My Problem with MMOs

So this week a good friend of mine gave me a beta code for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.  Yeah, long name, I know.  I eagerly jumped at the chance to fill up some of my copious amounts of free time by delving into the game.

I suppose a bit of background would be handy.  I started playing MMOs back in high school with the original Everquest.  During my third year of college, I got into World of Warcraft, and I spent far too much time playing that game.  It was a fun experience and something that felt fundamentally different than Everquest.  Around the third expansion, I gave up on the game.  I started my full time job teaching, and I just didn’t have the time to dedicate to MMOs.  Plus, whenever I typed in “/played” on just one of my characters, I felt such a sickness in the pit of my stomach that I vowed never to return to MMOs on a full time basis.

So the summer has come, and I have some more free time again.  I started replaying Everquest because it’s free to play, which is a major plus.  Then I got the invite for FF XIV.  I’m a huge fan of the Final Fantasy series, so I thought it has to be pretty cool.

This is the part where some of you expect the huge swerve in my commentary and my saying, “Man, was I wrong!”  However, I can’t fully say that about the game.  I enjoy the feel, the music, and some of the added things they did to the game.  Here’s in particular what the makers got right:

  1. Fate Combats – The makers put randomly appearing cooperative environments as part of the regular world where you have to work together to complete a goal.  It’s nice because you don’t have to interact with these if you don’t want to, and you don’t need an already established party.  You can jump in, help out a bit, and get some xp and gil.
  2. Auto-Looting – It seems really simple, but not having to right click on EVERY enemy you defeat saves so much time!
  3. Graphics/Ambiance – I’ve only been playing the game a few days and have stuck to one area in the game, but so far I’m digging the visuals and music.  95% of the time I play a video game, I turn some sort of music on in the background to drown out the awful, repetitive music.  In the case of this game, it feels like I’m listening to the Lord of the Rings soundtracks, which helps make things feel rather epic.

Now that I got the good things out of the way, I do want to comment on my initial thoughts for this blog:  the things wrong with MMO RPGs:

  1. Mundane Starts – What I mean by this is the level of monotony and how ridiculous some of the beginning quests are.  I play a video game to escape reality and be something extraordinary.  I don’t want my first several quests to basically boil down to “Delivery Boy:  The RPG” or “Exterminator:  The RPG.”  So far I’ve delivered more shit (in one instance quite literally in a bag of chocobo manure) for lazy NPCs than I’d like to count.  Also, the first creatures you really battle in the game are lady bugs and ground squirrels.  I happen to love ground squirrels.  They are adorable.  Why the hell would I want to murder them?  They aren’t harming anyone!  Basically, don’t wait to make the game epic in feel.  Start strong.
  2. We’re all WoW – So many MMOs have modeled themselves after World of Warcraft due to its amazing success.  Ever played D&D Online or Lord of the Rings Online?  There’s really no need since both feel a whole hell of a lot like WoW (especially the latter).  If I wanted to play WoW, I’d play WoW.  MMOs need more originality.  I’m hoping that since WoW has waned in its popularity that more of these games will go for more original gimmicks.
  3. Sometimes I Just Want to Play Alone – I’m not always the most social person in the world.  I work a job where I have to stand up and talk all freaking day, and if I’m getting onto an online game, I just want to explore the world and maybe kill a few things.  Don’t force me to have to team up in order to get the best gear and survive.  I’ll play with my friends just fine, but I’ve been burned by enough jerk players that freak out about how you “Can’t tank/heal/DPS/whatev.”  Enable it so you can play either without really losing any of the content of the game itself.
  4. Quit the Power Creep – WoW was notorious for changing the power level of the game…a lot.  I remember being so excited that I had some purple items and tons of blue, and then next thing you know the next expansion shows up, and everything is obsolete.  Thanks, I love that I just killed some sort of hell hound, and they dropped an axe 5x better than the one I worked 3 months to get.
  5. Also…HOW DOES A WOLF HOLD A F’N AXE?! – I know it’s a fantasy game.  It’s not real.  But can we get a little more realism?  So far FF XIV solves this problem.  It’s not like in Everquest when I recently fought a bear wielding a short sword.  I’m talking normal bear, not a cool bear like thisNot even a bear like this.

So here’s to having higher hopes for Final Fantasy XIV and for the genre in general.  I probably will never shell out money per month on a game again, but I really want to see true changes within the genre that make it worthwhile to waste all of your free time.

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