Ok, I guess I should come clean. I’ve not been playing many MMOs in the last few weeks. Odd trial here and there, a brief stint in Age of Conan, but that’s it.
Why? Complete and utter bordom of the genre. Why am I still posting on and reading the various MMO websites? I know of all the good stuff that is just around the corner…
I guess the main reason has been the lack of any actual gameplay in EQ2. Combat is automatic, with a few clicks on various spells or combat arts here and there. Mob positioning is important, and keeping the mobs in the corrent position being rather challenging at times, but with the general level on intelligence of most of the pickup groups I get lumbered with being lower than yoghurt, there is little point in doing that…
So what have I been doing? Battlefield Bad Company 2 has been my multiplayer game of choice, but the main thing I’ve been doing is single player games, preferably ones with a good story, which is sorely lacking in MMO games.
My latest game has been Alan Wake, it’s basicly one of those high budget American TV shows about some horror writers search for his missing wife after a novel he hasn’t even written yet starts to come true. A plot easily summarised in one sentence. If you tried doing that for most MMOs, you couldn’t. Such a depth of lore and story, but why isn’t it being used to a greater extent? In the entirety of EQ2, there is one zone, The Estate of Unrest, that has a story, which you follow through to complete the zone. It is fantastic, nostalgic for those players from EQ1, well made, full of scripted events, though not upto the standards set by Half Life or Call of Duty, but very good for a MMO.
Another game I’ve been playing is almost an MMO, but not quite. Monster Hunter Tri, basicly you play a hunter, of monsters… no fat on that title. The game has an impressive sense of scale, although the actual areas you play in are small, there is a feeling of being within an immense landscape, which you don’t get often in MMOs. The game is one of those japanese sandbox style games, which differs from the western style sandbox games like Crackdown and Grand Theft Auto, in that you don’t really see there being much to do, but then it gradually builds up until you’re always occupied, less overwhelming than most MMOs are at first.
I recently finished Alpha Protocal, a spy-rpg. The game is your standard action rpg, think Mass Effect but with the combat dice rolls taken from Deus Ex, fairly generic Middle Eastern locales at first, and if I’m being honest, I struggled to go on, but then the game gives you loads of choices on how to do missions, how to treat NPCs, who to kill, who not to kill, where to go, what missions to do first… The best thing is, you can’t make a wrong decision. The game won’t end if you annoy someone, or get someone else killed, it will impact the story, you may make bad decisions, but it doesn’t matter. This is a thing missing from most MMOs. If you want to play well, you need a wiki, or somewhere to get detailed, up to the minute, information on your class/race/quest/faction etc. I don’t want to spend hours respeccing, testing dps, swapping gear to min-max my character. I want to be flexible in what I do, how I build my character, and yet still be a valued member of my group or guild.
So what is “good stuff that is just around the corner”?
Firstly a little game you may have heard of; The Old Republic. Bioware know how to do story, so I’m really hoping that the game gives MMO developers (not looking at you, Sony Online Entertainment or Blizzard) a well needed kick up the posterium in regards to creating a living, breathing world. Hell, even Oblivion succeeds more than most MMOs just by having (badly) scripted NPCs wandering around.
Final Fantasy XIV is looking pretty much likely to show people what proper freedom is like in an MMO, multi classing, massive areas to explore, and the game looks great to boot. I’ve been in the Alpha and Beta and it’s going to be my next main MMO, unless I get to have a go on…
Rift: Planes of Telara. Some of the original EQ1 Devs are behind this. Class free, skill based leveling system, very freeform. The game for people who want a next gen EQ1 style experience basicly. The thing current MMOs don’t have, that EQ1 does, is versatile classes. Warhammer Online, World of Warcraft and Everquest 2 all have classes that are good at one or two things, whereas EQ1 had classes that could do far more. I’ve seen Wizards tanking raids, bards soloing swarms of mobs, necromancers healing groups, beastlords being total badasses! (yes, I played a beastlord, biased, I know…)
Hopefully the “Next Gen” MMOs will bring gameplay and choice back to the genre, or otherwise, I’ll be wearing my xbox out..