In the wake of the announcement that Everquest: Next has officially been cancelled, the MMO community is left to wonder - what will be the next PvE sandbox MMO? Upcoming PvP sandboxes are common enough, but for many of those disinclined towards PvP the sandbox market feels to be moving away from them, with the now-cancelled Everquest: Next making up the one oasis in an a desert otherwise filled with PvP titles.
To answer that question, we dug up some of the most promising PvE sandbox MMO games currently in development.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is a PvE sandbox MMO looking to bring back the social experience from previous generations of MMOs. Promising a focus on cooperative play with tougher monsters, meaningful death, and a need to communicate to survive, one of the game's biggest goals appears to be bringing the community back into MMO games.
Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen will likely be a fundamentally different game compared to what you may have experienced playing other modern MMORPGs. From the moment you log in you will notice that the game is more social and has an emphasis on cooperative play. The monsters are often tougher and exploration is more involved. You will need friends in the game and your reputation can either help you progress or hinder it. Death in-game is meaningful and you’ll want to avoid it when possible. You’ll learn your surroundings and the lay of the land, spending meaningful time in each area and not just running through as quickly as possible to collect ten hides. You will need strategy, cunning and endurance to uncover all that Pantheon has to offer. You will find yourself in group and guild chats as you strategize or even just to pass the time between battles. Pantheon is social, thought-provoking, and the memories from your experiences in Terminus will last a lifetime.
Beyond the basics, Pantheon includes a bevy of interesting features that should pique the interest of players looking for a new PvE sandbox MMO. Check out the overview on the game's official site for more information.
Shroud of the Avatar
Melding episodic single player story-telling with a sandbox MMO world, Shroud of the Avatar will occupy a unique space in the PvE sandbox MMO market. The game features several multiplayer modes in the style of Elite: Dangerous (single player, friends only, and open play), a classless skills-based character customization system, and a sandbox player driven economy.
Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues is a fantasy RPG that combines a single player narrative with a sandbox MMO created by a team that includes: Richard “Lord British” Garriott the creator of the Ultima series, Starr Long the Director of Ultima Online, and Tracy Hickman the author of Dragonlance.
Shroud of the Avatar also includes a unique combat ability system blending the deck-building elements of trading card games like Hearthstone with hotkey based MMO combat, in what truly amounts to a must see, if only for the novelty. For more information, swing by the game's official site.
Judging by the passages on its website, Project: Gorgon appears to be almost a gut-reaction to the locked down nature of MMOs in the post World of Warcraft market. That's their words, not mine.
A decade ago, World of Warcraft came out and changed the MMO industry forever. It's an amazing game, and completely worthy of its success, but it had a nasty side effect on the MMO industry: other game companies saw the success this game had, and suddenly every business plan was to "be the next World of Warcraft." (I was there, making MMOs. It was a weird time.)
Each new MMO tried to copy as much of WoW as possible, assuming that was the secret to capturing the same audience. And now, a decade later, the term "MMO" is almost synonymous with this sort of directed MMO experience. Don't get me wrong, it's a fun experience! But it's only one possible kind of MMO.
There are a lot of interesting ideas in the game's welcome page, all ultimately coming back to the importance of freedom and exploration in a PvE sandbox MMO. Best of all? You can get early access to the game at the low low cost of absolutely nothing - a welcome change from the costly founder's packs now proliferative within the genre.
Saga of Lucimia
Saga of Lucimia is an upcoming PvE sandbox MMO that takes probably the hardest stance on being exactly what it wants to be without diluting that vision. The game is focused solely on a cooperative PvE experience, boasting that it has zero solo quests and absolutely no PvP.
You will be able to explore within cities and outposts on your own, as well as craft by yourself in between adventuring sessions and work on leveling up certain skills, but any time you step foot outside of the protection of a city or outpost you are entering a world of adventure and danger, a place where you dare not venture alone. This is a challenge-based game focused on group content.
While such a singular focus will be a turn-off to many, players looking to find an PvE sandbox MMO experience extremely close to the genre's tabletop gaming roots need look no further than Saga of Lucimia. Swing by their official website for more information.
I know what those of you familiar with Revival are thinking. "But Isarii, why is an MMO with open PvP and full loot on your list of PvE sandbox MMO games?" That's a good question rhetorical people, and one I'll happily answer.
As this is a reactionary piece to the news of Everquest: Next's demise, I felt it was important to consider closeness of features to that original game, and despite its PvP focus, Revival is one of the closest there is. The Gothic Lovecraftian horror title will feature live events changing a server's history (in this case lead by GMs) and is working on a system for NPC group migrations across the open world that warrants serious comparison to the Storybricks tech that excited so many excited by the original promises of Everquest: Next.
Revival is the rebirth of the player-driven, sandbox, fantasy role-playing world. Player agency, world persistence, and absolutely zero compromises are the cornerstones of our quest for a living, persistent, dark fantasy role-playing world. Revival is much more than a game. It is, in fact, an ongoing drama where each and every player has an opportunity to enjoy a starring role. Revival is our effort to revive the promise of the virtual world, and bring back a truly open-world sandbox role-playing experience.
If you can get past the game's PvP elements, Revival's PvE elements alone may be worth a look for displaced Everquest: Next fans. Find out more on the game's official site.