E3 Review: Day Three

Oh my goodness.  Looks like the MMO industry brought out their BIG GUNS today, as we have got a crapstorm of news and announcements to share with you guys.  So settle in for a long read, but we’ll try to keep this as informative and entertaining as possible!

Probably the most significant news today, from this gamer’s point-of-view, was the official unveiling of Fallout Online, courtesy of Interplay.  The title has been in development since before Fallout 3 was released, under the code name “V13.”  Many thought it was nothing more than another Fallout title, but as development continued behind closed doors, MMO fans (including myself!) began to have our suspicions, which were confirmed on May 2nd of this year with the announcement that V13 would be turned into an MMO.  Unfortunately, a lawsuit was filed by Bethesda to stop development of V13, and it looked like the title would be doomed.  But an excited and ecstatic Interplay investor let slip today that the lawsuit has been abandoned, and the announcement of Fallout Online is likely directly related to this event.  In addition to the announcement, Interplay is actually already accepting Beta Applications!  This title must be further along than we thought…  With our love of creepy retro sci-fi and post-apocalyptic scenarios, you can be that we’ll be watching this very closely.

Not to be outdone by this beta announcement, Turbine decided to surprise us with a Beta of their own!  If you visit LOTRO‘s sign-up page, you can sign up now to become part of the Free-To-Play Beta.  We didn’t think this would be coming around ’til this Fall, so the announcement came as a pleasant surprise.  Both to be able to get our greedy hands on this fine title sooner, and to see that Turbine still takes their testing seriously.

But beta tests are one thing… what about release dates?

LEGO Universe is first up on this list of announcements. October 26, 2010 will be the official release date for discovering all you can about Imagination, in your quest to defeat The Maelstrom.  And if you pre-order the game through the LEGO store, you’ll be given early access starting October 12th.

Then another “universe” will follow closely on the heels of LEGO’s release: DC Universe Online.  Fans of the Justice League and their evil nemeses can battle it out online in full contact superpowereyness beginning on November 2, 2010.

And from a galaxy far, far away, we have finally been given official word for an approximate release time frame for Star Wars: The Old Republic, which is currently scheduled for a Spring of 2011 launch.  BioWare cleverly disguised this announcement behind bushels of new gameplay trailers and more information about player ships (SWTOR‘s housing equivalent).

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  There’s still more going on in the MMO scene, besides boring release details and beta announcements.

FFXIV has released a benchmarking tool on their website, which will give you a solid estimate on the performance you can expect to see in the game.  We expect this is at least partially meant to encourage people to upgrade their systems before the beta stages begin, but suspect it will also play heavily into encouraging people to play the title on their PS3 instead of PC.

Guild Wars 2 developers, ArenaNet, offered us a meaty information sandwich in the form of a lengthy blog post explaining their recently-announced Trait System.  Anyone that’s been following this title should definitely read the article.  Several times, probably.  There’s a lot of information in there!

A sleeper title called The Agency landed at E3 with a great big bang and many smaller explosions.  Published by SOE, this title will be a shooter MMO that offers instant-on fun, in the style of spies vs. military, in a worldwide brawl for superiority.  Check out their new trailer for a more visceral explanation of what this game has to offer.  In a word:  Mayhem.  Glorious, hilarious mayhem.

And last, and certainly least, with some news that both breaks my heart and boggles my mind, MTV Networks Asia and GigaMedia announced plans to develop and release an MMOG based on the SpongeBob SquarePants IP.  And you thought Hello Kitty Online Adventures was demeaning?

I’d hate to end this post on such a sour point, so I’ll also mention that Battlestar Galactic Online by Bigpoint has been demo’ing a hands-on alpha of their browser-based MMORPG on the E3 floor, and getting some decent reviews from the press.  Could this mean at last some respect for browser-based MMOs?  … man, I hope not …


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