JRPGs often feature worlds that I just can't help but want to be a part of, and that is what led me to come up with this piece. Enclosed is a list of JRPGs that I think would fit as an MMORPG. Note that I will be featuring rather modern titles for the time being, as the spectrum is already too broad to fit into one article. Anyway, here's our list of JPRGs that would make great MMOs.
Throughout the course of our gaming lives, many of us have fallen in love with numerous JRPGs like the ones found on the Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom, immersing ourselves in the rich story-driven environment that just couldn't be found anywhere else at the time. My first JRPG experience came in the form of Chrono Trigger for the Super Nintendo and it blew my mind. Aside from its compelling story, the sheer amount of things that could be done in-game made it seem like I was a part of an actual living and breathing world, with all my deeds yielding various consequences in the long run.
Everyone had their own story to tell and almost every location had its own mini-narration that added more depth to the overarching storyline. This is what made me fall in love with the MMORPG genre, as I traveled across its persistent world, interacted with its lore-loving denizens, and combated the many threats that swarmed each realm. That's not to say that I do not miss my traditional single-player JRPGs; in fact, I've longed to see some of my preferred titles transition into the MMO genre, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in pre-established worlds. This was definitely the case when I first entered Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. There was always a “feel good” moment whenever I came across something familiar from previous installments. Characters like Cid, Ifrit, or spells like Esuna and Holy were always a treat to see, as it was that sense of familiarity that made me realize that I was indeed playing a Final Fantasy game, further cementing my existence in its respective world.
Disclaimer: The titles ahead may contain some spoilers, so read at your own risk.
Atelier Series (Arland series)
Before I start, I would like to state that I am very well aware that there is an upcoming Atelier Online game for tablets and smartphones, but the MMORPG variant I'm talking about is less on the mobile side of things.
The Atelier series is often hailed for its crafting related gameplay, focusing on world exploration, gathering, and synthesizing pretty much anything you will need on your adventures. Unfortunately, I have only become familiar with the series through its Arland installments, so it will be my chosen land for this list.
Atelier games focus on the wonders of alchemy, and while this particular job has been but one of the many crafting jobs available in most MMORPGs, having a world that solely revolves around it may present some interesting results both for gold making and raiding. Crafted items having a big impact in combat is quite unheard of, if not rare, in today's MMO market. In all my years of playing online games, I've known crafting to be nothing more than an extra tool to earn gold or provide a starting kit until you get better gear. That being said, it has not presented itself as a main staple in terms of gameplay. I think it would be amazing to have a game that really rewards people for crafting, tying it closely to both its combat and adventuring mechanics. An MMO for those who love crafting - that's the dream.
Those familiar with the series would probably agree that the Hyperdimension series can provide as much PVP conviction to players as WoW did with its Horde vs Alliance feud. To put it simply, Hyperdimension Neptunia is the console wars personified, with four major nations, namely: Planeptune, Lastation, Leanbox, and Lowii (Sega Neptune, Playstation, Xbox, and Wii) fighting a lighthearted war to gain more shares and prove that they are the best console ever. Each nation is also ruled by its own goddess, complete with little sisters who are personified versions of each console's handheld counterpart (Game Gear, 3DS and PSP). The game has a very witty and punny game-related humor, sporting villains the likes of Arfoire (a play on the Nintendo DS homebrew cartridge R4), and Pirachu (a mixture of Piracy and Pikachu); heck, the in-game world is even called Gameindustry. Not once did the game take itself too seriously, and would serve as a fine break from all the urgencies presented in various MMO titles.
The series has recently come up with an MMO-inspired installment in the form of Cyberdimension Neptunia: 4 Goddesses Online, which features an active combat system, as well as a bunch of MMO archetypes that proves that the series can transition to the massively multiplayer world with ease.
Overall, I think the Hyperdimension series can provide a joyful fourth-wall-breaking approach to the MMO scene, and would be an amazing world to interact with. I can already imagine the amount of rip-off monsters and bosses it could potentially feature in future dungeons and raids. Now, the question is... which nation will you support?
Tales of Berseria
For those who don't know, Japan was already graced with a Tales MMO in the form of Tales of Eternia Online back in 2006; unfortunately, said game was shut down due a severe lack of players. Tales of Berseria is the most recent installment in the series, and perhaps one of its darkest takes on worldbuilding. The game is set on the Holy Midgand Empire, a place torn by a dreaded Daemonblight that transforms people into savage monsters. To combat this abundant threat, the Abbey deployed a group of special soldiers known as Exorcists. These individuals wield powerful magic (or artes, as the game calls it) through manipulating the Malakhim, a race capable of commanding the powers of nature. With most of its plot being tied to religious propaganda and politics, Berseria's world is flexible enough to house a gratuitous amount of stories befitting an MMORPG.
Each faction (be it Malakhim, Daemon or Exorcist) is driven by their own sense of purpose, though despite their beliefs being righteous through their perspective, it's flawed for the other parties in question. This is a very good way of setting up a conflict to boost the player's sense of loyalty to their kin, making it a perfect fit as an open world PVP MMORPG. As for the combat system, the one found in modern Tales games would work well in an MMO setting with its easy to grasp control scheme that's comfortable whether you're using a controller or the standard mouse and keyboard.
In a way, Dark Souls can already be attributed as a mini-MMO of sorts, with its persistent tip system, death replays, and jolly cooperation, but imagine how good it would be if the difficulty was ramped up to provide a decent challenge for 4 players in a dungeon format. Sure, it wouldn't be for everyone but it could be quite enjoyable for those seeking a challenge. I played Wizardry Online a few years back, dubbing it the closest thing I can get to a Dark Souls MMO. The difficulty was one thing to bridge both games, but Dark Souls just had a way of including difficulty while making it seem fair despite being utterly frustrating. I could have also picked Bloodborne but I would prefer MMOs to provide a fair balance between offense and defense as opposed to Bloodborne's 'controlled aggression'.
Dark Souls has made its mark on the industry, even inspiring its own genre dubbed 'souls-like'; a testament to the claim that not all games need to hold your hand from start to finish in order to be good/modern. It's a dark and grim world rich with story for those willing to seek it and a lineup of characters and creatures more than enough to sate a persistent MMO world. As for the world's setting, we can immediately make it a follow up to Dark Souls III's 'End of Fire' ending where the first flame was finally quelled, thus ushering in the 'Age of Dark'. The mere fact that the Firekeeper spoke of betrayal and monsters clearly makes this new world canonically harder and more treacherous than the previous age, making it a clear transition to our supposed Dark Souls MMO.
Dark Souls' main draw for me is the feeling of wanting to progress further, albeit suffering from a recurring fear of not being ready for what lies ahead. This level of paranoia is something I haven't yet felt an MMO, as death doesn't yield too many consequences, not to mention the fact that you can easily re-queue upon failing a dungeon run. I firmly believe that the Souls world can present something new to the industry, and may even up the ante for most titles sharing the genre. Anor Londo instanced-raid, anyone?