Listmas 2014: Times of the MMO Tourist

This was an absolutely huge year for mmo gamers. Say what you will about the games but it’s not often we have a calendar that is this packed with huge releases. I might bitch but each was great in their own ways, providing some amazing experiences and of course lots of amazing environments

So to celebrate their I thought I’d do a top three in a couple categories.

Favourite environments

Eso

A lot of the world is truly beautiful, boring and sparse at times but still with that minimalistic style of beauty you can’t help but sit atop your horse and admire occasionally. Rolling hills, and plains and all that grassy goodness. Of course you often see the sun Poking through somewhere as well and creates the usual screenshot you know everyone else has taken and is thoroughly unremarkable but can’t help to take and share anyway.

While the Cold harbour zone grew on me rather quickly with the strong changes in design and aesthetic between different points, I think it was Reapers March, which is one of the zones the Khajit have settlements in. It just really captivated me. The ancient Incan architecture is rather interesting addition and I love how these old temples are crumbling and being reclaimed by nature. It has a rather earthy desert style feel

eso

Wildstar Bio-Dome

While it did have some questionable design choices the over the top, zany approach to its themes certainly translated well to the environments. It was kind of nice to be more surrounded in the colourful and unusual. To have a visual feast of a world filled with detail. It is weird but looking back through my screenshot folder of Wildstar and I was fondly remembering my time through the zones. Even now i can remember many points about them as they were just that memorable, not in the over the top stupid way i originally thought it would be, just rather fondly. Armor and weapon designs were pretty awesome too.

My favourite zone, well zones since they are rather different but connected, were the Bio-Dome spaces. They are some tightly packed spaces but it’s great how they all seemingly play around with vertically so much. It’s an impressive use of space but also makes paying through the spaces more interesting. Just how they played around with the certain themes we more interesting than I usual see. I guess because it was a smaller space the design you usually see was more tightly packed and avoided any large space of unending nothingness.

WildStar

Firefall – Sertao

I think I’m cheating a bit in this as I believe I had Firefall down for last year too… but whatever because then it was a smaller zone we don’t have access to and this year saw us get a huge new zone for the middle range of levelling. I kind of like the colourful more cell shaded  look of the environments. Just like Wildstar it’s just that much more engaging and captivating to see a world more colourful. I’ve always been a sucker for a well designed desert style environment too and Sertao is done just so well

Firefall

It is full of the burnt brown, yellows and reds I love and of course with the in game system around time changes, where the light changes as well it’s just a beauty to behold. Of course it has many rocky outcrops to navigate around or take advantage of with the jetpacks that let you really get some great visuals of the zone.

Favourite Experiences

Archeage Hasla farming

And by Hasla Farming I actually mean other players rather than the mobs we were supposed to be killing and looking for tokens. It was just great to have a combat rich environment to fight over within the game. A place that is always being contested and where you can go to get some good, group based pvp action.

It was just fun once again to be a dedicated healer class as well. It’s a style of play I really enjoy and with PvP i find it both challenging and engaging. It was that adrenaline filled action that i live for, to be fighting other players. To kill and be killed by. It was just fun too to be part of the group again as an integral part, to rely on and be relied on by others. And wow was it just nice to have a whole bunch of skills again.

Another part of my fun here was also being the raid leader of a group, just for a nice but it is an aspect of mmo gaming I’ve never really been involved with. I’m the type to usually just follow commands rather than have to make them

ESO story ending

The ending to the ESO story was just Epic. Usually ib mmo’s i feel a bit deflated by the end of the story because the Hero feel never truly translates to the mechanics or story as well. It made you feel so much more powerful and I had that maniacal little glint in my eye throughout this part. You get that huge boost of power and defence and get to just mow through a whole heap of enemies. And fighting Molag Bal at the end was just perfect as well. It was a good fight, simple mechanics that you had to get right but it really was the perfect ending to the game. Doing that final slash as well and then standing there with the ” Fuck yeh”  look.

eso 2014-05-07 13-00-06-163

Diablo deaths

Not technically an mmo but it was multiplayer soooo… =p my list my rules. There is something about permanent I find thoroughly engaging. It is the epitaph of a risk reward situation where you can push it to get rewarded more but of course have the danger of doing so. It made the most mundane of regular actions and combat somehow feel absolutely enthralling. I was engage at each moment, wary and waiting for the next set of elites to come across my path.

Of course I died a few times during the year. Those soul crushing moments were your character, a character you’ve spent many hours on suddenly dies and you lean back in your chair, stare at the ceiling and silent mouth fuuuuuuuuu…. Maybe not so silently sometimes. Then afterwards you stubbornly create a new character and begin again.

diablo 3

I would actually really like a proper mmo, not some indie project to try out having some sort of permadeath mechanic. Not just lose everything and start again though, well not entirely. SOme kind of account based progression but with the risk reward style of death that fills me with both dread and ecstasy.

Favourite Mechanics

I was actually trying to think up a small list for this part as well but I just couldn’t think of much. It has just been a rather bland, and safe year for mmo gaming and as such there really hasn’t been many big additions or changes to the genre. I thought Archeage might of, and while it did prove that there is an interest in pvp environments and sandboxes, what it did was great just not enough to stand out.

Even my Firefall, an mmo i always enjoyed for the relaxed, open feel and focus on gathering and crafting copped out and changed to the standard approach. Yes the themepark approach does seem to feel more accessible but there could have been other ways to guild players into a more open environment.  It’s just something that has to be relearnt.

Apart from that I think the Best component of MMO gaming this year had to be the predominance of Housing. Wildstar had a great system that allowed a lot of customisation. A huge range of items to use and find, as well as some great mechanics like the challenges and personal dungeons that made it something more. Something actually worth getting involved with and hanging out in.

Archeage and it’s open world housing, despite its flaws made the game feel that much more better to me. I don’t know, it’s just nice having an impact and being involved within the world. Star Wars: The Old Republic came out with their own version that got a lot of people interested and WoW, after all these years even implemented it’s own style

It’s just a mechanics of mmo’s that hasn’t been giving much attention for far too long and finally developers are starting to understand the importance of making it something more, something personal and something connected to the gameplay. That when done right it can increase the investment someone has in the title.

Regrets

My one regret this year was that I never went back to explore the Secret world again. They have put in a lot of new stories with their DLC and they are just so well done with the characters and story that I always enjoy them.

The new Tokyo zone has been in for some time now and yet I still haven’t explored it yet either. I guess because I had read how punishing it is in terms of combat and I really haven’t optimised or geared up my current character. hmmm… make that a goal for the new year i think.

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  1. Pingback: Relistmas 2014! | United We Game

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