearly a million people from buying it despite all the red flags. Since its launch, only 3 percent of its original population has been stuck.
While it hasn’t been much time to settle, it seems that Lost Ark is a bit more stable, possibly because it launched earlier and was successful in Korea. Regardless, this is an unprecedented number of active players for an MMORPG on release day, proving that a large, untapped [or at least disenfranchised] market still exists.
Revive Its Roots
While some players are constantly looking for the next best thing, others have turned their gaze back to the past: A simpler time where online games were encouraged. [forced] Players team up and interact with each other to overcome a common obstacle. Personally, I’ve fallen for this sentiment, “if only we had a visually updated version of Ultima Online or Old School RuneScape everything would be fine with the world.” As much as I’d like to think that’s true, it may not be the case. The archaic systems most of these games were built around have disappeared not because of an evil megacorp plot, but instead because they weren’t interesting in the first place or people simply is no time or patience now that more convenient systems have come into being. create.
Unfortunately, millions of dollars and liters of hope have been poured into crowdfunding projects like Crowd, Camelot Unchained, Chronicles of Elyriaand Shroud of the Avatar only to be dropped, or even completely burned, over and over again. The only real success story so far is Online Albion, has managed to cater to a very specific type of sandbox, heavyweight MMORPG player base. Who knows, maybe the next Kickstarter MMORPG will actually get everything right, but they haven’t gotten my $30 yet.
Look to the future
Now I hope I have convinced you [did you really need convincing?] that the MMORPG genre needs a change and has a very real audience looking for something new, let’s get to the point of this article. The next generation of outstanding MMORPGs must at least be designed with VR in mind. Until that happens, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV will continue to reign supreme while the next three or four most popular games battle for the pieces.
After spending thousands of hours over the last 20 years, logging into almost every MMORPG to come back to life, I simply have no faith that any dev studio can still change the recipe enough to create impact. If anything, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV have proven that formula works. In a high-level view, they are akin to games with popularity varying based on preference for a certain patch or expansion. The others [ESO, Guild Wars 2, Black Desert, RuneScape, Eve Online, The Old Republic etc.] managed to shake things up to some extent but cater to the right audience, rely on strong IPs or use gimmicks that don’t hold the audience’s attention for too long.
Therefore, the problem is not the formula. If that was the case, people would have stopped playing MMORPGs 20 years ago. However, that very vehicle has stalled. PCs and consoles, to some extent, can only become so immersive. We are no longer part of our characters as we were in EverQuest. Technology has improved, graphic fidelity is nearer, raids are more dynamic, but we’re still just a bunch of nerds sitting in front of a computer screen with a keyboard or controller in hand .
In VR everything is completely different. Sure, we still have controllers in our hands now, but those controllers are now extensions of our real arms. Instead of controlling your character, you are your character. You see what your character sees. You feel [through vibration] what your character feels. Some companies are even experimenting with smells in VR. This may not be a ‘full dive’ technology but is the first jump from controlling your character to being your character.
Our First Steps
My first interaction with a VR MMORPG was OrbusVR in 2017. I just finished watching Sword Art Online for the first time, purchased the original Oculus Rift and am ready to enter the VR world!
I may have set my expectations a little too high. The game’s system and movements are insanely messy, I can count the polygons on my enemies, and I get motion sickness after 30 minutes of playing. I keep emphasizing and while I realize OrbusVR is more of an experiment than anything, I see potential in the future and hopefully we’ll have a game that’s really worth the effort soon. private.
A little over four years later and we’re finally at the next step. Earlier this year, a new VR MMORPG called Zenith: The Last City released on Steam, Oculus and Quest 2. Despite the relatively small team, the developer [RamenVR] has put together a fully functional VR MMORPG that is really fun to play and explore.
For now, the game is still a bit behind the existing PC MMORPGs, but it offers a truly unique experience. The core gameplay consists of taking on a few quests, killing monsters, entering a public dungeon, and then moving to the next area. The cooking and crafting system is limited, and world events pop up regularly, but the core recipe is nothing short of something we haven’t seen a dozen times before.
What’s cool, though, is being able to travel through the world in first person while having full control over your character. The satisfying feeling of moving your arms to swing your sword and take down your enemies is something like never before. Instead of pressing tons of hotkeys, skills and spells are cast based on the movements of your actions. Instead of memorizing rotations, it’s a way of reacting to situations and learning muscle memory for effective attacks.
In addition to getting more involved in combat, exploration becomes rewarding again. Zenith itself may not be the prettiest game on the market, but there are still some interesting areas to explore, and seeing them in first-person VR isn’t like staring at a static screen. Finally, Zenith has also implemented hover, requiring control using both arms simultaneously similar to the Iron Man suit. It’s a bit of a hassle at first but defeat that using a flying mount.
Finally, there is a social aspect that I think a lot of us have been missing. No need to enter, interacting with other players will be a lot easier. Just walk up to them and start talking and/or gesturing. This makes it much easier to communicate in dungeons and public events, or simply ask for help with difficult quest groups. If you don’t want to talk to strangers, you can still mute them or turn on ‘Guild Only’ chat.
Where we can go
I’ve been enjoying Zenith so much lately, I hope it’s just a boost of speed in the development of much more complex VR MMORPGs. Technology is improving, costs are falling, and headphones are finally becoming portable. Both software and hardware are designed to reduce motion sickness while the price of headphones is no longer high and there is no need to connect to a PC.
The next step needs to be done by an AAA studio. I can only imagine what it feels like to walk the streets of Ul’dah, haggle with the vendors or have a pint of beer at The Quicksand. Proof of concept is out there; it can become a reality. It’s just a game waiting for a studio with the talent to develop and the bankability to realize it.
https://www.mmorpg.com/editorials/opinion-vr-is-the-future-mmorpgs-need-2000124483 Opinion: VR is the MMORPG the future needs