I wanted to recap some of my favorite location-based MMOs for those who might need some advice on which ones to try. My favorites are marked with a "latest update" marker, but all of them are worth checking out. So pull out your phone or tablet and get to it!
Halloween is all the rage in the Parallel universe right now, and of course Parallel Kingdom has to follow through! PerBlue has added cool Halloween swag, trick-or-treating, and other bug changes and fixes.
Parallel Mafia looks similar to Parallel Kingdom and plays in similar ways as well. The big difference in my opinion is that the PvP community is much more aggressive in this title, and there are a few more slightly adult themes and designs as well. Be prepared to fight for the right to be the top on your block! Or the mall... or the bookstore...
Parallel Zombies really sticks out from the Parallel lineup because of its action-based combat and more obvious and frequent missions. Players have to survive zombie hordes, gather, or craft goods like ammo, weapons, or addons, and continue to explore and defend their local area. Travel is encouraged, as with all of the Parallel titles. I often take out my phone and get my character to explore the local area I am in. If you like darker titles but enjoy action and a faster pace of gameplay, check this out.
Life is Magic: I am dying to play this one, as I noted in my recent GDC Online coverage. Imagine using the real-life world as a map, but covering that world in a shiny, plastic coating of cartoony images instead of utlilizing what is basically a Google map with icons on top. Add in real-time movements, real-life locations that are transformed into fantasy taverns, libraries, and other buildings, and make it all accessible from multiple devices. And oh yeah... add in some awesome turn-based combat that resembles something you might find in a Final Fantasy classic title rather than a location-based MMO. Essentially this is a AAA offering, a high-quality MMO that I believe will help propel location-based MMOs into the hands of those who doubt the genre. No offense to any of the previous titles I mentioned, but many of them just don't pack much of a graphical punch. Life is Magic looks great, ran flawlessly when I saw it in person, and feels massive. It's due to release sometime "this fall," but you can check out the above article from GDC for a bit more information about how it plays. As soon as I find something out, you'll probably hear me screaming it from my front yard.
More great Halloween stuff has recently been added to the cash shop, like Frankengnome. This guy is supposed to scare those who wander into your yard and is a permanent display item that is available only through Halloween. Self Aware Games, though, updates this game about once a week or so, so it's very possible that by the time you read this, something completely different will be happening in the game.
I predict that location-based MMOs are really going to be huge, and very soon. Already many of these titles pull in good numbers, but we have to remember that as mobile tech spreads farther and farther into the world, mobile gaming will go with it. What better type of game than one that allows players to exploit their real-life location? Not only do location-based games make us feel more immersed in the game, but they make us feel more immersed in the locations we take over, defend, and reinforce with other players. The success of Foursquare acts on these same principles, overlaying a hidden fantasy world on top of our own mundane surroundings. It's brilliant when you think about it.
Keep an eye out as more of these games grow, and especially keep an eye out for Life is Magic, the one I am drooling over. Once that comes out, I'll be calling in sick for a week or two.
Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter and Facebook.