I previously brought up the discussion about horror games and MMOs in general and I wanted to continue the discussion by looking at the top five best horror properties to transition into an MMO. One of the things I’d like to note is that there is an overwhelming number of TV and movie horror properties, but very few of them could make decent mmos. For instance, anything that’s a thriller or a slasher movie would be instantly excluded. Think of a Nightmare on Elm Street MMO and how boring/dull it would be to sit around and drink coffee until you pass out and have to fight someone that you can only beat by being unafraid of them (who kills you anyway).
The Secret World remains the only large scale "horror" MMO released. Could there be room for more?
Some things to take into consideration, it would need to be able to have a reason that you’re playing with other people, solo jaunts are excluded. It’d need to have questing and safe zones, so you’d need things to do within the world. It’d also need to somehow have an endgame or at least some kind of theory on what an endgame would be. We’ll look at each of these in our picks below.
Without further ado, our top five picks for horror properties that would make great horror MMOs.
The Walking Dead
I would like to say that I purposely put the zombie games at the bottom of this list. Why? You could claim personal bias toward the huge geek zombie appeal or you could call it the fact that anything would make a decent zombie MMO. Take ZombiU, add multiplayer, and call it a day. In the vast sea of zombie movies, games, and media, there is one that stands out to me as a perfect setting for an MMO: The Walking Dead.
There are a lot of reasons why I’d like to see TWD make an MMO appearance. First, the setting is absolutely perfect. There are multiple locations to traverse and plenty of places to go, with a lot of non-canon locations to pick from. Next, you’ll need safe zones and that mechanic is built right into the storyline. There is an abundance of towns with zombie defense and safe havens.
Questing is needed to and many of the towns are obviously in disrepair, needing supplies, and there is always room for escort missions and just journeying town to town. I really feel that it’d be a great example of what a good MMO would have in it, plus the horror setting is obviously perfect.
For all of the great things I have to say, the reason I rank it at #5 is simply my bias towards zombies. I don’t think zombies alone are all that horrifying and Romero zombies even less so. The setting, while perfect for MMO mechanics, would be probably more depressing than scary. Then there is the endgame, in a series where there is only one zombie type and said zombie type only does one thing (walk around), there isn’t much room for instances or dungeons with bosses that weren’t other survivors.
You’ve got me, another “zombie” game and one higher than The Walking Dead. You got me, you really did. I promised myself to keep it to just one zombie game but you know what, RE would make a great MMO if done right. While something like The Walking Dead uses George Romero style zombies (minus the evolutionary aspect), Resident Evil just uses “this is a zombie and this is some kind of weird crazy tentacle monster from hell set to devour your soul.”
RE starts off with Romero zombies, your standard fair needs major physical damage to stop, hungers for flesh, and is just a walking upset thing that kind of wants you dead. As the series progresses, so do the zombies, eventually getting more cthulhu based as it goes. Let’s not forget the thing of nightmares, Nemesis.
Questing is a given, there are zombie things and you need to kill ‘em, working with what we could presume are other S.T.A.R.S. specialists (players). The location could be worldwide, with a heavy emphasis on Raccoon City. There would be raid bosses (unique tyrants like Nemesis or Thanatos) so there could be an endgame.
Overall, RE would make a pretty good horror game MMO in my opinion. I put it above The Walking Dead and other zombie IPs on the basis that it deviates enough to give you some kind of big baddy to fight for raids / dungeons.
I hate to go with cliché, but Silent Hill would make a fine offering for a horror MMO. I feel kind of bad using the two staples in this top 5, since I’m not offering a very unique opinion, but at the same time these two games are the staple horror games for a reason (and have so many gosh darn sequels). They’re scary, people love playing them, and well, yeah.
This is a bit more of a stretch to shoe horn into an MMO. The problem being is that most of the time, it’s all about someone having some kind of psychotic fit. Which makes it a bit tough to say okay, you random guys go out and kill those monsters alright? The series is generally very personal, but that doesn’t mean it can’t fit an MMO, nor could the town of Silent Hill make a great questing hub. Simply say a large group of people get transported to the otherworld and they need to deal with it.
Silent Hill, to me, is infinitely more scarier than Resident Evil. I mean, the dogs jumping through the window and the hopelessness that is RE is pretty tough to deal with, but one word: Pyramid Head. Not to mention the monsters, from Bogeymen to just Nurses themselves, are on another level of disturbing. For the MMO formula, you got raid bosses down (an number of mutated monsters), you got the reason for the game (you’re in the otherworld and you need to survive), and as an added bonus, you could have a personal story mechanic that could have you dealing with your own “personal horrors” along the way.
Demon’s Souls / Dark Souls
To keep this list from becoming a mainstream nightmare, I’m going to go ahead and throw something out there that might could be argued with. Dark Souls isn’t a horror game by title, but its setting and general theme works well enough for me. There are many zones that are terribly scary and monsters that make your toes curl, so I give it a check on the whole horror genre.
As far as being an MMO, I think it’d make an excellent MMO on multiple levels. First, we don’t have any “hardcore” MMOGs that utilize unique action controls. We have games like TERA and RaiderZ but they don’t have that twitch you need to survive based combat. The hardcore gameplay of Dark Souls would make an outstanding MMO.
As far as questing goes, there is a reason and a purpose to go and do things and given the overall minimalistic plot, it could be or less just make it to different bonfires. The class system could be interesting and, humorously, raiding would probably be the most fun you could ever experience given Dark Soul’s mechanics.
Of everything on the list, it’s the most unlikely. Being a hardcore game with a small mass market appeal, translating it into an MMO would be difficult, but I do think it’d make a great fit. For those of you who disagree with my call to label this as horror, then place your favorite horror title here in its place.
I think there is no better horror game to come to the world of MMOs than Dead Space. You have the perfect setting: some futuristic compound comes under attack by the necromorphs. You and a host of other players are stuck dead in the middle of it and your goal is to simply survive. You could have cities and safe zones, quests and missions, and a host of monsters ranging from things lurking in the dark to full scale raid bosses to take our the marker.
I really think it’s the best IP to transition into MMO form, even if it would have to be an MMOFPS. There is a little lost in the gameplay aspect of “you’re alone” but there is a lot gained in having friends. The setting, monsters, and general atmosphere would remain scary even with other players and it’d need to use The Secret World style instancing for some of the puzzles and some of the areas, obviously.
Questing is taken care of (you need to repair something, kill something, look at something), safe areas are taken care of (obviously if you’re not the only survivor then people could be holding some of the areas down), and raiding would be taken care of (there is plenty raid style necromorphs to choose from) so you’d have your endgame.
Dead Space 3 even opens the doors a bit more with a co-op mode and there is now pretty much a good number of settings and worlds the game could take place on. So ultimately, I think that Dead Space would make the best pre-existing property to turn into an MMO hands down.
There you go, that’s my picks for the top 5 horror properties to translate into MMO form. There are many other properties I think that could make the jump and my list isn’t all inclusive. However, these are my best picks for what I would like to see become an MMO.