Tenfold Hate

What’s It Gonna Take?
January 23, 2008, 2:08 pm
Filed under: MMORPGs

Disclaimer: This post starts on one tangent and ends abruptly on another. 

The recent delay in Age of Conan’s release got me thinking: Who cares? I don’t know if it’s post-Christmas malaise or if I’ve just had a crappy week at work, but recently I’ve lost my zeal for 2008’s forthcoming releases. Only time will tell, but all this downtime has got me thinking. Are AoC and/or WAR really gonna have what it takes to pull us away from whatever we’re currently playing–or will it be like 2007 where we dipped our toes in the tepid waters of LOTRO, Tabula Rasa, or Vanguard only to find ourselves back in WoW, EVE, or EQ2 within a matter of months?

Sure we’ll have player-built cities. Sure we’ll have epic seige battles. But is that enough to keep my curmudgeonly head occupied? And as far as AoC’s “radical” combat system, I care as little about incorporating ‘twitchiness’ into MMORPGs as I do about crafting. A stiff middle finger in the air to the lot of them. And let’s face it, adding elements that have long been standard in the rest of the videogame industry and dropping them into an MMORPG is about as radical as giving your grandmother a mohawk. She’ll just end up looking silly.

Both AoC and WAR have a lot going for them (mainly two stellar IPs) but with AoC moving more and more towards a PvP/PvE hybrid during the course of it’s development, and WAR’s inescapable stylistic simularities to WoW (thanks to Blizzard borrowing quite liberally from Games Workshop’s Warhammer tabletop game in the first place), I’m questioning whether these games will look and play differently enough from the current crop of titles to really grip us.

AoC’s PvE/PvP hybrid approach is something right up my alley but there’s something about what I’ve seen of the game so far (or maybe it’s what I haven’t seen) that’s just not grabbing me by the throat the way a true Cimmerian should. One of my big pet peeves is I like whacky races in my fantasy gaming. Sticking to humans kind of dulls things down for me even though there is no place for, and no viable way to, add high fantasy player characters into Conan lore.

I’m excited about WAR, but I want the best of both worlds. I’m not a hardcore PvPer, but I like to have that option available to me. I never played DAoC, so I’m betting WAR will have enough things that’ll appear fresh to me to keep me subscribed for a while. The question here is will a PvP-centric game be enough to keep me long term? Player versus player adds a refreshing randomness to in-game conflict, but will capturing, losing, and defending the same cities over and over again lose it’s luster after a few months if there is not a well fleshed out PvE option to turn to when we need a breather from hacking and cleaving our fellow players?

Before any hardcore PvPers jump down my throat, I don’t think WAR should water down it’s focus on PvP for PvE by any means–WoW did this already and I’m sure AoC is well on it’s way to doing it again. It just strikes me as odd that of the two MMO play styles (PvP and PvE), PvE can definitely use the most work, yet the two big titles of 2008 promise to be PvP-centric. The fun in PvP is the spontaneity of events and organic chaos that ensues when there’s another person at the helm of your opponents.

PvE needs to learn some lessons from PvP to thrive. Once it moves away from static environments and scripted, respawning mobs, it will have as much to offer as PvP. I’m just not quite sure we’re there yet.

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