I have always found it funny that many MMO players are so hung up on whether an MMO is massive enough for their tastes. If there aren’t thousands of players on a server, then it isn’t worth playing, right? It’s sort of ironic that they then turn around and group up with the same five players night after night, completely ignoring anyone else running around the world.
For me, I couldn’t care less if my MMO is built on a single server with one huge world with thousands of players all sharing the same instance. I can have just as much fun in an instanced world where the only time you see more than 20 or 30 players is when you are in whatever lobby everyone shares between quests. All I really need is enough players hanging around that when I want to run some group content, I don’t have to wait an hour for a group to form up. That’s massive enough for me.
Regardless of your definition of an MMO, there are some ‘Not So MMOs’ that I always find myself returning to whenever the grind of my daily driver has me at the brink of burnout. The Division 2, Path of Exile, and Satisfactory are my go-to side hustle whenever there isn’t some new single-player title stealing my attention. But just like the classic MMOs I’ve been revisiting for the MMO Reroll, there are plenty of Not So MMOs that I’ve failed to connect with over the years.
So for December, with all of the extra distractions that the holidays bring, I knew that I might not have the energy to plow through a single MMO like usual. Instead, I decided to give some Not So MMOs a quick look to see if I should add anything to my burnout rotation. With a few hours per weekend to spare, and four weekends left in 2021, I scoured through my Steam and EGS libraries for four titles that deserved a second chance.
The last time I played Destiny 2 was right at launch. I couldn’t really tell you what it was that I didn’t like about Destiny 2. It just didn’t click for me. Regardless of my initial impression, Destiny 2 is still very popular. With the next expansion, The Witch Queen, coming out in February, it was a no-brainer to jump in and give Destiny 2 a second chance.
In the four years since I last played, not much has changed with the fighting. Combat is still a bunch of running and jumping and shooting. For some reason, though, I have really enjoyed the comb this time around. Maybe it’s that the new story tutorial kept me moving at a quick pace. Or possibly the way the Cosmodrome is set up; I could easily jump out of the story, complete a couple of world events, and then slide right back into the tutorial. Whatever it is, the whole experience seemed to flow better than it did the first time around.
Destiny 2 does have an overwhelming number of stats to keep track of, with weapons and armor both having separate stats to deal with. I didn’t waste my time with any of that until I was through the tutorial missions on the Cosmodrome (the current starting area). I just equipped whatever gear had the highest rating and, in the case of the weapons, whatever elemental damage I needed to complete a bounty quest. When I was finally ready to dig into the gear progression a little bit, I was happy to see a plethora of guides created by the community. Every question I entered into a Google search was quickly answered with in-depth and up-to-date answers in written and video format.
You might be asking the question, is Destiny 2 really free to play? If all you're looking to do is jump in every now and then and kill a couple of baddies for a few hours, then yes, you'll be able to keep it free to play. But if you're looking for an entire story campaign or to have access to all the weapons and armor that D2 has, then you'll have to buy the expansions. The current expansion pack, Beyond Light, costs $39.99, and the Legendary Edition (which includes Forsaken and Shadowkeep) goes for $79.99. However, until January 5, there is a promo on Steam that gets you the Legendary pack for just $31.99! If the free-to-play version hooks you as it has me, that’s not a bad price to pay to get access to the current content until The Witch Queen expansion arrives.
You know how gamers are always complaining that developers aren’t willing to take chances, that all they are worried about is playing it safe by ignoring innovation and instead just churning out sequel after sequel to squeeze every penny they can out of a tired franchise? Well, every once in a while, a prominent developer will throw caution to the wind and change up the formula in an aging franchise. That’s precisely what Bethesda did with Fallout 76. Guess what? Bethesda didn’t receive any accolades for Fallout 76. That may have been less about lack of innovation and more about bugs and glitches. Or possibly it was the decision to not have human NPCs or the lack of offline play.
While the majority of players - or probably the very loud minority - were ready to march on Bethesda Studios with pitchforks and torches in hand, some players were having the time of their post-apocalyptic life in Appalachia. And I was one of them, at least for a few weeks. Then, like usual, I lost interest and moved on to something else. Nothing, in particular, pushed me away from FO76. As usual, some other new release had probably caught my attention and ended my time with FO76.
There have been a lot of changes to Fallout 76 since I left my character abandoned, standing in front of a bridge in a full suit of Power Armor, Super Sledge at the ready. Gone are the days of following the trail of holo tapes (technically, they’re still there). Nowadays, real live humans - not the vault variety, either - have come back to West Virginia, and they’ve brought new quests with them. I was perfectly content with the holo tapes myself, but I admit that having human NPCs is a positive addition to the robots and mutants that have been around since launch. The quests have given me something other than my obsession with collecting every piece of scrap (and I do mean every piece I come across) to keep me focused on progression while playing.
I do have to admit that even with the addition of NPCs and other quality of life improvements, there’s not a lot to keep me playing Fallout 76 into the new year. I don’t blame Bethesda for their attempt at taking the franchise in a new direction with the persistent online world. I just prefer my adventures in the wasteland to be a solo endeavor (1st members can create private servers now). FO76 isn’t horrible or anything, but it doesn’t hold a candle to other titles in the franchise, so even if I get the Fallout itch in 2022, it’ll be a new run through New Vegas or Fallout 4 that will do the scratching.
When Dauntless launched in May of 2019, it really caught my attention. I’ve always loved playing melee classes in any RPG, so the melee focus, big weapons, and even bigger monsters were a holy trinity that I have always wished for. But you know the old idiom, be careful what you wish for.
I like the core gameplay that Dauntless brings to the table: head out with a group of hunters, scour the area for big beasts, gather everyone up to slowly chip away at the beast, and then craft armor and weapons out of their body parts when the fight is over. The combat is slow and methodical, a stark contrast to most other action combat MMOs. You still have to do plenty of dodging if you want to avoid the monster’s big hits, but the fighting still feels more controlled than usual, rewarding patience and timing over twitch reflexes.
Unfortunately, the combat wasn’t the issue I had with Dauntless when it was first released. The idea of a group of players all being dropped on a floating island and spreading out to find their prey sounds good on paper. In practice, players would just start fighting, and if you didn’t get to the scene of the action fast enough, you could miss out on most of the fight. You’d still reap the rewards, but that isn’t the point. I wanted to get in some good hits and do my part.
Going out on a hunt has felt much more rewarding this time around. A continual stream of behemoths means that even if I miss part of one fight, I’ll be hacking and slashing at another beast a few seconds later. And with all of the passives to unlock on the Slayer’s Path (aka skill tree), all of that fighting is worth the time spent out in the field.
Of all the games I chose to revisit, Warframe was my favorite the first time around. I bought a Founders Pack (or whatever it was called) to get into the Closed Beta back in 2012. It was rough around the edges, but it was hard to deny how well Warframe blended hack and slash melee with run and gun shooter combat. The instanced missions were right up my alley, and even after the limited gameplay loop of the Beta started to wear thin, I still logged in regularly for a few months before I put Warframe out to pasture with all intent to revisit it at a later date.
I continued to check in on Warframe for a few years, and it seemed like every time I logged in, something new had been added since my last visit. Those visits were always short-lived, though, and I continued to fall further and further behind on the Warframe universe. Eventually, I stopped playing Warframe altogether, and it’s been a good two or three years since I logged in at all.
So how did my weekend with Warframe go? Well, not much different than all the other times I have tried picking it back up. I spent most of my time refamiliarizing myself with the combat, but I did get a chance to wander out into the open maps introduced with the Eidolon expansion. I always liked the quick, linear maps. That said, the open-world maps are a game-changer for me. Instead of past visits where it wasn’t worth it for me to push into the new bits and pieces added to Warframe, the open-world maps have me intrigued and ready to dig deep. I plan to spend the time necessary to figure out all of the new mechanics and systems added in my absence.
Four weekends, four games. Fallout 76 still doesn’t compare to the rest of the franchise and has already been wiped from my hard drive. As for Dauntless, it fared way better than it did the first time I played it. I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a different breed of action combat. If I had unlimited gaming time, Dauntless would easily be part of my Not So MMO rotation i
I don’t have unlimited time, though, and both Destiny 2 and Warframe push Dauntless into a distant third-place finish. Both shooters had me wishing that their weekend wasn’t coming to a close, and neither title will be leaving my hard drive any time soon. The only real question is whether I will have enough time to add both to my gaming rotation, and if not, which one will be the ultimate winner?