Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Chasing a Wraith

Meet Steve, my horse.
The Dead Horse Discussion
On Friday, I wrote a post decrying the schadenfreude of some in the MMO community over the apparent difficulties WildStar and its dev team are having of late. Commenters were of the opinion that Carbine brought it upon themselves as a result of their arrogance and foolishly catering to what turned out to be a very niche group of "hardcore" raiders.

Then Belghast wrote on Saturday about the decline of MMOs in general (not exactly a new topic), highlighting the fact that—other than Everquest Next, which is probably years away—there is not really any AAA MMORPG on the horizon. We have WoW 6.0 coming up, but Blizzard has shuttered development on Titan, effectively "admitting that the MMO genre has no more room for new players."

Scooter's AA Avatar, Kammi
The Elephant in the Room
Without a doubt, in the absence of WoW, the MMO landscape would look very different. And it would likely be much smaller. As it is, compared to genres/franchises like Call of Duty, MMOs are small potatoes. But up till now, big publishers like EA, NCSoft, and Activision were willing to throw big money at almost any studio with a good idea for getting a piece of the MMO pie. That seems to have changed; even though without WoW in the picture, almost every MMORPG that has been published could be considered a success.

But they're also relatively homogenous, and WoW is blamed for that. Much like Hollywood, a blockbuster in the video game industry begets clones as studios attempt to replicate that success. Everyone remember the Guitar Hero spinoffs and clones? Don't forget that WoW itself is a both a reply to and an attempt to capitalize on the success of (vanilla) EverQuest. But without WoW, there is no guarantee we would have SWTOR or Rift—or TSW or ESO for that matter. If we did, however, it's a safe bet that they would actually be of a different design than they are now and would be less like one another.

Virtual Nomads
And so we players flock from one MMO to another. Some would say we swarm like locusts. But perhaps like heroin, chasing that initial high is a futile endeavor. We're chasing whatever it was that felt amazing about being in a virtual world with other players from around the globe. I've played with folks from China and Australia, to Brits, Canadians, and Continentals. But the sense of wonder about online play—or the glitter of snow in Dun Morogh—is over for me. WoW isn't home anymore, but neither is any other game.
Misteli, Battleraging Vitalist
The Age of Arches?
Which brings me to ArcheAge, a game I had not intended to touch given the toxic PvP atmosphere it was rumored to embrace. However, while I was participating in the latest episode of Beyond the Veil last Thursday, Scooter was downloading the AA client. While she enjoys the games we now play, she is ever in search of something new. It was upon her suggestion that we briefly looked at EQ2 early this year.

Since it's free to play, I fired it up myself, and got in close to six hours of play yesterday, including a sizable amount of time customizing my character, a Nuia Vitalist I named Misteli (Finnish for mistletoe). Scooter had created a Nuia Archer already on the Enla server, naming her Kammi and playing to level 5. Together, we made it to level 9 and the village of Lacton before calling it a night.

Honestly, so far I like it. Not quite as frenetic as WildStar, at least at this level. No standing in/dodging out of "the stupid." And though I haven't gotten a great handle on it, I like the possibilities of the mix-and-match class/skills system, reminiscent of ESO. I picked Battlerage as my secondary set when the time came. I may have screwed it up; but right now, Misteli plays a bit like my cleric in Rift, both the tank and the healer for Scooter's DPS.

As far as movement and combat, if ESO had had this control scheme from the get-go, it would have been a no-brainer over WildStar. ArcheAge has very much what I consider an MMO-style rather than a reticle-aiming combat scheme; I had no trouble getting around, even on the rowboats (that were thankfully unobstructed by griefers when we crossed the bay).

Much like WildStar, I guess I will be taking ArcheAge one level/feature at a time. It's fun right now, but I don't know whether it will continue to be so as we get further into the game. And when the time comes, will I be willing to pay to "remove the suck"?
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