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14 January, 2014

The ABCs of iOS RPGs - MMORPGs

Ahead of our full review of The Shadow Sun, which will appear in Issue 1 of Grab It Magazine, on sale January 24th, we thought it timely to have a look at some of the genres of role playing games, as there are many different styles. The App Store is thriving with quality RPGs and The Shadow Sun is already available for purchase, so you can jump straight in by grabbing it here: Spoiler Alert - It’s fantastic!

**You also may want to check out our Top 50 iPad Indie Games of 2013, which includes a number of RPGs, and our celebrity top 10s from developers like Ryan Payton, founder of République developer Camouflaj**

Welcome to Part 4 of our of our ABC of RPGs. We've already looked at WRPGsKRPGs, ARPGs and JRPGs. Today we take a brief look at MMORPGs. A MMORPG is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. It's a mouthful. Mind you, so is MMORPG. 

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Blizzard Entertainment's long running PC behemoth World of Warcraft wasn’t the first MMORPG, but it’s synonymous with the genre. For nearly ten years over ten million gamers have been living out their fantasies in an online second life, swinging swords and conjuring spells with people they have never met in the real world. 

And that is the essence of an RPG in a nutshell. It is escapism. The name says it all – role-playing game. You choose a role and then live it out within the game, growing your hero from a squishy level one to a hardened endgame ultra being. In this sense the MMORPG is the genre’s ultimate subgenre, as your role exists in a human society, albeit it one running parallel to our own. 

This is because an MMORPG connects players online, so they can socialize and carry out quests together in guilds - groups that work cooperatively to complete the game's content - in the endless pursuit of loot and cultural standing. While there is another human in the game, there will always be something new to experience.

Apart from the online connectivity, it’s basically just a large and persistent RPG that may play like any of the other RPG subgenres. Developers constantly add and tweak content via updates to keep their player base engaged and to lure new players to the fold. 

With hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads worldwide already connected to the internet, it makes sense for game developers to want to harness that potential client base with MMORPGs. And several have done so. Two notable examples are Order & Chaos Online and 3D MMO Celtic Heroes. 

Order & Chaos from developer Gameloft is a clear attempt to emulate the success of its bigger PC cousin, World of Warcraft. If you’ve played WoW, you’ll be quite familiar with Order & Chaos. But it’s a solidly made doppelganger that receives regular content updates and has an active community, so is a great option of those wanting to dip their toes in the water.

For those wanting something a little more indie, smaller developer One Thumb Mobile’s MMORPG 3D MMO Celtic Heroes is a worthwhile alternative, and has been available on the App Store almost as long as Gameloft’s effort, releasing in May 2011 and April 2011 respectively. It’s free-to-play, so there is little reason for the MMO-curious to die wondering. 

Both games also offer a staple mode of the MMORPG genre in PvP, or player-versus-player. As opposed to the cooperative core of the genre is built on, this mode allows gamers face off against each other in battle in the hunt for loot, experience and bragging rights. 

So if you’ve got some spare time to kill, check them out. Be careful though, because soon after you may find yourself without any spare time at all, as you can easily lose hours of your life to these immersive online worlds.

Garry Balogh

     - Order & Chaos Online
     - 3D MMO Celtic Heroes

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