We’re reaching the half of 2015 and things are already looking much better than the dreadful 2014, with new games coming fast, and the end of the year promises to be a great time. While some of the heavyweights will only launch during 2015, we decided to let you know about some great games that you can either play already, if you were lucky enough to get a beta key, or should be playable in just a few months.
Most of these games are currently in very restricted betas and a few of them will probably stay like that by the end of the year, but we already played all of them in one shape or the other, so we can give you our sincere recommendation about them. If you couldn’t play them yet, hang in there, you should be able to do so in a few months, perhaps with a couple of exceptions only.
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First off, there’s Echo of Soul, an all-round nice fantasy MMORPG that should please those who aren’t looking for something groundbreaking or extremely addicting. In fact, we prefer to call Echo of Soul a nice little time-killer while you wait for the big names to become available. If you play it without major expectations, you’ll find a polished and in-depth MMO whose major flaw is that of being generic and unharmful.
Open beta began on May 28, 2015.
The big guns are beginning to show up, quite literally speaking. Armored Warfare is Obsidian Entertainment’s shot at World of Tanks using the CryEngine 3 and this game is actually looking like it could destroy Wargaming’s blockbuster in a second, if we only look at the graphics side of things. However, that’s not what matters the most, but Armored Warfare actually looks so much in depth, so full of little details under the hood of each vehicle in the game. The way the game deals with damage, with all these variables going on and such a visible passion that it’s almost psychotic leaves us with great hopes for the future of this shooter. A niche genre it may be, but there’s so much going on for this game that it could easily draw the attention of many players.
First early access began on May 27, 2015.
Talking about niche, World of Warships says hi. The third major entry in the “World of” series, not counting the spin-offs, World of Warships is a difficult game to pull off, but it could turn out to be extremely rewarding for the studio. There’s definitely a lack of tactical naval warfare games and despite the confessed lack of submarines, there are plenty of ships to provide a nice range of tactical options. If you like your games slow-paced, rewarding and beautifully realized, then World of Warships could be the one for you. It has all the makings of a sleeper hit and could easily surpass World of Warplanes, although it’s nearly impossible to become as popular as World of Tanks.
Closed beta began on March 12, 2015.
We we’re a bit torn between Daybreak Game Company’s Landmark or Radiant Worlds’ more Minecraft-like Skysaga, but in the end we decided to mention the game from the studio formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment. Landmark is in closed beta for over a year, since March 26, 2014, and it is slowly becoming what the studio planned it to be – let us stress the slow part. Combat was added as it was planned a long time ago, but it’s not exactly getting the most acclaim from players who hoped for a nice building game. As a building sandbox, Landmark is superb and you can already see some amazing constructions in the game world, but the beta is also getting a lot of negative remarks about the grind needed to build anything decent. There’s a lot of potential in this game, but keep in mind that it still needs quite a bit of polishing, both performance-wise as well as in the business model side of things, to become what it should be.
Closed beta began March 26, 2014.
6 – DIRTY BOMB
Dirty Bomb first look gameplay video
Splash Damage has a few nice shooters on its catalog, and the studio has barely deviated from this genre, but they’re always a tiny step away from brilliance. It looks like history is repeating with Dirty Bomb, the newest online first-person shooter from the British studio. While this team-based shooter is praised for its fast-paced gameplay, and above all, the fun factor that is sadly missing from most games of the ilk, there’s just this… I don’t know… that is missing and preventing it from becoming a top game. Maybe it’s the balance which is still a bit iffy, maybe a few of the guns still need to be tweaked to make them feel worthwhile, but overall this is already a nice if slightly unpolished experience, that will certainly get better during the coming months.
Open beta began June 2, 2015.
Blizzard is definitely interested in following Valve’s footsteps lately. Apart from the upcoming shooter Overwatch, which is trying to take a stab at Team Fortress 2 – and looks pretty awesome, we might say -, there’s Heroes of the Storm, a MOBA… I mean, excuse me, an online brawler game. Truth be told, this isn’t your typical MOBA game and we’re not just talking about the undeniable appeal that the heroes have – playing with characters from Blizzard’s franchises Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo and classic The Lost Vikings is good enough to convince a large playerbase. But what Heroes of the Storm intends to be is FUN. It may look simple at first, but what it actually does is strip the clutter that exists in many of its rivals and goes for straight, pure fun. It grows on you and suddenly you’re hooked, something that you didn’t even see coming. This will be a big game for sure – the question is if it will be big enough to scratch the supremacy of MOBA kings League of Legends, Dota 2 and SMITE.
Heroes of the Storm officially launched June 2, 2015.
Years in the making and mostly in complete silence during that time, 2015 was the year when Skyforge finally got out there and we discovered just what Allods Team and Obsidian Entertainment had in store for us. While far from a revolution and featuring plenty of familiar mechanics, Skyforge actually has a lot going for it, from the uncommon sci-fi and fantasy mix to the interesting range of playable classes, which allow you to switch at will when you’re not in combat. But the cool thing about Skyforge is that there’s this objective, this goal that could actually turn the game on its head – becoming a god will give you some awesome powers and the ability to earn followers. With the world in constant threat, you’ll have to group to fight the invasions of hostile gods, events that will either give you some nice rewards or turn Aelion slowly but surely into a darker place. We’re very curious to see what kind of transformations the invasions will bring to the game world.
First closed beta began March 11, 2015. Open beta is planned for summer 2015.
3 – WILDSTAR
Raise your hand if you didn’t see this one coming. NCsoft finally gave up, so to speak, and is turning WildStar into the free-to-play game it should have always been. No mandatory fees, just an optional premium subscription if you want a few perks to help you along the way. Despite all the chaos that followed the release, with many layoffs at Carbine Studios, WildStar remains a really good MMO that takes inspiration from the best and while far from groundbreaking, it manages to stand out thanks to its unique visual style. Sure, questing is of the TERA ilk – you need a big dose of patience to go through plenty of repetitive quests, but in the end there’s a lot more pros than cons – we bet many of you will enjoy it, despite some flaws.
WildStar goes free-to-play in fall 2015.
2 – BLADE & SOUL
We have a special message for those who thought this would never happen: in your face! Ahem, anyway, Blade & Soul is finally awakening from its developer-induced coma and closed beta is coming in North America and Europe fall 2015. Did this visually unique martial arts MMORPG age so much that it’s not as interesting as it would be had it been released in 2013? Sure, it’s not the same anymore, but there’s something about the art style that makes it stand the passage of time a little bit better than your run-of-the-mill orcs and elves fantasy MMO. And it seems that NCsoft actually took the time to give us something more than a rushed localization effort, by making a tailor-made client that supposedly takes the best from the existing versions. And the news that many of you were actually expected – it’s not going to be censored as it was the case with the China version, so you can expect a lot of sexy martial arts action.
Blade & Soul enters closed beta in fall 2015.
Will it make it during this year or not? Is Black Desert actually entering beta in North America and Europe in 2015, as it was previously announced? It’s probably a bit of a stretch, but we want to believe that it could still happen. The Korean version is going along smoothly, with class after class being added to the game – even Gandalf joined the party – and while publisher DAUM is probably still setting offices in North America, we should have more news really soon. Black Desert is going through a bit of a commotion in Korea, since this MMORPG took a turn to the casual side, but we’re told this is due to players’ feedback and that it won’t be the same case with the western versions. Possibly not the deep open world sandbox MMORPG as it was expected when it was announced, Black Desert still manages to be one of the most exciting MMO games in development and it could be just around the corner.
And now, a quick list of awesome games that in some cases may already be in alpha, but it’s not likely most players will be able to lay their hands on them.
Beta planned for later 2015:
Planned for 2016 or 2017:
• Peria Chronicles (Western release uncertain)
• Soul Worker (Western release uncertain, game is under the radar for many months now)
• Lost Ark (Western release planned)
• Tree of Savior (Western release confirmed)
• MapleStory 2 (Western release mentioned, not much news on it for a while)
• Ghost in the Shell Online (Western release confirmed)
• Bless (Western release uncertain)
• Lineage Eternal (Western release confirmed)
• Phantasy Star Online 2 (Western release uncertain, game is in limbo)
• Kingdom Under Fire 2 (Western release uncertain)
• Total War: ARENA
• Fable Legends
• Unreal Tournament
• Project Bluestreak
• EverQuest Next
• Albion Online