My Wishlist for Future MMORPGs

This week I continue my series looking at my favorite genre of games. MMORPGs. The first part looked at the games I’ve played (and still play) and last week’s second instalment was a commentary about the most recent developments in the genre. Today, I want to talk about what kind of MMORPG would be able to get a long-term commitment from me:
A fantasy sandbox game with a strong IP behind it.

What do I mean by sandbox game? I’m looking for a world that gives players a sense of progression without having to fight if one does not feel like it. As far as single-player games go, the Elder Scrolls and GTA series have shown what virtual worlds can look like. Skyrim offered a fantastic, open world with tons of content to discover and the ability to be modified by fans all over the world. GTA V, which releases on September 17, has awed players with a realistic and beautiful recreation of Southern California and will allow players to do whatever they feel like in its virtual world. The space MMO EVE Online is famous for letting players do battles and trades while creating their own story lines. A few weeks ago, two of the largest alliances fought one of the largest battles in history, which was covered by mainstream websites such as The Verge.

Nowadays MMORPGs seem so focused on letting players just get new gear and beat bigger, badder bosses. It has become somewhat like the rat race in the real world with gear and better stats being the only worthwhile goals. I’d really relish a game which awards crafting and exploring. A game which would allow guilds to build alliances and enemies, with ways of getting NPCs as support.

I prefer the fantasy setting over the sci-fi setting. After all, there are so many dystopian novels out there about humans leaving the real world for the perfection of an online utopia (Ready Player One as a prime example). With a fantasy world, that wouldn’t happen. After all, who would want leave behind electricity and modern sanitation devices?
But a world with a healthy emphasis on story by developers and players alike, with innovative methods of progression, would be a step in the right direction. Players often need an incentive to do things. But how about giving guilds the ability to recruit NPCs for them, which in turn offer quests to either fight an enemy, craft a weapon or explore a ruin, depending on your play style? Or all three options for completionists? I’m sure that if players are given the option to create or choose a way, they will cherish it.

More freedom to choose and the choice having an actual long-term impact would be great. Guild Wars 2 had the right idea with their origin stories. But how about being able to choose to be a noble human with your mate choosing to be a low-born soldier. Now, you as a noble get the opportunity in quests and story to work together with your friend. In the end you can secure him the knighthood he has long coveted. On the other hand, maybe another friend is playing a noble with a totally different agenda working against your plans and plotting your downfall.

I also feel that a game like this should have a strong or unique IP behind it. This would attract other fans and make it easier for new players to see where the source material has come from. For instance, I think an MMO set in Westeros about the various houses of Game of Thrones could be a massive success if done correctly. Existing IPs also have the benefit that they often engage players on a different level, since players have always aspired to be like Luke Skywalker or Aragorn (Darth Vader or Loki if you’re looking to play the Dark Side).

As you can see, I have a few ideas about future MMOs, but without a background in-game development, I don’t know how feasible they are. But one can dream.

What are your wishes for future games? What would you envision? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

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Sincerely yours,