Look away, dear MMO gamer. Like 2017, 2018 is shaping up to be an abysmal year for MMO gaming, at least from the perspective of new MMO games worth playing (see our criteria) that are released in 2018. The one exception is Conan Exiles, which dropped on May 8, 2018. You really have to like Conan lore and survival games to get excited about Exiles. We'll have a review coming out for Exiles later this year, once we've had more time to play. Also, Shroud of the Avatar came out on March 27, 2018. I was hesitant about Avatar for many reasons, and it appears I have been justified. For some reason, the developers chose to develop the game in an ancient graphics engine, so the graphics look utterly dated. That is a huge turn off for me. Also, the combat system is cumbersome and just awful. It seems to me like they took a good plan for an MMO circa 1999, and released it in 2018. Further, Avatar caters to role players that have nothing but time on their hands. Can't say I'm genuinely disappointed by Shroud of the Avatar, because I expected it to be a mess, but I'm struggling to understand why anyone would release a game like this in 2018. I can't recommend playing Shroud of the Avatar to anyone I respect.
Other than Exiles and Shroud of the Avatar, none of the MMO games we are following expect a 2018 release, much less a 2019 release. Some are 2020 and beyond with all the delays that have cropped up. Of course, the positive side of that coin is that games should release when they are ready; otherwise, you wind up with game breaking issues. I don't count an early release as a general availability release, and the current trend of developers is to grab as much money as they can with a bare minimum of content in an early release, then let it fester for a freakin' decade. I don't mind trying out some early release games, and even paying for testing their beta releases, but I'm not about to recommend playing any game that hasn't had a general availability release with full content.
Notwithstanding my general 2018 gaming malaise, there are a few bright spots that have lifted my spirits. The following non-MMO game releases make me smile. The turn-based four player co-op RPG Divinity: Original Sin 2, which was released last year (September 14th, 2017) with very positive reviews, made me smile quite a bit and is getting a complete makeover. I loved every moment of Original Sin 2. The new game, with the enhanced moniker "Definitive Edition," is set to release in August 2018, so I am looking forward to playing the Definitive Edition. Another bright spot is RTS Age of Empires 4. Although no release date has been set, the expectations from E3 are that Age of Empires 4 will release late in 2018 or Q1 2019. One of my all-time favorite strategy games, I'm looking forward to losing some sleep while playing Age of Empires 4.
I really wanted to look forward to four-person action RPG Borderlands 3 this year, but now it looks like 2019 or 2020 for that one. Long story short, they lost some critical folks during development. Another action RPG I am looking forward to is Anthem. This four-person action RPG has me excited to make some new memories with a few friends. Anthem is set for release on February 22, 2019. I know this is a 2018 report, but I truly feel distressed for all my gamer friends right now, and we need something to keep hope alive.
One of the MMO games we've been following, Crowfall, was targeted for release in late 2018, but is currently still in Alpha. I've been playing the alpha, and posting videos, and it has improved dramatically in the past year. However, it is no where near ready for beta or release, so don't even look for this game before 2020.
For your MMO fix in 2018, we have many good choices; including, Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Warcraft, and Guild Wars 2. Any of those choices should keep you going until next year. I am currently playing Elder Scrolls Online: Summerset, and you can tell by my glowing review on this site that I am enjoying every moment.
Beyond 2018, we are eagerly following (in no particular order):
* Ashes of Creation
* Chronicles of Elyria
* Star Citizen
* Camelot Unchained
* Mount and Blade 2
Let us know in the comments below if there is a game you would like us to follow.
Thanks for reading this lachrymose mid-year report for 2018, and remember that there is hope for next year!