[Make It So takes a look at our favorite games and suggests additions, subtractions, and areas to improve upon for the sequel or next entry in the series.]
The reviews are starting to roll in for The Elder Scrolls Online, and the general consensus so far is that it’s pretty good, which is about what I thought back when I played an early build of it last year. Good on Bethesda for putting out a quality product, and here’s hoping they can secure a subscriber base that sustains the game for a long run.
Thinking about this game, it occurred to me that I’m really not a big fan of MMOs as a general rule. It also struck me that ESO is kind of an obvious choice for converting into this genre since it takes place in a massive world, is a fantasy game, and largely consists of fetch quests sending you to the far reaches of the map. The real question for me is why didn’t this become an MMO sooner? Anyway, it got me thinking about some other popular games and series’ from years past that I think could successfully make the jump from a single-player game to an MMO. Some of these ideas are admittedly a bit of a stretch, but there’s no harm in speculating, right? Anyway, let’s get down to it.
One of my favorite locations in Deus Ex: Human Revolution was Adam Jensen’s Detroit apartment. Sure, it was in a bad neighborhood in the middle of Detroit, but what a view! I would kill to have a piece of property in the sepia-tinted universe of this game, and to be able to walk the streets, interact with others, and ply my trade as a hacker, mercenary, thief, or whatever.
In terms of lore, this series has it in spades. Between ambient dialogue, Ebooks, and hacked communications, the richness of the Deus Ex universe is staggering. Beyond the game itself, there’s enough real-world conspiracy theorizing going on that it may even stand up to some kind of multimedia game experience. Essentially, it could be like The Secret World, except with the ability to pick up a vending machine and throw it at somebody.
One of my most memorable gaming memories is the first time I played Paper Mario on the N64. It showed the entire Mushroom Kingdom as a consistent world wherein people were just living their lives. Seeing this side of such a gamey franchise blew my mind, and it confirmed that there is no world I would rather live inside than this one. How amazing would it be to be able to choose your race/species and live your virtual life as, say, a Goomba who dreams of seeing the larger world. An MMO doesn’t always have to be serious or dark; why not make one that’s delightful?
This one is pretty much self-explanatory, but while shooting enemies in co-op is a blast, what’s really missing from the full online Mass Effect experience is being able to go for a beer afterwards with your allies…and perhaps even your enemies. Just the Citadel is a large enough environment to explore for MMO fans, and the sheer size of this universe would more than accommodate the requirements for a successful MMO. Forget about SPECTREs and Alliance — imagine playing as an agent of the Shadow Broker or Illusive Man, working your way through those networks and manipulating things behind the scenes. You know this sounds cool, so why not make it happen?
One thing that makes a Mass Effect MMO viable is that BioWare has (relatively) successfully launched an MMO already with The Old Republic, and this time around they would be able to deal with their predecessor’s issues right out of the gate. If handled properly, this could have the potential to be a more accessible variation of EVE Online.
Hmm, let’s see. Entire planet to explore? Check. Destructible environments? Check. Two main combatant groups? Check. Seriously, how is this not an MMO already? The Red Faction series is well-known for its destruction physics when dealing with buildings, bridges, and any other number of structures. Imagine being able to fortify your own base with massive buildings, and then setting out to destroy those built by others?
Now, Red Faction is certainly not the biggest name out there (or even on this list), but that could actually be a bit of an advantage. The story behind this series is vague enough that shoehorning any kind of story or characters into its canon is not a challenge, and the desolate Mars setting allows for plenty of space for players to explore, fortify, and blow the crap out of.
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory showed that an online mode could be based around stealth mechanics. The next logical step would be how to deal with having targets to assassinate, or being one yourself, but no timeline. Imagine the thrill of not really knowing when a hit is coming your way, where everyone you encounter might be ‘the one’.
I’d love to see Hitman in a persistent world where it’s necessary to travel between cities and countries, some more friendly than others, in order to seek out targets…or shake a pursuer. For those who grow bored of sneaking around and causing ‘accidents’, there could be the option of playing an agency cleaner whose job it is to neutralize active agents.
Far Cry 2
I’m a big believer that one of the reasons why people are so love/hate about Far Cry 2 is that it’s pretty much a single-player MMO as it is. You’ve got warring factions that you can support or screw over as you see fit, respawning enemy encampments, and an overriding sense of having to carve out your own living in a hostile, dangerous world. Imagine this as an MMO where you do raiding with the factions; taking over territory to gain advantages while you hunt down the Jackal.
Speaking of the Jackal, there are opportunities with him as well. What if he were not just an end-game boss, but an actual player granted that title from being a great player? How about if the reward for taking him down was that you become the new holder? Being singled out for that title could be both the highest honor and biggest challenge, alternatively being the most powerful person in the game but having literally everybody out to kill you. It’s an intriguing concept that, if done properly, could redefine the FPS MMO.
So how about you? What series would you like to see made into an MMO, and why? Leave a comment and let me know.