I was scrolling through Twitter this last week when I spotted a Tweet from a friend of mine that got me thinking about the way I play games. The Tweet, seemingly innocuous at first, made me think hard on a scenario that rarely has come up for me in my time in MMORPGs throughout the years: starting over.
I don't mean starting an alt, but rather starting wholly from scratch, whether it be on a new server and forging ahead without established characters or friends, guildies and more to help you on your way. Or even starting a new MMO on a new platform completely. My friend who sent out the tweet is doing just that - starting an MMO that he has hundreds of hours in on one platform for another completely.
I have to admit, I was curious about this when I first read the tweet. I'm someone who struggles to even completely level an alt character, let alone want to start completely from scratch again, however the prospect intrigued me and had me thinking of times where I have done this organically through the years.
One recent example comes to mind: RuneScape.
I played RuneScape first back in 2004 with a friend of mine almost religiously. My first computer was originally meant to be when I finally played Baldur's Gate 2 after it bricked my brother's PC, but instead I found myself traveling the world of Gielinor with my friend Brad. We spent hours crafting Law Runes for people, fighting enemies or just mining to increase our wealth. It was a blast until we fell out of touch thanks to our lives leading different paths (military making a family move will do that sometimes).
Recently, however, I got the itch to jump back into RuneScape after what feels like a lifetime. However, I cannot remember my old account information for, well, the life of me. It was over a decade since I last logged in and so I found myself in the tutorial area, learning the ropes in Old School RuneScape again.
The idea of starting over from scratch in an MMO I knew I already had hundreds of hours in was daunting at first, especially coming at it having missed out on so many updates and additions over the years. It didn't take long before this daunting issue overcame my desire to play, though I still log in weekly to doot around on my character.
Another recent example was when Black Desert hit PlayStation 4 and cross play was opened up between PS4 and Xbox One. I have BDO on every platform, but I've mainly only played it on PC. Yet I found myself with a group of friends who wanted to play, and they only had consoles. After spending some time deciding whether I wanted to start from scratch again, I found myself making a Shai on Xbox to play alongside them.
I had played on console before - I had to write about it before this of course. However, this was different. I wasn't jumping in on a character to check out a new feature and then move on, or to get inspiration for an article. I was starting over from scratch, deciding that this would be the new platform I played Black Desert on, all but mentally abandoning my PC characters.
This didn't last long, however. My friends got into other MMOs (The Lord of the Rings Online, in fact) and I couldn't part with my PC roster - especially when the Sage released early last year. However, it made me wonder whether or not I'd ever start from scratch anywhere other than PC again.
Well, this weekend, inspired by my friend, I picked up the PS5 upgrade to The Elder Scrolls Online.
This is an MMO I've played since launch - it's one of the games that launched my journalism career in fact. However, while I've played it on PC, Xbox and Stadia, I never abandoned my PC version in favor of another. I always knew my PC characters would be my main way to play, and the Xbox version was just a way to get an ESO fix when I didn't want to sit in front of my PC any longer.
However, playing this on PS5 over the weekend kind of inspired me. I'm playing it as a whole new class and race - Dark Elf Stamina Nightblade versus my Templar and Necromancer builds on PC - and it has even got my girlfriend involved a bit in the story as we sit in the living room over the weekend gaming together. It's a bit daunting though, starting from scratch where I don't have a crafting character who can make everything my new toon needs, or an established friend and guild base to draw on if I need help in a dungeon. It feels like I'm playing this for the first time again.
I don't know how long that feeling will last or if I'll stick with this long term, but it does make me wonder just how often this occurs for people. Throughout the years MMOs have come and gone. New classes means new ways to play, and while I feel many players would just start an alt on a server where they can support the new character, I am curious if anyone starts anew, wading into the waters of their favorite MMO as if it were their first time all over again. Let us know in the comments.