Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Figuring out MMOs Par 3... Triple Play!

Sorry for not having this prewritten, I’ve been busy. Today I’m actually going to cover 3 games. Two of these games I played for just under a year and one I played for 2 months. I played Dark Age of Camelot for 6-9 months off and on after release and I played Warhammer Online for more or less 12 months off and on plus 4 months or so of beta. I am also going to talk a little about Age of Conan which is the game that I feel had the most squandered potential, I played it for 3 months.

Dark Age of Camelot was my first real experience of MMORPG Player versus Player combat. Frontier’s made Dark Age of Camelot what it was. When you left the “safe” zone of your PvE area you felt like you were walking through the gates that held King Kong at bay. You knew from this point on dangerous things were out there trying to kill you. The driving factor that kept people out there other than PvP was that the best exp spots in the game were in the frontier. This provided our enemies with guaranteed prey and us with exp at a real risk. We could be safe for hours then have one ranger start picking us off one at a time. It provided a constant sense of fear and awareness.

Upon an EXP spot getting raided our realm would normally rally together to hunt down the culprit. It provided an excellent sense of community. The other great feature was that sense DAoC had 3 Armies no one was every truly out numbered. More often than not the two weaker armies would team up and attack the strongest. It provided a self controlled population and power balancing system.

Warhammer Online was suppose to be DAoC 2 to a lot of people. It missed the mark in some aspects but it did do some things better than the rest of the MMOs to date. Due to the detailed world Games Workshop created WAR had the most detailed and fluid Lore in a MMO I had ever experienced. A lot of the quests really felt like you were acting out events that would have occurred in a book. WAR was the first MMO were I ever looked forward to reading a quest log, even if it was a glorified chore at times.

WAR also stepped up the PvP and PvE unification by making most of their abilities have duel purposes. An ability that was often thought of as PvE only was given an alternate effect when used on players. Thus the tank classes could still use Taunt on other players rather than on just enemies. It solved an excellent situation of splitting your abilities up between PvE and PvP. Nearly every ability could be used in both portions of the game.

WAR also created an entirely new way to quest, called Public Quests. You could walk upon an area were a constant battle was going on between players and NPCs. You could join in at any stage of the quest and still have a chance at getting an item at the end. The longer you stayed at the PQ the better your chances got at winning one of the higher level items, until you won one. It was a great idea and during the games early stages it worked very well.

The last game which I played the least was Age of Conan. Age of Conan truly tried to set its self apart. The graphics were amazing and the AoC tried to reinvent combat. You got to choose where you attacked your enemy rather than just picking a type of attack. It was refreshingly different. That being said the thing that made AoC great, if even for a time, was the tutorial.

AoC offered the most in depth and well executed tutorial of any MMO ever. You entered the town of Tortage and got to experience voice over NPCs, a progressive story line, and adult plot themes. During this entire tutorial you had the option to solo or group through it. Level 1 -20 of Age of Conan is the best intro to any MMO I have ever played.

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