More than any other genre, MMOs are currently perceived as one of the most stagnant and stale. Do we need another game where you grind for experience and loot while hunting NPCs sporting golden exclamation marks? Surprisingly, yes. You might as well ask if we need another game with a guy's hand in front of the screen holding a gun, or another Japanese RPG with sexually ambiguous lead characters.
The fascination - that borders on obsession - with leveling up is still a powerful draw, and game publishers around the world are queuing up to cash in on this massively profitable genre. The trick, it seems, is to come up with an angle to make your game stand out from the crowd. Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa mixes in some third-person shooter elements and takes place in a futuristic sci-fi setting instead of the usual high fantasy world. Age of Conan seems focused on its mature themes, and making combat more fast-paced with a console friendly control scheme. Lord of the Rings Online can draw from Tolkien's lore and the legions of fans that will lap it up for a chance to click on Aragorn for a quest.
So what does Sword of the New World offer? A massive mash-up of aesthetics and gameplay that has us convinced that this will be one of those great titles that goes unnoticed by the majority of MMORPG fans.