We're continuing the trend of "Bill's Favorite" lists again this week. I apologize in advance for the offense I'm bound to commit in the following paragraphs but this week we're going with my favorite zones from any number of games. This isn't MMORPG's definitive list of the Best Zones Ever, but rather just a collection of some of my own most memorable. Even if you've only ever played one or two titles in the genre, you're bound to have a favorite area within that game. Some place that holds sway with your memory of adventures had and challenges tackled.
Whether it's the Barrens or Luclin or Millennium City (okay, maybe I'm the only person who would mention that last one), our favorite zones are part of what makes these games so important to us. Nostalgia drives the desire to hold tightly onto specific places in MMOs, I think. It's like remembering fondly your elementary school even though you dreaded the sight of the place in your younger years. Here are five of my most favorite zones on a nostalgic sort of day. Be sure to toss your own favorites onto the pile via the forums when you're done reading.
#5 SWG: Tatooine
I didn't play Star Wars Galaxies all that much in its Pre-NGE years. I can't regale you with my vast knowledge of the game's mechanics back then. Honestly I never quite grasped (back then) what was so special about the game that would cause mass upheaval when the NGE hit. It wasn't until sometime later when I actually played the NGE version that I realized just what had happened. But I digress. At the behest of a younger friend, I joined him in the game just a few months before it all changed and I was met with the videogame equivalent of a medieval faire.
Tatooine wasn't just some place the developers had modeled after Star Wars' most famous location. It wasn't just a movie set with quest NPCs waiting eagerly to offer you some random tasks. It was a digital representation of the very soul of the game. It was alive. It just happened to also be Tatooine. Cliché though that planet may be in nerd culture, it's still iconic. The look was captured perfectly and the players made it come to life. And while it still exists today, it's just not the same. SWG is a completely different experience these days, and so too is its version of Tatooine. But there will always be that one glorious summer I spent getting free dances in the sultry cantinas.
#4 WAR: Mount Bloodhorn
Say what you will about Warhammer Online's mechanics and failure to live up to its hype, but it would take a real cynic to deny that Mythic nailed the look and feel of that universe. The artists deserve some real recognition for the set pieces they created. Most specifically, the Greenskin starting zone of Mount Bloodhorn deserves a spot on this list. Everything about the place perfectly captures the chaos, tribalism, and sheer hooligan-esque nature of the Greenskins. It's a shame these days that all starting players are herded immediately into Norsca and Nordland at the get-go, as I personally feel that the Dwarf/Greenskin pairing is the strongest of the three. But then again I have a real soft spot for both sides of that conflict thematically. Lest we forget, I am talking about a zone whose entire purpose is centered on the launching of orcs and goblins into a stone wall littered with angry defensive dwarves.