THE ONES WE MAY NEVER GET IN NORTH AMERICA AND EUROPE
It remains a mystery to us why Nexon or any other publisher still hasn’t grabbed the rights to bring Closers Online to North America and Europe. This side-scrolling brawler has all the right stuff to be a success in English territories, from the colorful cast of anime characters to the exciting, fast-paced gameplay. It’s also regularly getting new characters, advancements and events, so it already has a nice bunch of content. With games like Elsword Online still popular but showing its age and other brawlers failing to succeed such as Rusty Hearts and Rise of Incarnates, Closers Online could be the subject of an X-Files episode – what kind of weird conspiracy is preventing this game to reach the western market?
Since its announcement a few years ago, Soul Worker Online captured the hearts of so many players from all over the world. It looked great and as you probably know by now, having cute anime girls in short skirts and plenty of pantyshots is halfway to success. Of course, you need to have a game to go with it, and with a severe lack of good third-person brawlers, this one could fill that gap. After going through a serious reboot, Soul Worker entered beta testing by the end of 2015 and the overall impressions point to a good game. Just as with Closers: Dimension Conflict, there’s this monster invasion and a group of special girls and boys will have to deal with it through whatever means – there’s the girl with the oversized cannon, the boy with the pistol, the other girl with a big-ass sword, for a total of six characters already revealed. Japan, Korea and China are going to service the game and we’re crossing our fingers for a North America and Europe announcement sometime during 2016.
A deafening silence – that is what we got from Peria Chronicles during 2015. Which is a shame since this is probably one of the most innovative, exciting creations from South Korea since MMOs were invented, and you should know just how many MMOs are announced every year in that country. On the other hand, we have to say that we understand the delay, since creating an anime sandbox game with building elements and Pokémon-like collect’em all and use them in battle sounds like an utter nightmare to us. Not only that, but you’re in the battles as well, so they also need to sharpen the engine for different types of combat. Peria Chronicles is a game that could break in so many ways, but we’re hoping that it all turns out for the best as we can’t wait to shape the terrain, create intricate machinery that will surprise everyone and participate in player-created quests. It’s almost too good to be true and that’s probably why it isn’t true yet, but between this and EverQuest Next, who knows which one will release first.
There’s been so much weird stuff surrounding Monster Hunter Online that we don’t know anymore what to make of it. First off, it’s strange that such a popular franchise in Japan would be getting a China exclusive MMO; then, Crytek decided to mention that a worldwide release was planned but a while later said it was a mistake; In 2015 a benchmark tool for the game was released in English, which led many players to think that official localization was actually going to happen, but apparently it’s not. But Tencent is cool, we gotta admit – they’re willing to let fans work on an English translation and even cooperate with them along the way, so ultimately Monster Hunter Online could turn out to be playable globally, as there isn’t an IP block at the time.
Kingdom Under Fire 2 has been through its own special little hell, with five or so years of trouble before finally entering beta in 2014 in Asian territories. However, talks of a western version amounted to a whole lot of nothing, as there seems to be no way to get the game in North America and Europe. Which is a shame because this is a brave mix of action and real-time strategy and you can get nearly 10.000 units battling at the same time. With fast action, nice visuals and the aforementioned strategic elements, Kingdom Under Fire 2 is still a very desired game, but we’re beginning to lose our hopes of ever getting to play an official western version.
Ok, so there’s this ongoing debate if Russia is a part of Europe or not, so we won’t go there. We’ll just say that we’re very happy for them to be getting the free-to-play PC game Halo Online in exclusivity, although we haven’t heard a lot about it lately. Nonetheless, we’re pretty confident that this game would be a massive hit in western territories, if developer Saber Interactive handled it in a correct way, respecting the gameplay that millions of players know and love. The Russian studio has already worked in a few Halo games, so it would be a matter of using their experience, adding plenty of fair – and we have to stress this word – microtransactions and it’s done. Microsoft is theoretically testing the game in Russia and there’s still a chance that it releases in other regions, so let’s wait and see.
It was a long time for before MapleStory got a sequel but we have to praise Nexon for thinking out of the box and doing something that looks and plays completely differently to the original. From side-scrolling 2D to isometric 3D, MapleStory has evolved and this isn’t without its risks, but there are many elements from the original making a return, as well as more advanced combat, some really cool bosses to fight with a party and destructible elements for the diverse classes to knock down. There’s also a nice housing system but it wouldn’t be MapleStory if there weren’t plenty of minigames to go with the regular gameplay – there’s swimming, dancing, last man standing, racing and much more. Even if you’re not too keen on the chibi anime look, this could be a game to capture young and adult players alike.
While Need For Speed World shut down in 2015, it didn’t take long for news on another free-to-play Need For Speed game to surface. Sadly, Need For Speed Edge is currently only planned for a Korean release, but we’re hoping that after the testing phases Nexon decides to bring it to North America and Europe. We wouldn’t mind it, as it’s shaping up to be a nice racer with different game modes such as Speed Battle and Item Battle, and it’s powered by the tried-and-tested Frostbite 3 engine. Need For Speed Edge would be a great alternative to World of Speed – two racing games with different goals but plenty of quality overall.
One of the highest profile Chinese MMOs ever, Revelation Online is unashamedly inspired by Blade & Soul and didn’t manage to convince many players during 2015, so publisher NetEase is doing what it can to push it. One of the ideas for 2016 is this huge flying mount that is capable of carrying 50 players – yes, it’s not a mistake, it’s 50 players at the same time. While Revelation Online is a decent game, it’s highly unlikely that it will ever leave China, so don’t get your hopes up if you like what you’re seeing. On the other hand, with competition from the superior Blade & Soul, it would certainly have a tough time convincing players to choose it over NCsoft’s epic.
Moonlight Blade is one more game from the school of Age of Wushu, Swordsman Online and so on. Coming from China’s number 1 MMO company Tencent, Moonlight Blade is based on a famous novel that seems to be heavy on storyline and surprising twists. There are three different combat modes, from the classic tab-target to a non-target mode, and the game can be quite a looker, especially when you stop and take a look at all the beautiful vegetation dancing to the wind. There are some rumors of an English release but until something official is announced, they’re as good as nothing.
Hyper Universe is a MOBA, but not in the usual way. Instead of the usual isometric view or the increasingly common third-person perspective, Hyper Universe goes for an original 2D side-scrolling perspective. What? Really, how is that supposed to play out, we thought when the game was announced. Now that the dust has settled and we’ve seen it in action, we can say that it kind of works. But a gimmick such as this wouldn’t be enough to support a game that is expected to be competitive and with deep gameplay, so it’s good to see that the character roster is very colorful, with some recognizable faces inspired by pop culture such as the Power Rangers, Bruce Lee or Chun Li from Street Fighter. While it may seem like a long shot to see this getting a western release, we wouldn’t be too surprised to see it happening.
While Vindictus is still around and one of the best examples of online action combat, it has definitely seen better days and a larger population. With the high demand for exciting action games it’s a bit baffling to think that a game such as Asker: The Light Swallowers isn’t getting a western release. It looks good, has a deep environmental destruction system and some pretty impressive bosses. Sure, it lacks content and classes as it’s a very recent game but this would be solved over time, so no issues there.
Another fast-paced action MMO, Kritika Online is probably staying in Asian territories as the time for it to go west probably ended already. A fast-paced anime MMORPG with Devil May Cry style combat and plenty of combos, Kritika already has plenty of classes to choose from. Fun and exciting, it could be a hit if someone actually bothered to release it in North America and Europe, but interested parties need to hurry or the game will be forgotten entirely in a year or two.
There is some talk about King of Wushu being planned to release globally and considering Snail Games’ previous titles such as Age of Wushu and Black Gold Online, this is a strong possibility. However, until we get an official announcement we won’t count on it. King of Wushu is a beautiful third-person MOBA with a Wuxia theme, meaning that you’ll get to choose between dozens of characters that are experts in martial arts. It’s visually stunning and plays in third-person, pretty much like SMITE. In fact, it looks very inspired by Hi-Rez Studios’ game, but this isn’t a bad thing in itself. We would really like to see how western players react to King of Wushu’s Asian fantasy theme, but for what we’ve seen so far it’s a quality game that could have a bright future ahead in any part of the world.
ArcheAge developer XL Games decided to tackle the Civilization series but they’re doing it in an original way – they’re keeping the base mechanics such as era changes and building cities, but instead of a top-down view the game is going third-person, pretty much like your standard MMORPG. It’s a pretty unique mix and it even includes a card system, something that is getting more and more common with games such as Paragon or Paladins: Champions of the Realm also using it. While PvP is the focus of the game, there’s plenty to keep you occupied including one of the various victory conditions, which is building the Great Wonders. One of the cool things about Civilization Online is the character creation system, which is extremely in-depth in a Black Desert Online kind of way, making the cartoonish graphics truly shine. Having different eras from Ancient Civilizations to Futuristic times is something that will push players to go on, seeing what new wonders are in store. Sadly, this one is still exclusive to Asia, so let’s see if it gets a release in English territories in a year or two.
Hey look, Phantasy Star Online 2 is coming to PlayStation 4 in 2016! Awesome! But what about the English version for PC that was announced in 2012? Yeah, right, nothing on that for a few years and we keep waiting for a simple ‘it’s in the works’ or ‘it’s canceled’ official comment that never seems to come. It’s probably safe to say that the western version took a turn to the wrong side for some kind of reason but Sega doesn’t want to shelve it just yet. However, if they keep this silence for one more year or so, players are bound to give up for good on this interesting MMORPG – after all, how many Blade & Soul syndromes can you cope with?
Can you smell that in the air? Yep, that’s the beautiful smell of vaporware, something that EverQuest Next seems to be turning into as months go by. Daybreak’s track record isn’t particularly helpful, with the long development cycle of Landmark and H1Z1, but the lack of communication surrounding EverQuest Next, which was once seen as the future of MMOs, is scary. We’re far from reassured and actually very suspicious of where Next is going, if it’s going anywhere at all right now. So we’ve had this impressive announcement and plenty of promises including emergent AI and a world in constant change, but two and a half years have gone by and Landmark is still quite a bit of a mess. This takes us back to the time when we said that the decision to split it into two games was a bit weird and groundless, and judging by how things are turning out, we were right. Note to Daybreak: just get Landmark done already so you can focus on Next; after all, it was supposed to be a simple prologue of sorts, a tool for the bigger things, and yet here we are, sitting and waiting.
Of course, there are plenty more games that we wouldn’t mind adding to this list, but it was big enough already, so we’re just settling for a few quick recommendations: Dreadnaught, Fractured Space, Orcs Must Die: Unchained, Dungeon Defenders 2 or Elder Scrolls: Legends are just a few that we will follow closely to see how they will turn out. Do note that not all of the games we’ve covered already have their business model set in stone, so a few of them could turn out to be buy-to-play or something close to that. Of course, we can’t wait to hear on your most anticipated free-to-play MMOs, so leave the names in the comments. Agree, disagree, don’t care about any of these, whatever you feel like telling us, let us know about it. And enjoy gaming!