Top 10 Upcoming Diablo-Like Hack and Slash Games

There is no denying that Diablo was responsible for the explosion of hack and slash games. More than a couple of decades after its release, the action RPG genre is often referred to as “Diablo-Like” and for good reason. Blizzard’s classic spawned countless clones and they are still coming fast and furious, with tons of loot, relentless mouse clicking and a fair share of wrist pain. Here are a few Diablo-Like games that you should keep an eye out for.

Pagan Online

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Pagan Online

Pagan Online is the upcoming action RPG from Wargaming. Taking a break from its serious warfare simulators such as World of Tanks, World of Warships and World of Warplanes, the Belarusian company is helping Serbian-based developer Mad Head Games with this grim hack and slash RPG inspired by pre-Christian mythology.

I can tell you that Pagan Online’s world is deliberately bleak and desolate, with its heavily stylized visuals. But it’s the template that stands out, with its MMO-ish design and bite-sized gameplay pretenses. The Pantheon is the hub for your character (from the initial choice of eight unique heroes), with short missions of different types awaiting you. WASD control assures optimal ease of use and co-op play doubles the fun – or even quadruples it, if things go according to plan.

Despite looking and playing like your typical hack and slash game, Pagan Online’s 50-hour campaign doesn’t shy away from some interesting twists, such as the occasional mission with increasingly difficult enemy waves and intense, challenging combat that takes cues from MOBA games.

Pagan Online may draw inspiration from Diablo, but it proudly shows its very own, fierce distinctiveness.

Torchlight Frontiers

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Torchlight Frontiers

What’s not to love about the Torchlight games? They take all the exciting combat and endless loot from the Diablo series and multiply it by a substantial dose of fun, resulting in two of the best hack and slash experiences ever made.

Following Torchlight 2 would never be an easy task. The next chapter needs to bring something special to live up to the hype, and indeed it does – an extra layer of MMO goodness. From public areas with up to eight players and dungeons supporting parties of four, Torchlight Frontiers ups the ante in co-op potential.

Torchlight Frontiers also tries to deviate from the tried-and-tested vertical progression systems found in most MMORPGs, offering a distinct take on levelling your character. Each frontier is levelled up independently, with specific gear best suited for each one. The alpha tests brought the first two frontiers, Goblin and Hyvid, along with randomized dungeons and a season-based contracts system that will reward players for completion of their daily and weekly missions.

Oh, and loot. Tons of loot. Torchlight Frontiers doesn’t seem destined to disappoint in that regard, nor where it comes to classes. The Forged was different enough, but the Railmaster is an entirely original beast, probably the cleverest class ever designed for an MMO in the last decade.

Last Epoch

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Last Epoch

Last Epoch is another Kickstarter-funded action RPG that looks like a close relative to Path of Exile, but with a twist: time travel. Now there’s a great excuse to take you to forbidden lands and forgotten places, or even to the end of time – no, seriously, this is a real map, set in space.

Last Epoch also comes with a skill tree of hell – or in fact, 110 skill trees. The promise of “endless replayability doesn’t fall flat in light of this feature. With five base classes and 15 mastery classes there should be more than enough to experiment, regret, re-roll and finally specialize into your favorite character. Developer Eleventh Hour Games claims that this is an action RPG for newcomers and veterans alike, so you tell us if that is the case since the beta should be available right now, with the full release slated for April 2020.

Lost Ark

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Lost Ark

Each day that goes by without an official announcement of a Lost Ark North American and European release, an angel loses its wings. We know it’s coming – Smilegate’s CEO has confirmed this – but it hurts seeing our Korean friends enjoying one of the best MMORPGs of recent years and realizing that we can’t get our grubby fingers on it before… what? Late 2019 or 2020?

Oh, come on, will you please hurry up with the English localization? China and Russia versions are well underway, and the original Korean release already got a host of new content including a new class, the Lance Master, so the anxiety is eating me up inside.

If you don’t know what Lost Ark is, then you have no love whatsoever for Diablo, MMOs or both. This is everything that you ever wanted from a Diablo MMORPG, but with so much more than you asked for. Combat alone is a thing of beauty, with several classes so diverse and resourceful that you will shake your fist at the skies in the selection screen, rightly enraged by the unfair decision that must be made before you start your adventure. Do not fret, that is what additional character slots are made for. Then you have the incredible cinematic dungeons, with camera angles and boss battles designed to keep you on the edge of your seat right until the climax.

Lost Ark is the real deal; an MMORPG that delivers on its promises. This is, by definition, the kind of rare beast that is on the verge of extinction.

Warhammer: Chaosbane

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Warhammer Chaosbane

The Warhammer franchise has seen so many video game adaptations, dipped its feet in so many genres that it sounds odd to think that no one ever created one action RPG set in this fantasy world. I’m not talking about the Warhammer 40K universe, as that one was already graced with the middling Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Martyr.

But that glaring mistake is about to be fixed with the release of Warhammer: Chaosbane. This is a Diablo-esque action RPG coming to PC and consoles in June 2019, with a focus on co-op play up to four players, but you can play alone as well. You should know what to expect right now: hordes of monstrosities for your righteous heroes to slash through.

Four character classes doesn’t sound like a lot (Mage, Soldier, Waywatcher and Slayer) and the Dwarf’s spin attack is already getting on my nerves, but other than that, Warhammer: Chaosbane is shaping up to be a good action RPG, with 10 difficulty levels and a boss rush mode to keep you busy.

Fractured

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Fractured

In theory, Fractured sounds more ambitious than most of the games in this top 10, but that comes at a price. Coming from Italian-based indie studio Dynamight Studios, this is an open world sandbox MMO complete with a full-fledged housing system.

Graphically, Fractured looks a bit rough around the edges, but nothing to be ashamed of. If the trade-off is a deep MMO with exciting action combat and interactive environments, then I can live with it. You can pick from three very different races (Humans, Beastmen and Demons), something that isn’t just for show, having a practical effect in your game: from your society to the interaction with other players. You can choose to go to a PvE co-op only world, a brutal open PvP environment or a mix of the two. Crafting and trading is entirely player-driven, something that can either make or break a game.

Fractured has a lot of potential but we’ll have to wait and see if this small indie studio is able to pull it off. Sheer ambition can only take you so far.

Darksburg

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Darksburg

Darksburg isn’t so much about loot or forging your path in a vast world. Instead, it places you and a few friends in a zombie-infested world where surviving the invading hordes is the objective. It’s a more immediate and enjoyable hack and slash game without loot dropping every step of the way – items and rewards should be more manageable than your average action RPG and won’t get in the way of the fast-paced game.

Darksburg offers 4-player co-op action where teamwork is crucial. Each character from the roster comes with unique skills and personality – Sister Abigail has a set of abilities that is completely different from Varag, the escaped werewolf. Your character will improve with items and unlockable talents and you’ll need all the help that you can get to fight the bosses. There are different maps with varied objectives to keep gameplay fresh: find the cure, escort someone, escape from the area and more. In PvP mode you can choose to play the bad guys and face other players.

Coming from the makers of Evoland and Northgard, Darksburg looks like the kind of multiplayer experience that you can’t go wrong with. It may not bring a ludicrous dose of loot like some of the other games from this list – that is not its purpose –, but I’ll be a rotten zombie if it doesn’t turn out to be tons of fun.

Lineage Eternal (Project TL)

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Project TL

NCSoft is having a hard time finding the sweet spot for the next Lineage game. The follow-up to one of the most profitable MMORPG franchises ever is switching from third-person to a top-down isometric perspective like Diablo.

Lineage Eternal is in development for ages, having been first announced back in 2011. So that nearly makes for a decade of development hell that doesn’t seem close to the end. In 2016, things seemed to be on the right track – you could pick a team of four characters out of the existing 13, there was a nice system for randomized dungeons and the closed beta was coming soon.

But that didn’t happen. In 2017, a new game producer and a new team undertook some serious changes to the game, including the switch to Unreal Engine 4. The multi-character system is gone as well, replaced by a traditional class system. The name was scrapped, changing to the Project TL codename. That stands for The Lineage, apparently.

It’s been a while since we last heard from Project TL, but you can rest assured: NCSoft has a lot at stake with this game and you can bet that it won’t disappoint.

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Wolcen

Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem is in a strange place. Once hailed as the next coming of the action RPG, it is slowly dragging its blood-drenched sword through Early Access for over two years. While it entered beta in March 2019, the community seems to be losing faith in the developers, with some updates to the game being badly received, such as the removal of the open world from the first act in favor of a bog-standard, linear area.

Notwithstanding, Wolcen still looks promising, albeit in an unashamed Diablo 3 wannabe kind of way. That doesn’t make it a bad game, but it did subvert initial player expectations in a way that is affecting its reputation.

But what about the game itself, you ask? Wolcen is a fun action RPG with some great gloomy graphics and solid, weighted combat without any class restrictions. It feels like a mashup between Diablo and Path of Exile but currently with much less content and with streamlined skill trees, things that surely will be improved as development progresses.

And that is where Wolcen’s worries lie – a slow-paced development that despite showing commitment to the game, is under fire from a community that is growing impatient as months go by. It’s been four years since this game showed up as Umbra on Kickstarter, but let’s never forget that good things come to those who wait – Path of Exile is a perfect example.

Legends of Aria

Top 10 Diablo Like Games Legends of Aria

Legends of Aria tries to scratch that old-school MMORPG itch that very few games managed to do effectively. Citadel Studios mentions Ultima Online as its biggest inspiration, something that is not to taken lightly seeing that the creation of Origin Systems was released in 1997 and is still running today.

Much like Fractured and even Albion Online, Legends of Aria tries to go for a sandbox open world design, possibly the most difficult template to successfully pull off for an MMORPG. It is advertised as a game with no hand-holding and where community servers and modding are not only allowed, they are vigorously encouraged.

Legends of Aria is another one of those MMORPGs where the community will dictate how it will evolve. If the mechanics are sound and polished, it may stand a chance; on the other hand, a lackluster Early Access phase will surely lessen its chances of success.

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10 Studios That Would Make Your Dream MMORPG

The MMORPG genre is far from dead, but it could surely use a boost from a top player in the industry. Can you imagine if the masterminds behind the Witcher franchise decided to make an MMORPG? Just how splendid that would be.

This thought alone led me to ponder on other studios that could potentially deliver your dream MMORPG. I chose to leave some renowned developers out of the equation as they clearly need a respite to reflect on their recent blunders. Who exactly, I hear you ask?

Bethesda, to begin with. The mess of a game that is Fallout 76 didn’t do any favors to its reputation, so they need the time to realign their focus – The Elder Scrolls fans are watching. BioWare also seems to be stuck in a rut following the lackluster releases of Mass Effect: Andromeda and the highly anticipated and equally unfulfilling Anthem. Finally, Destiny 2 is clearly showing that many players are getting tired of Bungie’s microtransaction-laden sci-fi worlds and the studio needs to move on to more rewarding and fair experiences.

Without further delay, here are ten studios that wouldn’t let you down – hopefully.

CDProjekt (The Witcher Franchise, Cyberpunk 2077)

Dream MMORPG Studios CDProjekt

The storytelling gurus at CDProjekt delivered three of the best RPGs ever made but are yet to prove themselves outside of Geralt de Rivia’s universe. Cyberpunk 2077 is its first stab at another setting, trading medieval fantasy for grim futuristic sci-fi. Here is a studio that doesn’t shy away from a challenge and is known for pouring its heart into each game. CDProjekt deserves extra honors for its crusade against DRM technology and the belief that players should feel compelled to buy a game for its sheer value, instead of pirating it.

The Witcher series has all the trappings of an MMORPG. Great lore, captivating characters, exciting combat and large regions to explore. CDProjekt could probably build on this to create a massively multiplayer world and considering that it owns the rights to video games based on The Witcher novels, there is no shortage of potential or visible blockades along the way – except when Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski realizes he needs more money.

Or they could go for something completely original instead, no strings attached. No matter CDProjekt’s decision, it’s a proven fact that they value their players and would go the extra mile to create something utterly memorable.

Rockstar Games (Grand Theft Auto Franchise, Red Dead Franchise, Bully…)

Dream MMORPG Studios Rockstar Games

No matter what Rockstar sets out to do, Rockstar achieves – even if it means putting its staff through excruciating long hours. That’s the ugly side of the video game industry, sadly not as unusual as it should be.

But back to the matter at hand. Rockstar Games is a huge publisher with several subsidiaries with proven track records. Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead are its two major franchises, where they show their skills both in single-player and multiplayer. There is no doubt that they would work wonders in an MMO environment…

… “But isn’t that a thing already with GTA Online and Red Dead Online?,” the observant crowd asks. Well, you ingeniously inquisitive fellows, the answer is both yes and no. These online modes for the popular franchises may be robust and excitingly entertaining, but I want to see Rockstar doing something bigger and bolder. Not just multiplayer revisions of the original gameplay, but something supporting way more than 32 players. An entirely new IP, featuring the same open world ideas from the above-mentioned games but with a more elaborate, story-based approach to the game world.

It would be an interesting challenge to tackle, and I’m convinced that Rockstar would be successful. Business as usual.

Ubisoft (Far Cry Franchise, Assassin’s Creed Franchise…)

Dream MMORPG Studios Ubisoft

Currently, Ubisoft is synonym with Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry, but the French company has a lot more under its sleeve. The Division 2, for example, is just one of several games that happily dabble with online gameplay, but is it a true MMORPG? I wouldn’t say so. Oddly enough, there isn’t a single full-fledged story-driven MMORPG anywhere to be seen in Ubisoft’s enviable backlog.

Ubisoft’s experience with rich open world settings would be invaluable when it comes to building a vast and diverse map for an MMORPG. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey shows a developer with several great ideas and a brilliant grasp on art direction, storytelling and combat system. The Assassin’s Creed franchise is a potential candidate for a massively multiplayer release, but I wouldn’t mind seeing Ubisoft using its expertise and resources with an original IP.

Epic Games (Fortnite Battle Royale, Gears of War…)

Dream MMORPG Studios Epic Games

The overwhelming success of Fortnite Battle Royale coupled with the industry-leading Unreal Engine are the two main drivers of Epic Games’ unstoppable growth. The failure of third-person MOBA Paragon wasn’t enough to deter the studio, and it was convinced that Fortnite would come out of development hell and convince the masses. It did, but the “help” of a rival to steer it in the right direction was essential: PUBG introduced it the wondrous world of Battle Royale.

For a studio that was founded in 1991 and enjoyed several successes over the years, Epic Games is sitting at the top of its game. They could easily design a traditional third-person MMORPG as they have the resources – mainly the engine –, the know-how and the financial freedom. They are proven masters of every visual style, so they could go for a sci-fi fantasy theme enriched with realistic features (as seen in Paragon) or choose a laid-back cartoon approach (Fortnite). While it is early days for fully-fledged Unreal Engine 4 MMORPGs (Nexon’s Project BBQ, Blade & Soul’s Vision update, NCsoft’s Project TL…), Epic Games could easily stand out from the competition with its expertise with the engine.

Grinding Gear Games (Path of Exile)

Dream MMORPG Studios Grinding Gear Games

Is Path of Exile an MMORPG or is it not? That’s a discussion that could go on for days, but the general opinion is that it is an ‘online action RPG.’ Rightfully acclaimed as one of the best examples of the Diablo school of hack and slash, Grinding Gear Games’ title could work as a great prelude to an MMORPG.

Grim and gloomy just as Diablo is – or was? –, Path of Exile could serve as the stepping stone for an isometric MMORPG in the style of Lost Ark. With open world areas and world bosses for dozens of players to cooperate, along with the traditional instanced dungeons, it’s not like GGG’s first and only game strays too far from MMORPG territory. Their updates are renowned for being huge and going in the direction of player requests and aren’t afraid of drastically changing something that doesn’t feel right – as they did with the Fall of Oriath expansion, completely altering the campaign structure.

The big question here is if it would be worthwhile developing a second game that fundamentally would borrow many mechanics from Path of Exile. Perhaps going for a different, less grisly theme would be the best choice?

Digital Extremes (Warframe)

Dream MMORPG Studios Digital Extremes

Through perseverance and unshakeable belief in its original vision, Digital Extremes managed to surpass everyone’s expectations and showed a thing or two to many publishers of little faith. Warframe went from being a niche game to a behemoth of an online action RPG.

It’s this perseverance and long-term vision that would ultimately set them apart from other developers. Ironically, it was absent from hero shooter The Amazing Eternals, but realizing early on that something isn’t going to take off may be a positive as well.

Digital Extremes is absolutely at ease with sci-fi and fast-paced movement, so it would be the perfect candidate for a frantic action combat MMORPG. They are no strangers to open world MMO gameplay as well, with Warframe’s updates Plains of Eidolon and Fortuna showing that they can hold their own in this department.

The only downside would probably be that this hypothetical MMORPG would be, just as Warframe, in open beta for all eternity and beyond. But we all can live with that, right?

Riot Games (League of Legends)

Dream MMORPG Studios Riot Games

Riot Games must step up its game soon or risk seeing the fountain of riches that is League of Legends eventually dry out. How fun would it be to see Runeterra becoming the stage for an MMORPG? It’s not as crazy as it sounds either; it was Riot Games’ co-founder Marc Merrill that came up with the thought and fans reacted accordingly.

Of course, this is nothing but speculation. While Riot Games is said to be “experimenting a lot of stuff,” and considering the implications of going head-to-head with World of Warcraft, nothing is set in stone.

However, it should happen. League of Legends has some terrific characters and intricate lore that could work nicely in an MMORPG. The colorful cartoon aesthetic feels just right for a third-person perspective, and it goes without saying that the League of Legends player base would jump at the thought of seeing its favorite world expanding. This MMORPG must be made while the MOBA remains at its best, so that gives them… two to three years?

KOG Studio (Grand Chase, Elsword, KurtzPel…)

Dream MMORPG Studios KOG Studio

KOG Studio is something of a weird case. While an expert in online games, the South Korean studio still hasn’t dipped its feet in traditional MMORPG territory. Grand Chase and Elsword are acclaimed MMO games but they are action games at heart and couldn’t be further from the likes of World of Warcraft or EverQuest.

Nonetheless, Elsword is considered a 2.5D action MMORPG, which means that it includes core mechanics such as guilds, PvP and item trading. KOG’s latest game, KurtzPel, switches to a third-person perspective but is a focused PvP brawler experience with boss raid PvE gameplay tacked on.

So why do I reckon that KOG could deliver an outstanding MMORPG? Because they have years of experience in online games, a couple of successful titles under its belt, and a mastery of action gameplay. The cherry on top is the combat system developed for KurtzPel, which would work impeccably in an MMORPG. The same thing goes for the beautiful anime graphics.

I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old curmudgeon, but adding hub towns with proper quests to KurtzPel would be a great place to start. Follow it with complete dungeons, let it cook for a couple of years and we would get a stunning anime MMORPG. Sadly, KurtzPel isn’t going to be that game, but KOG may eventually get to it in the future.

DevCAT (Vindictus, Mabinogi, Dragon Hound, Ascendant One…)

Dream MMORPG Studios DevCAT

For many of you, the name DevCAT may not ring a bell, but what about Mabinogi and Vindictus? Now that tells you something, doesn’t it? The South Korean studio is behind these classic MMORPGs, with Vindictus being one of the best examples in action combat before TERA or Black Desert Online showed up to the party. This game is live and getting updates up to this day, further proof that DevCAT stands by its work.

A sequel to Vindictus is long overdue and was once in development, but it felt more like an arena brawler spin-off than a proper follow-up. It ended up being canceled, with DevCAT moving on to other games. The monster-hunting online game Dragon Hound is one of its upcoming titles and a very promising one, and DevCAT is also reimagining Mabinogi for mobile devices, and it looks terribly cute. DevCAT’s catalog shows that it is a studio capable of tackling any challenge, from MMORPGs to MOBAs and even card games.

DevCAT should consider updating Vindictus to the current generation, just as Neople is doing with Dungeon Fighter Online’s sequel (codename Project BBQ). A third-person, brutal action combat MMORPG mixing Vindictus’ varied character selection with an open world like Black Desert Online could be a pleasant recipe. Nexon just needs to give them the go-ahead and we’ll all be happy.

SEGA (Yakuza, Phantasy Star Online 2…)

Dream MMORPG Studios SEGA

I’m not even going to bother with Phantasy Star Online 2 anymore. I gave up on the promised western release a long time ago, but SEGA could at least be so kind as to officially confirm that this version is dead and buried, something that they didn’t even worry about telling their fans. We need some sort of closure on this subject, guys!

SEGA is no stranger to MMORPGs, as you can see, so it’s peculiar to realize that it has all but abandoned the genre. A new Phantasy Star Online game would result in millions of joyful players worldwide, but I wouldn’t rule out something based on the Yakuza franchise as well. This prolific series is acclaimed for its open world and story, as well as for the abundance of mini-games and entertaining side-quests. Aren’t those some of the fundamentals of a full-fledged MMORPG?

Between a new Phantasy Star Online and a Yakuza MMORPG, the choice is far from easy. Recently we were fooled into thinking that the latter one was happening, but Yakuza Online turned out to be a mobile card game. In your face, expectations!

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