OCC E3 2013 AwardsClayMeow -
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Winner: The Elder Scrolls Online (PC, PS4, XBO)
It was my runner-up last year, but this year it gets bumped up to the winner's circle. The Elder Scrolls Online has had a steady stream of information since its reveal last year, and so far everything about it sounds promising. There are three factions with certain races tied to each one; the Aldmeri Dominion has High Elves, Wood Elves, and Khajiit; the Daggerfall Covenant has the Redguards, Bretons, and Orcs; and the Ebonheart Pact has the Dark Elves, Argonians, and Nords. You'll notice the Imperials aren't mentioned anywhere, and that's because they're going to appear as NPCs since the Imperial City is kind of without an Emperor. But the good news is the Empress Regent has agreed to a deal with the King of Worms, Mannimarco, to bolster Imperial forces by reviving the dead warriors. Wait, that's not exactly good because Mannimarco went ahead and made a deal with Molag Bal, Daedric Prince of Corruption and Darkness, to take over Mundus, the plane of existence featuring the planet Nirn (where The Elder Scrolls is set).
Molag Bal, in all his evilness, is seeking to merge all of Tamriel with his plane of Oblivion, Coldharbour. His realm actually resembles Tamriel, just a perversion of it with sludge for ground, a sky constantly on fire (yet the air is freezing), and even a replica of the Imperial Palace that's covered in blood and corpses. It's really an inhospitable place and all the more reason for the three factions in TESO to prevent it. Most of Tamriel is going to be in the game, although I imagine some parts are going to be left out so they can be added in via expansions later. Hey, it is an MMO afterall. That being said, one of the big unknowns is the cost of The Elder Scrolls Online. We really have no idea what ZeniMax has in store, whether it's going to be free-to-play or require a monthly subscription, and that's really the biggest questions still to be answered. I'm hoping for free-to-play, but we'll just have to wait and see. Regardless, TESO is an MMO high on my list.
Runner-Up: Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade (PC, PS4, XBO)
At one point in time we were supposed to be getting a Warhammer 40,000 MMO by the name of Dark Millenium. Then THQ, the game's publisher, went bankrupt and it seemed like we'd never get a WH40K MMO. Well, surprise surprise, as Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade was announced at E3, which looks like it'll be a worthy replacement in the MMO landscape. Eternal Crusade sees the Space Marines, Eldar, Orks, and Chaos Marines struggling to repel a massive Tyranid invasion, which are AI-controlled to keep everything in balance. It seems simple enough, and in some ways kind of like the Dawn of War II game, except Relic Entertainment isn't anywhere to be found as Eternal Crusade is handled by Behaviour Interactive.
Eternal Crusade is a premium free-to-play MMO, however free players will only have access to the Orks, namely the dime a dozen Ork Boyz. Five of the Boyz are required to take down a single Space Marine, and since Behaviour expects free players will always outnumber paid, it's a way to balance out the sheer numbers of the Orks. When a player decides to purchase something in the game, they're able to then have access to all four races and the full progression path for each. There's no telling what all you can purchase in the game, but hopefully that'll be revealed soon.
Since the crux of the game is fighting back a massive Tyranid invasion, Eternal Crusade's campaigns last for three months and are focused on a single world. At the end of those three months, a winner is decided based on territory control and dominance, and then it's off to a new world. Think of it like the changing of seasons. The MMO has a blend of PVE and PVP, but PVP is the main attraction, and rightfully so in a universe that knows only war. If you're familiar with Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, then you'll feel right at home with Eternal Crusade's over-the-shoulder camera and seamless blend of ranged and melee combat. There's really a ton more to dive into, and plenty more we don't know, but Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is planned to launch two years from now. An open beta is targeted in a year and a half, so you can begin counting down already.
Winner: ArcheAge (PC)
I know you probably expected me to choose The Elder Scrolls Online. Instead, I go ahead and choose a Korean MMO you probably never heard of. Well, if you're looking for a true MMO, start paying attention. I'm not sure who thought it was a good idea to inundate MMOs with instanced zones, but as an old school gamer, I remember the good ol' days were MMOs were truly persistent open-world games – yes, even the dungeons. ArcheAge features a huge zoneless world. Even its player-built houses are within the game world , not in instanced zones. In fact, there's only one instanced area in the game, Mirage Island, which is simply where you go to buy schematics to build everything. You can build houses, boats, even a castle! While the starting two areas are safe areas, the high-level areas are open-world PvP, so you'll want a few friends in the game if you're going to start building, especially if you have your heart set on a castle – not to mention those take a whole lot of resources to build.
By building your own house, you also get a recall skill to get back there, which is handy since there's no fast- travel in the game. Instead, you'll have access to various mounts, a glider, or the aforementioned ships. Everyone starts with a basic glider and rowboat, but they can be upgraded or new ones built. Some gliders can even shoot arrows and go stealth. As for your character, you can choose one of four races and then choose three of ten ability trees, resulting in 120 possible classes. ArcheAge is very much a game about choices and doing whatever the hell you want to do. That choice can even be to steal and kill other players. But if you do so against players of your own faction, you may be labeled a pirate and exiled to your own resource-limited island. As a pirate, NPCs on the other islands won't want to deal with you.
While many people are wary of Asian MMOs – and with good reason – ArcheAge has a lot of promise. The game launched in Korea at the beginning of the year, but it wasn't until E3 that I even heard of it. I'm really glad I did.
Runner-Up: The Elder Scrolls Online (PC, PS4, XBO)
The Elder Scrolls Online was my runner-up last year and sadly it's stuck in that position yet again. It was tempting to have TESO as my biggest disappointment because what was shown and discussed at E3 was rather lackluster. The biggest piece of news was that it's coming to both next-gen consoles – sorry if I'm not impressed. Call it PC bias, but I'll always prefer my MMOs with a keyboard and mouse. In any case, the most important piece of information everyone wanted to know is still unknown – the pricing model. While the prospect of exploring Tamriel with friends is enticing, I just can't get as excited as I should be. I just have this bad feeling about it – but I sure hope I'm wrong. I do like that you can feed your mounts and what you feed them determines how they progress, such as getting faster or more armored. It's also nice that the UI will be completely customizable on the PC/Mac versions via LUA scripting. So there's that. Like last year, it's sadly still too early to tell.