The Think Tank: The best of E3 2014's MMO offerings

E3 has come and gone, and we, the members of the Massively crew, have taken some time to reflect on the MMO shenanigans we saw and read about and experienced vicariously through the folks we conned into going to LA our dear and intrepid field reporters.

Here's what our writers thought about E3's offerings for MMO players.

Anatoli Ingram, Columnist
@ceruleangrey: It might sound strange, but I have to say that Final Fantasy XIV's presence at E3 was really important. It's a game that's shattered a lot of accepted narratives after making a tremendous comeback as a very traditional MMO (with a sub fee, no less), and since its relaunch, it's probably become one of the most successful MMOs running. A lot of that is because Square-Enix is a very big company that can afford to throw a lot of money at it, but there's some interesting stuff to ponder about the value of stability and how Naoki Yoshida very deliberately and methodically set about gaining the one thing that could save the game: the trust of the fans.

Bree Royce, Editor-in-Chief
@nbrianna: I was most impressed with SOE's showings this year, particularly Landmark and H1Z1. The studio is simply producing games that mainstream AAA MMO companies don't traditionally bother with, and more importantly, they're the kind I like to play. Even H1Z1, in spite of its tired theme, represents fresh mechanics in the top tier of MMO development. More of those, please.

Eliot Lefebvre, Senior Contributing Editor
@Eliot_Lefebvre: While it contained significantly less gun class than I wanted, Final Fantasy XIV's presence at E3 included Ninja, so we're good. Honorable mention to The Crew, if only because the idea of driving across America is appealing. (I'm told this is not the actual objective of the game, but I don't remember indicating that I cared about what the designers stated as an objective.)

Jef Reahard, Managing Editor
@jefreahard: I don't know that I can narrow it down to the best thing for MMO players, since that's a huge spectrum nowadays. The best thing for me in terms of MMO-specific stuff was the Elite: Dangerous Oculus Rift info. It's always kinda blown me away how many people dismiss this tech as Virtual Boy 2 or whatever when the reality is that it is going to change -- at the very least -- hardcore immersion-centric gaming and very possibly all of gaming. So it was neat to see mainstream outlets and the unwashed masses taking note. Oh, and Elite itself looks smashing, too.

I'm cautiously optimistic about H1Z1, particularly given the size of the world and the private server possibilities. It probably helps that I'm immune to the hipster zombie burnout virus and that I'm generally an SOE fan, particularly since its all-sandbox-all-the-time makeover. Finally, I still can't wait for The Crew, regardless of how MMO (or not) it really is.

Justin Olivetti, Senior Contributing Editor
@Sypster: H1Z1 certainly captivated a lot of our readers' attention, showing that while well-trod, the zombie survival genre isn't quite dead yet. It'll be very interesting to see how this plays out for SOE, but I guess it does show that there's a healthy fanbase out there waiting for this type of game. Will I play? Perhaps, if there are co-op PvE servers without PKers, although I am secretly holding out hope that Undead Labs is still working on a State of Decay MMO that will top what SOE is doing.

Larry Everett, Columnist
@Shaddoe: I am going to sound really jaded when I say this, but I promise you that I'm not jaded about the gaming industry and most definitely not about MMOs. I was unimpressed with any MMO showing at E3 this year. In years past, we've had huge names like Elder Scrolls Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and DC Universe Online. This year didn't have the big names. Still, you don't have to be that big of a name to impress; I'm thinking about Age of Wushu and Defiance in past years. But even that size of game didn't make me jump out of my seat.

I do want to mention the three space-combat simulators: Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and EVE Valkyrie. It wasn't so much that I was impressed with the games individually because I have no vested interest in a space sim MMO (although I did like Chris Roberts' demo of Star Citizen). I liked watching to see whether and how each game would out-do the others. Although I think SC and ED bested Valkyrie, I think the direct competition made for three great showings. All three games are amazing.

MJ Guthrie, Contributing Editor
@MJ_Guthrie: I might sound like a broken record, but for the best thing coming out of E3 this year I have to go with the Oculus Rift as experienced on Elite: Dangerous. It didn't even take one minute to be so totally blown away in a way that just hasn't happened in... well, I can't tell you how long. Since my first steps into a virtual world. And now we're looking at virtual worlds in virtual reality? What can top that? That feeling of awe did not dissipate, either; it grew the longer I played! VR gaming is not just some wishful thinking anymore; it is here and can only grow. I have never been so excited for an industry innovation as I am here, and I think this is the first really huge leap in the hardware department that will take MMOs to the next level. I am certainly hopeful that more MMOs than space sims start a push into this technology.

I also have to shout kudos to Landmark for bringing back the true feeling of exploration with the introduction of unmapped caves (that procedurally generate and won't stay the same forever). Now, combine the Oculus with that that. I mean, seriously, if I could go spelunking in Landmark's caves with an Oculus on, I'd be in explorers heaven! I may never log out. My heart rate escalates just thinking about that possibility!

What do you get when you throw the Massively writers' opinions together in one big pot to stew? You get The Think Tank, a column dedicated to ruminating on the MMO genre. We range from hardcore PvPers to sandbox lovers to the most caring of the carebears, so expect more than a little disagreement! Join Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce and the team for a new edition right here every Thursday.
This article was originally published on Massively.