There’s been an insane bandwagoning of franchises making the jump to the MMO genre as of late. I suppose many developers simply want a piece of WoW’s pie, but with so many MMOs competing with each other (rather than challenging WoW), it seems unlikely that any of them will get that pie. Still, you can’t blame them for trying, and a lot of developers do seem eager to get into the MMO genre. The list of franchises and series that have transitioned to the MMO world has grown quite long over the past few years, but there’s certainly room for many more. Here are several well known settings that I feel would make fantastic transitions to the land of MMOs. Note that they are not in any particular order.
Avatar’s Moon of Pandora
Pandora had it all. The moon of Pandora is home to the Na’vi, a spiritual race of wildlings that seem to be in tune with all aspects of nature. Unfortunately the technologically advanced Humans ruthlessly expanded their operations across the world and caused several major conflicts. This would be an amazing setting for an MMO, with players being able to choose between the Human or Na’vi factions. I have no idea how avatars could fit into everything, but I suppose that a creative developer could think of a great way to incorporate them. Aside from the conflict between the Humans and the Na’vi, Pandora itself suits the MMORPG genre simply because it has everything you can think of. Heck, it even has flying mountains!
Diablo’s World of Sanctuary
Despite the fact that Blizzard is working on their next MMO and it isn’t related to Diablo, I don’t think that rules out the possibility of a Diablo Online in the distant future. Imagine being able to pick from several classes spanning all three Diablo games. Angels, Demons, and Humans could be the three factions. The most appealing part, however, is the idea that we’d be able to travel to any location we’ve ever heard of in Diablo lore. Imagine Caldeum, Kingsport, Kurast, Lut Gholein, Tristram, and Westmarch all being visitable. We could even explore the Dreadlands (former homeland of the barbarians), the insanely expansive Dry Steppes which is north of Caldeum, along with the mysterious Skovos Isles which rests in the sea south of Kingsport. There’s a lot of potential here, and it’s frustrating that Blizzard still hasn’t allowed us to explore more of this huge world.
Zelda’s Land of Hyrule
If Nintendo ever decides to make an MMO, they’ll most certainly go with Zelda. Hyrule has quite a developed backstory behind it now and it has become one of the video game industry’s most celebrated and widely recognized worlds. Imagine a fully 3D Hyrule with several players grouped together and exploring mountains with hookshots, solving dungeon puzzles together, and working with each other to defeat a fearsome dodongo. There would be so much to see, so much to do! Another thing that would work in favour of a Zelda MMO is the fact that the series has Link, a completely silent protagonist. MMO characters are also completely silent (unless you’re playing The Old Republic) so it would help keep the Zelda atmosphere intact while establishing a firm sense of being in an MMO world. Whether or not Nintendo ever makes an MMO is a different question though, so this one doesn’t look terribly likely at the moment.
Mortal Kombat’s Elder God Realms
NetherRealm Studios is pretty much the last development team I’ll ever expect to make an MMO, but never say never. Mortal Kombat may be a fighting game, but it still has a vast and thorough lore behind it. Earthrealm, Edenia, Outworld, and a slew of other realms make up the several lands created by Raiden and his fellow Elder Gods. After playing Mortal Kombat Deception (I know, I know…) and experiencing a pretty limited and poor representation fo the several realms, I can only imagine how much better NetherRealm could make the realms look and feel now that they are no longer shackled down by Midway. Each realm is so distinctly different. They’d be a joy to explore in a proper MMO title. If there’s a good fighting engine in the game as well, then even better.
A Song of Ice & Fire’s Westeros
HBO’s Game of Thrones has skyrocketed the popularity of George R. R. Martin’s book series. A Song of Ice & Fire is traditional fantasy but, at the same time, it isn’t. There’s something distinctly different here that sets the series apart from other fantasy stories such as Lord of the Rings. Because of this, I don’t feel that A Song of Ice & Fire would work best as a regular MMORPG. Aside from the fact that it would simply crater due to being too similar to the competition, there’s just so much potential to make things very interesting. I’d love to see the setting adapted as an MMO where players have to align themselves with a major house right at the start and then work to strengthen their house and go to war. It could be very PvP oriented, and this would fit the whole war theme that the overall story encompasses.
Fallout’s Post-Apocalyptic World
I’ll point out right away that I hate Fallout an awful lot. I didn’t like the old RPG-esque games and I didn’t like the newer ones that utilize Bethesda’s engines. The games just don’t click with me, which is a shame because I like the setting. Post-apocalyptic settings are always very interesting, and I think that Fallout has a good amount of lore built up behind it that would enable it to be a pretty decent MMO, especially if they played off of the whole premise of essentially being a scavenger fighting to stay alive. I know that Bethesda canned one attempt at making a Fallout Online, but this doesn’t mean that they can’t have another go at it later on.
Resident Evil’s Raccoon City
Why not? Capcom is testing the waters with Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, a small scale co-op shooter that is set int he fallen city. In it, players assume the role of cleansers sent in by Umbrella and it is their job to clear the undead. I think that a massive MMO with a city on the scale of what you’d find in real life, complete with an endless supply of respawning zombies, would be really cool to experience. Imagine not having to bother with grinds or levels, but rather focusing solely on your own survival and nothing else. I don’t know what kind of endgame content there would be if all you’re doing is scavenging and surviving, but wouldn’t it be a blast logging in simply fighting to stay alive against an entire city that wants to eat you? Capcom could even instance the city so that there would never be too many human players running around at once. Imagine a huge city the size of, say, the entire playable area of Skyrim, and there are only about ten to fifteen human players in it who can’t even communicate unless they’re within range of each other. Wouldn’t it be an awesome feeling of relief to find each other? Come on Capcom, this just may be able to work.
Terminator’s Post-Apocalyptic World
Imagine fighting against Skynet. Seriously, just do it for a moment and then keep reading. Okay, you’ve done it? Gave you a pretty hopeless feeling inside, didn’t it? Now imagine if you really had to do that in an MMORPG. Imagine fighting against computers ON your computer. Wouldn’t that make you feel a little paranoid? I bet the game would make Skynet cheat. Ignoring the fact that you’d be using Skynet’s own technology against them, wouldn’t it be really freaking cool to play a game that would deal exclusively with taking down terminators!? Come on, you know that you’ve mentally put yourself in the shoes of John and Sarah Conner before. You’ve imagined yourself running and trying to escape from terminators. You’ve also imagined blowing them up with high powered guns and explosives too, right? A Terminator MMO would let every teenage boy of the 1990s relive their fantasies. Terminator Online would be absolutely epic.
Grand Theft Auto’s Liberty City
I’ve been wishing for an online GTA game ever since I played APB a few years back. APB was all about jacking cars and gunning down enemies in the city of San Paro. It was basically a violent GTA with absolutely no story or content besides driving and shooting. If Rockstar ever works up the courage to attempt a GTA Online, I think that it could be quite interesting. I’m sure that Rockstar locked at APB carefully and know where the developers went wrong with their car jacking, gun tootin’ MMO shooter. A GTA Online would likely feature a more defined story and would, I hope, have more features than just stealing cars and shooting at people. I’d bet money on Rockstar adding a lot of other fun group activities and minigames. Heck, maybe even PvP wouldn’t be the only thing you’d be doing all the time?
L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz
Oh we’re off the see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz! While The Wizard of Oz was originally a children’s book and then adapted into a movie children, it’s impossible to ignore that there are some truly dark things going on in the world of Oz. I was never truly aware as a kid, but now that I am an adult I fully realize just how twisted of a place Oz was. It could perhaps make the MMO transition pretty well, but I’m not sure how it would be marketed. Would it be a kid friendly MMO, or would it perhaps be a little darker and grittier than the ESRB’s E rating would allow? Regardless, Oz has a lot of backstory these days and I think that a Wizard of Oz MMORPG isn’t a question of if, but rather a question of when.
Mario’s Mushroom Kingdom
Will we ever see Nintendo make an MMO? That’s a pretty good question. While Zelda’s Hyrule would probably be given the MMO treatment ahead of the Mushroom Kingdom, I doubt that anyone could possibly deny the appeal behind adventuring throughout the Mushroom Kingdom with your friends. The NES loving kid inside of me would kill for a Mario MMO while the adult that I am, who still loves the NES, would probably do very horrible and rotten things if it ever meant Nintendo would develop a Mario MMO. I mean seriously! How could anyone not want this? Imagine King Boo as a raid boss. Just do it. There, now you’re as sold as I am. The concept of a Mario MMO doesn’t even need explaining, it just needs to happen!