The Creative and Unique Races in MMORPGs

The worlds of MMORPGs would be nothing without the many, many races that help to make character creation such an enjoyable yet time-consuming process. To the most indecisive gamers, the intensity of labouring over the choices upon starting a new game can often outweigh the in-game challenges.

“What if I make the wrong choice and only realise after days of gameplay?” “Does this haircut truly reflect who I am on a spiritual level?” “Why would anybody choose to be a boring human?” These are some of the questions that plague the mind of the most hesitant gamers out there. So we’re here to pinpoint those races that we think are the most unique and, therefore, most deserving of your attention.

We already covered 7 original MMO races back in 2014, so before condemning our criminal exclusion of the fantastically original Gibberlings or adorable Popori be sure to check that out first! That said, if we have forgotten other truly one-of-a-kind races regardless, be sure to give us a piece of your mind in the comments.

The examples on this list may share some common features with MMO character tropes, such as scales or magic powers. However, each brings to the table something different that we feel deserves the hype.

Barakas – TERA

Credit: tera.enmasse.com

Much unlike their frankly terrifying namesake from the Mortal Kombat franchise, the Baraka race found in TERA are peaceful nomads characterised by their size and scholarly habits.

Descended from giants, these lumbering pacifists tragically lost their homeland thanks to the warmongering of their more scrappy relatives. With nowhere to call home, they began to wander the world, establishing libraries and amassing the collective knowledge of TERA’s many races.

Though unique for lacking an intact homeland, being technically genderless and, let’s face it, their abundance of clothing compared to the other races within TERA, their striking style is what earns their place on this list.

While the hulking humanoid model is a mainstay in MMORPGs (you know, tanks), the Barakas boast some pretty distinctive features. They look like wandering statues thanks to their stoney skin and spherical shape, with left arms that are inexplicably longer than their right ones (there honestly is no explanation). That’s not forgetting their cold dead eyes that reflect what too much knowledge does to a creature. As a great philosopher once said ‘for when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.’

Norn – GuildWars 2 

Credit: guildwars2.com

The Norn of Guild Wars 2 are another towering race whose backstory involves displacement from their homeland. Yet it is their shapeshifting abilities that set them apart and brings them to this list. While it may be true that shapeshifting is not unique within MMOs (though woefully scarce), the mechanic is most often conveyed as a class-based skill rather than a racial one.

This Viking-esque hunter race that hail from the frozen north are imbued with the power to transform into werebeasts that resemble the Spirits of the Wild; namely a bear, snow leopard, wolf or raven. We admit that werewolves are not particularly original, at least within the realms of fantasy, but just one look at the freakish wereraven is enough to embed the Norn in this list, and our nightmares.

Au Ra – FFXIV

Credit: finalfantasy.fandom.com

The horned and scaled Au Ra of Final Fantasy XIV were introduced as part of the Heavensward expansion. While not unique in their draconic attributes, they are in the disproportionate size between the males and females. One would be forgiven for confusing these slender and mystifying humanoids as belonging to different races entirely were it not for their more subtly similar features.

Like the other races within the FFXIV roster, the Au Ra are further divided into two clans: the peaceful Raen and the warlike Xaela (with the former sporting typically paler orange skin and the latter a darker blue). The Auri creation myth tells of a Dawn Father and a Dusk Mother with each clan claiming descendancy from one or the other. We’ll let you guess which is which.

Dragons – Istaria

Credit: Istaria.com

Dragons are famously prolific throughout the fantasy genre (and some sci-fi for that matter) – but to actually play as one? That’s a different matter. This is what essentially comprises the unique selling point of oldschool fantasy MMORPG Istaria. Istaria breaks away from the bipedal avatars we’re used to with their inclusion of these legendary beasts as playable characters.

Even amid a list of other rare races such as Satyrs and Dryads, choosing to play as a dragon is especially enticing not just for the unusual character model (props to the devs for the extra animation effort), but also because of the alternative gameplay that it opens up. As a dragon you grow from a hatchling to an ancient, earning your ability to fly and choosing a path between a magic-wielding or tooth-and-nail fighting style.

St’rm – Camelot Unchained

Credit: camelotunchained.com

While it is difficult to pick just one race from the uncommon creatures that make up the upcoming MMO Camelot Unchained roster, St’rm makes the cut for their mysterious origins. Largely based upon the folkloric beasts of the British Isles and Viking mythology, the anticipated fantasy MMO promises playable renditions of valkyries, leprechauns and gargoyles, among many others (including more anthropomorphic cats, because why not?).

The St’rm are described as ‘one of the most enigmatic races in all the realms’ with wilfully shady origin stories. We are told that this race is matriarchal, with their most famous warriors being female which also implies an exclusively female character build.

But while they look like a particularly creepy dragon-fairy, its unusual design leaves its origins in question. Are they harpies? Demons? Dragons? Why are their wings on their butt? Wouldn’t that throw off the aerodynamics? Maybe you already have the answers to these burning questions, so let us know what you think.

Trolls – World of Warcraft

Credit: worldofwarcraft.com

Of course World of Warcraft was bound to make this list somewhere. The developers’ proficiency at keeping the game fresh and full of compelling races is nothing short of legendary. Their original concepts are still flowing and setting standards to this day.

But we mustn’t forget that this originality was as ever-present upon its initial release as it is now. Sure, you had the Taurens and the Undead – but variations on the voodoo-obsessed, tusk-bearing, multicoloured Trolls are difficult to pinpoint within WoW’s spiritual successors.

Whereas bipedal animals are comparatively common, the Troll’s design and lore is rarely imitated. Perhaps they could be seen as particularly spindly Orcs, with subsequent MMO titles favouring the more bulky and brutish counterpart time and again. Whatever your thoughts, they are a distinctive and compelling race to play as (even after a kung-fu panda joined the lineup).

Aliens – Star Trek Online

Credit: sto.gamepedia.com

OK so this one is a bit of a cheat. The highly-customisable Alien ‘race’ within Star Trek Online are basically whatever you want them to be. However, that is not to say that there isn’t an extremely deep pool of predetermined races to choose from within this spinoff MMO.

But it’s precisely because of the multitude of races available that we had to include this one on the list – because most if not all of them deserve a spot (apart from humans, obviously). Granted, the available races are drawn straight from the source material but it would be remiss to exclude them in a list about original concepts.

Unlike the other races, ‘Aliens’ do away with preset traits, instead allowing you, the player, to decide for yourself. This also goes for their appearance, which can take many, many forms. A mechanic like this, especially as part of an already substantial list of race options, is extremely rare to see, if not entirely unique to this sci-fi title. You could say, perhaps, that this game has gone where no one has…nevermind.

 

So that’s our two cents, but we want to hear what you think. There’s almost certainly a few races that we’ve missed so now is your chance to shine on them the spotlight that we have so cruelly denied. We are, of course, extremely excited to see what options upcoming MMO titles have to offer so make sure you follow us to keep up to speed on the MMO news as we receive it.

 

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Amazon’s Innovative Team-Based Shooter Crucible Has Landed!

A little while ago we covered the upcoming Amazon Games’ team-based shooter Crucibleand we’re now excited to announce that the game has officially launched. Within the game players work with teammates to hunt their opponents and take down hostile creatures on a lush rogue planet in pursuit of Essence, a valuable resource that amplifies hunters’ powers. 

This MOBA-tinted title allows you to choose between 10 distinct hunters including Earl, an inter-stellar trucker, Summer, a dual-flame-thrower-wielding former welder, and Bugg, a robot botanist.

Having given this game a go we can attest to its quality but don’t just take our word for it – here’s a few reviews to convince you to pick this game up, if you haven’t already:

“I knew Crucible was something special the very first time I played it, and it somehow keeps getting even better,” said Twitch creator Sasslyn. “The hunters are unique, but welcomingly familiar. Whether you want to stick to one or be a jack-of-all-trades, there is a hunter that will fit your preferred style of play. Throughout Crucible’s development, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing first-hand how much the team cares about their players, and the way they take feedback and use it to make Crucible into an even more innovative and unique game.”

“One thing that separates Crucible is the diversity in its characters,” said Twitch creator Bartonologist. “There’s something there for everyone. Each character approaches the game differently and matches up against the other hunters in a unique way. Brings a whole new level of strategy and competition to this world.”

“The three game modes in Crucible represent three completely different kinds of teamwork required to come out on top,” said Twitch creator Stevo. “There’s unlimited ways you can strategize and compose your team to win, but of course, you never know what your opposition will do either!”

Get involved before 2nd June and you’ll bag yourself an early adopter gift of 1,000 Credits deposited into your in-game account. Credits can be redeemed for cosmetic in-game items like skins and emotes, as well as a Pre-Season Battle Pass, available for 950 Credits. The Pre-Season Battle Pass offers players a series of challenges and rewards, including hunter and account customization options.

Check out more info on the game via their website.

 

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Garden of the Gods – the Latest Expansion for ArcheAge

ArcheAge, the free-to-play fantasy sandbox MMORPG from publishers Gamico, has been going strong since 2013 and will now be bolstered with a new expansion entitled Garden of the Gods

With immense freedom to choose your own path through questing, trading, housing and farming and much more, ArcheAge shakes up the MMO formula. It has been described by developers XL Games as a sandbox/theme-park hybrid; aka a ‘sandpark’. With over 100 classes and 4 unique races (Nuians, Elves, Firran and Harani) with fluid alliances between them, there are myriad opportunities to carve out your own unique story and shape the world around you.

The Garden of the Gods expansion introduces a mystical world of lush forests and enchanted groves rife with dangerous enemies, thrilling quests, and enticing treasures. Confront the dangers of the zone in exhilarating raids, though it is advisable to be well-armed – take on new tiers of Raid bosses to ensure you are equipped with the best loot to explore this perilous realm.

Check out the announcement trailer below to whet your appetite:

 

Garden of the Gods will be available from 11th June to players of ArcheAge and ArcheAge Unchained (the buy-to-play version of the game that does away with powerful premium content to level the playing field). Not only that, but as of right now ArcheAge players can claim an adorable Brown Shiba Inu pet from the game store for free to celebrate this release.

More information on this expansion and all of its contents will be released over the coming days through the ArcheAge community – so check out the website to keep in the loop and give this title a spin.

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Team-Based Shooter Crucible Launches on 20th May

Crucible is one of the results of digital retail giant Amazon’s foray into gaming and, more specifically, the MOBA genre. The team-based shooter has been in development for a while now but we have finally received a launch date: 20th May. 

The free-to-play title is an intriguing addition to this popular MMO format with some unique mechanics to set it apart from popular paragons such as SMITE & League of Legends. Crucible is a MOBA with a twist; the opportunity to betray your allies. 

Anyone who has played an online shooter has encountered the annoying players who think it’s funny to shoot their teammates. Crucible is making that an integral part of their game. Within three modes – each one PvP or objective-based – you will be able to turn on your fellow players and join the opposition, which promises compelling gameplay and spectating. 

Fans of titles such as Overwatch should be thrilled by the game’s roster of distinctive ‘Essence Hunters’, each with their own skills, characteristics and contributions that will deliver a unique experience with each match – doing away with the traditional choice between a tank, healer or support. 

Ahead of the release is the trailer which you can take a look at below:

Crucible has been developed by Relentless Studios, a Seattle-based development team of Amazon Games headed up by the co-founder of Command & Conquer’s Westwood Studios, Louis Castle. Crucible will be the first of two major titles from Amazon Games in 2020, followed by the launch of New World in August. With the budget of Amazon behind them and a delayed release to tweak the game to perfection, these are promising additions to a tried-and-tested formula.

With the 20th May release date just around the corner, get yourself ready by adding Crucible to your Steam wishlist and check out more in-depth info on the Crucible website.

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Golf MMO ‘Shot Online’ Releases its RE-NEW Update

Free-to-play golf MMO Shot Online has released its RE-NEW update – bringing the newly-added Golf Club content alongside a heap of gameplay enhancements including new Miniature Mode golf courses, new items, physics optimizations and renewal of the NPC Shop, Item Mall, Course Drop Box & Item Recipe System. 

The main addition of the RE-NEW update is the Golf Club. With this update, players over level 190 can now experience new benefits by founding their own Golf Club, gaining access to two new systems:

  • The Rounding Acquaintance System: Earn ‘A-points’ through Co-Player Rounding which can be used to craft items. 
  • The Training System: Earn several rewards by sending characters into training; the longer the training time, the better the rewards. 

To celebrate this new feature and to kick-start players’ efforts to reach level 190, Shot Online are offering 20% bonus experience on all titles until midnight on 9th May, as well as additional events for a limited time.

Also included in the update are the two new Miniature Mode courses: Dino Park and Volcano, bringing the available miniature mode courses up to 5. Within the Miniature Mode, physics issues have been patched, objects will become transparent when covering a player and the Pin Point is now more accurate. 

Final touch-ups mean that players can now enjoy new items within the NPC shop, a better choice within the Item Mall including better packages and the ability to craft the ‘Valhalla’s Soul Stone’ within the Course Drop Box, which can be used to craft various useful items within the game. The Item Recipe System itself has also undergone some changes to streamline the crafting process. 

Visit our Shot Online page to play or check out the full details of the RE-NEW Shot Online update via the official announcement page.

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The Division 2 is Free to Play This Weekend

If you haven’t tried it yet and you’re curious The Division 2 is free to play this weekend on all platforms it is available on. That’s PC, PS4, and Xbox One in case you didn’t know. During the free to play weekend, you’ll have access to the entire game. If you’ve taken part in previous free to play events you’ll be able to pick up right where you left off. If you do decide to buy the game any progress you’ve made during the free weekend will carry over.

Speaking of buying it, the game has been discounted 70% and the Year 1 Pass has been discounted 40% for the duration of the free to play weekend. The free to play weekend has already started and will continue to run until Monday, October 21st at 8 AM UTC for UPlay, PS4, and Xbox One and 5 PM UTC for the Epic store.

They have an FAQ on their official website but it is pretty small and is just made up of everything you just read. The one thing it doesn’t explain is why the free to play weekend. It’s to celebrate the launch of Episode 2, a massive game update and Title Update 6. Episode 2 is the new DLC that is tied to the Year 1 Pass. It includes 3 missions that are all around the Pentagon, which gives the episode its title, Pentagon: The Last Castle. Title Update 6 has revamped character customization, crafting, and a whole lot more. The update is available to everyone and doesn’t require the Year 1 Pass.

 

Source: Official Site

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Weekly Business Report: Nexon’s Internal Restructuring, Ninja’s Leaving Twitch, and More

MMOGames Business Weekly Report is back to take a look at mobile gamer preferences for free to play games in China, the latest news from Nexon, Ninja leaving Twitch, and a few other topics relevant to the business side of making online games.

 

Automaton Games Shuts Down

Mavericks: Proving Grounds

Automaton Games, the folks who were behind the unreleased 1,000 man Battle Royale Mavericks: Proving Grounds, has shut down and in the process the game has died. In the announcement on their website, they cited a lack of funding as the reason for their sudden closure. Thankfully Improbable, the makers of SpatialOS, have said they will be trying to find places for Automaton employees in their company. Mavericks: Proving Grounds is actually the second SpatialOS game to meet its end in recent months leaving some to speculate that SpatialOS falling out with Unity earlier this year may have played a role. If that’s true, this might only be the beginning of SpatialOS related sunsets. MMOGames staff will be watching and will continue to bring updates in our weekly business report.

 

Source: MMOGames

 

Chinese Consumer Preferences

According to recently released research, over half of Chinese consumers prefer free to play or ad monetized games over premium titles. In fact, the research found that 61% of people prefer non-premium games. 85% reported they spend money on mobile games with 3% spending more than $50 (¥330) a month. In contrast, the average spending is just $5.80 a month. Those interviewed between the ages of 26 and 30 had the highest average spending at $10 a month.

The research also showed there is a high level of brand loyalty. 92% of respondents said they stick with a game for more than a week and 87% say they’ve played fewer than 5 different games in the previous month.

One challenge that developers face is how well divided the market’s stores are. In China, 30% of the market is using the App Store, 29% are using Tencent’s MyApp, and 26% use the Huawei app store. In the West we really only have Google Play or the App Store for mobile games.

It would be really interesting to see this same research completed in a few different Western countries to see how our views differ. I would personally much prefer to pay for a game or even pay a subscription for a game over being nickel and dimed to death by an in-game shop.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Nexon Internal Merger Incoming

The last few months have been a wild ride for Nexon. First, their founder and CEO was putting the family’s stake in the business up for sale, worth between 9 to 11 billion dollars. After months of speculation that everyone from Disney to EA were interested in buying, it seems Kim Jung-ju may have simply decided not to sell. Of course, I’m sure a decision like that wasn’t made lightly. Following the release of this rumor, Nexon’s stock dropped resulting in a loss of up to 5%. Now we know that Nexon is reorganizing and merging their two core business units. No jobs are going to be lost in this internal restructuring, but the company is looking at getting rid of projects with low commercial value. They also hope that the restructuring will improve the company’s operating profits and increase its stock value. News of this restructuring started out as a rumor but was quickly confirmed by Nexon. It is set to take place sometime in August.

 

Source: MMOCulture

 

Ninja Leaves Twitch for Mixer

Ninja Fortnite

Ninja has announced that he will no longer be streaming on Twitch and is instead switching over to Microsoft’s Mixer platform. The specifics on this particular deal haven’t been released but last year he was making $500,000 a month streaming Fortnite on Twitch and a paid promotion deal with EA for Apex Legends got him $1 million, so it is safe to assume he got a pretty sweet deal. This marks a major shift for Twitch which has been seeing its growth slow over the last year.

Mixer has always been playing third fiddle to Twitch and Youtube but has also seen consistent growth. Last quarter it saw 119 million hours watched, an increase of 37% year on year. Ninja’s move to Mixer might be exactly the sort of push the platform needs to catch up to its two bigger competitors. However, Fortnite’s popularity, especially in streaming, has been on the decline. It is also possible that many of Ninja’s fans wont follow him to this different platform because they prefer Twitch. We can see an example of this in the industry already looking at people who refuse to play a game that hasn’t been released on Steam. Only time will tell how this transition actually goes.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

 

Zynga Eyes China

At one point in time just a few years ago Zynga was dominating the games industry. They were all we ever talked about it seemed like. Of course the days of Facebook games are long gone now, but that doesn’t mean Zynga is gone or that they’ve even slowed down. Zynga has been transitioning to a mobile game developer and having great success with it. They recently released Empires and Puzzles in Japan and Korea, the beginning of their strategy for expansion into the Asian market. Now they’re eyeing China.

In a call with GamesIndustry.biz Zynga COO Matt Bromberg said, “We are beginning to look at China for Empires & Puzzles as well, and as our portfolio continues to develop we have both Star Wars and the Harry Potter game on our slate for the future. When there are big global pieces of IP like that, which we think will resonate across Asia, we’re hopeful that will also help us expand there. We’re trying to take a measured approach to it, and learn as we go and make sure we have the right match of game and personnel on the ground and marketing strategy. When you get those lined up it can be terrific, but it is a complicated market and we’re still in learning mode.”

A complicated market is putting it lightly. Still, if they are successful in their push into China, they’ll be tapping into a mobile games industry with an estimated 586 million gamers.

 

Source: Games Industry

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Albion Online is Going Free to Play Next Month

Next month Albion Online is going free to play after spending nearly two years behind what they call a $30 paywall. They said this in the FAQ section of announcement answering the question, Why are you making this change now? Here is the full text of their answer:

Overall, the game is doing very well. We have a fully staffed development team of 35 people, just released our sixth major post-release update, and have a stable and growing player population.

However, we’re also convinced that Albion Online can be taken much further. Our mission is to bring back that old-school, hardcore MMORPG feeling, to as many players as possible.

In today’s world, a 30-dollar paywall – the price of our cheapest game pack – is a massive deterrent for trying out a new game, especially one as unconventional as Albion Online. We believe that by removing the initial paywall we will be able to grow Albion Online as a game and continue to further expand our development team to bring you even more content updates and exciting new features going forward.

Ultimately, we believe this step will help us realize our long-term vision for the game.

As a thank you to their loyal players they’ll be giving anyone who has redeemed a starter pack before April 10th an exclusive Specter Wolf mount, 1,000 gold, and 3 days of claimable premium time. Starter packs will continue to be available until April 10th, and are in fact, discounted for the remaining time they’ll be available.

Premium status which can be bought with in-game currency or real money will remain the same. The only thing being changed is that barrier of entry wherein you must buy the game.

All of these changes take place on April 10th at 10:00 UTC. If you’d like to learn more about Albion Online going f2p you can find more information in the official announcement linked below.

 

Source: Official Site

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Wargaming Announces a Next-Gen F2P MMO Shooter

Wargaming announces a next-gen F2P MMO Shooter that they’re working on with Frag Lab. They’ll be using nearly a dozen Amazon Web Services products to make the game including Amazon GameLift, and Lumberyard. Why this was mentioned and took up about half the press release announcing the project I can’t really say, but they seem to think it’s important. Or they’re using it as an ad. Either way, we’ve mentioned it and now we’re moving on to the bits people actually care about.

This is Warface, Not the newly announced game of which there are no images.

Here are a couple of quotes from Wargaming and Frag Lab about their new partnership.

“When Frag Lab approached us with their vision of what they wanted to develop, we felt that it perfectly matched our core values, and their passion was palpable,” states Shahzad Khan, Product Director, Wargaming. “We knew by combining their experience working on a successful shooter with our unrivaled free-to-play expertise, together we could bring this vision to life.”

“Having Wargaming as a publishing partner was the obvious choice for us; they have a great wealth of experience in delivering successful titles to players worldwide,” states Maxim Dembik, Frag Lab CEO. “We started this ambitious project from scratch with nothing but our collective knowledge, and this gave us the opportunity to choose any technology we wanted. We’re always looking to embrace new tech and we’re glad we did: Amazon Lumberyard is the perfect fit for our vision.”

Sadly there isn’t really much more to be said about the game right now. But the press release announcing the game does say that a public announcement which will feature more details is scheduled for later this year. So consider this your announcement of the announcement.

 

Source: Press Release

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Switchblade, the MOBA with Vehicles is Now Free to Play

Vehicle-based games are rare so when Switchblade graced our inbox we knew had to talk about it. Switchblade is a 5v5 team-based MOBA where all the combat takes place with heavily armed sci-fi vehicles in a massive arena. The game is currently in Early Access and is being developed by UK development team Lucid Games. You can find it on Steam right now and Playstation 4 is scheduled very soon.

From a development standpoint, the move to free to play also represents a transition from Early Access to beta. Of course, this can’t quite be accurately displayed in places like Steam. For them being in beta means that the game is effectively feature complete. Beta is about getting player feedback, squashing bugs, and introducing more content.

If you’re interested in learning more about the game there will be a developer livestream tomorrow, January 23rd at 3 PM GMT on Twitch. They don’t have an agenda planned for the livestream but they will be there to answer player questions, celebrate the launch of free to play, and giving away some in-game currency. If you have a question already in mind send them a tweet and they’ll be sure to answer it on stream. This is especially great since 3 PM GMT is 10 AM Eastern so there’s a good chance you won’t be able to watch the stream live anyway. Thankfully the livestream will be available on social media after it wraps up so you’ll be able to watch it whenever you get the chance.

If you’re interested in giving Switchblade a try head over to Steam where you can grab it for free. If you haven’t already seen it be sure to check out the brand new, explosion-packed trailer below.

Source: Press Release, Official Blog

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