I started playing Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, or MMORPG for short, in highschool, when I found a small online game called Runescape. It was free to play, although you could pay more and access more places to adventure in, and I quickly became hooked on this free online rpg.
Now, Runescape has grown into a gigantic MMORPG with millions of players, and I’ve since moved on with my life, but it will be an experience I’ll remember for a long time. I have played many other MMORPGs since than, including some of the most popular games, and I’d like to address the ever present question: Are MMORPGs worth getting into?
As with many questions, the answer here really isn’t that black and white. As I mentioned, I’ve played many, many different online games, and many were MMORPGs. I have adventured in Runescape, hunted in Tibia, scouted Shadow Worlds, fought in EvE Online, jumped in Maple Story, slain monsters in World of Warcraft, and ran through dungeons in Dungeon Runner-all just a few of the games I have played.
I have found that in each of these games, there is a certain ‘interest’ factor that seems to hook me early on, and this factor eventually wears off, sometimes fast as with games I’m not too fond of, like Maple Story, or slow, as with World of Warcraft or Runescape. Of course, this is the case with many non-MMORPG games as well, but I think MMORPGs really add a new dimension into this micture when you look at the required time to play, and (oftent), the cost involved per month, or per session, etc.
Many MMORPgs require a lot of time spent ‘leveling’, or getting better at certain traits by playing a long time doing the same thing. For instance, in World of Warcraft, you’ll spend a lot of time fighting computer controlled monsters to rise in your characters fighting level, while in Tibia you’ll spend more time fishing to get your character’s fishing skill higher.
This is often referred to as ‘grinding’ by many MMORPG players, and it is one aspect of MMORPGs I really tend to dislike. I often eventually grow tired of this in these types of games, and this is one of the big reasons I end up quitting a game. The novelty of the MMORPG wears off, and it becomes the same thing, over and over, and that is something I look forward to in a game, either online or offline.
However, I’ve had my best experiences with MMORPGs while gaming with friends I know in real life, or ‘irl’ for short (gamer slang). These games, at their core, are for more social than your typical offline ‘tetris’ game, and foster a certain degree of community. The time I spent (and sometimes still spend) in an MMORPG was often most fun when I was playing alongside my friends, adventuring through fortresses or hunting enemies.
This is not to say that you have to know people ‘irl’ that play the game with you to have fun. On the contrary, you’ll often meet a lot of new friends through the game, and form guilds and clans with them as well. Even adventuring solo can be a great experience, sometimes even more fun when you are in the mood for it. It really depends on the game world, and what you are looking for in a game.
I think the main reason I grew tired with many of the current MMORPgs available was that I felt like the worlds were not immersive enough. The time these games required was also sometimes too much for a student with an studious schedule, and not being able to keep up with others in leveling because of time constraints was annoying as well. However, my first point, about the ’emptiness’ of the game worlds really stays with me as I browse upcoming MMORPGs.
I’d like to see game worlds where my actions may actually change the face of the online universe, and not just for five minutes. EvE Online was the closest I’ve gotten to this, and it is one I may pick up again, although the time required to play it to a certain degree of proficiency is still pretty steep. Hopefully, we will see more games where a gamers real life gaming skills (as ironic as this may seem), and not his ‘level’ or ‘rank’ plays a larger factor in the game. This will make sword fights feel more like an actually dual, than something where you just click a few buttons and watch your character goes through the same fighting animations as usual. Alongside this, a more immersive experience, as promised in some of the upcoming MMORPGs, would also be appreciated.
An in-game city is fine, but it is far more interesting when that city may be sieged (without NPCs constantly respawning, making it like some sort of boring cycle), conquered, used to open your own shop in, run by a player-mayor, or even burnt to the ground. There are several games which have taken stabs into this arena, and I applaud them for it, as in Shadowbane, EvE, and other virtual worlds.
So, are MMORPGs worth it? Yes, if you can find a game that fits your taste, and won’t leave with a ‘I wasted a lot of time and money on _ (insert name of game here)’ feeling. Do a lot of research beforehand, and generally don’t grab a game that doesn’t have a free trial. Remember, time ‘is money’, and MMORPGs require time, so don’t waste it on a poorly made, generic, and shoddy online gaming experie