Gaming in 2016

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Finally! It’s a new year, full of new opportunities. There’s a slew of new game releases, a world full of new clients for my business, and constantly-shifting drama culminating in the 2016 Presidential Election! #FeelTheBern

This year marks some big game releases and updates to existing MMOs that I’ve been waiting a long time for. Here are the top games of 2016 that I can’t wait to play!

Blade & Soul

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Oh my god, it’s actually freaking coming out! I’ve been waiting for launch since NCSoft announced the game back in 2009. That was seven years ago! How crazy is that!?

When the game launches on the 19th, I’m going to do what a lot of my friends do for big launches: take time off to experience it fully. I never did that before! But after waiting for so long, I don’t care how the game turns out to be. I just want to play it.

I might make a personal rule out of this:

“If I’ve waited for more than five years for a game to come out, then I will take time off to play it.”

-Steven Williams, possibly making a really bad life decision

So what do I expect the game to be like?

First off, I don’t expect the game to have a good community for quite a while. When Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn launched, I already had played the game for years – since 1.0’s alpha phase back in early 2010. So I watched in horror as the small, friendly community of 1.0 quickly turned into a large pile of marmot dung for half a year.

Let’s be honest: the general MMO public is awful. These are people bred and raised in World of Warcraft’s lovecraftian spawning grounds. Whenever a new MMO comes out, the vile swarm chaotically zerg-rushes through the game, causes chaos on the forums, then promptly returns to WoW.

Not to mention the fact that the last big martial arts MMO with fighting game mechanics, Age of Wushu, was a channer’s paradise for a very long time. MMOs like these tend to be.

Then there’s the fact that this is yet another game that follows the traditional MMO content formula: kill X of Y over and over until level cap then engage in a drawn-out fight with the RNG in a never-ending gear treadmill. According to people who have played the Korean and Japanese versions, the PvP is amazing. But I don’t PvP because it tends to encourage people to be their worst selves.

Will Blade & Soul cure my disinterest in current MMO trends? I’m not betting on it. I didn’t buy a founder’s pack, and no game save EverQuest Next or RuneScape’s yearly subscription program will ever convince be to buy one.

But I still want to try it out! I can’t wait.

Black Desert

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I don’t know about this game… When a high-fidelity import announces its launch, people tend to praise it for its graphics alone. This happened with AION: The Tower of Eternity and TERA, two games that looked great compared to competition and generated hype based on just that.

Gameplay-wise, fans tend to compare its sandbox features to ArcheAge. People really shouldn’t do that – that game was beyond disappointing to fans and almost made me lose hope in the possibility of the genre evolving. When players excitedly say the game does it right, I get skeptical. I have to these days.

Then again, before ArcheAge released there were reports of the Korean version becoming progressively worse over time by removing a lot of the sandbox elements from the game. So I wasn’t as disappointed as a lot of people were. It was like watching the Titanic sink from a distance. I have yet to see reports like that with foreign versions of Black Desert, but I haven’t really looked.

I’ve seen MMOs that promise a lot fail a lot. So I want Black Desert to surprise me this year. Gotta be positive, right?

More Sims 4 Updates

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When The Sims 4 launched, I played the game nonstop for months and burned myself out. Now it’s my #1 backup game. Whenever I don’t know what to play, or when I’ve had a long day at work and want something casual and slow, I launch Sims 4 and play the afternoon away.

I don’t think that’ll change this year. There are some big gaps between releases and I don’t spend all my free time playing MMOs anymore.

I’d go into more detail but I’ve already written in length about it weeks ago. I’m expecting the same turnout we had last year: one or two big expansion packs, some cool game packs, and a bunch of mostly-useless stuff packs. I can’t wait!

Kingdom Hearts 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue

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Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is one of my favorite Kingdom Hearts games. I enjoyed every dreamlike second of it! So when I found out it was going to be remastered like the Ps3 ReMiX games, I was giddy with excitement!

Dream Drop Distance is the most important game in the series right now. It manages to summarize and utilize every major plot point throughout the series to create the basis for Kingdom Hearts 3’s plot.

But only few of my friends who are Kingdom Hearts fans have played it. It’s difficult to chat with them about what will happen in Kingdom Hearts 3 because, unless everyone has played Dream Drop Distance, the things I bring up sound like crazy fan theories.

I’m not so excited about X Back Cover (because there’s close to no information released of value about it) as much as the adaptation of the unreleased Birth By Sleep Volume 2 that uses Kingdom Hearts 3’s engine. That came as a genuine surprise.

I know some people are complaining about 2.8 coming out for the PS4 while the other remasters are PS3-only. But aside from Fragmentary Passage using an engine designed for the PS4, players who want to experience the series will have to buy both consoles anyway. So what’s with the complaining?

This game is the reason why I’m buying a Playstation 4.

Final Fantasy XV

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This is the Duke Nukem of Final Fantasy games. It’s the dividing line between a bright future and a harsh wasteland for the JRPG genre. I’ve been waiting for this game to come out since it was announced as Final Fantasy Versus XIII nearly a decade ago!

I’m getting more impatient with every passing month. First they released their demo, Episode Duscae, for gamers who bought the Day 1 edition of Final Fantasy Type-0. I don’t have a PS4 so I played my friend’s copy at his house and it was amazing!

After Duscae hit, Square Enix slowly tortured fans by promising a buffet of new information, then showing a bunch of nothing.

I expect gameplay at launch to be very different – and improved drastically – from that of the demo. Final Fantasy XV has changed a lot over the years and I can’t wait to play it when it’s finally done.

RuneScape NXT

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I was full of excitement when Jagex announced that RuneScape would transition to a HTML5 client. This project turned out to be too ambitious for its own good. Web browsers couldn’t handle it, and so the beta launched with a slew of performance issues that made the client unplayable for most people.

Now that RuneScape is download-only, Jagex unveiled the next step in their plan for an improved client: RuneScape NXT. NXT is going to replace their java-based client completely (since the game isn’t in-browser anymore). With increased draw distance, dynamic lighting and shadows, improved effects, MSAA anti-aliasing, and a laundry-list of other graphical and gameplay improvements, NXT is going to make RuneScape better than before.

I’ve always wanted to get back into RuneScape. New MMO launches tend to be disappointment after disappointment, and I’m tired of letting AAA companies fail to innovate and keep playing with my heart. I’m tired of dealing with the rut we’re in as an industry. RuneScape remains, in my opinion, the only easily-accessible sandbox MMORPG with quality in existence.

2016 might be the year that I throw away my love for new MMORPG releases and go back to being the RuneScape fanatic I was 9 years ago, combining RS with PC and console gaming.

Actually, that will more than likely be the case. If Blade & Soul and Black Desert don’t keep me interested, then all I have left to look forward to is EverQuest Next. If EQN goes awry, then I cease to be a fan of MMORPGs. Simple as that.

No matter what happens, I look forward to Jagex’s continual success with RuneScape. In an stagnant industry full of companies with stockholders who are too afraid to try anything new, Jagex experiments all the time.

 

This year’s going to really interesting. I can’t wait to see how each of these games turn out, and which games come out of nowhere and surprise me. I get the feeling that 2016 will be a big year.

What 2016 game releases are you excited about? Comment below!

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