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MMOs vs RPGs

Christopher Coke Posted:
Columns Player Versus Player 0

Here at MMORPG.com, we love both MMOs and RPGs. In fact, we run enough content on both genres to feed a small game-article-consuming country. But sometimes, you have to pit the things you love against each other to see who’s the cream of the crop. That’s what our parents told us anyway! This week we bring you the debate long in the making: MMOs versus RPGs!

A note before we begin: Our authors love both genres, probably the same as you. But hey, that shouldn’t stop them from picking a side and bloodying a little nose, should it?

Chris “Syeric” Coke: Chris writes our weekly RPG Files column. He’s going to tell you why they’re all terrible! Not really, that would just be silly.

Ryan “Garbrac” Gethcell: Ryan covers Elder Scrolls Online for MMORPG. It’s his way (online!) or the highway!

Let’s get it on!

Chris: Hi Ryan! Let’s get right to it. RPGs are the better genre. They tell better stories, have better gameplay, and don’t have to worry about pesky “other people” coming along to dance naked on mailboxes like some kind of harlot. Can you say that about your genre, Ryan? Can you, because I danced on a mailbox in your genre, Ryan, so the answer is no. MMOs will forever be dragged down by terrible Goldshire-ites like myself. So there.

Ryan: Hello Chris, you may have chosen the wrong topic for this week, because MMORPGs are easily better than RPGs. Of course it does depend on developers because I’ve played some crappy MMORPGs, but, for the most part, MMORPGs are still the way to go. RPGs while they are great fun to play, they don’t offer the core aspect of what a RPG was all about, social gameplay. RPGs started with pen and paper, a bunch of friends gathered around the table going on an adventure. RPGs are like playing that pen and paper game, but alone, there is no engagement, no comradery to be had. While I agree dancing on mailboxes is a bit of an annoyance but, just like the real world, we have annoying people. Isn’t that what you want from your RPGs, a fantasy world that immerses you within it? The only way to get immersed is to have those realistic connections.


Chris: Well sure, but I’m of the opinion that modern RPGs fill that gap with great party members. I mean, take Freddie Prinze Jr. He used to be this guy from the 90s that the girls would swoon over. Now he’s an awesome demon man with a heart of gold that geeks get to swoon over! In Dragon Age: Inquisition that is. Who needs player characters when you have awesome writers filling in those gaps for you so you can experience an actual story. MMOs give you an “epic” open world but only if you turn your brain off to the not-so-epic everyone’s a hero stories. Plus, do you ever have to kill a lot of pigs in those games. What did pigs ever do to you, Ryan?

Ryan: I think you just hit the nail on the head there when you said “you can experience an actual story”. That’s all a RPG is, a story. The adventure isn’t really an adventure, you’re stuck on a linear path in terms of the story. In an MMORPG, you have a massive world to explore, that isn’t dependent on writers to make story for you to turn the page on, so to speak. You’re free to gather your friends together and make your own stories, your own adventures. A MMORPG is a Lord of the Rings -esc type of scenario, you have multiple faucets for you to go and do, not just one single storyline. That’s the joy of playing with real people, the freedom of choice and abilities versus the confines of a computer driven companion.

Chris: Eh… but is that MMOs in 2015? Most are the same linear path, you can just wander into higher level zones and see grey question marks that aren’t ready for you yet. Can we just pause and talk about raiding for minute? That’s madness. Let me get this straight, you get together with 9 other players, do a little dance and, whatever you do, don’t stand by the tail, and that’s supposed to be epic? For what, like less than half of anyone who ever plays the game? Everyone else goes to YouTube because the developers are too lazy to develop a way for everyone to actually see their story? And when it’s done not one thing in the world changes until the patch three months later? Seems a bit… anti-climactic, wouldn’t you say?

Ryan: You’re definition of “raiding” makes me sad, because it’s the same one that is being copied many times over in MMORPGs; however, recent ones are starting to deviate from that path. Phasing technology, while it isn’t perfect, is the answer to your world never changing issues. Phasing technology will allow your actions to change the world as you see it. That’s pretty epic if you ask me. Your argument about waiting until three months for a new patch, it’s the same situation for RPGs, except in some cases RPGs never get that update. You save the world and then your adventure is done. All that’s left for you to do is become that old guy at the tavern telling tales of what used to be, “I used to be an adventurer like you…”

Dragon Age: Inquisition

Chris: Ageist! I’ll spend my days how I see fit, thankyouverymuch. While you’re starting Getchellgate over there, let me just remind you that, yeah, you may get your updates, but at least RPG players can do a “one and done” instead of having to repeat it 500 times just to have something to do. You might be doing it with friends, but while you guys have Raid X on farm, we’ll be moving onto the next epic game or tossing a mod into to make things new again. In MMO land, it’s a good thing you have friends, otherwise you’d go crazy from boredom!

I think it’s clear who the winner is here. Listen there: that’s the sound of internet applause and roses soaring through the air. Have the final word, Mr. Getchell.

Ryan: The MMORPG world is what you make it. Just like the real world, I enjoy time to myself, not having to deal with people, or pesky companions that follow you around worse than a lost puppy. I only have to worry about myself. RPGs don’t always have that flair. You’re stuck on the cart ride until you save the world, then what do you do? Grind out meaningless levels? I’ll take my friends and my alone time versus your bubble world any day. As for your imaginary applause noise, I’ll let you have it, since in your RPG world you only have the voices in your head.


Christopher Coke

Chris cut his teeth on MMOs in the late 90s with text-based MUDs. He’s written about video games for many different sites but has made MMORPG his home since 2013. Today, he acts as Hardware and Technology Editor, lead tech reviewer, and continues to love and write about games every chance he gets. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight