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The Secret World
Number one on the list is the upcoming conspiracy title from FunCom, makers of the MMO Age of Conan and the cult classic single-player hits Dreamfall and The Longest Journey. In The Secret World, players will assume the role of a member in one of three different secret societies: the power-hungry Illuminati, the quietly violent Dragon or the brutal-yet-sophisticated Templars. The action takes place in real-world modern day settings such as Seoul, New York and London and each sect has its own headquarters location.
There are to be no classes in the Secret World, no levels to attain. Instead, players are free to inhabit the persistent world as they choose, exploring and creating their own adventures in a massively-multiplayer online environment unlike any other in existence today. Mix found weapons with innate magical powers and invent a combat style that is all your own. Also, you will be able to group up and party with whomever you wish, as there will be no level restrictions holding you back. Your clothing and gear can be found during missions or purchased from shops with in-game currency, and there are similarly no restrictions on what you can equip. If you found it, it's yours; go ahead and put it on.
Even though FunCom has had some missteps in Age of Conan and Anarchy Online, the screen shots, videos and news they have put on TSW are looking pretty amazing. This is one MMO that I'll be lining up for uponrelease, and I'm already trying to beg, borrow or steal my way into a beta.
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Copernicus is the code name for a brainchild of 38 Studios, a little company belonging to Curt Schilling, Todd MacFarlane and R.A. Salvatore. If those names alone don't give you pause, consider that MacFarlane is responsible for HBO's Spawn series while Salvatore is one of the best-known fantasy authors still publishing today.
While very little of official note has been released on Copernicus, we do know that it will operate in the same virtual world as 38 Studios' single-player RPG, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. Industry professionals have been bandying about ideas on just how the two games will intersect, but all 38 has said publicly is that theywill feature events occurring at separate times in the history of one world, Amalur.
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Guild Wars 2
The follow-up to NCSoft's not-an-MMO MMO, Guild Wars 2 is aiming to move even further away from traditional online RPGs. The development team of ArenaNet is focusing on creating a true interactive and dynamic world, in which no two characters have the same experience and everyone gets their own unique personal story.
Non-human playable races, and underwater zone and re-defined professions are designed to differentiate Guild Wars 2 from the original, along with encounters that can be solo'd but also scale up in difficulty forgroups. If you liked the first one at all, you're doing yourself a disservice by not following this one.
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Yes, you read that correctly. XLGames, the Korean developer, has partnered with Take-Two Interactive in a bid to realize the existing RTS series as an MMO. This title is in the very beginning stages as XLG only recently put out the recruitment call for development personnel. This is in addition to the news of a "Facebook Civilization," by the way, so if that news left you less than impressed, you still have plenty of time to get your knickers in a bunch for the real deal.
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And now comes TERA. This ambitious little title, billing itself as "the first true Action MMORPG," is the product of En Masse Entertainment and Bluehole Studio. Developers of TERA have expressed a core philosophy of turning the "holy trinity" of MMOs--tank, healer and dps--into a "foundation" of four distinct roles. Guardians, Healers, Melee damage and Ranged damage will become the four slots that need to be filled, and their effectiveness will be determined by their own skill and positioning.
With seven playable races and eight different character classes, customizing your avatar to your tastesshould be a breeze, but all races must work together in this faction-less political environment.
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What's Grabbing You?
Didn't see anything here that piques your interest? Know of another upcoming MMO that could have been featured? Which AAA titles are you most excited for?
The absolute best thing about the current environment of the MMO genre is that there truly is something here for just about everyone. Whether you enjoy a little web-based browser freebie or have two or three large-scale MMO active subscriptions, there's likely another game just around the corner to steal your heart.
Oh, and also your free time.