It’s that time of year again! Time when the grain of salt we all carry on our person while plumbing the digital depths grows in to a salt lick. It’s April Fool’s! And while we’re not sure what sort of madness will come down the pipe in 2016, that doesn’t mean we can’t take a look back at the goofy antics that MMO devs have come up with in time past. From the silly to the self-fulfilling, here’s some of my personal favorites.
City of Heroes – The Golden Age
The City of Heroes team were always pretty creative with their April Fool’s jokes, even if they did strike as the most obvious things out there. Still, it suited the fun-spirited nature of the game, which was best showcased when they announced a text-based patch to City of Heroes in 2009 called Golden Age. Not only did it contain lots of little knowing nods to their community, but it also was a love letter to some of the annoyances of the old text-driven adventure games like Zork. I think anyone who’s played City of Heroes knows a guy like Mr. Awesome Guy…and anyone who’s played a text-based adventure knows just how aggravating inventory management was.
Guild Wars 2 – The Commando Profession
This one can also be filed under “obvious but creative”. The class reveal videos leading up to the launch of Guild Wars 2 were some of the best showcases and some of the most anticipated pieces of news to come from ArenaNet. These vids showcased skills, powers and the game world beautifully. Shortly after the Engineer profession was revealed in 2011, we got a trailer for the next major profession in the game – the Commando. Wearing heavy armor and using a variety of gadgets, weapons and even vehicles, the Commando showcase displayed the same level of craft in its reveal as any of the other Profession videos. Personally, I wish that the game’s mods would be allowed to operate this class in-game…
Star Wars: The Old Republic – Ship Droid
In 2012, BioWare went all in with their April Fool’s joke in the announcement of the Ship Droid Experience minigame coming to Star Wars: The Old Republic. Featuring a page on their site styled exactly like its other news articles and a series of excellently crafted videos showcasing the gameplay you’d encounter as a ship droid, this joke took full advantage of its assets to showcase tasks like meal prep, wall painting and…um…romancing SCORPIO. Which was just as off-putting and hilarious as it reads. Especially when the featured droid did a fist bump to nobody afterwards.
World of Warcraft – The Pandaren Playable Race
Yep, it kind of is hard to believe that the focal point of a later expansion started life as a practical joke. In 2002, Blizzard first announced the addition of Pandaren as the fifth playable race for their flagship title, and had even gone in to great detail about the race’s lore and various classes. I don’t recall a joke carrying as much stamina as this one, as the arguments for the reality of the race and against it were hotly contested. Of course, that would make the announcement for Mists of Pandaria that much harder to take seriously in 2011. Personally, I’m glad they came to be – Pandaren females are one of my favorite MMO races.
Smite – The Flying Spaghetti Monster
A cheeky nod to the oft-referenced name for God by abrasive atheists, the mention of the Flying Spaghetti Mosnter being added to Smite’s pantheon of gods and goddesses makes this list for the creativity it spawned from the game’s playerbase. There were several Reddit threads and fan forum postings that tried to make the FSM a balanced addition to the roster. I suppose it’s easy to understand why – if there’s two great tastes that taste great together, it’s theorycrafting and a plate of delicious spaghetti.
Guild Wars 2 – Super Adventure Box
I mean, honestly…was there ever a doubt about this one being included? The Super Adventure Box wasn’t just an April Fool’s joke, it was an entire event. Released in April of 2013, this thing arrived like a comet strike made of references with its bright, pixelated graphics, an information page styled like something out of Nintendo Power, and an advertisement for the content filmed and produced just like a classic middle to late-80’s video game commercial. This content is so beloved by the playerbase, I’m willing to bet that ArenaNet are feeling sorry they even created it – every year without SAB was a year of sadness for the Guild Wars 2 community. Which makes its return all the sweeter.
Did we miss any of your favorites?Related: April Fools Day, City of Heroes, Guild Wars 2, SMITE, Star Wars The Old Republic, World of Warcraft