Release Date: 2011
To be completely honest, TERA is a game I haven’t been following very closely thusfar, but it’s for sure a highly anticipated title for this year. It labels itself as a true Action MMO. You aim your abilities very similarly to an FPS, not like normal targeting seen in most MMOs. Dodging, jumping, etc. come into play as well. This is a type of system that has been attempted by many MMO developers because it just seems like such a promising idea. In my opinion, however, most of those who have attempted it didn't quite succeed. It would be truly exciting if TERA were to provide a quality and enjoyable action experience in an MMO. Players can pick between 6 races and 8 classes.
Potential Co-opportunity: From developer videos I’ve seen of this game, TERA promises to feature some intense dungeons with a huge emphasis on teamwork. They describe complicated boss encounters with environmental effects, chaotic spawns of mobs, and enormous bosses. Tanks will have to shield their party members from harm, group members will have to avoid being pushed into environment effects like cruel spikes, so communication will be key. I've always been fond of dungeons which require a large amount of coordination of party members, so I look forward to hearing more about TERA.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Release Date: 2011
SW:TOR is being developed by Bioware, the folks famous for the Mass Effect series, Dragon Age series, and Knights of the Old Republic amongst many other games. Though they’ve done some multiplayer games before (Neverwinter Nights), this is their first foray into the MMO department. It takes place 300 years after Knights of the Old Republic and 3,500 years before the Star Wars films. Players pick between the Galactic Republic and Sith Empire factions (Light and Dark side) and their faction-specific classes (e.g. the Republic has Troopers and the Empire has Bounty Hunters).
Potential Co-opportunity: If you’ve ever played a Bioware game, you know they incorporate a lot of choices into the story. For SW:TOR they are also promising a strong, story-driven experience. One aspect that emphasizes this are the game’s “Flashpoints,” which appear to be like an average MMO’s dungeons. The difference is, these Flashpoints will have important stories associated with them in which your character will be able to make key decisions. There will be cutscenes where you get to make choices about how your character reacts or what your character decides to do (very similar to Mass Effect). Furthermore, if you are in a party, you and your other party members get to take turns making these pivotal plot choices. It sounds very similar to how one might imagine playing Mass Effect or Dragon Age with friends, which a whole lot of people have been pining for!
Guild Wars 2
Release Date: When it’s finished (Possibly 2011?)
You can hardly play any MMO or MMO beta nowadays without someone bringing up how much they’re just holding out for Guild Wars 2. It’s the game that’s on the tip of everyone’s tongue. It’s the MMO without traditional healers, where you go into a downed state before you die, and where your weapon choice determines what skills you have equipped. As I outlined in my Guild Wars 2 Preview a few months back, players get to pick between five races and eight professions. It takes place 250 years after Guild Wars. In the gap between the two games, the five elder dragons have awakened in the world and are wreaking absolute destruction on the world. The game focuses on combating these dragons and their endless, powerful minions.
Potential Co-opportunity: One thing that’s pretty interesting about Guild Wars 2 from a co-op perspective is its Dynamic Events. They take place in the open world and are triggered by the actions of players interacting with and exploring the area. They have multiple outcomes, with even the possibility of triggering a new event. This system was developed to replace traditional quests in MMORPGs. To prevent spawn-camping and and kill-stealing, Dynamic Events reward everyone who participated as well as giving them 100% of any gained experience, even if they were not in a party together. This promotes cooperation rather than competition in PVE. Furthermore, events will scale based on the number of participants: the number of enemies may increase, or the level of the enemies may increase, or the enemies might start using new skills. Even if players fail an event, they will still receive a small type of reward to ensure that they don’t feel like their time was wasted. Rewards include gold, xp, and karma rewards.
Again, this list wasn’t exhaustive, but these were some of the MMOs that I felt were among the most anticipated for 2011. Which MMOs are you looking for to?