If you've been reading on the forums and seen my posts(not very many lol). You can say that my view on sandbox games is rather negative. To tell you the truth I'm rather open to sandbox games, and will play them if they encourage player creativity. The lack player creativity seems to be the reasons I detest games like EVE and Darkfall. But wishes they were more games like second life with the action of Darkfall. It isn't that the games don't offer anything new. I will admit that they did do something right like
Player Driven Economies: I love the Idea of having the market run by players instead of NPCs. It gives crafters the freedom to get rich without having the need to fight. It gives action seeking players to go seek adventure without worrying about doing the things they hate doing.
Balanced items: There is only a finite number type of frigates, one type of sword. There isn't any super frigates or omega celestial battlecruisers.
They certainly don't have any problems making a thriving virtual market. But this is also one of their problems. There is really nothing else to do besides becoming a stockbroker. Or should I say there is nothing "fun" to do besides being one. Sandbox defenders usually say that the game is what you make of it and you shouldn't turn a game into a themepark. But if the game only requires you to participate in PvE to succeed in the game, than where is the sandbox? Don't call a game a sandbox if you explore the world and only find identical looking towns with generic NPC that give you dull quests like "Kill 100 skeleton archers, and 50 goblins." Don't call it a sandbox if you cant even customize your weapons/ships/houses/armor. If you cant hone your creative skills in the sandbox than it isn't a sandbox.
Speaking of "theme park" games. why do you think a MMO is a theme park. most of the time it never is. Noone told you have to do those boring NPC quests. you can just go straight into the badguy area and start swinging your sword. In a game like WoW If you play a human. you can just go straight to Stormwind and fight level 10-20 monsters at level 5 right away. WoW is a "easy" game after all why not do something challenging. You don't even have to level up at all in the game. you can explore all the regions of azeroth at level 1, dieng isn't so harsh so you can die many times as you want, PvE or PvP. I dont know a accurate definition of a theme park but I think a theme park game is when you have no control over you're characters action, and can never advance in the game without doing a specific action. Think FF1-10, think Diablo 2, those are theme parks to me. don't call WoW or similar games a theme park, because you have plenty of freedom.
And this will lead me to my last criticism. Open FFA PvP, is nothing but a perk. Calling something a sandbox because it has unlimited PvP. Is like calling whale a fish. Sure, a whale has fins, swims in water and gives you a great illusion that its a fish. But if you look at it closely he is nothing but a poser. Most of these games seem to purposely give the players the freedom to destroy one another and have the players overlook the lack of game content. Having a game that encourages griefing and backstabing politics doesn't create a good community. MMo's is all about communities especially if you have player made cities. Turning the world into battlefields will just drive many great players away. Call them carebears, call them whatever. There are allot of people(myself including) that view all of this crap as pointless violence and hostility that exploits the dark side of humanity.
If the players have nothing to work with in the sand besides making army men and sandguns. It becomes nothing more than a mindless FPS and RTS game with D&D rules. I'm not going to call it a RPG because there is little roleplay in griefing player killers. and making a wannabe Julius Caesar play. I know its quite difficult to give players the freedom to minipulate the game. It certianly isn't impossible. The game I currently like to play is Mabinogi. It is just as flawed as any MMORPG out there. And its cartoony graphics(I just dont understand peoples' need for realistic computer taxing graphics. go outside for christ sake) and f2p business tactics will drive many away. But I believe it gives more freedom than any other game I played out there, even EVE. Even if that gave game me little freedom I will probably still play it over EVE or Darkfall. Unlimited PVP games wont make a sanbox game better, people do, but they cant make it better if they dont have the tools to do so.