Joseph Staten Leaves Bungie

Joseph Staten, one of Bungie’s greats, has now left the company. This man was brought on as a product manager/ localization expert during Myth II: Soulbringer in 1998. He went on to be part of the script writing team team for Oni and helped influence much of the Halo universe that many of us grew to love. I’m a long time Bungie fan and he will be missed.

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At Bungie, we consider ourselves lucky. Every day, we get to do what we love in an amazing place, alongside people we respect and admire. No one embodies that more than Joseph Staten. Few have contributed as much to our success. To that end, it is with no small degree of sadness that we say “Godspeed” to more than just a Grizzled Ancient, but an old, dear friend. And it is with no small degree of delight and intrigue that we imagine what worlds he might take us to next.

Here are a few words from the man himself.

Dear community friends,

After fifteen great years at Bungie, from the battlefields of Myth to the mysteries of Halo and beyond, I’m leaving to tackle new creative challenges. While this may come as a surprise, fear not. It’s been my pleasure building Destiny these past four years, and after the big reveal this Summer, our hugely talented team is on track for greatness. I’ll be cheering all of them, with all of you, when the game launches next year. Thank you for your support of me, and your continued support of Bungie. We couldn’t have done it without you.

Per Audacia Ad Astra!
Joseph Staten

It’s been an honor serving with you, Joseph. Thank you for everything.

The Seven Biggest Upcoming Console MMOs (IGN.com)

I get that MMOs want to extend their reach to add console gamers. For real MMOs (especially MMORPGs), that market segment is virtually untapped. However, I don’t see consoles replacing my mouse+keyboard experience. FFXIV:ARR is a good example of that, especially when looking at tanks. Almost all of the tanks that struggle with positioning that I’ve run with have been console gamers (or just new to the dungeon).

For MMOs like Defiance and those that offer first person views, the overall game would probably be similar between consoles and PCs, but communication will always be substantially behind on consoles and only a small percentage of gamers are using Ventrilo, RaidCall, or other VoIP software.
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As long as video game consoles have had internet connections, enterprising studios have been creating massively multiplayer games for them. Early notable efforts include Sega’s Phantasy Star Online in 2001 and Everquest Online Adventures in 2003.

Still, despite these groundbreaking games, there’s no denying that for most MMO experiences, PC gaming has always been where it’s at. Until now, at least.

Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are more PC-like than ever, and now talented AAA console development teams are finally wrapping their heads around how to create persistent online worlds and long-term character growth. As a result, next-gen might be the era that console MMOs finally come into their own. Below are the hottest console MMOs, both launched and upcoming, that you should be sure to keep on your radar.

Note: It’s still up in the air whether some of these titles will truly feel like traditional MMO experiences when they launch. The lines are blurring. Massive battles with hundreds of concurrent players might not constitute an MMO if the world isn’t persistent. A persistent world might not be an MMO if you can only explore it with small, controlled groups. However you define an MMO, these games are all, at the least, MMO-like experiences worth your hype and attention.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

PC, PS3, PS4
After a notoriously poor launch, Square-Enix doubled down on FF XIV, relaunching the game a full three years later, to critical and commercial success. It’s arguably one of the biggest turnaround stories in video game history.

Somewhat lost in all the headlines was the “small” detail that the relaunched game released not just for Windows, but on Playstation 3 as well, with a Playstion 4 version coming in 2014. The console version is fully playable with just a controller thanks to a completely revamped UI, or players can just plug a keyboard and mouse. FF XIV is the highest-profile MMORPG currently available on consoles and is an easy recommendation for console gamers.

DC Universe Online

PC, PS3, PS4
DCUO launched on PC and PS3 in 2011 to so-so reviews and managed to amass only a modest player base. But Sony Online Entertainment stuck it out, continuing to gradually improve and expand on the superhero MMO. The game gained notable momentum after switching to a freemium business model 10 months after launch.

The game makes excellent use of the DC universe via top-notch voice acting, an active, ever-expanding story, and hundreds of famous and not-so-famous characters and locations from the DC Universe. DCUO is tuned to get players to the level cap and into endgame content as fast as possible, making it a great MMO for superhero nerds to download and try out.

Planetside 2

PC, PS4
Sony Online Entertainment’s massive PC FPS hit Planetside 2 is due out on the PS4 later this year. Many were skeptical about Planetside 2’s massive scale and free-to-play model, but after trying it out for themselves, most came away believers. The payment model never gets in the way, and vehicular and on-foot warfare is always raging, with thousands of players all vying for territory control at once. Thanks to a solid class system and a steady stream of unlockables, Planetside 2 should have something for everyone when it hits PS4.

Destiny

PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One
For how much we know about Halo developer Bungie’s ridiculously ambitious “persistent world shooter” Destiny, there’s an awful lot we still don’t know. Bungie itself has refrained from actually calling the game an MMO, for starters. Instead, the game provides players with a feeling of constant connection via seamless matchmaking that all happens in the background, with other players entering and exiting your game world on-the-fly.

Destiny’s emphasis on dynamic world events and “loot drops” also contributes to its MMO feel. Players will be able to socket and customize their weapons with powerful items dropped from foes. Dynamic events will help keep the world of Destiny fresh and keep players on their toes. We’ll have to wait until 2014 to find out just how MMO-likeDestiny truly ends up feeling.

The Division

PS4, Xbox One, PC
When a man-made pandemic collapses civilization, ruthless gangs vie for power in the ruins of New York. Sounds like a good setting for an MMORPG to us! Like Destiny, at this point we still aren’t sure how genuinely MMO-like Ubisoft’s dystopian FPS/RPG hybrid The Division truly is. But what has been revealed looks extremely promising.

Players are plunked into The Division’s unforgiving game world with three days’ worth of food and supplies. From there it’s up for you to explore and scavenge what you need, leveling up your character RPG-style along the way. Although solo play is an option, The Division includes extensive options for player-run clans and groups as well as drop-in/drop-out multiplayer, encouraging and rewarding players who team up and work together to tame its persistent, dynamic online world.

The Crew

PC, PS4, Xbox One
Like Destiny and The Division, just how MMO-like Ubisoft’s persistent world racing gameThe Crew truly is still isn’t known. But what we’ve seen so far is extremely promising. The arcade-style racing action takes place across the entire United States. A condensed version of it, sure… but still. Racing from Seattle to Miami in a seamless online/offline game world filled with hundreds of racing challenges? Yes, please!

The game will seamlessly and constantly fill your game world with hundreds of other real world players, giving the game its “MMO” label. You can party up to compete in races or cooperative events like taking down a single superpowered opponent. Yes, almost like a raid.

Elder Scrolls Online

PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One
Elder Scrolls Online, in development for six years, is finally nearing its 2014 release window. Set 1000 years before the events of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, the game’s major claim to fame is that it takes place across the entire continent of Tamriel. Not just a single country or region like all the other modern single player Elder Scrolls games.

Early impressions were mixed, wih many describing the game as a World of Warcraft clone set in the Elder Scrolls universe. While that’s still a plenty exciting concept on its own, many gamers wanted more. Thankfully, Zenimax Online listened. The game now has a first-person mode, a new Skyrim-like UI, further refined storytelling and plenty more tweaks that truly allow the game to feel like Skyrim with (thousands) of friends.

Plenty more!

The seven games above aren’t the only ones to keep in mind, but they’re probably the highest profile console MMOs in the works. Other upcoming console MMOs include:

War Thunder: A freemium flight sim MMO that’s been making waves on Steam. Due out for PS3 and PS4 in November. Watch the gameplay.

Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade: Not due out until 2015, this MMO based on the classic sci-fi license is slated for release on PC and both Xbox One and PS4. Read the news.

World of Tanks: Wargaming.net’s notorious PVP-heavy tank combat game has been available on Xbox 360 since this summer. Read the news.

Phantasy Star Online 2: Sega’s PSO sequel is out now on PC and Vita… in Japan. A US release date hasn’t yet been announced. US Release News?

Dragon Quest X: Like PSO 2, Square Enix’s Dragon Quest MMO hit Wii and Wii U in Japan last year to critical acclaim. But a US release is still up in the air. Watch the epic trailer.

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