So anyone that has talked with me or watched my stream regularly knows that for the better part of a year I’ve been trying to find a new MMO to get into. I’ve tried A LOT of MMOs during that time, and I’ve yet to find one that really stuck with me. I figured I would detail each of the MMOs I spent at least two weeks with and give my opinions on each, and follow up with my opinion of the MMO genre. I’ll kinda structure this like I would my mini-reviews.
I picked up WoW again for a bit and played the newest expansion. Leveled up my Shadow Priest from level 80 to 90 in about a week playing extremely casually. I had a group of about 13 people that I had intended to create a guild with and raid stuff, but that didn’t really pan out. I saw all the available content in the raid finder thing and flex raids. I debated trying to recruit for a small guild or join one for Normal and Hard mode of the current raid content but I couldn’t get motivated to do the same content I’ve been farming in various modes. The fact that the raid force I wanted to start with didn’t pan out and the ease of getting my character to a fairly decent level of gear really just killed my motivation to go any further with the game. These various difficulty modes for encounters have killed raiding in WoW for me. Right now there are 4 different difficulty levels in Siege of Orgrimmar (not counting the difference between 10 and 25 man, which would make 8), which is just ridiculous. Two different difficulty modes were bad enough, but now there are 4. This level of making things accessible for your ‘casual’ players has quite literally ruined raiding in the game for the rest of us. Having stuff scaled differently for 10 mans and 25 mans was more acceptable (Like in WOTLK), more ideally things should be like they were in BC with independent 10 man and 25 man instances. Players want to see the end game content they should have to put in the effort. This trend of accessibility is ruining games.
Next up is Wildstar. I got excited about this game the first time I was it at PAX 2011. I started following it very closely. I eventually got into the beta and a fairly good guild that was ramping up for the game. I leveled a Spellslinger to level 20 and hated it. I NEARLY quit right there, but a friend talked me out of it and I didn’t want to disappoint the guild I had just joined a week prior. I suffered through level an Esper to 50. I still hated almost every minute of the leveling experience. It was terrible. I hate leveling though, so I can look passed that. The raid content and dungeons weren’t bad either. The PVP felt a little zergy, but it wasn’t horrible. However, all of these aspects were made bad by the fact that the gameplay is extremely boring. The 3 character classes I goofed off with all had 2 button rotations where you just mash shit on cooldowns, and practically every other of your only 8 allowed skills were movement or defensive cooldowns. You had a couple more buttons for class specific cooldown (offensive CD for DPS classes) or trinkets, but mostly you were mashing 2 buttons 90% of the time. There WERE other abilities you COULD use but that meant you were gimping your DPS. They wanted to make the 8 abilities customizable based on playstyle, but in order to do this ability setups need to be able to compare to eachother in raw DPS. This was never the case. There was always just one ability setup for your given role with the only variance being on what other random cooldowns you took. Even then there are the best random cooldowns, you might swap one out a fight. It became very stagnant very quickly. I need a rotation where I’ve got to pay attention to a lot of things. I played a Shadow Priest in WoW because it was complex (though normally not as rewarding as Mage/Warlock/Hunter). Even in Everquest the role of mashing a few buttons felt different because you had to manage threat, position, and mana. I liked the Sorcerer in Guild Wars 2 as well because you had to rotate between stances and each stance had buttons you needed to push, and different variations of abilities based on weapons. Restricting player abilities is just silly to me, but I don’t know if that would’ve helped the gameplay anyways.
Another game I’ve tried recently is ArcheAge. I wanted to like this game, it is very pretty and gives me a really big Star Wars Galaxies feel. The part that keeps me away is that the game heavily revolves around crafting and resource gathering. I have never really enjoyed crafting, gathering I’m okay with, but I’ve always seen crafting as a means to some end. Whether that end is certain items, stats, or benefits, usually there is a central goal. In ArcheAge crafting is just something you do and keep doing. So it didn’t really end up being my thing. Gameplay wise it seemed fine. Reminds me a lot of Rift with added comboing of abilities which is cool. I might come back to it (I highly doubt it).
I also played Final Fantasy 14 for a few weeks. I actually really liked FF14 and will probably go back to it. It is really relaxing leveling, and the instancing I did was actually really cool. It helps that I’m a total Final Fantasy nerd. The end game seems really small scaled with some difficult instances, which seems interesting. I have plans to get back to it in the future, we’ll see if those pan out. I don’t really have much to add other than I enjoyed it but didn’t get to spend as much time with it as I would’ve liked.
Another game I checked out was one called Black Gold. It had an interesting steampunk theme with mechs and other stuff that I’m kinda into. The gameplay for the caster wasn’t too bad too, you can move while casting which I’ve wanted since Vanguard. The whole experience was really meh though. The game looked fine and played fine, it just didn’t really hook me on anything. I played it for about a week and a half and then stopped bothering. I can’t really say anything negative about it, it was just kind of a thing.
Last game on my list is Guild Wars 2. I really liked Guild Wars 2. It was one of the few games where I actually enjoyed the leveling experience. I think I’ve talked about it on here before, but basically dynamic world events are REALLY cool, cutting out the quest NPC middle man was awesome, and rewarding players for completion and exploration felt great. No monthly fee is a plus too, not to mention that they constantly update the game and don’t charge for it. I still have it installed and jump in and WvW sometimes. It is a blast. The only negative aspect of the game is that the PVE endgame isn’t very traditional. World bosses are really zergy and the learning curve for instances is crazy high for various reasons. They’re not designed poorly or anything, I think they difficulty has to be that way to offset the fact that everyone has their own personal heal. The more annoying part is that people doing the difficult instances demanded you were one of like 3 classes which was really annoying and disheartening. Still the game is really fun and very easy to get into.
So my opinion on the state of the MMO genre is that it is slowly dying for various reason. Development costs are crazy, the genre has stagnated, immersion is dead, lack of innovation, and most MMOs lack focus. While MMOs hemorrhage sales other game genres are dominating using MMO like elements (See: Call of Duty and League of Legends) without the negatives of MMOs. You get an MMO-lite experience without having to do the dance. MMO designers are trying their best to reel in as many gamers as possible with a jack-of-all-trades experience (See Wildstar, WoW, SWTOR, Rift, ESO) and not creating something for their audience. If a studio would market itself as an immersive experience designed with the people that drive MMO communities in mind (meaning your ‘core’ MMO gamers – Hardcore PVP/PVE players namely) and then actually delivered they would probably make a killing. I know I would be on board. Really I would just love another EverQuest but I seriously doubt that will ever happen again. I love getting lost in game worlds but MMOs lately just don’t want me to get lost, they want to shove things down my throat the whole way through the experience until I get annoyed or tired. Seriously, what other genre of game does that? For more, this is a really good paper on why MMOs are in a state of decline.
That is about all she wrote on that topic. I’ll probably play some more Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy 14 eventually. I’m looking forward to trying out Everquest Next when that finally releases (Maybe I’ll get to play it some at PAX?). If that sucks I’ll probably give up on MMOs for a while. There are still really awesome RPGs coming out with really fantastic worlds to play in, I just wish I could explore those worlds with (and against) people.
Just a quick reminder: This week I’ll be playing Final Fantasy 7 Monday.Tuesday – Thursday I’ll probably be playing Tales of Xillia 2 with the Collector’s Edition unboxing on Tuesday (unless Amazon doesn’t get it to me on time -.-).