I’ve noticed something of late - I haven’t logged into a real MMORPG, even my precious Elder Scrolls Online, in weeks. In ESO’s case, this is partly because I’m waiting for Elsweyr. But usually, between big content swells of ESO, I’m at least playing something else - GW2, WoW, FFXIV, Neverwinter, and so forth. But there’s a type of game that seems to be meeting my needs for persistence and online play. I’ve been trying to think of a name for them for ages, and I think Almost MMO just about covers it.
I’ve been spending almost all of my gaming time in Anthem, Fallout 76, The Division 2, Destiny 2, and Torchlight Frontiers. None of these are what I’d call full-on MMO, but they take parts of the genre that we love so dearly and present a game that is less content robust, but still just as intoxicating when it comes to that dopamine-hit-loving gameplay loop that made games like WoW my home for over a decade.
These days, as you’d imagine, being 35 and working (more than) full-time with two kids and a wife means I’m not playing games the way I did in my 20s when MMOs were just taking center stage. I look at the upcoming big name MMOs like Crowfall, Ashes of Creation, and Legends of Aria, and I go “Well crap, how can I even think I’ll be able to play those?” I want to, but those studios are building games that will require dozens of hours a week to really get the most out of them. Crowfall maybe less so with its smaller scaled throne war matches.
It’s dawning on me that until I hit my 40s, thanks to that wonderful thing called kids, I don’t have room in my life for an MMO that I can’t pick up and put down at will. This is why games like ESO and WoW still do me good I suppose, because their content is designed to be done in quick bursts but you can also spend a good several hours in them and work towards larger goals.
And the point I’m getting to with this, is to say that games like Anthem, Fallout 76, Torchlight Frontiers, Path of Exile, and the incredibly awesome Division 2 and Destiny 2 all seem to be where my clicker goes when I go to boot up a game these days. The reason is that I know, no matter what kind of time I have available, I can get something out of it - a level, an engram, loot, a mission done, a quest complete, a map cleared. I’ve always been an “achiever” in gaming. I love the feeling I get when I level up, get some new gear, complete a story, a dungeon, or a quest. It’s what draws me to the RPGs and open world games of today.
So as I look at the MMO landscape, I realize how much the coming games may not be for me, despite how much I want to play them. Instead, games like No Man’s Sky Beyond, Division 2, and Torchlight Frontiers seem to be giving me all I need from online games these days. Now if only someone would make a Marvel Universe “Almost MMO”. I’d be set for a good long while.