MMO’s: Cracking the nut

Massively Multiplayer Online RPG games, they’ve always been something that have eluded me, they’ve never fully grabbed my attention. I’ve dabbled in many, but I’ve never got caught up in them. As someone who loves playing online games with friends and is hooked to Destiny – a light version of an MMO RPG, you’d think I would be fully invested in to the MMO scene.

It all started back in 2003 with Star Wars Galaxies. I was just a young college kid back then, not a care in the world, beyond skating, and playing video games. The memory of Star Wars Knights of the old Republic still fresh in my mind. I wanted to venture back to that Galaxy Far Far away. The truth is, is it never actually got going with Star Wars Galaxies, I bought it around its release date, took it home, realised that it needed a monthly subscription to play – this model was new to me at the time, and took the game back, never to actually play it… I was a poor student I couldn’t afford such frivolities as monthly subscriptions to play one game; my money was saved for beer and fast food.

I didn’t bother venturing back in to the MMO world for quite some time, but it was a series of stories or rather diaries that got me interested in trying one again. That game was EVE Online, and those stories were the adventures of Innominate Nightmare – a new player going in to the darkest and most dangerous areas of what is known as nullsec space, an area of space with pretty much no rules.

I spent a lot of lunch breaks reading through his adventures and thinking to myself that I wanted a piece of that. But when I eventually got to playing the game I found that I was faced with a whole bunch of spreadsheet looking forms that made no sense to me. At this time the tutorials weren’t great and quite frankly I felt overwhelmed by the amount of stuff to learn. I know that I played long enough to make my way through a few new ships but that was about it, just like the memory of Innominate Nightmare my foray in to EVE was lost to the depths of space.

Then came Guild Wars 2, a game with no monthly subscription fee, just a one off payment and you could play to your hearts content. It looked really nice and the combat felt fun, the world was cool and fun to explore. Most importantly was that I was there from pretty much launch, so there wasn’t this mountain of information to wade through, or if there was everyone else was in the same boat and that put me ease, it made it feel less like a huge hurdle to climb and more like a big in-depth RPG to get stuck in to. I think I made it to around level 20, and barely got out the starting area before I started to lose interest, or maybe I just started playing something else. But Guild Wars 2 would rear its head again some day, don’t you worry!

Fast forward a couple of years and Elder Scrolls Online launched. Elder Scrolls as an MMO? Yes please! I actually started playing this with some friends as we all picked it up in one of the steam sales. That made it more enjoyable from the get go. Seeing the world of Elder Scrolls with your friends was fun and it was probably around 20 hours before I stopped playing. Why? Your guess is as good as mine because I really liked it. I think maybe my friends went back to World of Warcraft, or we just started playing something else, but I can’t actually remember for sure.

I know that I’m a fickle person when it comes to playing video games, I will quickly chop and change what I play and what I like. I rarely complete longer single player games, but I still have around 500 hours in Destiny 1 and pushing 200 hours in Destiny 2, so I do like to get stuck in to these online multiplayer games, but there has just been something about the MMO’s genre that hasn’t’ quite stuck.

That brings us up to more recent times and once again I attempted to crack the MMO’s nut with Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire. I started playing again, I started out fresh in order to get to grips with the game again and once again I was having a lot of fun playing. But we’re now about 6 years in to the game, a lot has changed and loads of new content has come along. With Path of Fire I was given a level boost to bring to the max level. But I wanted to try and at least level from the beginning for a while just to get used to the game again and see what was new.

Eventually I used the level boost – impatience got the better of me, which took me to the maximum level and all the new content. I was immediately lost and I was getting my assed kick at the same time. The jump from low levels to max felt like I’d just gone from dropping Mentos in coke bottles levels of science to working for NASA building a rocket and that rocket was filled with monsters that really, really wanted me dead. Every area I went to I was struggling to deal with the enemies, even though I was at the maximum level. I felt like all my weapons may as well have been wet wash cloths and it soon put me off. I didn’t know what to do or how to get around the problems I was facing. Once again it felt like an overwhelming task just to get in to the game.

All whilst these experiments of mine were going on I had a group of friends that played World of Warcraft, they would go through stages of playing – usually when expansions would hit or some other kind of update. A couple of years back I attempted to get in to WoW as well. I started playing with a friend of mine and we blitzed through quite a lot of low level stuff but to be honest, I don’t think I took any of it in. I think the fact that he was a veteran of the game probably hindered me and my noob status as I was just following him around trying to kill what he was killing and not asking why. I don’t recall what level I got to, but it was less than 20 and I stopped playing fairly soon after.

Now Battle for Azeroth is out and they’re all back playing WoW again and there’s even more of them all grouping up to play. This gives me intense FOMO, so once again I have ventured in to the lands of the MMO in an attempt to crack it. This time things feel different. At first I started out levelling up on my own at my own pace whilst the rest of them go off doing Mythics? I don’t even know what that is, but I’m guessing it’s some kind of dungeon or raid thing. Whatever… Then a friend joined me as he started a new character and it’s been a lot of fun roaming around together.

I’ve actually started two characters at this point, a Mage and a Paladin, the mage just wasn’t clicking for me with the combat. The Paladin feels a lot more fun to play – which is when my friend joined me, so we’ve been playing through the first few areas mostly together. I’m not sure why it feels more fun this time around, but I am enjoying it quite a lot. I’ve just hit level 20 done my first couple of dungeons, have access to some pretty cool abilities and finally have a mount to get around a bit quicker. It’s been really fun! I’ve even taken part in a few Dungeons where I’ve taken on the the tank role and dished out some death. 

The problem with MMO RPG’s especially ones that already have years’ worth of content to them is that they can feel like a monumental task to get in to. Honestly the thought of getting a max level character in WOW is a daunting one and I don’t know how long it will take, but having friends to play with and guide you through definitely helps a lot. Maybe I’ve finally ‘got’ it, maybe I’ve finally cracked the MMO RPG nut. It’s been a road full of trials and tribulations, but I think I finally get it. 

-Will

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