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Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2 both set to close next month after 17 years

Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2 both set to close next month after 17 years

Just over 17 years ago, Turbine Software launched the third major MMO to hit the market, Asheron’s Call. Now, that journey and the briefer resurrection of its sequel, Asheron’s Call 2, are both coming to an end, with servers scheduled to go offline on January 31. The announcement was made as part of a general shakeup at Turbine, which also developed Dungeons and Dragons Online as well as Lord of the Rings Online. These last two titles have been shifted to a new game studio, Standing Stone Games, and will continue with “business as usual” with no significant changes or disruptions planned at this time. There’s a full FAQ available if you currently play one or both games and want to check on what’s happening as a result of the transition.

I remember beta testing Asheron’s Call when it was still under development, but the game at that stage didn’t draw me in. I had already played a little EverQuest, but found the basic tenets of late-1990s MMOs to be too shallow and repetitive. This was particularly true in EverQuest and Ultima Online, neither of which initially incorporated much in the way of stories or single-player content. I didn’t get sucked into MMO gaming until World of Warcraft, and even today it’s strange to look at how much WoW itself has evolved compared with the game it used to be.

asheronscall1

Good UIs hadn’t been invented yet. Don’t blame AC.

Asheron’s Call 2 is also passing into history, though that title never enjoyed the player base of its predecessor. Launched in 2002, it was defunct by 2005 and resurrected in 2012 as a perk for players to explore who continued to subscribe to Asheron’s Call. The writing has been on the proverbial wall for AC for several years; the game received its last content update in 2014 and it was announced that the title would remain in maintenance mode thereafter, with only bug fixes and security updates provided. Now, even that level of support is being shelved.

Asheron's_Call_Logo

There are a number of MMOs still up and running from the same time period as Asheron’s Call. Ultima Online, EverQuest, and RuneScape are all still available, as is EVE Online (which launched in 2003) and of course, World of Warcraft itself. Coming back to WoW after four years away was a rocky journey at first, but I’m enjoying the new expansion. Asheron’s Call shutting down is an unwelcome reminder that all good things pass away in time. Exploring WoW again, I’ve been reminded of how important it can be to visit the places where you laughed, fought, yelled, and lost your temper over sudden lag spikes, epic boss fights, world-scale PvP, and general mayhem. A decade after it happened, people on Zul’jin still remember the epic Alterac Valley PvP match in which a battle that was supposed to take an hour or two at the time wound up running for about 30 hours and glitched itself to hell and back before finally, mercifully, ending.

I never played Asheron’s Call past some beta testing, but I’ve got no doubt that this feels like a kick in the gut to the player base that’s still logging in. And for those of you who might still like a quick nostalgia tour, act fast — you’ve got until January 31 to check things out and reminisce before the lights go out forever.

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