Several exciting game releases are on the horizon. If you can’t wait until the full release, check out these picks for games that you can beta test now or in the near future.
Albion Online is a fantasy sandbox MMO with the unique feature that you can play on a single account over multiple platforms. The game will be available on PC (Windows, Linux), Mac, and for tablets (Androids, iOS), and is currently open for alpha testing.
The game appears to merge many popular MMO features, such as PvE, crafting, and PvP, with a customization system based on “you are what you wear.” You gain your abilities from the items you equip, letting your character change from a warrior to a wizard by swapping out your inventory. Albion Online does have an opportunity for customization, however, with skills that can be unlocked for greater specialization. The PvP areas will allow full corpse-looting, so wander through the open-world at your own risk.
You can purchase Founder’s Packs to get into the Winter Alpha testing now, with beta testing soon to come. The various packages also include gold, equipment, a house, horse, and other items. The final game will be free-to-play, but a release date is unknown.
Camelot Unchained is one of several recent games being produced by an independent game studio (City State Entertainment), and partially backed by Kickstarter. While the final product may not be available until 2016, alpha and beta testing is estimated to begin in stages through 2015.
This MMO focuses on massive RvR play in a fantasy setting. Much of the game design has been undertaken by Mark Jacobs (Dark Age of Camelot) and the entire experience will be geared toward that PvP endgame. Choose to play in one of three realms: the Arthurians, the Tuatha Dé Danann, or the Vikings. The game will have a player-based economy with heavy emphasis on crafting what you need over the luck of random item drops. The studio claims to be taking some risks with this project by at least partially doing away with features such as fast-travel, respec-ing your build, and interactive maps and guidance for quests, hoping to create a more immersive and old-school experience. The races available to play in each realm look fresh and unique, and a few screen shots are available to view so far.
Camelot Unchained will require a subscription to play. Builder packages are currently available for purchase and feature access to the alpha and beta testing, badges, titles, special armor and weapons, strategy guide, forum access, and monthly subscriptions.
Star Citizen is a space trading and combat simulator MMO in development for PC (Windows, Linux) by Cloud Imperium Games. Funded by an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign, Star Citizen will let you play as a fighter pilot, pirate, merchant, or salvage expert, flying your ship around an expansive 30th century Milky Way galaxy. The game is being made available in modules as they are completed. You will have to buy a game package to join this beta testing, however. Currently, the Hangar module and Arena Commander modules are accessible, with a first-person shooter, planetside game, Squadron 42 (single player campaign), and a persistent universe modules planned for later release.
The Hangar module allows you to explore your ship from a first-person perspective. Arena Commander lets you fly your ship in one of several single-player or multi-player games. An extensive manual is available for free on the game’s site under the Arena Commander FAQ for those who want to look at all the details.
The galaxy is under the rule of the United Empire of Earth (UEE), and citizenship must be earned through military service in a fashion seen in science fiction stories since Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Star Citizen features alien races as well: the Banu, the Vanduul, and the Xi’An. No release dates are available for the upcoming modules. The developer also plans to provide Oculus Rift support for this game in the future.
For those players interested in a blend of science fiction and fantasy in their MMO’s, Shadowrun Online is a game to watch. Based on the long-running pen-and-paper RPG, this game is set in a dystopian future in the 2070’s after an Awakening in which magic has been reborn into the world. Elves, dwarves, orks, and trolls lurk in the shadows, and mega-corporations rule. Magic blends with cybernetic technology in a dangerous world in which the corporations fight using covert “shadowruns” and private armies.
Available through Steam, the alpha version of Shadowrun Online has been running since last year. While the initial offering has been reported to lack many features and to be only a rough version of the game, an upgraded version is expected in the first quarter of 2015 for beta testing.
Heralded as a tactical turn-based combat RPG, Shadowrun Online does not feature classes, but allows you to create your character based on the skills and items you pick. The actions of the players will also reportedly influence the overall plot of the game.
This MMOPRG is based on the 4-volume Otherland series by Tad Williams and is currently taking registrations for closed beta testing. The books are set in the future and deal with a massive virtual reality construct, the Net. The virtual reality setting of the game allows a huge variety of settings to exist. In this environment, you can choose a unique character appearance, and the different equipment found in all the settings will allow for even greater customization. Buy gear at Lambda Mall or craft it yourself using a SOMAforge.
Your character can clone creatures using eDNA and can build your UISpace as you progress. It appears like there will be some PvP features and Clan wars, but details are not available. Pick your class and play a warrior, assassin, marksman, or energizer.
A new round of beta testing is supposed to happen this month, with additions such as the crafting system, vendors, and auction house. New content and quests are also going to be available. It looks like the developer, Drago Entertainment, has plans for open beta testing at a later stage, but no timeline is available.
These are just some of the betas we’re looking forward to playing in 2015. Is there an upcoming beta we didn’t mention that you’re looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.Related: Albion Online, Alpha, Beta, Camelot Unchained, Otherland, Shadowrun Online, Star Citizen