We have sky-high hopes for the survival MMORPG genre this year. Learn about the upcoming releases and watch their trailers here.
2023 Will Be the Year of the Survival MMORPG
From classic castaway survival games like Raft and The Forest to more innovative hits like Valheim and V Rising, survival games have been enjoying a prolonged moment in the sun (or moon as in the case of V Rising). There is a deep survivalist satisfaction in starting with what you can scavenge and building your way into a formidable warrior.
That same zero-to-hero journey is a crucial component of the MMORPG -- no other genre takes longer for its characters to progress. It is no surprise then that the intersection of these two genres is a really exciting space. The survival MMORPG is a subgenre that's been steadily increasing in popularity, and 2023 looks set to see that growth skyrocket.
Arguably excluding the 1984 Patrick Stewart movie, Dune is a sci-fi franchise that can't put a foot wrong. After the critically acclaimed 2022 film, we've all got a case of spice fever. Dune: Awakening was a surprise survival MMORPG announcement last year that has gotten our minds racing. After a cinematic teaser trailer featuring sandworms and desolate landscapes, all our imaginations have been racing as to what the game will look like. And there's not long to wait.
It promises to be a "unique and ambitious" open world sandbox MMO featuring PvP, PvE, base-building, and fierce fighting over the resources that lie underneath the sands of Arrakis. Expect to see familiar faces from the book and movie alongside deep character customisation allowing for specialisation in numerous skills and abilities.
The harsh sand-swept lands should make for an ideal survival MMORPG setting with oases of civilisation providing respite from deadly desert world. Crashed ships, vehicular combat, ancient ruins, sandstorms, water sources, and formidable beasts provide threats and opportunities alike. A focus on guilds, crafting, and base-building will mean cooperation is key, and we can't wait to get stuck in.
Dinosaurs, dynamism, and dynamite -- need we say more? ARK: Survival Evolved is still going strong, with an active playerbase and content creation community that puts players in the driving seat of their own stories. Its 2023 sequel, ARK 2, looks to up the ante with harsher Souls-like third person combat, enhanced creature AI that will increase the threat and thrill of the hunt, and a much vaster world full of new dangers.
ARK 2 will be one of many new MMORPGs using cutting edge Unreal Engine 5 graphics. There will be a "massive skill tree" allowing for unique character builds. Component-based crafting and base building truly scratches that survival game itch; players start with not even a pointy stick to their names.
As with so many great sandbox games, the modding community will utilise the creativity of the community to take the game to new heights. And as one of few games offering cross-platform modding, we can't wait to see the unique challenges offered throughout the unofficial servers. We also expect plenty of great builds for Crafty Creations.
The Day Before
At MMOGames, we have two nicknames for this controversial upcoming title: "The Delay Before" and "Delay-Z". When it dropped its trailer in 2021, the gaming world exploded. It became a sensation overnight and soon became the most wish-listed game on Steam. Since reaching those lofty heights, The Day Before has fallen from most people's good graces thanks to more delays, dubious workplace practices, and even fears that Russian developers Fntastic are faking the whole thing.
We're certainly growing suspicious that something isn't right, but if we get a release that looks anything close to the eery wintry trailer then we'll be happy. For many, that trailer showed off the zombie survival MMORPG we've been dreaming about since our teenage years. Following the most recent delay (supposedly originating from them not noticing someone had trademarked "The Day Before"), the new release date is early November 2023.
Who fancies a Hawaiian holiday? Before you jump to say yes, maybe check you're not signing yourself up for the apocalyptic (albeit vibrant) hellscape that awaits you in Fractured Veil. A survival MMORPG set on Maui a century from now.
Whether you're modifying the remnants of a luxury resort or building your own structure from scratch, players will need every trick they have to fend off other players and mutant threats. Featuring tier-based crafting, in-depth base-building, and Diablo-inspired dungeons, Fractured Veil looks set to be a fun pick-up-and-go game as well as one that could offer more longevity.
From the gameplay footage already released, Fractured Veil appears to be a fun-filled romp of a game with a brutal edge -- much like an MMORPG DayZ. Don't expect cutting edge graphics or AAA gameplay from indie studio Paddle Creek Games, but do expect a game made with a lot of heart.
Not all survival games need be earthly. We shone our Indie Spotlight on the action-survival MMORPG Starkeepers recently due to its unique game design and cosmic threats.
Team-focused base builds or "Starkeeps" will be the star of the show. Players will need to work together to withstand the assaults of astral threats and fellow players alike. With turrets and traps aplenty, there are elements of tower defence games intermingled with the social, economic, and roleplay elements of the MMORPG.
Restoring balance to the Astral Realms will require skill as well as cooperation. Full action combat will be reliant on well-timed dodges, blocks, combos, and omnidirectional sprinting. Moreover, Starkeepers is a hero-centric game. Rather than being a naked weakling dropped off in the wilderness, players can morph into legendary heroes who can be customised and upgraded through combat and exploration.
Much like "The Day Before", Pioner is a Russian-developed post-apocalyptic survival-horror MMORPG. The similarities don't end there: Pioner also has very little information online, it has a lacklustre website, it had its release delayed from 2022... and it has a trailer that looks bloomin' incredible.
We're excited to see if anything comes from Pioner. It's reminiscent of games like S.T.A.L.K.E.R. -- offering gritty, horrifying, and atmospheric FPS action in an apocalypse-ravaged island full of secret Soviet labs and abandoned settlements. It's hard not to get excited about it after watching the trailer, and the world needs more MMOFPS games.
Last year, they announced investment from Tencent, their Twitter is active, and they promise a 2023 release. So, while slightly suspicious about the offering, we're hoping those suspicions are misplaced.
Survival MMORPGs That You Can Play Today
With the majority of new survival MMORPGs not coming out until later in the year, you might want to get your fix early with some of the unique offerings that are playable today.
Ark: Survival Evolved is already a modern-day classic. And who can say no to riding a T-rex while unleashing volleys of machine gun fire? Not us. If you're unfamiliar with the world of ARK: Survival Evolved, an entertaining and educational place to begin is the great fan-made challenges on YouTube.
Last Oasis is a game that has so far failed to live up to its potential. But the developers are aware of that, and they're working hard to pair their awesome walking wooden bases (inspired by real life Strandbeast constructions) with a more enjoyable game. Still technically in early access, we're not writing off Last Oasis yet!
Conan Exiles does feel a bit dated now and server populations aren't fantastic. However, as someone who only played The Forest last year, I believe that survival games remain playable long after other genres might bow out. While Funcom's Conan Exiles doesn't reinvent the wheel, they were ahead of the curve and the game remains a fun challenge to throw yourself into. Especially with the recent addition of sorcery.
Did we forget about any excellent survival MMORPGs coming out in 2023? Be sure to let us know on our social channels.