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The variety available in the world of sci-fi massively multiplayer online (MMO) games is generally pretty extensive, accommodating many different player preferences in terms of both mechanics and theme. Sci-fi MMOs are available on the market that offer players the chance to captain spaceships while engaging in galactic warfare, wander in post apocalyptic environments, and advance characters in futuristic worlds. Additionally, some of these games are actually based on well-known licenses from movies, television, and literature, offering players chance to interact with others in a familiar setting, which can be a big draw for fans of those licenses.
In terms of pure game play, sci-fi MMOs are often a bit different than many other MMOs. For example, many role-playing MMOs are set in fantasy worlds, and these games often focus on player combat using swords and magic with a general focus on close-range fighting. Sci-fi MMOs are usually set in worlds where guns are a major factor and the combat tends to lean a bit more towards ranged fighting. This can have a big affect on the game play styles of role-playing sci-fi MMOs because of the decisions it puts into the hands of game designers. For example, certain action game mechanics that work well with sci-fi settings, such as the game play seen in first-person shooters or military real-time strategy games, can fit naturally into many sci-fi MMOs.
Another example where sci-fi MMOs can offer some fairly unique game play is in the world of space flight sims. There have been many science fiction stories and some famous science fiction licenses that have focused on the future potential of long-term human space travel and interaction with alien species. Games built around this concept often cast the player as a captain, and the game play may not be very action-oriented, focusing instead on allowing the player to make strategic decisions while giving orders to a virtual crew. Often in these games, the only real-life players are the captains of other ships, which can offer a less direct sort of interaction and a bit more entertainment for those who like to play solo.
Sometimes there is also a little bit of overlap between the different game play categories and play styles in science fiction online games. For example, one could envision sci-fi MMOs that played like a space captain simulation until the player landed on an alien world, at which point he might turn into a first-person shooter. Additionally, the actual settings of sci-fi MMOs aren’t always full of futuristic inventions and utopian societies. Some may borrow from other kinds of science fiction, such as super-hero comic books, alien invasion stories set in the present time, or post-apocalyptic worlds where players wander through devastated environments struggling to survive.
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