OCC E3 2012 AwardsClayMeow -
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Winner: The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
I'll be honest; I'm not the biggest fan of massively multi-player games. Personally, I prefer digging myself deep in single player RPGs, feeling as though the story revolves around my character only. So when the Elder Scrolls Online was announced, I was interested. I have played previous Elder Scrolls games in the past, including Oblivion and Skyrim, so I was keen on knowing how the single player experience of those games would translate to a massively-multiplayer world. Set in the fictional continent of Tamriel – the same one featured in many of the Elder Scrolls games – players are able to choose between three factions and a number of classes. Freedom is key to the game here; the continent is open to roam and players are able to use any weapon from any class, even being able to somewhat mix classes. Want to be a mage with a sword and shield? You can do that! As well, abilities grow as you use them, naturally morphing you into a specialized character as you play. At this time, there's still much to be shown from the game, but so far, it seems that the team at Zenimax Online Studios are taking Bethesda's lore very seriously and it shows. Tamriel is still fully intact and I'm excited to see how it translates to a living, breathing, MMO world.
Winner: PlanetSide 2 (PC)
I remember having several friends try to get me to play the first PlanetSide, but seeing as how I was in high school at the time and could not afford a monthly fee for an MMO, I had to pass. That is not to say I wasn't interested in PlanetSide, because an MMOFPS sounded simply fascinating in a time of countless EverQuest clones. I just did not have the means to enjoy it. Enter PlanetSide 2, which is effectively a remake of the first game, but this time with a narrative written by Marv Wolfman to add a deeper story. The territory system is also more complex than the original game and has a bigger role to play in shaping the game's battlefields. Up to 2,000 players can deck it out at once on land or air, but this game is still a first-person shooter so player skill will determine the outcome of fights. You can unlock skills, but Sony Online Entertainment plans for those to make only a 15 or 20% difference in the outcome of fights. Skills will take time to learn, but you do not have to be online constantly for progress to be made. PlanetSide 2 will have a day/night cycle to affect the fighting methods, but how long the cycle lasts is not known at this time. The best part of PlanetSide 2 and the reason it is my winner in the MMO category, is because it is free-to-play. Unlike the first game, it looks like I will be able to enjoy the sequel.
Runner-Up: The Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
I struggled with the idea of The Elder Scrolls Online being my winner in the MMO category, but I had to put it as runner-up for a few reasons. The main thing is there is not a ton of information about the game, aside from the setting in The Elder Scrolls timeline (Second Era), the factions, races, and how much of Tamriel is playable. ZeniMax Online is handling development duties and managed to keep TESO a secret for five years before a reveal earlier this year. There will be three factions to choose from, with different races in each and nearly all of Tamriel will be open to explore, but there just aren't a lot of details on much else. The graphical style so far is another concern, as it does not quite have the distinct The Elder Scrolls look. It resembles most other MMORPGs currently on the market, which to me is a bad thing because I do not want just another MMO. I want The Elder Scrolls Online to look like a new entry in the series instead of World of Warcraft Part Deux. Right now TESO is on my radar, but it is not high enough to warrant winning the MMO category.
Winner: Defiance (PC, PS3, 360)
There have been several video games based on movies and television shows, and vice versa. Trion Worlds and Syfy are taking that to the next level with Defiance. Defiance is an MMO. It'll also be a TV show. Not only may events on the show impact the game, but events in the game may impact the show, meaning players can actually play a significant role in Defiance's future. Unlike your traditional MMO, Defiance is a shooter and also multi-platform, being developed not only for the PC, but the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as well. However, each platform will be independent from each other - Trion Worlds doesn't want PC gamers dominating its console brethren.
Defiance takes place in the near future, where aliens known collectively as Votans (there are multiple species) have come to Earth seeking a new home after their solar system was destroyed. After six years of negotiations, no agreement was reached and a war began between the two sides. During the war, Votan alien ships containing terraformers are destroyed, resulting in Earth being transformed when they crash to the ground. Vast chasms open up and layers of dust and debris cover the surface, burying major cities. Eventually, both sides come to the realization that neither can win and their only priority should be survival, leading to a ceasefire. The television series takes place a few decades after the ceasefire and focuses on a refugee camp called Defiance. While the show takes place in (what used to be) St. Louis, the MMO takes place in San Francisco and its surrounding area. You may come upon the remnants of the Golden Gate Bridge, but due to the terraforming, Defiance's Earth will feel very different than our own. It's a huge undertaking on an epic scale, but if Trion Worlds can pull it off, it could be something amazing.
Runner-Up: Elder Scrolls Online (PC)
A massively multi-player Elder Scrolls game? Um, yes please. Very little has been revealed about the game, but we do know that you'll be able to choose amongst the nine classic Elder Scrolls races and align with one of three Alliances, battling over Tamriel's throne in the Imperial City. In my opinion, no MMO has been able to top the PvP of Dark Age of Camelot's realm-vs.realm combat. Though it's too early to tell, it sounds like Elder Scrolls Online may offer similar three-faction battles over castles and forts. If so, this is certainly an MMO you want to keep your eye on, even if you're not obsessed with Skyrim. The only major negative is that Elder Scrolls Online doesn't look anything like Skyrim and although it's still early in development, I have a hard time believing it ever will, simply because it's an MMO.