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Beau Hindman's MMO Thoughts

My name is Beau Hindman: a freelance writer, developer, artist, drummer and gamer from Austin, Texas. I've been gaming since '99 and writing about them since 2006! This is my blog about ducks. I mean MMORPGs.

Author: beauhindman

MMORPGs that never really captured my attention

Posted by beauhindman Wednesday December 3 2014 at 11:55AM
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Hello again, readers!

This week I’d like to point to a few MMOs that have always sat on my hard drive, but barely get enough attention to register in my mind. I always take a few hours during each week to update all of the titles I currently have sitting in my games folder, and these titles almost always make me raise an eyebrow... and then I continue on to play something else.

It’s not really the game’s fault. I mean, sure, we can blame my lack of attraction on the games because they do not have what it takes to attract my particular self, but they are good games and seem to be perfectly capable of attracting plenty of other people. So, why don’t they work on me? I decided to give each another quick visit to see if I can sum up my gut reactions. I also hope to grow a relationship of more substance with these games, because in the end they really do offer some quality fun. (I'm guessing.)

 

Guild Wars 2

 

This will surprise many of you but I didn’t particularly like Guild Wars 2. Don’t like, I guess I should say, because when I log in these days I can only stay in for a half an hour without logging out. I can’t figure it out. I made an adorable character, have made it to level 11 or so, and enjoy running around exploring. I think this one comes down to 2 main issues.

 

  1. The camera controls are…. spongy. Hard to explain.

  2. The environments and world and UI are all very busy. There’s something about both of them that just make my old gamer eyes uncomfortable.

 

OK, so those are some very specific, odd reasons. Still, it’s the truth. So the pop-up quests and instant action are a bit tired as well, but when I take a few hours to slow down, allow my eyes to get used to the particularly odd color pallette of the world, I do enjoy the game. Richie Procopio, a fellow writer and friend suggested that at my level and obvious non-real-interest in the game, I should just explore and find some adventure and enjoy the ride. Funny, because I am usually the guy who tells people to do that with MMORPGs, but he was right. After I took some time to learn what my backstory was and to talk to some other players, I had a lot of fun. I even made my way to Lion’s Arch and started exploring there. The game looks amazing, so I will make it a point to log in more.

 

Star Wars the Old Republic

 

This is an easy one. The game never interested me because the combat was… so… borrrriingggg. Oh man I was never so disappointed until I logged into SWTOR, worked through a couple cut-scenes, marvelled at the wonderful, stylized graphics only to be told “Go out and grind on some lame mobs.” I almost cried. I left the game and only half-watched my wife play until she grew bored.

The game is good, I think, for those people who travel with others more than I do. My travelling ego rarely stops for too long in one game (although I do make my way back around to many different games, so much so that I have high-levels in several) so I can understand that a game that is good for groups might not be great for me, but I mean… this was Star Wars! I should have been drooling just to play another Star Wars game.

One of the main issues I had with the game was its inability to run smoothly, even on my gaming PC that normally ran all of the latest and greatest games on max or high settings. I simply could not get SWTOR to stop hitching! It reminded me of the old Vanguard days, back when performance was a real, real issue, but this was a modern game from a modern company and on a modern gaming PC. It drove me nuts.

Then I look at some YouTube cut-scene video and it makes me cry. I want to join in on that fun, I want to have a starship and a crew and a companion and make my character slightly evil and wounded and scarred and a bounty hunter who is tiny but feared and…

I’ll try SWTOR again. In fact, I am patching it now. Like I said, I love its looks and its potential. I wonder what I need to do to make it shine?

 

The Secret World

 

I can easily tell you what I do not like about The Secret World. It’s not the out-there lore. I like the lore for the most part and I like the strange graphics. I dig the gothy setting and would love to get in on some fun roleplay. I also love the modern setting and quirky references to pop culture. While I am not a huge fan of the Whedon-esque “everyone is a smart-alec” type of dialogue, I do enjoy the fact that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. I also like its supposed connection to The Longest Journey, whatever it is.

What do I not like about The Secret World? The combat. Take away the combat. Leave a game with the mysteries, the socializing, and the setting but delete that noisy, boring and mostly overly-complicated combat stat system. Sure, you can make your character use any weapon and magic and all that stuff, but it’s all so noisy and repetitive and BLECH.

The combat (in my experience, of course) interrupts the fun. I might log in, get a call from some NPC, go meet the NPC, get involved in a cool conversational cut-scene about some dark secret that I have to literally use an in-game browser to solve, get sent on my way and then have to fight batches of baddies using the same action OVER AND OVER AND OVER. It’s as though the game grabs you, sits you down and says"

“Look, this game has some serious lore meat on its bones. It’s good stuff. Well, the sex stuff is cheesy as hell, but the rest is good, gothy fun. You’re going to want to explore that part of the game. I get that. But, see, we needed to put something in this game to give those hardcore burners something to do. We needed to slow them down. So, yeah, go kill a crap-ton of zombies, please? And, oh yeah… use this lame weapon and ability.”

 

I cried.

 

There are more games like this out there, odd games that just felt awkward and sluggish and bulky and slow. Games like FFXIV (do not get me started on the epic journey just to install that one!) But, I will try and revisit the ones I listed. Perhaps I will find something I missed? I hope so, because they are all obviously made very well, with love.


Beau