What Makes for a Great MMO?

During this month of MMO, which is turning in to two months (my apologies), I have had the pleasure of seeing just about every possible unique and common feature added and subtracted from games. From use of the WASD functions to tutorials down to basic storyline. There is no perfect game out there, and if there was, it wouldn’t be perfect for everyone. That’s the rub, you can’t please everyone.

World of Warcraft succeeded in creating an interesting world with a great storyline. The game has a record-breaking number of players and popularity that has no rival. They didn’t give the world the greatest graphics possible but they didn’t need to. A lot of their players are using older machines that wouldn’t support shiny this and that anyway. The game overall is cartoony and feels like a kids game, which turns off a lot of mature serious players while attracting some as well at the same time. The biggest drawback is a monthly pay-to-play rate during a time of economic uncertainty. They achieved a great balance, making them a real force in the market today.

Guild Wars had style for its time, class, and no monthly fee. The PVP system was intelligently kept separate from the actual PVE game and did so to the pleasure of many fans that weren’t fond of constant duel invites in games like WoW. Their spell and skill systems are innovative and having the ability to shift your skill points at every town makes for an interesting and enjoyable game. They managed to keep older players by constantly expanding the world and creating titles for players to work towards. This made the game interesting even in its later stages. The big drawbacks during the peak of Guild Wars popularity was that instead of paying 15 dollars per month to play, you were technically spending 50 dollars every six months for the expansions as they came out. Economically, you were still playing a pretty penny to keep up. The way this was balanced was by making each expansion optional so that you didn’t absolutely have to own them all.

Eve Online created a genuine space game that felt like you are really in space. They, like WoW, have a monthly fee but their expansions are free and automatic, which keeps gamers interested and not turned off by extra cost every so often. The biggest complaint Eve Online receives in reviews is their open PVP format, giving everyone and anyone free reign to blow you and your property out of space whenever they wanted to. Some barriers were put in place in the form of high security zones that provided some NPC support, but no one is really able to avoid PVP. Again, you can’t please everyone.

Those are just a few examples of some of the more successful massive multi player games on the market today. They each have their own followings that give them great margin for profits and success. No game is perfect, and every game ever made no matter how simple and silly or complex and technical has something about it that critics and fans alike will find some reason to complain about. When a review lists the positives and negatives about a game in a personal manor take them with a grain of salt. It’s important to look for reviews that state the facts, not the ones that give personal points like, “It’s the best game” or “This is a terrible game.” Just about every major movie critic around gave the original Star Wars terrible reviews.

Go with a game that works for you. Do you like fantasy, modern, or futuristic settings? Do you like PVP, PVE, or a blend of the two? Do you like being able to move with WASD keys or by clicking your mouse on the ground? Do you enjoy the immersion of a game with realistic graphics or the fun of a game with cartoon graphics? Do you prefer playing Elves, Humans, Dwarves, Cyborgs, Robots, Monsters, Dragons, or any other various character race and does the game have that as an option? These are important personal preferences that a critic doesn’t account for. Many of them omit these various options from their review and inform you of only what they picked and liked or disliked.

Whatever your personal preferences, enjoy playing the games out there. Support the games you love and the developers. The more vocal and supportive you are of the features you love the more likely they will be included in future projects.

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Ryan Matthew Pierson