In case you’ve been living a blissfully unaware existence in the Matrix for the last year: there’s a new Matrix film coming out. The hype is real. And as the seminal sci-fi movie has just received its first Matrix 4 teaser trailer (soon to be followed by a full-length one) it’s put us in a nostalgic mood. Because what if we told you that there was once a Matrix MMO known as Matrix Online (AKA MxO)?
Here's the Matrix teaser trailer we have so far:
And here is the brand new Matrix trailer:
Unfortunately for Matrix and MMO fans, the life of the massively multiplayer spinoff game was both short-lived and woefully restricted by the technology of its time. Released in 2005, it was developed by Monolith Productions (of F.E.A.R. and Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor/War fame) with the blessing of Matrix creators the Wakowski twins.
Unlike most MMOs at the time, this Matrix MMO was story-focussed and intended to progress past the plot of the Matrix trilogy following Matrix Revolutions - the third and "final" instalment back when a fourth Matrix was but a pipe dream. Given the obvious similarities between the crux of the Matrix plot and MMOs in general (multiple plugged-in humans co-existing in a digital space), the move to MMO-ify the IP was inspired.
In the game, players could choose from three ‘classes’: Coder, Hacker and Operative, which fulfilled similar roles to mainstay fantasy MMO archetypes. Though we’d wager the scores of Neo wannabes meant that Operative was the most popular class.
However, one of MxO’s main stumbling blocks was its combat. Short of replicating the bullet-time spectacle that was one of its movie counterpart’s main selling points, players were instead restricted to a not-so-dynamic interlocked 1v1 combat system that saw players exchanging blows with their opponent in rounds. So not quite the ‘Neo vs. Smith Clones’ vibe that we were all after.
Additionally, questing was repetitive, and even a Matrix MMO couldn’t divert from the dreaded daily grind. So much for being red-pilled.
Though the idea was a match made in Zion - allowing players to soar through the metropolis that was Mega City and even interact in real-time with main movie characters including Morpheus, who was roleplayed live by a dev - it fell short of the vision mapped out by its creators. After four short years, the game shut down in 2009 due to low subscription numbers. At the time, only 500 active players were plugged in.
But with the main IP’s imminent resurgence thanks to Matrix Resurrections, and engagement at an all-time high, would this be the perfect time for the Matrix MMO spinoff to undergo a resurrection of its own? Technology has come on leaps and bounds since the advent of MxO. New innovations could surely do the seminal fight scenes justice in a modern reimagining. And the prospect of enshrining the concepts of The Matrix in reality seems like too good of an opportunity to pass up. Get that plug in the back of my head, pronto.
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