Can the current crop of massively multiplayer games hold my attention? I’ve invested several thousand hours into WildStar since Beta, the same again for Guild Wars 2 (over 3000) and World of Warcraft, I dread to think. In terms of value for money, all these games have been great (even if WildStar is in its infancy). But what concerns me at the moment is what I’m going to play going forward. Considering WildStar has only been released two months, I’ve almost done everything possible with the exception of Raids.
Looking on the horizon, there are too few games coming up that are considered massively multiplayer and that concerns me greatly. As far as niche massively multiplayer games go (Pathfinder Online and Camelot Unchained) I have some excitement for those, but neither are AAA and both, especially Camelot Unchained, are years away.
The next best alternatives (EverQuest Next and Archeage) are also some time away and certainly in the case of the latter, offering absolutely nothing of interest to push the genre forward or keep me hooked. Where EverQuest Next is concerned, it’s fair to say that it’s the only AAA product due within the next three years which leaves me with the question of whether or not I can stomach playing WildStar for that length of time.
On the subject of previous and current MMOG’s I’ve played, the reason why I’ve moved away from them isn’t just because I’d accomplished everything but also because I’d make the mistake of playing other games in the genre. The leap in terms of graphics, concepts and controls from World of Warcraft to Guild Wars 2 was enormous. As a result, there’s no possible way I could ever return to World of Warcraft, regardless of its new content, because the inability to dodge and the lack of a limited action set feels far too stale. To then go from Guild Wars 2’s innovations to WildStar’s further improvements (double jump, sprint, a slicker limited action set and telegraph system) leaves me with no hope of going back and play Guild Wars 2.
The latest Living World looks and sounds fantastic but having downloaded Guild Wars 2 over the weekend, I’ve found it impossible to go back. The engine looks poor compared to WildStar, it doesn’t run particularly great and the lack of a sprint/double jump is something I miss. Worse, the targeted combat system just feels odd in comparison to the aiming required with telegraphs. I find it strange that when I was sinking thousands of hours into the game that I never once noticed these problems. Taking a break from the game has provided a new perspective on the game but in the process ruined Guild Wars 2 at the same time. I’m in no way suggesting WildStar is perfect (it’s absolutely riddled with issues) but the modern engine and snippets of innovations and changes to a traditional format have cemented it as one of my go-to games.
I’ve recently been playing Archeage (or trying) because so many people have raved about the game and yet the moment it loaded I found myself struggling to weigh up the positives against the negatives. You can’t dodge (unless a skill permits it), attacks are all targeted and the engine and its character models are clunky and out of date. For all the sandbox elements it offers alongside an excellent class system, there’s just no way I could play the game. I’d have to consciously overlook the game mechanic issues to uncover what’s underneath and that’s something, with my limited play time, I’m no longer willing to do.
That brings me nicely onto EverQuest Next and while it doesn’t have double jump, it does have parkour movement, a sprint, dodge and if the videos are to be believed, combat equal to WildStar. Better yet, terrain is completely destructible. It’s a perfect example of incremental improvements that I know will result in me struggling to return back to WildStar once I’ve dipped my toe into Next.
In the interim however, what am I to do? I could make another character on WildStar and attempt to raid (if I can find a competent guild) but realistically, it might only last another 12 months if Carbine provide some thumping content. The only alternative I can think of, if WildStar doesn’t continue to hold my attention, is to buy a PlayStation 4 and Destiny. It might not be a fantasy setting and it might be a first person shooter, but it’s good. As to whether I want to spend several hundred dollars obtaining a console for just one game is another matter and there’s a discussion to be had there between my wife and I...
I suppose I could always wait until March 2015 for its PC release and during that time, pray that a development studio picks up World of Darkness.