Many of us complain about the increasingly stale features to be found in our MMOs and that true innovation is missing in the genre as a whole. In The List today, we take a look at five features in five different MMOs that we believe are truly innovative and genre-altering.
Without further ado, here are our choices for five of the most innovative systems in place in the current crop of MMOs.
5. Fully Voiced Quests – Star Wars: The Old Republic – Bioware
I know that this horse has been beaten to death and some who play SWTOR are tired of every quest in the game being voiced but even they have to admit that this is something new in the MMO genre. Never before has any other MMO done so extensive a job in breathing life into a game world. Love it or hate it, the fact that BioWare brought this to the table is something unseen in the current generation of MMOs.
I will admit that I am one of those who believes that maybe it was too much of a good thing and that, just maybe, only the main quest lines should have been cinematically created. Still, I do love to hear my character talk to and interact with the NPCs in the world. It’s particularly gratifying when I’m playing my Sith and the NPCs quiver with fear.
4. No Armor Snobbery – The Secret World – Funcom
I am one of those players who is not obsessed with getting the best, flashiest armor out there. There are people who have probably literally wasted years in getting that full set of “I Completed Every Raid Boss on EXTREME Mode & You Didn’t” armor simply so they can walk through the main cities and show off. I’m not one of them. If my armor class can hold up against the worst monsters in the world, that’s good enough for me. I admit, however, that I do sometimes feel a tad underdressed. It’s hard not to look enviously at those who wander about in their armored finery.
Funcom is taking that away from The Secret World and I, for one, love it. It’s not to say that there probably won’t be clothing items that are ultra-rare, but it’s refreshing to know that it’s all for looks and each person can choose their own fashion statement without being underpowered at the same time.
3. The Foundry – Star Trek Online/Neverwinter – Cryptic Studios
Honestly, this is one of the most exciting features for me. I hearken back to the days of yore when BioWare released Neverwinter Nights and the accompanying toolset so that people could build their own adventures and mods. The inclusion of the builder’s tools, more than the game itself, breathed life into NWN. I played in short and long term campaigns on NeverwinterConnections.com, even in one that was a Star Wars campaign, all made using the provided tools.
That Cryptic Studios has released The Foundry for Star Trek Online, with many of the same abilities for builders, is a monument to innovation in my book. Builders can create new adventures for fans of STO and even profit from them. I have yet to actually play STO but The Foundry intrigues me enough to give it a go.
The fact that Cryptic is also building Neverwinter with a similar feature thrills me to no end. I can’t wait to see some of my old builder buddies going at it again with even more modern tools!
2. Instant Action Raiding – Rift – Trion Worlds
As a person who tends to play games “unguilded” and one who actually likes PUGs, the Instant Adventure feature in Rift is a breath of fresh air. There have been times over the course of my MMO history when I’ve wanted to check out the end game just so I could say that I’d been there. But the prohibitive lines and long waits nearly always impeded that actually happening. I mean, come on…how many times can the raid/dungeon leader say, “LF Healer!” or “LF Tank!”? It gets tedious and boring. I realize that, in most cases, I can head out and complete a couple quests and subsequently be dragged into the raid or dungeon. Then again, I hate to do that as I might get sucked in right as I’m finishing a quest and lose my progress.
I can’t speak highly enough of the Instant Adventures in Rift. It’s refreshing to be able to join a raid group with a pair of mouse clicks and get some nice rewards too. No fuss. No muss. No waiting. No nervously hoping to be picked over all the others also looking for raid groups. Just BOOM! And you’re there.
Over time, we can hope that the Rift team will add more Instant Adventures to bring even more variety to this innovative feature.
1. Massive Multiple Objective WvW PvP – Guild Wars 2 – Arena.Net
Arena.Net scores top honors in The List today for its recently announced World Versus World PvP system. It’s not that cross-server PvP hasn’t been done before. It has. But the Guild Wars 2 system brings a lot of cool features into the WvW system that give a lot of hope to novice and experienced PvPers alike. Even confirmed non-PvPers like me are looking at the WvW system and thinking, “I will definitely check this out!”
Not only are there massive keeps to attack and defend, but there are resources to capture, mercenaries to assist and hire, caravans to escort, castle walls to upgrade, and Orbs of Power to find and collect. In short, there is something for everyone. Small guilds and large can find a place in this new system and everything that anyone does helps the cause of the entire server.
“We Are the World” takes on a whole new meaning with WvW in Guild Wars 2. If Arena.Net can pull it off once the game is live, it will be one of those things that we look back on and say, “Can you believe it was ever any other way?” So there you have it, our list of things we think are truly groundbreaking features in today’s MMOs. What did we miss? Let us know in the comments!