Like most things, it seems like we go through phases of getting big, sprawling single-player RPGs to sink our teeth into. It’s a totally different genre than the MMO game, for rightful reasons, but there are a lot of overlaps as well. Most people that enjoy MMOs probably enjoy single-player RPGs as well and I’d wager to say that the majority of the people that read this are either playing currently or at least have an interest in playing, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. If not, you should. Our review –in-progress seems to be indicating it’s a pretty awesome game so far!
The Witcher 3 is a profound and astounding achievement for our industry and is a landmark game in the legacy of Western RPGs for the world to adore. Along with Dragon Age: Inquisition, and Pillars of Eternity, a new standard is being created for storytelling and immersion in roleplaying games, and it’s an extremely exciting time to be a gamer. With all of that excellence, naturally, come lessons that can be applied to other areas of the industry – like MMOs. I’ve talked about what MMOs can learn from the aforementioned Pillars of Eternity, so now it’s time to talk about what MMOs can learn from The Witcher 3.
5) Visceral Combat
Real-time action-based combat on the level of The Witcher 3 isn’t possible for most, or possibly all, MMOs. But that doesn’t mean that developers can’t take a few cues from the system. First and foremost, it makes sword combat interesting. Having to focus and do things like counter and move and dodge during combat is a big upgrade from the rhythm-based button presses of past Witcher games and the stand and rotate the skill bar combat of 99% of MMOs.
Take that a step further though and upgrade magic and ranged combat to be about more than just pointing and clicking. Preparing spells ahead of time (oh, EverQuest, how we do miss your glory days so!) would be a nice throwback for added strategy – or at least embracing and expanding on the concept of a limited skill bar. There are a lot of ways MMO developers could make combat a whole lot more visceral and engaging.
4) Deep Exploration
This is probably the hardest item on the list to quantify and measure, but just making the game more explorable and more interesting to explore always helps. When I play a game like Darkfall: Unholy Wars, I have the option to run out on my own and explore the world, but I don’t know that I’d really want to given how empty most areas feel. But with The Elder Scrolls Online on the other hand, it’s rewarding to strike out on my own and see what lies beyond the horizon.
TESO doesn’t nail this perfectly by any means, but it’s a good starting point of discussion. Throw in some random encounters. Put areas into the game that aren’t necessarily tied to quests and special events. Make the world a living and breathing place that asks to be seen and experienced – not just a giant theme park full of exclamation points and question marks.