One of the biggest weekends in the year of video games is upon us. I’m talking, of course, about PAX Prime, the Seattle-based convention where thousands upon thousands of consumers and media will congregate like a vast zombie horde chanting for “Gaaammmesss” instead of brains. Frankly, I prefer the former anyway. Have you ever seen a brain?
Anyway, it’s a big deal. For me, this will also be my very first PAX. You can probably understand that, even typing this, I’m vibrating with excitement. Of course, PAX is much less exclusive than other trade shows, like E3, which means there is going to be a whole convention center bursting with wonderful indie games and amazingly talented developers hoping to draw the right eyes to their game. But even so, while you will absolutely find me touring about the show floor hunting down these hidden gems, rest assured I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for the genre I love best: MMORPGs.
Going into PAX, there likely won’t be many surprises on the massively multiplayer war front, but that doesn’t mean I’m not eager to get my hands on some of the amazing games coming next year. So, without further ado, here is my list for the MMORPGs I’m excited to check out at PAX Prime 2015.
Guild Wars 2
This one shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. I mean, Guild Wars 2 has one of the largest and most anticipated expansions due (hopefully) this year. And if it happens to be pushed back to 2016, it still stands as one of the largest MMORPG events to look forward to.
But I have a confession: I haven’t played Guild Wars 2 in years. You might be wondering what exactly has me all riled up to go and check it out, and why it managed to grab the top spot on this list (not that they’re actually in any order). The big thing is, if Heart of Thorns actually manages to deliver on what it promises, this expansion will be one for the history books.
Though I’m admittedly not the biggest Guild Wars 2 fan, Heart of Thorns has a long list of things to get excited about. If you’re someone who enjoyed ArenaNet’s buy to play MMO but drifted off for one reason or another, Heart of Thorns might very well fix whatever problems you had.
For me, the biggest thing I am excited about are the new classes and the new Guild Halls. The latter is a system that pulls from decades of MMORPG tradition and then reinvents it with a ton of exciting new features that will (hopefully) keep our eyes plastered to the screen for thousands of hours. Guild Halls offer Guild Wars 2 guilds a chance to finally stake their flag on their own piece of real estate. But this isn’t just some house to rotate tables in and place a few chairs and call it a day. Guild Halls combine dungeons, PVP, and social elements all into one big incredible fortress to call your own.
So, all that said, this weekend I am definitely making time to pop by and get a closer look at what Guild Wars 2 has in store for players in the next year.
Destiny: The Taken King
Listen, I don’t really like Destiny. I get that millions of people play it for millions of hours daily, but I kinda get the feeling that they all feel the same way. Destiny is like that cousin you are forced to spend time with at family gatherings but would rather never talk to again. We all want something better, but Destiny scratches an itch on consoles that is sorely needing a good scratch. But while I don’t like Destiny, I’m also remiss to admit that I’ve spent more time playing it than perhaps any game this year (with a few exceptions). I’m a hypocrite, I know.
The Taken King, Destiny’s big upcoming expansion, looks primed to address many of the big faults inherent in Destiny’s first year out in the wild. For starters, the whole progression system is being reworked to make randomized loot less of a barrier to progression. Other changes include new subclasses and a whole new zone to explore which will hopefully be littered with goodies to find and things to explore.
Now, I’m not totally convinced that even the drastic changes to Destiny’s progression are going to save it from the crippling mediocrity that Destiny has been riddled with since launch—but I am hopeful. We all know that, deep down inside, there is a good game desperately trying to claw its way out. The Taken King might just be what that good game needs to finally burst forth.
The new maps and strikes will go a long way to making Destiny exciting again, but it remains to be seen whether or not they, like everything else in Destiny, will merely become stale and tired after a few months. Either way, I’m eager to find out.
There hasn’t been the greatest buzz surrounding The Repopulation lately, and with good reason. Everyone can get excited about this indie MMOs’ aspirations of rekindling the glory days of Star Wars Galaxies, but at this stage The Repopulation is just too rough to really recommend. That said, the game is so early in development that, as rough as it may be, I’m very hopeful that, in a few years, The Repopulation manages to fully realize its vision.
With the team at Above and Beyond Technologies hitting the floor to show off The Repopulation, I’m eager to stop by and get a more intimate look into the game’s future. Because, despite all the exciting MMORPGs coming out, The Repopulation is one of the few that, on paper, checks just about all of my favorite boxes when it comes to MMORPGs.
The Division being developed by Ubisoft feels a lot like watching group of guys play football with an egg: You’re just waiting for them to make a mess of everything. But while Ubisoft has been having a hard time keeping their audience happy, The Division still manages to captivate with its premise of a post-apocalyptic Manhattan and the intense encounters you’ll have with other players as you wander those frosted streets.
Sadly, concrete details on The Division are scarce. With the game being pushed back to next year, this one has plenty of time left in the oven before we’ll start to get a real good sense of what it has to offer. But, fortunately, The Division will be making an appearance at this years’ PAX and, depending on what’s on display, I’m eager to get some screen time with it.
Without more to go on, it’s hard to say whether or not The Division will live up to the expectations that everyone has of it. But that hasn’t stopped it from being the kind of game that can keep you up late watching trailers and fantasizing about brutally betraying your buddies for a shot at some sweet loot.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
This last one might come as a bit of a surprise to many, but as someone who has been on the outside of The Old Republic for far too long, I’m intensely interested in what Bioware has cooking for its big fall expansion.
While I’ve written at length about how The Old Republic suffered from being the spiritual successor no one wanted, Knights of the Fallen Empire seems like an expansion that is going to tackle those issues head on. There are a lot of questions to be answered, but no one can deny that Knights of the Fallen Empire isn’t a bold move on behalf of Bioware. Scrapping the usual MMORPG expansion fare to offer an update that focuses solely on a single-player story is an interesting move and I’m excited to see how it pans out.
But for me, Star Wars has been on my radar for months now (especially with that sweet, sweet story experience boost). Knights of the Fallen Empire seems like the perfect excuse to finally carve out my path as a Darth Messner—and I’ll be setting some time aside at PAX to get a quick taste before diving in this fall to give it my full attention.
The summer is an exciting time of year for video games. Sure, all of the great releases might be missing in action until the colder months, but I enjoy the celebration of video games nonetheless. With E3 in June, Gamescom in August, and now PAX Prime signalling the end of summer, there is a lot to be excited about. If you’re one of those lucky enough to attend PAX in person, what games will you be on the hunt for? And if you’re at stuck at home, let us know if any of the titles above make your own wishlist and why. As for me, I’ll be walking wide-eyed through the booths and soaking up my first PAX experience this weekend. I can’t wait for the inevitable sickness that will afflict my body next week. You just cannot gather that many people in a small space and expect them to walk away healthy.Related: Column, Destiny, Guild Wars 2, Listed, PAX Prime, Star Wars The Old Republic, The Division, The Repopulation