Gaming My Way

08 Nov

The Problems with MMORPGS: Part II

Ah yes, I haven’t ragged on our good friend the MMORPG in awhile. Well, now I’m going to once again, because a friend of mine convinced me to give another one a try (Last Chaos, for anyone who cares). And while I’ve been having some fun with it, I can already feel my interest slipping away, as it inevitably does in this genre. And now I’m remembering why, so I’m going to elaborate on some other problems I have with the genre. For anyone who wants to see my original post, check out The Problems with MMORPGS.

Now then, first up, there are a few things in games that will hold my attention: a good story, a good puzzle or strategy, and good action, reflexes included. If a game has one of these traits, there is a good chance it can hold my interest. Most RPGs I play cover the story part brilliantly, while lacking in the other two areas. Most platformers have a nice mix of action and puzzle elements, while fighters tend to have action and strategy down pretty well. Both have occasionally been known to include a good story, but it’s pretty hit or miss on that front.

MMORPGs, on the other hand, focus on one thing: making your character better, through leveling up and acquiring more gear. Sure, there might be a bit of a story, but it’s very loose and not exactly what I would call riveting. It doesn’t hold my attention the way the story of a game like Xenogears did. I know that’s not the goal of an MMORPG, but I just can’t get into a game where I’m supposed to become more powerful, just to go to the next area and do the same thing over and over again. I can’t deal with the repetition when there’s nothing to show for it except a high level character that gives me bragging rights with a certain subset of people.

Now, I know people out there are thinking that all games boil down to doing the same thing over and over again. And, while this is true, if that’s what you’re thinking, I refer you back to the three things I mentioned before that I find lacking in an MMORPG: an interesting puzzle or strategic game, action or other reflex tests, and a solid, highly entertaining story. I have yet to play one, single, solitary MMORPG that provides any single one of these things, and as such, once the initial magic of playing fades away, it feels the same as mechanically sliding groceries along the conveyor belt at the supermarket. While that may not be an awful job, it’s definitely not what I’m looking for when it comes to entertainment.

Since a lot of people play up the social aspect of an MMORPG, let me address this now. I can’t play the game and type at the same time. If I chat in game, I lose my focus of what’s happening on screen. Does this mean I’m a bad multitasker? When it comes to online games, I guess so. But that’s me, so the only time being social works is when you separate the socializing from the fighting. Most people won’t do this, so that doesn’t leave a lot of room for me to socialize while playing. Moreover, when it comes to socializing, I find it a lot more rewarding to actually be with people, instead of being a faceless entity behind a computer screen. Call me old-fashioned, but I’d rather be social face-to-face than computer-to-computer. Of course, people will slam me for being social but just playing multiplayer console games with friends instead of going to a party, so it really does boil down to what works for us in the end.

There you have it, one more rant about MMORPGs from yours truly. Are you an MMO fan who disagrees? Someone who shares my wrath for the MMO genre as it currently stands? Either way, let me know in the comments below.

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