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Talking MMORPGs, From Ultima Online To Amazon's New World

With stops at EverQuest, World of Warcraft, and FFXIV along the way

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An image with the Splitscreen logo on the left and a purple-haired New World character chopping down trees on the right.
Got wood?
Image: Amazon Games / Kotaku

For nearly three and a half decades, massively multiplayer online role-playing game fans have been wandering the digital wilderness, chopping down trees, hunting for boars, and getting murdered by other players while doing so. We did it in Ultima Online back in 1997, and we’re doing it in Amazon’s new MMORPG today. What’s so appealing about venturing into the unknown with a few thousand strangers?

With Amazon’s New World MMO making a massive splash on Steam recently, Kotaku Splitscreen takes a look back at the history of massively multiplayer online role-playing games. We begin with 1997’s Ultima Online, in which players in a fictional (but history-flavored) setting try to survive in a harsh new environment, setting up settlements, harvesting resources, crafting, and fighting amongst themselves. We end with Amazon’s New World, which does all of those same things, only with video-card-killing modern graphics and bright purple hair. Is the genre stagnant, or is this just what the people want?


This week’s episode begins with Ethan, Lisa Marie, and me talking about our own history with massively multiplayer online role-playing games, as well as the nature of the genre itself. What makes an MMO an MMORPG? My money is on the RPG part. Halfway through the episode Ethan has to split, so Lisa Marie and I do a round of A.F.Q., aka Ask Fahey Questions, in which she grills me about the copious amounts of time I’ve spent playing Amazon’s New World.


Remember that new episodes come out every Friday, so like and subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or Stitcher to get them as soon as they go live. You can leave a review, too, or drop us a line at [email protected] if you have questions or want to suggest a topic. Or if you want to deliver your hot takes in real time you can reach us on Twitter: I’m @unclefahey, Lisa Marie is @lisamarie_lynn, and Ethan is @ethangach. Until next week!