While we keep hearing that Japan isn’t in very good shape as far as the retail market is concerned, it’s pretty obvious that Asia is beginning to make a name for itself in free-to-play MMORPG development, especially South Korea. Some of the most exciting games are in the works in Korea and there’s so much to choose from, so much quality on display that the West will have a hard time fighting for players’ attention. For every The Elder Scrolls Online there’s a few Black Deserts and Monster Hunters, so it’s exciting times indeed. So here are some of the most anticipated Asian MMO games in our Top 10 Most Anticipated Asian MMORPGs
10 – BLACK GOLD ONLINE | Origin: China
After the success of Age of Wushu, Chinese studio Snail Games is working on Black Gold, an MMORPG that runs on an improved version of the Flexi engine used in the aforementioned game. Set in a steampunk fantasy universe, Black Gold offers a hybrid combat system, a huge world with 300 square kilometers of land to explore and over 3000 dynamic events, as well as over 100 different kinds of vehicles, from tanks to mechs and even dragons. Step inside a mech and the third-person view will switch to first-person – that’s the kind of detail we like to see. We should learn more about Black Gold during E3 2013.
9 – LINEAGE ETERNAL: TWILIGHT RESISTANCE | Origin: Korea
NCsoft is going the Diablo way with Lineage Eternal: Twilight Resistance. On the other hand, we can also say that they’re going back to their roots for this game, taking some cues from the first Lineage. This is an action RPG where you can draw patterns with the mouse to execute some special and usually impressive moves, and sometimes you’ll enter in massive, amazing battles. Oh, and the way you can just knock your enemies into the abyss is just so fulfilling, we can’t wait to do it!
8 – ICARUS ONLINE | Origin: Korea
Icarus Online runs on the CryEngine 3 and it shows; it looks absolutely stunning. The characters look amazing, as well as the diverse monsters and locations. But this game has more to it than graphics. While at first it may seem too familiar for its own good, it’s the companion system that motivates us to play. Think of it as Monster Hunter meets Dragon’s Prophet – by this we mean that you can fight and tame most of the monsters in the game world. And it’s not just land creatures either, you’ll have your share of impressive dragons to tame and use as flying mounts. A fantasy game that may thread no new ground but surely looks badass!
7 – PHANTASY STAR ONLINE 2 | Origin: Japan
While Japanese players are already enjoying this new online chapter in the famous franchise, Sega is still taking its time to launch the promised North American and European versions of Phantasy Star Online 2. What can we expect from this game? Fast-paced and hopefully fun combat, the ability to change between classes at any time (melee, ranged and magic) and randomly generated maps. Our biggest worry is that the randomization may take us through very samey maps, but let’s wait and see.
6 – MABINOGI 2: ARENA | Origin: Korea
This one is still a bit of a mystery and, quite frankly, a mess. While many players would think this is a sequel to the relaxing Mabinogi: Fantasy Life, this is in fact a spin-off that seems to have more in common with the action combat focus of Vindictus – known as Mabinogi Heroes in Asia. Anyway, it seems that the ‘Arena’ is in the title because every player will be able to be a spectator in this game. The funny thing is that a spectator will be able to interact with the players and vice-versa, offering potions and some rewards, and even to hop in the PvP game. This is a nice feature that will certainly add a lot of chaos to the battles.
5 – BLESS | Origin: Korea
Bless is in development since 2009 by a team of 150 at Neowiz and while the studio is more versed in first person shooters such as CrossFire and Alliance of Valiant Arms, this is one of the most exciting MMORPGs we’ve seen so far. Set in a European Medieval fantasy theme and running on the Unreal Engine 3, Bless looks beautiful, realistic and supposedly features a rich game world. Each of the 10 races should have a personal story and there seems to be no shortage of things to do, from PvP, realm vs. realm, raids and more. And are those medieval Thundercats? We’re sold!
4 – ARCHEAGE | Origin: Korea
Trion Worlds made a bunch of new fans by snagging the rights to ArcheAge, one of the most exciting games in the works in Korea. This sandbox MMORPG is getting some attention in the localization aspect too, including character creation options for western players. And no, we don’t mean boob sliders. With 10 ability trees and 120 classes, there’s scope for many different playstyles and it’s not the fact that the game looks stunning that will bother us. Although the chances of being free to play in the West seem slim, we’re keeping our fingers crossed.
3 – BLADE & SOUL | Origin: Korea
Blade & Soul is one of the biggest games in South Korea right now and NCsoft is working on the North America and Europe releases. A martial arts MMORPG with plenty of craziness to go along, Blade & Soul includes wall running and special moves, pretty much like you’re watching action flicks such as House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. With a beautiful world to explore, a nice character and boss design and some cool cutscenes, Blade & Soul is an MMORPG absolutely worth playing.
2 – MONSTER HUNTER ONLINE | Origin: China / Japan
Monster Hunter Online is the second full-fledged multiplayer online game of the popular Capcom franchise and is in development by Chinese studio Tencent, running on the CryEngine 3. Announced as a China exclusive, Crytek apparently had a huge slip by adding the words “internationally” and “worldwide” to a press release about the game, something that was fixed a short while later. Damn you for giving us hope, Crytek! Anyway, Monster Hunter Online is very short on info yet, so all that we really know is that the Chinese beta is scheduled for June 2013.
1 – BLACK DESERT ONLINE | Origin: Korea
Black Desert seems to find its way into every top we make and usually in the first position. What else can we say about this game? Don’t worry, we won’t go on and on again about the amazing graphics and characters, you should know the drill by now. So we can say we’re excited for other things such as the seamless sandbox world, housing system, action combat, weather system, night and day cycle with exclusive events, parkour movement, siege warfare and so much more that we feel like we’re barely scratching the surface.
And that’s it for now. We had to leave some games out, such as Cabal 2 Online, since we couldn’t add them all in this top. Leave your suggestions in the comments and let us know if you’re as excited as we are for these upcoming games, free-to-play or not.