The characterization of a massively multiplayer online game, or MMO, is self-explanatory. Or is it? By definition, it means a large number of players on the same server — hundreds, thousands — and a big open world that continues to evolve. So does the new upcoming online multiplayer action RPG Wayfinder fit the bill?
The game, developed by Airship Syndicate, is currently in closed beta on PC and PS5, and people seem excited for the official release. Folks are describing Wayfinder as a mix between Warframe and World of Warcraft. The thing is, Warframe is multiplayer, but not an MMO. It’s an action role-playing third-person shooter. World of Warcraft, on the other hand, is certainly an MMO (and basically one of the founding fathers of the genre).
For starters, the world of Evenor that the game takes place in is certainly sprawling. It looks amazing actually but that doesn’t mean anything in this analysis. However, these environments are behind portals. Players live in the city of Skylight, a hub for hanging out and socializing. That part checks out, as you can chat with others and find groups to adventure with. From there, you enter zones that act like dungeons which are randomly generated for each run. Same as Warframe, which I’ve posited is not an MMO.
There’s also the character customization. Wayfinder gives you an array of characters to choose from, each different when it comes to combat roles. Wingrave is the tank, Niss is the assassin, Silo is the gunner, Kyros is the battle mage, and Sanja is the barbarian. Like Warframe, players cannot really “create” their own characters. That being said, the game does offer customization in the form of equipment and cosmetics. Now, even though the freedom of making your adventurer whatever you want them to be is not technically a part of the meaning of an MMORPG, many people would agree that component is one of the genre’s major draws.
Everything else that Wayfinder has in store for players falls more in line with World of Warcraft than Warframe, even if the action combat system is not tab-targeting. Therefore, is the game an MMO, or MMO-lite perhaps? It might be worth noting the official Wayfinder Twitter used to define the game as an “Action MMO,” but now it reads “Action-RPG,” so maybe take their word for it, not mine.
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