Bossa Studios is attempting to take the idea of a persistent sandbox to new levels. Chop down a tree, and it stays chopped. Drop an item, and there it will sit. Blow up a ship, and . As you sail over rocky floating islands in the sky in , you’ll join thousands of other players on a shared server. And, perhaps unusual for an MMO these days, it won’t be subscription based or free-to-play. .
A sandbox MMO inspired by Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, Crowfall is being developed by veterans of the teams that created those games. Expect player-driven economies and political systems as well as widespread PvP. One of Crowfall's most ambitious ideas is the concept of 'campaign worlds' that are destroyed after the campaign is over. Player characters are persistent, but the realms they fight over are not: shaking up the balance of power regularity, ensuring that there's always a new fight starting somewhere.
Developed by many of the same people who worked on Dark Age of Camelot, Camelot Unchained has a renewed focus on big, open world PvP mayhem in a sandbox world. Like its spiritual predecessor, Camelot Unchained divides players into three realms inspired by Arthurian, Norse, and Irish mythology while they battle for supremacy of entire kingdoms in massive 500-plus person conflicts. What’s more, Camelot Unchained also features a crafting and building system similar to Minecraft, so you can design your own strongholds down to the brick.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is the second attempt by EverQuest designer Brad McQuaid to capture the magic of MMOs after his last project, , flopped. Centered around a high fantasy universe with an EverQuest-inspired depth of lore, players need to rely on one another in order to survive and thrive in the harsh, ravaged world of Terminus. Hopefully this time Pantheon isn’t rushed out the door like Vanguard and can finally make good on that ambition.
Dark and Light
Find a crafting recipe for one part survival game, one part MMO, and two scrolls of dark fantasy lore, and out pops Dark and Light. From the size of the open-world map and the look of some of these massive critters, imagining Ark: Survival Evolved with wizard staffs instead of sci-fi beacons is pretty close to the mark. We’re expecting this one to head to Early Access in the early part of the year.
Star Citizen, that all-singing all-dancing crowdfunding juggernaut, may never get an official “launch.” Bits of it will keep getting added on, and more bits will keep being made as long as the game’s keep pouring in money ( at the time of this writing).
Still, 2017 should be an important year for Star Citizen. Each multiplayer gameplay footage is more impressive than the last, and the FPS module is now fully operational. With , combat, exploration, , boarding, ballistics, and hull punctures all in the game, Star Citizen is on the verge of becoming that great space MMO we’ve dared to hope it could be.
No matter how ambitious MMOs get, at some point a lot of them feel a bit like running on a treadmill or watching animatronics at Disney World. It’s fun to look around, yeah, but you’ll never have a way to affect the world around you.
Identity is an experiment in changing all that. This MMO puts the entire economy in players’ hands—most goods will be designed by players and sold in player-owned stores. Players can own houses and take careers as police officers, taxi drivers, and shop-owners. Can it all work? We’ll find out when the first module drops in early 2017.
This anime-flavored MMO is full of people mean-mugging the camera with large swords, large pieces of armor, and a large… motorcycle with a scorpion tale? We admit, we weren’t quite expecting that last bit.
Revelation Online is being developed by a big player in the Chinese MMO market, and it’s going to have a big emphasis on flight and free movement. Revelation is still in closed beta testing for now, but it should be available more widely at some point in 2017.
Chronicles of Elyria
Another MMO with a big experiment at its heart. In Chronicles of Elyria, you pay to start a new character, and your characters grow old and die after about a year of real-world time. This simple gambit has all kinds of ramifications. Griefing people to steal their stuff lowers their lifespan, effectively costing the player money. Living a long healthy life, then passing on a bunch of gear and money to your descendant, is a chance for players to get a jump-start on a new character who might accomplish greater things than their ancestors.