From 2005 to 2008 I played an awful lot of EVE online: that game was really interesting in the way that it dealt with player freedom and player input, and I enjoyed my time there immensely. Eventually however it fell foul of a problem any game which relies on player-generated content quite so much will suffer from; the group of players I hung around with became alot smaller as they quit the game for various reasons, or moved onto different things within the game. The trouble with finding a good corp in EVE is that it’s a right bugger when it fails.
So I found myself without an MMO to play, and for a long while that didn’t especially bother me. There are a shed-load of great single player games out there, as well as multiplayer games which aren’t so time-intensive. But there is something viscerally satisfying about that certain permanence you find with persistent online world, and the itch came back early this year.
I gave World of Warcraft another go (having tried it in vanilla and levelling a character to about 40 before I got bored). This time I lasted slightly longer – I got a level 78 character before I completely gave up with it again. And the problem is that playing WoW has tainted every other MMO I’ve tried subsequently. Whilst WoW is not really my cup of tea when it comes to the idea of the game (virtually no player-generated content, little impact on the world, a generally mediocre community, and little in the way of player customisability) it really was extremely slick. When I’ve tried other MMOs they appear to be WoW without the polish, with ill-advised content or content stripped out of it. I’ve just uninstalled Age of Conan which I gave a spin now that it’s free-to-play, and recently downloaded Lord of the Rings Online, which hasn’t been inspiring as of yet.
Two lights on the horizon, however. The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2.
Guild Wars 2 I am liking the sound of, and frankly it just looks slick. Let’s be honest, if I played WoW long enough to get a level 78 character, I can justify buying a game that looks at least a little more exciting that I won’t have to pay a subscription for.
The Old Republic is slightly more iffy, based on numerous less-than-positive previews that it’s had recently, but I remain tentatively excited because firstly, I love Bioware games, secondly it also looks slick, and thirdly the idea of the whole story-driven MMO thing makes me pretty intrested. Assuming of course that they can do it justice, which is a massive assumption.