Around the office we have said for a long time now that the era of the sandbox is just around the corner and that soon all we would hear about is sandbox MMOs. Well those sandbox MMOs aren’t here yet, but they are definitely in development and on their way.
It’s never been a better time to be a sandbox fan, after so many years of neglect – there’s almost too much on its way. Whether your tastes are suited for a fantasy or sci-fi setting, there’s worlds and entire universes being made. Below is a list of the top upcoming sandbox MMOs you should keep a close eye on, if you’re hardcore enough – these aren’t for slackers.
ArcheAge is an upcoming sandpark MMORPG by XLGames, it’s a mixture of both themepark and sandbox gameplay – meaning the game guides you along for a while before setting you free in to the world. Players will choose from one of three races and set out to live a virtual fantasy life, build a house, tend a farm, siege a castle, or rule a kingdom – it’s up to you.
A few features that set ArcheAge apart is the prison system, where players can be imprisoned for crimes they commit and will either serve their time or attempt an escape. In true sandbox fashion there are player owned houses, players can build upon lots which can be purchased. Additionally players can build castles of their own design.
The world features several continents in a seamless open world that can be crossed with no loading screens. Featuring a full naval system, players can sail between continents uninterrupted and may find themselves engaging in battle with other ships or sea monsters. Those who stray from the law can become pirates, although face being outlawed.
Release Date: TBD
Black Desert [Free to Play]
Black Desert is an upcoming large-scale open world sandbox MMORPG by the creators of Continent of the Ninth Seal (C9). Featuring a similar active action combat system to C9, players can expect traditional sandbox gameplay such as castle sieges, farming and crafting.
There are some differences to the way the developers are handling Black Desert, the game will feature an NPC hiring system. Players can hire NPCs to do their bidding, whether it be as a squad fighting on the front lines of a castle siege, or helping a merchant trade and farm.
While still in early development, Black Desert already looks gorgeous and has managed to take the best elements of C9 and bring them on board. Players can expect to fight big bosses in fast, over-the-top combat in an interesting Eastern fantasy setting.
Release Date: 2013
Darkfall: Unholy Wars [Subscription]
Darkfall: Unholy Wars is an upcoming fantasy sandbox MMORPG aimed specifcally at hardcore gamers. Previously known as just Darkfall, Unholy Wars is the highly anticipated Darkfall 2.0 – a complete overhaul of the current instalment. Built again from the ground up, Darkfall: Unholy Wars is a second chance after a failed first attempt at offering a true sandbox.
Featuring skill-based progression, players are set free in an open world where they can live however they choose. Playing much like Elder Scrolls Online, the game is played mostly from the first-person perspective and allows characters to grow in to whatever type of role the player can imagine. A players role is entirely determined by the skills they possess.
While players can get by as a crafter, the main focus is on PvP with features like player controlled cities, forts, and towns resulting in castle siege gameplay. Players are constantly fighting for control of towns and castles, with hundreds of players able to fight in the battles – it’s a sight to be seen.
Players can also take the fight to the see, with ships craftable by players and only able to be operated with a fitting amount of crew members. The most interesting feature of Darkfall: Unholy Wars is its open world PvP, no where is safe and when you die you drop everything, starting again naked with only what you have managed to store in your bank waiting for you.
Release Date: December 12th, 2012
Embers of Caerus [Subscription]
Embers of Caerus is an upcoming medieval low-fantasy sandbox MMORPG with a very ambitious goal. Not only does it feature the standard feature list a sandboxer aspires for, it goes beyond that and strives for much more. This is personally one of my most anticipated.
Players will set out to colonize the world, able to build anywhere they want as long as they can defend it. Claim entire valleys if you want, but you will need people to protect it and a way to feed and pay those people. The world will be living, with a dynamic ecology.
The developers are aiming for a world the players can have an actual effect on, and with extensive crafting systems, dozens of professions and political systems the world will have a bustling economy controlled by the players alone.
Territorial warfare will be refreshingly different with leaders needing to keep their men – other players – fed and well supplied, with castle and city sieges requiring proper preperation beforehand. This is a title you don’t want to miss.
Release Date: TBD
Greed Monger [Free to Play]
Greed Monger is an upcoming medieval sandbox MMORPG that truly focuses on player crafted worlds. When the MMO launches, the world will have nothing more than players, wild animals, and nature itself. Setting out in to the empty world, players will craft and build everything from the ground up – no monsters dropping swords, or deers with bags of gold.
Although the MMO will be free to play, the game will support itself by selling plots of land within the game. Players can own land in-game for real cash currency, and can then sell that land for real cash at a price of their own choosing. Remember, everything is built by players so people can make a living building and decorating estates to sell for cash.
It’s an interesting approach to the sandbox, but luckily will be backed by a deep crafting system, raid monsters, PvP, and more. In order to bring more immersion to the world, players will be absent of any global chat or auction house and must instead interact 1 to 1.
Release Date: TBD
Star Citizen [Buy to Play]
Star Citizen is an upcoming sci-fi sandbox MMORPG from the creator of popular space sims, Wing Commander and Freelancer. Receiving on $6 Million in crowd-funding from supporters, this universe will allow players to once again set out in space and be the kind of space pilot they always dreamed of but were never able to. The future is coming, and damn it’s cool.
Players will set out in to a universe of over 100 different galaxies, trading, mining or fighting their way to fame and riches. In a rather unique move, players can play single player missions that will earn them cash to take back in to the persistent online universe. Additionally, players will be given mod tools to create ships to be included in the game.
With a universe built and controlled by players, politics and economy will play a huge role – opening up many roads of opportunity for all sorts of space pilots. With an engine that will offer scale like no other, and an attention to detail rarely seen in AAA titles these days, Star Citizen is one of the most exciting space sims currently in development.
Release Date: 2014
The Repopulation [Subscription]
The Repopulation is an upcoming sci-fi sandpark MMORPG that is probably the most ambitious of all the MMOs listed in this article. While it joins the ranks of ArcheAge by joining elements from both themepark and sandbox MMOs, it takes huge leaps further by giving players almost every gameplay system imaginable.
Whether you want a hand-holding experience, completing missions and always knowing where you are heading then you will have that. If you want to set out in to the world and mould your character your own way, build a house, start an empire – you can. Want to be a humble diplomat, spending his days socialising and cutting deals – yep, you can.
Some of the Alpha testers have called it the “new Star Wars Galaxies” and things are looking good so far. With a feature list that deserves an entire series of articles in itself, any sandboxer who is a fan of the sci-fi genre cannot justify not looking further in to this game, it really is something to look forward to. This is another title to top my most anticipated list.
Release Date: TBDTop List, Top MMOs