As our 2009 ZAM Awards wrap up this week, we take an early glance at the most-promising MMOs scheduled for launch in 2010.
Sadly, the holiday season came to an end last weekend, and the dead of winter is approaching. For many folks, January to March is a rather dismal time of year; the coming months are usually cold, dark and bleak for everyone north of the 38th parallel, until the warmth of spring finally arrives. Luckily for MMO fans, there are quite a few anticipated games scheduled for release this winter, and even more throughout the later months of 2010.
As we wrap up our collection of last year's best and brightest in the 2009 ZAM Awards, we can also look ahead at the great-looking MMOs scheduled for release in the future. Some developers are already running beta-testing trials, while others are diligently working to reach post-production in time for a third- or fourth-quarter launch date. In this feature, ZAM scouts ahead and takes a preliminary snapshot of a handful of MMOs we're looking forward to seeing in the coming months. In time, we will take a closer and more-comprehensive look at what the MMO industry is promising this year. But until then, keep reading for a brief overview (in no particular order) of the games we're looking forward to the most in 2010.
Cryptic Studios is finally prepping Star Trek Online for its official launch, less than one month from now. Scheduled for release on Feb. 2, STO is currently in closed beta, and we're learning more about its story and fantastic dual-gameplay (space combat and third-person action) almost every day. It finally feels tangible to fans, which is a big accomplishment, considering there was a time when the community believed the MMO would fade away into the vaporware abyss. Keep checking back with us throughout the next month as we continue our news and preview coverage to learn more until the NDA lifts!
Square Enix officially announced Final Fantasy XIV at E3 last summer, but it's already predicted to hit store shelves sometime in 2010. Its aging predecessor, Final Fantasy XI, is still enjoyed by many hardcore fans of the series, but it's time for something new; a Final Fantasy MMO with better graphics and streamlined gameplay mechanics catered to a larger audience. Final Fantasy XIV hopes to revitalize the franchise in the cross-platform MMO market by adding new races, changing the Job System and giving players new lands to explore.
Aion is widely regarded as one of the top—if not the best—MMO of 2009. Still, its release was met with some criticism, even from its most-devoted fans. That's why the "Aion Vision Trailer" looked so appealing to existing players; the video depicts NCsoft’s "vision" of where the MMO is headed, previewing higher-quality graphics, new combat mechanics, player housing and other new gameplay elements. However, we recently learned that these enhancements—codenamed "Vision," for now—won't be deployed as a single patch or expansion. A release date hasn't been announced yet, but (until NCsoft confirms otherwise) many fans are interpreting "Vision" to be a series of gradual or staggered updates that will be added to the MMO throughout 2010.
SW:TOR recently took first place in the "Most Anticipated Established IP" category of our 2009 ZAM Awards, and it's not too difficult to understand why. Star Wars fans have waited years for a new MMO, after Sony's Star Wars Galaxies strayed into oblivion. Most gamers were elated when they found out that BioWare—developer of the successful Knights of the Old Republic series—would be taking on the project. It didn’t even matter that SW:TOR will be the company's first attempt at making an MMO; most fans trust the developers to "do it right." We already know that SW:TOR will be the first fully-voice-acted MMO in history, as well as one of the most story-driven. No release date has been confirmed yet, but the developer's recent call for beta test applicants saw most of the community predicting a launch in early- to mid-2010.