target="_blank">Bob Salvatore doesn’t normally
write for MMOGs, but gamers everywhere took notice when he got involved
with 38 Studios and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/883"
target="_blank">Copernicus
because the man is a damned good writer. If the notion of one of the
greatest fantasy novelist of our time writing for a new MMOG is
exciting, I think people really should rejoice at the news
that  target="_blank">Atlus, U.S.A. is getting into the MMOG arena.
Just as Salvatore doesn’t normally write for MMOGs, Atlus has not
published them prior to its big announcement at the beginning of
February. Like Salvatore’s notoriety for crafting memorable characters,
Atlus has a reputation for being an outstanding publisher not afraid to
take chances on niche titles and cater to rabid but small audience
instead of a large but fickle fan base. Now that Atlus Online is here,
expect everything to change. I foresee nothing short of excellence from
Atlus Online.

style="margin: 10px; border-collapse: collapse; float: right; width: 148px; height: 185px;"
border="1">

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64766"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 150px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/64766/preview">

Atlus produces some quirky titles that
garner a zealous following.

My first experience with Atlus came with the company’s
decision to localize the Super Nintendo title style="font-style: italic;">Ogre Battle on the
Playstation in 1997. Atlus had been around before that, garnering some
fame from Crusader of
Centy
on the Sega Genesis, but it caught my attention when
they took the risk on the niche strategy title I had enjoyed so much as
a teen. I went out and purchased their other Playstation game on the
market, Persona,
just to show my support. Persona
turned out to be a gem of an RPG, daring to be different from the
normal fantasy setting and focusing on macabre subjects like demons and
dating in high school. I ended up buying seven games published by Atlus
between 1997 and 2000, all of them given careful attention to
translation and solid presentation.

Atlus continued its presence in the console and handheld
markets in the next generation with Playstation 2 titles that
penetrated the install base deeper than ever. Atlus was carving out a
loyal following of fans that enjoyed the quirky titles it brought over
to the US. Titles like Disgaea
and Stella Deus
helped propel the name Atlus into any discussion involving strategic
turn-based gameplay. Meanwhile, the cult following of the style="font-style: italic;">Persona and style="font-style: italic;">Shin Megami Tensei
series continued to grow, and all along Atlus had been responsible for
ensuring the English publication of innovative titles like style="font-style: italic;">Trauma Center and style="font-style: italic;">Touch Detective on
the Nintendo DS.

For
readers who only play MMOGs, you’re just going to have to take my word
for it; Atlus is a renowned publisher and the titles it develops
(especially the Shin
Megami Tensei
stuff) are very strong competitors in their
genre. What should impress you more about Atlus is the company’s
recognition of the power of a loyal fan base. Called the “Atlus
Faithful,” Atlus devotees religiously investigate any title being
published by Atlus. We Faithful (I am proud to be among their number)
know we’re getting a game with a fresh perspective and solid
translation when we buy from Atlus. Turn-based strategy RPGs (SRPGs)
are still somewhat the preoccupation of an unusual group of gamers, but
Atlus was publishing SRPGs for us when it seemed like we numbered only
a hundred. We told our friends about the solid job Atlus did with
localizing, and one or two tried games we recommended. The effect was
very viral, and I no longer have to hide the fact that I am playing a
SRPG when I take Luminous
Arc 2
for DS with me on the bus.

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border="1">

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64765"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 200px; height: 111px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/64765/preview">

Neo
Steam will get an
overhaul and another beta.

Fanboy gushing aside, we can anticipate a lot from Atlus
Online in the way of MMOGs. We already know that Atlus Online has
acquired the rights to  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64456" target="_blank"> style="font-style: italic;">Neo Steam,
a game I have played and enjoyed before but found to lack in the area
of localization. Without a doubt, Atlus will fix the translation
problems in Neo Steam,
and it looks like the company aims to go one step further and really
rework the game. In recent posts in the official forums, Atlus Online’s
Sporkle href="http://www.atlusonline.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=3156&view=findpost&p=102994"
target="_blank">noted, “We are working on a full
localization of the title right now from Korean, to English, to Atlus
English.” Posted slightly tongue-in-cheek, Sporkle’s comment is music
to the ears of the Faithful who enjoy the sense of humor and flair that
Atlus brings to the script of any game. Sporkle href="http://www.atlusonline.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=3156&view=findpost&p=103001"
target="_blank">also remarked that the team was
attentive to the leveling treadmill in the original style="font-style: italic;">Neo Steam, adding,
“Rest assured that we are aware of the grind that was in the original style="font-style: italic;">Neo Steam and that
we are actually modifying the leveling curve to be a little more
empathetic to the fans.” Rather than just recycling the product it’s
been given, Atlus Online will polish it and make it shine.

If you have any doubts left that things are different with
Atlus, go join the href="https://secure.atlusonline.com/AccountLogin.aspx"
target="_blank">Atlus Online community. 
You’ll find friendly, mature players who are able to argue without
flame wars. You’ll also encounter administrators interacting with the
community, soliciting feedback from the Faithful about any number of
things. This level of service and interaction, a sort of folk lore
among MMOG players, is something we Faithful have known for years.

Parting Thoughts

Everything changes with Atlus Online arriving on the scene. I
didn’t know this was good news coming when I wrote that  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/52099">2009 is the
year of the F2P game, but the formation of Atlus Online only
solidifies my opinion. If you aren’t excited, it’s only because you
don’t know what Atlus is all about yet. Give it time; Atlus is a
publisher that could convert P2P gamers by delivering a product that is
polished and engaging enough to impress anybody. And just wait until
they start making their original IPs into MMOGs!

I wanted to close with a message to the folks at Atlus: Get to
work on  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/63448" target="_blank">Ogre
Battle Online! 

Are you a member of the Atlus Faithful? Do you think Atlus
Online will make good games? href="mailto:mailto:[email protected]">Email
your thoughts or post them href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=41182"
target="_blank">in our forums!

The Top Ten

Continue
to page two to see Ralsu's
latest Top Ten list.


href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/31549"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 250px; height: 160px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/31549/preview">

I don’t know how else I can drive home the point that the
announcement of Atlus Online should get MMOG players excited, so I am
moving Neo Steam
back into the Top Ten as a vote of confidence. I fully believe that the
loving touch from Atlus will resolve my frustrations with the
translation back  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/33243" target="_blank">when
I first played the title. Based on the many positives style="font-style: italic;">Neo Steam already
had going for it (pleasant graphics, creative plot, and inventive
setting), I am pushing it up to #6 on the list. With style="font-style: italic;">Neo Steam coming
onto the list, I am dropping off Exteel,
a thoroughly enjoyable game.

I continue to play the Ether
Saga Online
beta, but I don’t know yet if the game has
what it takes to crack this Top Ten. Look for preview from our Eric
“Dalmarus” Campbell here in early March. Next up on my list are a
preview for Shin Megami
Tensei Online: Imagine
and a review for DOMO.


cellpadding="2" cellspacing="2">
colspan="3" rowspan="1"> style="color: white; font-weight: bold;">Top Ten
Free-to-Play Games

March 2, 2009 style="text-align: center; width: 75px; background-color: rgb(114, 105, 62); font-weight: bold; color: white;">Rank style="text-align: center; width: 105px; background-color: rgb(114, 105, 62); font-weight: bold; color: white;"> style="width: 334px; background-color: rgb(114, 105, 62); font-weight: bold; color: white;">Game

1


Last
week: 1
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/38580"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/38580/preview"> style="width: 334px; vertical-align: top;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Atlantica Online - ( href="http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/" target="_blank">http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/)

NDOORS



Atlantica
is a squad-based fantasy strategy game that breaks the mold. Players
can control up to nine characters at once in fast-paced turn-based
combat. A lot of the systems in Atlantica
are different from the standard fare on the market.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1303">Atlantica
    Portal
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/49577">Ten
    Ton Hammer Review

style="font-weight: bold;">

2


Last
week: 2
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/36886"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/36886/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Runes of Magic -
( href="http://www.runesofmagic.com/">www.runesofmagic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)

Frogster



Runes of Magic
is a traditional fantasy game that uses a Dual Class system to inject a
little strategy into character planning and a lot of flexibility into
grouping. RoM has all of the features gamers want in a
subscription-based game, but they’ll enjoy them for free here.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1234">Runes
    of Magic Portal
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/51449">Preview

3


Last
week: 3
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/33602"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/33602/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Dungeon Runners -
( target="_blank">http://www.dungeonrunners.com style="font-weight: bold;">) NCSoft



Dungeon Runners
is a hack and slash fantasy game that infuses every aspect of gameplay
with humor. DR makes fun of other games, the genre, and even itself.
This is the perfect game for a player looking to blow off steam after a
rough day at work.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/110">Dungeon
    Runners Portal
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/8411">Ten
    Ton Hammer Review

4


Last
week: 4
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/31567"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/31567/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Mabinogi - ( target="_blank" href="http://mabinogi.nexon.net/">http://mabinogi.nexon.net)

NEXON



Mabinogi
provides so many things to do that it earns its self-appointed moniker
of “A Fantasy Life.” Players can farm, play music, hunt, craft, go to
school and more in this fantasy land. In style="font-style: italic;">Mabinogi, combat is
not the only way to advance.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856">Mabonogi
    Portal
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/31450">Ten
    Ton Hammer Review

5


Last
week: 5
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/34626"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/34626/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Requiem: Bloodymare - ( href="http://www.playrequiem.com" target="_blank">www.playrequiem.com)

Gravity Interactive



Requiem: Bloodymare
is a horror-themed game that blends the traditional elements of MMOGs
with the visceral feel of a gore film. style="font-style: italic;">Requiem is worth a
look because of its fresh take on setting in MMOGs.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/769">Requiem
    Portal
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/29030">Preview style="font-weight: bold;">

style="font-weight: bold;">

6


Last
week: N/A
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/64767"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/64767/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Neo Steam -
( target="_blank">http://neosteam.atlusonline.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Atlus Online



Neo Steam
is a steampunk game set in a world where warring factions compete for a
limited supply of the resource Neo Steam. It was above average in most
categories during closed beta for the US, but it had multiple
translation problems. Atlus Online should iron out the kinks.
  • target="_blank">Neo Steam Portal
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/33243">Ten
    Ton Hammer Preview

7


Last
week: 6
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/47950/preview"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/47950/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Warrior Epic -
( href="http://warriorepic.com/">http://warriorepic.com style="font-weight: bold;">)
Possibility Space



Warrior
Epic
is ready to begin the next round of closed beta soon.
It provides a fantasy hack and slash dungeon crawler experience with
some very innovative features, including the ability to choose
different character classes for each dungeon and a Warrior Hall that
grows with the player.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/691">Warrior
    Epic Portal
  • Preview (coming soon!)

8


Last
week: 7
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/32333"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/32333/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Dream of Mirror Online - ( target="_blank" href="http://domo.aeriagames.com/">http://domo.aeriagames.com style="font-weight: bold;">)

Aeria Games &
Entertainment



Dream of Mirror
Online
puts the player in the starring role of a classic
Chinese myth. The eastern-based lore provides a refreshing twist on
MMOGs, and the multi-class system makes character development in this
fantasy game fun.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/997">DOMO
    Portal
  • Rreview (coming soon!)

9


Last
week: 8
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/63895"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/63895/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Free Realms -
( target="_blank">www.freerealms.com style="font-weight: bold;">) Sony Online Entertainment



Free Realms
is a a 3D fantasy
world designed to encourage exploration and support casual play. With
graphics similar to WoW and all the gameplay of a standard MMOG, style="font-style: italic;">Free Realms could
appeal to adults. Its many minigames and events are designed to please
teens.
  • href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/287"
    target="_blank">Free Realms Portal
  • Preview (coming soon!)

10


Last
week: 9
href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/49892"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 100px; height: 100px;" alt=""
src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/49892/preview"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;"> style="font-weight: bold;">Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine - ( href="http://megaten.aeriagames.com/" target="_blank">http://megaten.aeriagames.com style="font-weight: bold;">)

Aeria
Games &
Entertainment



Shin
Megami Tensei: Imagine Online
brings the popular RPG to
life in the MMOG sphere. Players can use friendly persuasion or
aggressive coercion to get demons to fight by their side. The dark
subject matter and modern setting of the game is a welcome contrast to
the enchanted glens filled with pixies we often find in MMOGs. style="font-weight: bold;">
  • href="http://tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1751">Megaten
    Portal
  • Preview (coming soon!)



About
This List


Please refer to the Top
Ten
Free-to-Play Games Portal
to find out how to get a game you
make or like on this list.



To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Neo Steam: The Shattered Continent Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

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