Fifteen years is a long time in the gaming industry and with World of Warcraft now mover than a decade and a half old, the teenagers that once spent all their time playing WOW are now university graduates who spent all their time away from the office playing WOW. While Blizzard, the passage of time and players have all been kind to WOW but not to others. Let’s take a look at the legacy of the fallen MMOs that were good, but just not good enough to survive.
City of Heroes (2004 – 2012)
Formerly one of the premier free-to-play MMORPGs. Developed by NCSoft, Paragon Studios and Cryptic Studios, it was the first superhero MMORPG. Players could create a hero or villain from one of 10 base archetypes and build their powers from over 40 primary and subclasses. Then join the fight for control of Paragon City for themselves or alongside various signature heroes and villains. While the servers were shut down in November of 2012, there are rumors of a secret fan server that keeps Paragon City and the fight between heroes and villains alive.
The Matrix Online (2005 – 2009)
Monolith Productions had the unenviable task of turning a mammoth juggernaut of a film franchise into an MMO. Together with Sega and WB Games, any MMORPG in The Matrix films complete with matrix-esque Kung Fu and Bullet time as a Human, Exile or Machine was going to be tough. While they were successful in capturing the feel of the Matrix and building a decent RPG experience, they were not able to dodge – even in bullet time the inevitable decline. Players who were there to the end, saw the decline in quality and content as live events were replaced by cinematics and storyboards. New content was not delivered, updates and patches became sporadic towards the end. The game was given the Red Pill in August of 2009, and sadly, everyone woke up.
Pirates of the Caribbean Online (2007-2013)
Originally developed by Disney Interactive, this was an MMO that was more blatant cash grab than RPG. Original, Pirates of the Caribbean Online was supposed to launch alongside the release of Dead Man’s Chest. While the idea was solid, with players able to create their own characters, captain their own ships, engage in battles, quests and hunt for treasure, game development is anything but easy. The game was delayed until 2007 and it didn’t help that you had to pay an optional subscription to unlock all of the game’s content. The game finally sank beneath the ocean surface in 2013.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning (2008-2013)
Warhammer has always been about one thing: – War. The MMO adaption launched by Mythic Entertainment did just that. Warhammer Online offered some of the most awesome, and largest scale PvP seen in MMO history with its Realm vs. Realm battles. At its time, it was the only game to quite literally offer a continuous worldwide conflict that was laced with dark humor. The game did relatively well upon release, but quickly became bogged down as bugs and flaws became more apparent, and start to ruin the experience. Sadly the game last only lasted five years, before everything was consumed by Chaos in 2013. Fortunately, there is some hope, as fan servers persist.
Firefall was the ambitious MMO that RPG systems into a persistent style world first-person shooter. Arguably, this was the game that laid the foundation of the Looter-Shooter Genre. This science fiction Free-to-Play open world MMO is one I still remember thanks to its unique “thumping” mechanic and I have too many fond memories of both its PvE and PvP content, and of soirees in Copacabana. Unfortunately, bad management was a large part of the game’s downfall and sent the game to the bottom of the Sunken Harbor.
The Ones I Miss the Most
Out of these Top 5 MMORPGs that I used to play and had to stop playing, it is a coin toss between Warhammer Online and Firefall. The other three have fond memories attached to them but they just don’t come close to how much fun I had with those two titles. Did I miss an MMO? Let me know in the comments and we’ll get that discussion going. I guess I’m going back to Monster Hunter World till its dead or I find something better…