2011 – First MMO Check Points

I wrote a piece at the end of last year looking at 2011 and the MMO the titles that I might consider playing.

One premise of the the article was that, given past experience, I can probably only pick up and play one of this year’s titles in any sort of regular or serious fashion.

I also put up a poll asking people what they would pick, if they could only choose one of the leading titles that might hit the market in 2011.  The results of the poll so far actually ended up just about where I thought they would.

Most people picked Star Wars: The Old Republic, which is what I expected.  It was certainly the favorite going in.  And it certainly needs to be to not cause serious fallout in the MMO world when it ships.

Guild Wars 2 also had a strong showing, but the Guild Wars people tend to be pretty dedicated.

Rift was a distant third, which surprised me a bit, since so many of my fellow bloggers seem to be all a bubble about the game.  Well, the sample size is pretty small. Or maybe they just didn’t vote.  I don’t think you can through Google Reader.

Eight people chose other, but given their choices (two for Diablo III (not an MMO), two for EVE Online (not a new MMO), one each for Firefall (maybe an MMO, maybe not), World of Darkness (not shipping in 2011), The Secret World (an unlikely candidate for 2011), and none of the above) I’m not sure everybody understood the question.

And then there were five for TERA, two for DCUO, and one for The Agency.  (I didn’t know that Smed read my blog.)

But I am now at what I would call the first MMO check point of the year and the second one is not too far behind.

DC Universe Online goes live Tuesday.  The beta ended at 6:55pm PST last night with everybody getting logged off before I got to see Batman (apparently wearing green), and now I have to make the go/no go choice.

And I think I am going to pass.

It isn’t the camera controls, though they do still annoy me.  I could never make the camera stick over the shoulder and in frantic fights ended up looking the exact wrong direction more often than I liked.

It isn’t the interface, which is clearly geared towards consoles.  That makes it feel a bit slow and awkward on a PC, but it is not a deal killer, and it is a necessary compromise to accommodate console controllers.

It isn’t the game play, which can be intense and satisfying.  I like being able to break up much of the environment, though it does seem to respawn very quickly.

It isn’t even because, for some inexplicable reason, their Superman model reminds me of The Penguins of Madagascar.  There is just something about the shape of his head…

You didn't see anything...

No, the game is a gritty, well detailed world, full of action with a bit of a Matrix Online feel to it, if I had to draw some comparison.  Not a bad thing at all.

It is just that the superhero thing really isn’t my schtick. But I knew that coming in, so DC Universe Online was always a long shot with me. I enjoyed it in small doses, but never felt that burning need to get back in and play.  I wasn’t hooked.

Capt. Wilhelm to Retire

So I wish DCUO a happy and successful launch next Tuesday.  I enjoyed my short time with it, but cannot see myself getting invested.

Which leads us to the next check point; Rift.

Trion Worlds has announced that Rift is going live on March 1st.

Pre-orders, collectors editions,  and all the usual tidbits are being dangled to get people to buy early and often.

But I am really on the fence when it comes to this game.  I’ve said that before.  I’m still there.

People have had quite a number of good things to say about the quality of the game.  But nobody has really said anything to trigger the “must have” effect.  I am interested, but not excited about this game.

Meanwhile, almost universally, commentary about the game cops to the sameness of the game relative to other fantasy MMORPGs. While over at  Massively their latest beta review had four out of five generally positive views of the game overall, though still mired in sentiments of sameness, while two of the five staff members polled savage the initial stage of the game.

But the theme still seems to be running through all reports: Sameness.  And not in a subtle way.  It is always out front and loud.

Not that more of the same is necessarily a bad thing, but I still have a whole bunch of “same” on my plate.  What does Rift bring to the table, what does it do better than my other current choices?  That is the question I need to answer.

Well, there are almost two months to go until launch.  Plenty of time to make a decision.

But every time I read something that sends me towards the Rift pre-order, something else pops up that makes me think again.

21 thoughts on “2011 – First MMO Check Points

  1. pitrelli

    Im in the exact same boat regarding rift. I see fellow bloggers waxing lyrical about it yet I remain doubtful these same people will be playing it never mind blogging about it a couple of months after launch.

    The more i think about it the more I know I’ll let this pass. Im currently enjoying cataclysm anyway so unless i get bought it ala Apb then Ill be happy in azeroth

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  2. Tipa

    If you aren’t playing a fantasy MMO regularly — and I am not — Rift is a great offering. I can’t see why a WoW player would want to switch to Rift unless they were just tired of WoW. Which I would call suspect — WoW players are never satisfied with any other games. When any WoW player who, reading my blog and tweets about Rift, expresses an interest, I tell them to stay with WoW. I really don’t want to hear a 24/7 rant from my friends about how WoW is better than Rift. There is room in the world for games that are not WoW.

    Because I played WoW, as recently as last month. Every time I go back, I just kick around, by myself, doing boring quests, and can’t believe anyone pays for this stuff.

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  3. Tipa

    As long as I’m here — Mattias, Champions Online is going F2P this month. There’s really no reason to choose a sub game over Champions Online unless you play on the PS3.

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  4. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Tipa – I ask this just for informational purposes and not to start an argument, but are you lumping me in with the vast, amorphous block of WoW players?

    As for DCUO vs. Champions, at a meta level I suppose they are both the same, but they played very differently to me. DCUO feels much more like a console game, which is no surprise given that it is a console game.

    Not that I played either an extensive amount or claim expertise, but I was in the pre-launch open beta for both.

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  5. Tipa

    I tell EVERY WoW player not to play Rift. ALL of my friends are MMO expert players like yourself. If they play WoW, I tell them not to play Rift.

    Rift isn’t meant for you. It’s meant for the people who don’t feel any attachment to WoW. It’s a WoW alternative, like Runes of Magic or Warhammer

    Now that makes me sound like a jerk, but as you point out, WoW is the best game out there. You already HAVE the best game, why play a poor copy?

    Doesn’t make any sense.

    Re: Champions vs DCUO. I was bored with DCUO in the beta, and won’t be cashing in my pre-order. Champions Online has that same dull quest grind to it.

    All I can think about DCUO from the beta, and this is trivial and really unfair as a takeaway, but there it is — is that (having taken the Wonder Woman mentor and thence getting magical enemies, I guess), the sorceress Zattara (or whoever) was trapped by a spell of silence, from which I freed her. The game text noted that it sucked to be her, because she had to say all her spells, aloud, backwards.

    And every darn spell she cast (like HEAL ALLY!) was front to back as normal as you like.

    I haven’t played it enough to review it; but after that couple hours in game, I had no interest in playing again. Truth be told, lately I’ve been catching up on 30 Rock on Netflix because no game is as fun for me as Rift has been. So I’m just not playing any MMOs, waiting for Rift.

    WoW players feel the same way about WoW. So please, just let me have my game and you can have yours.

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  6. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Tipa: I suppose it then didn’t make any sense that I played LOTRO all summer and had a great time and did not once, that I recall, say, “But it isn’t WoW.”

    So your statement in which you assume that anybody who plays WoW thinks it is the best game ever and cannot play another game without complaining constantly certainly has a jerk-like aspect to it.

    As for letting you have your game because I have mine, I’m not even sure what that means. Will I somehow taint the game or your experience if I play? Just me? Is it possible that *I* have the power to ruin it for you?

    And I am still looking for where I said that WoW was the best game ever. I kvetch about it as much as any other game.

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  7. Tipa

    I’ll try to explain it better tonight in a better way, how I feel about Rift vs other games in which I have dabbled, and why I feel people happy in WoW should stay in WoW.

    Re: your particular adventures, you play with friends. The particular game really doesn’t matter when you play with friends — I have no real love for DDO, but I have a great time in the game because of my group. Same thing.

    (That said, I really didn’t enjoy NWN2, even though I was playing in a static group).

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  8. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Tipa – I will look for that. I will say that one of my prime motivators to play WoW is that I know a lot of people who play; the instance group, friends, relatives, former co-workers. The fact that server architecture makes me roll up a fresh character (or pay $25) to go play with somebody I know on another server cheeses me off no end. But at least it is a common bond. (WoW is very popular with people I know at Apple because it runs, and runs well, on the Mac unlike, say, EverQuest for the Mac.)

    @Genda – Now Darren said it. What is this, peer pressure time?

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  9. Bhagpuss

    First off, although I read your previous post I missed that there was a poll at the end. If I’d spotted that I would have voted Rift.

    Second off, no-one seems to think GW2 will launch in 2011, so that doesn’t really count. People seem to think SW:TOR won’t launch until the end of 2011, so while that counts, you’d have time to play Rift for maybe half a year before then, which would be more than enough to get your box money’s worth even if you drop it like a hot potato when SW:TOR launches (who catches hot potatoes, anyway? And who throws them?).

    I’m letting my pre-order for DCUO go through, even though I’m not sure how much I will play. It’s on Station Access so I may as well. I think it will be a weekend evening when I’ve had a few glasses of wine thing, though, rather than any major time investment.

    I actually don’t agree in the first place with the premise that WoW is better than other MMOs. I’ve played it and it was better than I thought it was going to be, but I lost interest after about three months. Being very popular and very well made isn’t enough, or not for me, anyway. It also has to connect and WoW doesn’t, or not very much.

    I look forward to Tipa’s explanation. I think I know what she means, and it certainly is wearing listening to the endless comparisons in ever MMO and MMO blog, but I certainly don’t imagine that TAGN would fall into that trap, either you as an individual or the blog of the same name. As SynCaine once commented, reading TAGN on WoW means we don’t have to play it (I paraphrase…) and you performed that service admirably for LotRO this summer. I’d love to see you add your adventures in Telara to the rotation.

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  10. Tipa

    You never played Hot Potato when you were a kid? It’s a simple game — you take a baked potato out of the oven and toss it around. First one who drops it loses.

    It was a simpler time.

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  11. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    I have never actually seen anybody play hot potato with an actual, burning hot, fresh out of the oven, hurts to hold it so you have to toss it or drop it, baked potato.

    Not on purpose in any event. In the kitchen during the holidays I have seen short bouts of something similar, but accidental.

    The potatoes from my youth were usually something like a bean bag and you lost if you were still holding it when some predetermined event came to pass, like a timer going off. And then they banned lawn darts.

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  12. HarbingerZero

    I think I see where Tipa is going with this. My friends who play WoW are married to it. They know there are better games out there (yeah I’m lookin’ at you Genda and Darren) – but its home for them, and it continues to give them good content, so they are content (see what I did there?).

    For people like me though, that have long abandoned Azeroth, Rift gives us the fantasy home we’ve been looking for. Its not perfect, but – its gorgeous, it has good twists, and the dev team actually, you know, listens to feedback. So its a good place to hitch the wagon, because the future is very bright.

    For people like you TAGN, I don’t know what to say. TOR isn’t going to be all that different from WoW either, at its core mechanical level. So I guess the question is if you want this to be a year of fantasy or sci-fi.

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  13. Bhagpuss

    I’d actually forgotten the game of Hot Potato. We did indeed play it at my primary school back in the 1960s. With beanbags, obviously, not with reall hot potatoes. I know it was a simpler time but our teachers weren’t actually sociopaths. Most of them.

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  14. Zygwen

    I guess I fall on the opposite end of the spectrum. I wouldn’t touch WoW with a ten foot pool even when my guild dabbled in it. Something about the Fanbois at launch really turned me off. For the same reason, I was rather dubious about all the hype about WAR.

    Compared to the amount of hype generated over WAR, up until they announced pre-orders, Rift seems to be launching as a footnote rather than a headliner. Either that or I’ve been under this rock for too long. Sure they tried very hard to use social media to ramp up the hype but I felt most people where not buying into the hype.

    I don’t know where all the rabid fans of Rift are hiding, certainly not under my rock. :P All the blog reviews of Rift have pegged it at 7 out of 10 which in my opinion for a AAA release is a failure. It will be interesting to see what the real reviews will say.

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  15. Saylah

    I will be playing Rift. As nice as Cata is I can’t muster the energy to get the class I want to play to 80 to enjoy Cata. This is the issue when games are 100% linear with levels being the primary means of advancement. You miss a couple of expansions and you get to level in empty zones. A few months from now the 79 to 80 zones will be se I populated again but you’ll be behind in gear for heroics and PVP. I vang be bothered to hit 80 so it’s goodbye WOW.

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  16. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Cedia – I think he is alluding to the perception that, for a lot of gaming sites and magazines, game reviews have a score range of 7-10 for 99% of games they look at.

    When 7 is the lowest score a site ever gives, 7 is bad.

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  17. Genda

    @Saylah-

    FYI, a large portion of Cataclysm is the new 1-60 game.

    @Harbinger-

    Actually, I don’t know that there is something “better” out there, because that is subjective. The stuff I play Tipa generally hates, and vice-versa. So for us, what we are playing is “better” than what the other is playing, but only for us.

    I still play WoW because I don’t ENJOY anything else more. If I did, I would play it. The little community that we have has something to do with it, true enough, but overall I play it because I like it, and I see most of what others criticize about it as nitpicky. I’m sure they could say the same thing about me and the games they enjoy.

    So I stand by my earlier statement.

    <3

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