In light of the latest Age of Ultron trailer 3 release for the upcoming Avengers sequel, I couldn't help but get my Marvel on. Of course the very first question that would naturally come to anyone's mind is: If Ultron were to seek the destruction of the MMO genre, what games would be which Avengers and how would they stop him?
Age Of Ultron Tribute
This first section covers the team from the current Marvel Cinematic Universe featuring its cast of Avengers that have been popularized by the studio's blockbuster team-up movie: The Avengers.
Hawkeye - Lord of the Rings Online
No, I'm not making a thinly veiled connection between Hawkeye and Legolas here. Like Hawkeye, LotRO has got ranged skills. It reaches all the way back to the roots of high-fantasy, where most other non sci-fi games on this list likely shared inspiration from, in J.R.R. Tolkien's famous fantasy trilogy. The game also featured a few unique features that give it enough tricks up its sleeve to be a true trick-shot ally.
Black Widow - The Secret World
Always up for intrigue, The Secret World is the perfect fit for the MMO genre's Agent Romanov. Full of secret societies, puzzling mysteries, and no limit to shifty, fast-paced unpredictable change-ups. Always allowing players to mix up their game and prepare themselves for the next encounter, few other titles come close to offering as many mind games and mental play as TSW.
Quicksilver - DC Universe Online
I'm going to be honest, other than being the bastard-child of a villain (Quicksilver being the son of Magneto - SPOILER ALERT), there aren't too many connections to make. DCUO does feature some of the fastest paced MMO combat out there, but hey - what kind of Marvel homer would I be if I didn't take at least one shot at DC? (The figurative villain here.) Heh, I feel like that's not the worst analogy I've ever made... (If you read this column regularly, you can probably attest to that fact.)
Scarlet Witch - Age of Conan: Unchained
As one of the earlier games to really attempt to innovate traditional MMORPG combat mechanics, AoC relates to Scarlet Witch, who constantly has to approach battle in unconventional ways. Add to that the dark themes of mystical cult magic and this title surely fits the bill. (I'm taking the high-road here and not making a Quicksilver / Scarlet Witch incest joke.)
Vision - Star Wars Galaxies
The tangible manifestation of so many great ideas, SWG is an easy peg here as Vision. I can't count the number of times I or others reference it's mechanics, especially when it comes to crafting and alternative gameplay - and what MMORPG game better manipulated its own physiology than Galaxies? It is Vision. I think it even has a solar gem in its forehead that draws upon rays of energy from Star Wars fans around the globe. My work here is done.
Captain America - Lineage (Original)
Technically Captain America doesn't belong in the next group of original founders, but any comic aficionado will be hard pressed to say that Steve "Star-Spangled-Undies" Rogers isn't at the core of Avengers history and canon. Despite Lineage being an odd eastern-import that actually found success, it too was a founding influence in the MMO genre of North America. Like ole' Cap, Lineage is totally old-school, featuring an isometric 2D engine before the 3D revolution really caught on. It's also a game that holds up surprisingly well with age.
The Original Founders
I just couldn't insult Marvel history by focusing only on the MCU adaptation. The core founders of the Avengers have to get listed here, and here are the MMOs I think really answer the bell:
Thor - Dark Ages of Camelot
I don't know if it's just the Celtic theme or just the raw competitive nature of Thor the comic-book character that forces me to fuse these two together - but it seems totally perfect. Sure, Arthurian legend is a bit of a deviation from Norse mythology, but they do have some cross-over. DAoC was the epitome of non-stop meaningless battle that was somehow also thrilling and so fulfilling at the same time. Having enjoyed this early PvP-oriented MMO of old, I totally understand the joy Thor gets from midst of chaotic battle. Ales I say! Ales for everyone! *pours a round of pints for all readers*
Iron Man - EVE Online
Anyone who's ever touched EVE Online probably saw this one coming. I don't think I really have to reach any further than all the different ships that you can pilot... but since we're here I think I'll just leave this little link to a YouTube video titled: "EVE Online - Dynamic Spreadsheeting Part 1" and call it a day. Yeah, that shit goes waaaaay over my head too - which is probably why neither of us have built our own personal handheld arc-reactors yet. There's a certain level of determination and love of numbers it takes for this game that I know I will never possess.
Ant-Man - EverQuest (original)
This was a tough one. I wanted to shoehorn EQ (my favorite old-school MMO) somewhere else, anywhere else - but deep down I knew it could only be Hank Pym. EQ was pure genius that in its innovation started out small and grew to a colossal size before eventually shrinking back down to dwell with the other non-superhuman MMOs. It was one of the most influential MMORPGs of all time, and like Hank, a true founder on this list of Avengers MMOs.
The "Winsome" Wasp - Ultima Online
To further justify why I knew EQ had to be Ant-Man... (Oh boy, this is quickly becoming a page of bad-analogies and tasteless humor. Consider that your warning.) ...I also saw Ultima Online as Wasp in this list. As a player who got my start in MMOs with both EQ and UO simultaneously, I always remember struggling to decide which one I wanted to play more - I can't help but wonder how many other players had these two games vying for their finite gaming hours. For me, I ended up favoring EQ more and swatting UO aside for that addiction... and since Hank likes to get drunk and beat up on poor Janet... (and now you know why Ant-Man wasn't part of the first Avengers movie.)
The Incredible Hulk - World of Warcraft
No brainer here. Literally. "WoW smash everything!" If any of these titles could be a one-game army it would be World of Warcraft. It is the biggest MMORPG of all time, and probably forever will be. No other Avenger can contend with Hulk by themselves, and usually the entire cast of them struggle to compete with the giant green ragemonster. Just remember Ultron, the more you try to destroy the MMO genre, the more angry WoW players will become - and trust me, you don't want to see WoW players when they're angry (severe language warning...)
The Shattered Heroes Saga
This section is a quick handful of shout-outs to a few heroic upcoming MMORPGs seeking to infuse a depressing genre with new blood and new energy - which probably makes more sense if you know about the Avengers from this mini-saga. Nevertheless:
Daredevil - The Division
The loss of vision with the passing of Tom Clancy won't hurt this IP at all. Add to that the fact that contemporary settings are practically non-existent in the MMO genre and there is definitely some potential brimming here. Plus, it's not like there are many other FPS-titles to contend with it. The Division as the opportunity to really surprise people. I just hope it's more of an MMORPG than Destiny tried to be.
Storm - EverQuest Next
Like this iconic Marvel character - the EQ franchise IP is well known and has been an influential leader among its peers from very early on. With the addition of Voxel Farm technology, EverQuest Next could be equipped with the perfect set of circumstances to truly shake up the genre. I'm slightly skeptical, but the pedigree is there. We shall have to wait and see.
Quake - Crowfall
Like Marvel's Daisy Johnson, Crowfall could also dramatically shake and shape the genre - as it also wields the cataclysmic power of Voxel Farm. Unlike EQNext though, Crowfall is brand new IP and won't have a familiar fan-base to lean on for early revenue, although their Kickstarter campaign is going over quite well. (Despite my reservations about the philosophy of such an approach.) It's hard to doubt the plan when so many people are throwing money at it right now. They've got a brilliant concept, hopefully it all works out.
Captain Britain - Shroud of the Avatar
Ahahaha... Sorry, I just couldn't resist this one. The setup was way too perfect.
Venom - Revival
This is the dark-horse antihero of the whole group. It's a bit twisted (given the HPLovecraft IP behind it), but probably has the most openly ambitious approach of any game on this list so far (even some of the founders). Maybe it's just hungry for that visceral MMORPG experience of old, or maybe some darker, more sinister power is behind it. Either way, this classic symbiote fusion of MMO and RPG should be intriguing to watch. Of any title from this group, this is the only one that's equally pushing RPG as hard as it's pushing MMO - which is something that definitely resonates with me.
Just For Giggles:
Wolverine - Dungeons and Dragons (Online)
I had to throw this one in here. Like Wolverine's dual membership with the Avengers and X-Men, Dungeons & Dragons owns dual citizenship also - as both an MMO and Table-Top RPG. This is also a classic iconic character in the gaming world that started out obscure but many people seemed to relate to for some reason - raising it to popularity when it probably never should have been (and in the analogy I mean D&D as an MMO - not the TT.) Somehow Wolverine survives as a key figure in the X-Men universe, as fans everywhere have grown to love him, even before he was in movies. D&DOnline is somehow still an MMO. Go figure?
Flux - ArcheAge
It's slightly cruel, but this one is too hilarious not to include. I'm just going to quote the Marvel Database bio on this one: "In an accident with toxic waste, Dennis Sykes (Flux) gains superpowers and an untreatable cancer. With a life expectancy of barely a month, Sykes launches himself on a brief career as a superhero, in an attempt to make a difference in the world while he still can." You did what you could ArcheAge - you did what you could. #RIP
That's it for this list. I thought I would do something a bit off-the-cuff to close out my column this week. Let me know if you enjoyed the read and if you'd like to see more write-ups like this one in the future! Just comment below.
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