AION: Tower of Eternity
- Developer: NCSoft
- Publisher: NCSoft
The new MMOG from NCSoft's Korean studios was unveiled at Seoul's biggest game expo, G*, late last year - and it's a graphically stunning and lavishly designed game, with absolutely gorgeous Asian-style artwork and character designs. So far, one of the headline features seems to be the ability to summon a pair of angelic wings and fly around the game world as you please; aside from some nicely animated combat sequences, the rest of the gameplay is somewhat shrouded in mystery. We can only hope that it escapes the interminable level grind which afflicts many other Korean MMOs.
Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising
- Developer: Perpetual Entertainment
- Publisher: Platform Publishing
As the name suggests, Perpetual's upcoming MMOG - which caused quite a stir at E3 last year - focuses on the history and mythology of ancient Rome, and its player characters are styled after traditional Roman archetypes from centurions to gladiators. Combat seems more involved and visceral than traditional MMOGs - a trailer of a gladiatorial bout in the colosseum owes more to WWE wrestling titles than to point and click RPG combat - and a broad swathe cut through Roman and Greek mythology provides plenty of meat for zones, monsters, quests and bosses.
One of the largest publishers of MMOGs in the booming South Korean market, Webzen hasn't really reached for the western audience until now - but Huxley looks like it might do the trick nicely. Unlike most other titles on this list, it isn't actually an MMORPG - it's an MMOFPS, a persistent world action game whose heritage springs from games like PlanetSide and, more noticeably, the non-MMO Unreal Tournament. Combat is based heavily on skill, so low-level players will have a chance when taking on high-level types, and the whole thing is far more intense than the average MMOG. On the downside, you'll probably need a rock solid high speed connection - it's the kind of game that's utterly ruined by lag. Not a problem with Korea's stunning broadband infrastructure; perhaps more of an issue here in the UK.
Pirates of the Burning Sea
- Developer: Flying Lab Software
- Publisher: Flying Lab Software
This peculiar and fascinating title has been in beta for a very long time now, but is apparently due to be finished (in so much as any MMOG is ever finished) and on shelves this year. As the name suggests, it's a pirate themed MMOG - but rather than being a pleb sent out to swab the decks, each player commands their own pirate ship and sets out to make their fortune. Graphically it's a little underwhelming, but some beta reports indicate that this could be EVE Online for the 16th century, which is bound to appeal to quite a few people.
Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning
- Developer: Mythic Entertainment
- Publisher: EA
The Warhammer MMOG has had a troubled path, but it's finally found a home with developers Mythic - best known for the somewhat hardcore Dark Age of Camelot. Controversially, it's opted to ape the World of Warcraft cartoony graphical style - opening it to the risk of being seen as a real me-too title - but so far little has been revealed about the gameplay. What we do know is that the Warhammer universe has huge potential for an MMOG, and that Mythic's ambitious realm vs. realm combat in DAOC, brought up to date and tweaked significantly, would work stunningly well in this context.