By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
2014 is going to be a momentous year for online gaming for a variety of reasons. A plethora of amazing titles will be out on the PC, including Diablo 3’s expansion, The Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft’s expansion “Warlords of Draenor,” and Final Fantasy XIV will enter its full year as “A Realm Reborn,” * a much needed rebuild to the predecessor. But what does that mean for each of these titles? Will they succeed or ultimately sink before they even leave the launch-date harbor? Everyone has an opinion, and these are mine!
Diablo 3 is up first. The expansion, Reaper of Souls is hitting the market early in the year, and with it a whole host of changes that were more than likely needed. The big draw for me is the Crusader, which from everything I have read will function in a similar capacity to a Paladin. It only brings one additional act to the story, but many of the core functions have changed, such as dungeons, loot, and new enemies! I really think this is going to be a must-have for 2014, and will breathe life into the latest installment of the Diablo franchise. I am terribly excited for D3: Reaper of Souls, I have to say. I was a little underwhelmed by the original game and call me an optimist, but I hope highly for the future.
Diablo 3 had some pretty serious problems coming out of the gate. The horde of errors, the horrific Auction Hall/Real Money Auctions, class imbalances, the loot system - the list goes on and on. But one thing I can say about Blizzard is when a problem this serious is presented, more often than not I see them fixing it; at the very least, they address it, and state it is being worked on.
Ragachak’s Prediction: Up in the air, leaning towards success.
World of Warcraft comes up next, with Blizzard’s next big installment, “Warlords of Draenor”. There is only so much information available about the expansion just yet, but there are no words spoken of a new class or new races. But they are offering customizable garrisons! That is admittedly a very cool thing, but enough to warrant a new expansion at sixty bucks? I’m not so sure about that. It is my personal thought it will draw in the standard, core World of Warcraft crowd for a few months, and without big changes will just grow stagnant as the majority of the expansions ultimately have.
I love World of Warcraft and that goes without saying. I have played since its initial release practically, and have a lot of positive things to say. There are cool things they are adding, but it is mostly cosmetic. I want to be excited, but I was also excited for Mists of Pandaria, and that was just “Daily Quests the Game” or “Farming Simulator: Azeroth edition.” When the game becomes a chore, and I am paying to do chores, there is something wrong.
Ragachak’s Prediction: Success, if Blizzard makes some big reveals. Otherwise, a brief moment of fun, followed by daily quests.
The Elder Scrolls Online. I have not been a big proponent of the series in the first place, but I am a sucker for good fantasy games/stories. Now, I am one of those who has received an invite or two to the ESO Beta, and fear not Bethesda, I will not reveal things that would compromise your NDA! What I have heard from most everyone I know that is a fan of the series is that they want an MMO. It needs to happen! However in the general chat, I only heard one thing: “Why are there people in my Elder Scrolls?” I feel that within a year this will be on the Free-to-play bandwagon. What would have been a better idea for TESO would be to perhaps make an addition to Skyrim that allowed for small player parties, to gauge if this idea will really work. When delving into unknown territory, it is better to take baby steps before plunging headlong into the darkness.
I cannot say a lot about TESO, due to a Non-Disclosure Agreement. But I can say that I envision it lasting no longer than a year before it follows Star Wars and DC Universe Online. The game looks remarkable, and it plays very similar to its fellows in the Elder Scrolls series, but I am simply not seeing Bethesda knocking this one out of the park.
Ragachak’s Prediction: Bethesda’s marketing machine will not stop the Lusitania from sinking into the abyss. Baby steps, Bethesda. Baby steps.
Last on the block is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Though the game has not had a ton of press or coverage since its revival, I have high hopes for it. A lot of players, I am sure, are hesitant with how horrendous the original game was. But as someone who played both, I have hope for the future of the title. Final Fantasy XI is still alive and kicking, and this is a testament to the hard work of Square-Enix. I have no fear for the future of XIV, other than Square-Enix desperately needing to push the game a little harder. If they can only get the word out to the world about how fantastic their title is, it will grow, and grow well.
Final Fantasy XIV has a lot of good things going for it. The harvest/craft system is delightful, and nobody has to fight for nodes of materials. That in and of itself is fantastic, at least to someone who wants desperately for a good system of crafting, even if for myself. The random and active fate system which creates random encounters on the map for everyone to grab rewards is something done with Guild Wars 2, but for some reason, I just enjoyed it more when Square did it. The class system is enjoyable, and I desperately want more people to see how fun it is. Do not pay attention to how bad the original game was! They put a fantastic product out, and are working on it constantly.
Ragachak’s Prediction: Potential for great success. Work on it, Square-Enix!