Excuse the title. If I wrote "Undead Labs May Unveil Class3 at E3", the reaction would have been a collective zombie moan. As phrased, however, the title hopefully inspires an "Oh, that's what I've always wanted!"
And because it is almost time for the big triple-E show, this is the perfect time to speculate what the hell Microsoft is doing, and by that I mean, the Summer of Arcade. Where are the XBLA announcements, Microsoft?
Undead Labs already unveiled early this February about their new games codenamed "Class3" and "Class4", which have been self-described as "post-societal-collapse survivalist fantasies" specifically designed for the console:
No ports from the PC. No hybrid designs. No hedging bets. We’re going to make a game designed for console gamers, by console gamers, with the action, streamlined interface, polish, and same-screen cooperative play that console gamers expect. Then add to this the vast virtual world, global in-game community, and fun social dynamics of the best online worlds, and it’s pretty much a no-brainer!
So it's essentially a two-step process, with "Class3" being a more a standalone title that supports 1-2 players via Xbox LIVE or locally, and "Class4" being the much more ambitious server-hosted world based on "Class3". It makes sense by design and by the pocketbook – learn and get as much extra bank as they can get from "Class3" before even attempting a "Class4".
Undead Labs hesitates on using the word "MMO" because it's not an online fantasy RPG with epic quests, though it is about a persistent online world that reacts to player actions:
The problem is that “MMO” no longer conveys a set of design tools or technologies that enable play in an online world; instead it conveys “a game like World of Warcraft.” I’m sure that’s great if you’re Blizzard, but if you’re trying to make a truly innovative MMO experience you wind up spending more time explaining what your game is not, rather than what it is.
The pricing scheme for "Class4" is still up in the air, since they believe that subscriptions are like paying rent and "free-to-play" means funneling players to the in-game store (and not very Microsoft, really). At any rate, we should hear about Class3 at the very least at E3.