January in review with an eye toward the future

Sorry for the blackout of content guys.  It’s been a balancing act for me the past week and my schedule has been extremely tight with papers, homework, projects, and four tests.  I’m working hard to try and fit in my blogging time but it’s not really helping me that there’s not much to comment on or discuss these days.  Bear with me!

January, aside from being an awful month for blogging, had some great moments of gaming to touch upon that I feel might be helpful and relevant to you, my readers.

The month started with a lot of hardcore WoW playing.  Greav and I reached 85 right around the first of the year and started gearing up in dungeons.  The feeling of the grind his us rather quickly and it wasn’t long before we were just desperate to get into some raids.  Our guild began raiding a few weeks ago and we have two 10-man raid groups (few slots filled with pugs) that have each downed a few bosses in various raid dungeons.  It’s a slow process building up, but hopefully it keeps interest.

My main fear with WoW is longevity.  I enjoy the raids when we’re doing them, but aside from logging in to raid twice a week for a couple of hours my desire to spend time on my Mage has shrunk to almost nil.  My Druid is level 83 and I enjoy him a lot — maybe more than my Mage — but his leveling is slow going.  All of this just emphasizes the failings of WoW and how it really has become a game of logging in to run a raid or a dungeon and logging out, having lost that MMORPG feel and taken on a more arcade-like multiplayer appeal.

DCUO has well worth the purchase of the box price this past month.  It won’t be long before my free month is up, which is the real test for this game.  I will maintain my position that DCUO is an excellent game but one with questionable longevity.  I write a post not long ago asking if a short MMO that ends after a month or two is an okay thing, and the majority of you said yes.  I think it’s okay, but I question if it’s okay from a game perspective, but for a MMO I feel like I want more.

My character is almost level 30… literally I could log in and get it in a half hour.  I really enjoy the instanced missions and some of the quests aren’t bad.  The alerts can be a little bland after the first few times (just like instances).  The biggest selling point in DCUO, for me, remains the PvP and ad-hoc nature of Hero/Villain interaction.  The sense of constant danger from a guy flying out of the sky or someone leaping a tall building in a single bound is exhilarating.  I like the PvP and I like how DCUO incorporates it into regular play.  Honestly, that’s what WoW needs to make people want to log in for more than raids.

February will be a time of thinking — thinking about whether or not I want to play Rift.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m 50/50 on the fence.  On one hand it’s a solid game that one could even call ‘good’, but it’s generic without much innovation at all.  If I want more of the same old stuff done well, then Rift would be a great game.  The only thing it has going for me under that criteria though is the ‘newness’ factor.  If I’m tired of WoW and DCUO when Rift releases, then it’s perfectly capable of sliding in and filling a void until SWTOR (Which we now know isn’t coming out in Spring…).  Actually, what makes me want to go 51% in favor of getting it is that I’m already tired of 90% of WoW.  My internal debate is bleeding over into my post nicely.

I think many of you fall into the same category I’m in.

  • I said what the hell and bought Rift just for something new that doesn’t seem to suck quite as much as most of the MMOs that release lately. But I feel like we have had multiple years now of horrible new MMOs, and Rift isn’t going to be the Holy Grail either. Maybe just slightly better than most of the crap.

    Personally, I’m watching Terra closely, hoping SWTOR doesn’t suck quite as bad as I think it might, and dreaming for EQ Next or the next MMO from Bilzzard.

  • I’m with you on DCUO. I’ve been playing my mental bowl toon to 30th. I did enjoy riddler mission and the final superman vs lex. (Meta origin hero) i heard about the catwoman update. Going to see if ill continue the subs. I already preordere rift. I know ill enjoy it. The soul system will help with my altism problem for a while.

  • Interesting to note all three of you said you pre-orderd but all three of you admit to it being somewhat ‘meh’. Trion should be really worried because all the signs of a place-holder game are there.

  • I honestly think a lot of people who say Rift is “meh” haven’t played long enough. As you level up, the depth starts to show. Kind of like judging WoW when you’re still in the Barrens.

    But I agree with you on the WoW longevity question. I think we’ve been moving towards a bland, homogenized WoW for the last 2 expansions. Now we have a handful of skills with different names for the classes, 5 or 6 mechanics for bosses, recycled art everywhere — it’s a big-box MMO. Once you see the pattern, you can’t unsee it. I canceled.

  • I changed my thoughts on Rift after this last beta, sure it’s a good game but does it really do anything differently for me personally than wow would and the answer is no.

    That said i’m also hopefully giving up the wow for good now as well as I just don’t want to invest the time to raid anymore and as you said in your post I feel little to no reason to play otherwise. So for now I will go back to single player rpg’s that have a better story and play my free time in Fallen Earth I got from Massively for Christmas!

    After that I am definitely excited about SWTOR if nothing else for the story elements that should be there thanks to Bioware.

  • I am kinda surprised how fast I burned out on WoW also. After just a few weeks, already feel like I’ve “been there, done that” with Cataclysm. Blizzard just doesn’t move fast enough and change enough to keep WoW interesting.

    Rift has really improved, and continues to improve. After Beta 3 and 4, I was kinda meh about it, but it kept on growing on me. By Beta 5, I was in love with it. It adds just enough new things to make it it’s own game, and has a familiar feel which is really great, since no one wants to learn to play all over again.

    After Rift though, I don’t think we’ll see Guild Wars 2 this year, nor Diablo III, and who knows how SWTOR will turn out, we’ll know based on if they have an NDA on the Beta. If they do have an NDA, it’s probably a bad sign.

  • I got burnt out on WOW at the beginning of January. The Rift beta has been quite fun, its just a great combo of pretty much every MMO that came out in the last 10 years. It may simply be a filler game for me until LOTRO’s expansion in the fall. It just depends on whether the PVP is any good.

  • Can anyone give me an impression of the combat system in Rift? Is it faster or slower than WOW? does it have different energy systems (ie: Rage/Mana/Energy) or do all classes share 1 system? Do archers feel different from casters? Do melee characters actually feel like melee characters (as apposed to casters who just stand close to their targets, which is how Warhammer used to feel to me)

  • Heyo.

    To be honest, I doubt I’ve played enough to warrant a real feeling of meh.

    I just didn’t play so often back in the earlier betas because something about the game made me feel motion sickness, so I avoided it while focusing on other things.

    That said, now that I’ve pre-ordered and set a goal for myself of finding an acrchetype and soul combo that really fits my playstyle (and is not the warrior) I think I’m going to enjoy myself a bit more. 🙂

  • Same here with regards to Rift. It’s not bad but it’s not groundbreaking. Sure I might play it when there’s nothing better out there, but I don’t see myself playing it for 2+ years. With (hopefully) good single-player RPGs coming out in the spring (DA2, Witcher 2) I’m hoping I won’t be bored either way, at least until GW2. =)

  • Keen, I’m just curious – what makes you say SWTOR won’t be out in Spring? They still said Fiscal 12 at EA Q3 2011 Earnings Conference Call. And judging by what devs said about they’re heading into the “home stretch” now coupled with the consistent “it will be released in Spring” I’m just wondering what apparently huge information I seem to have missed.

  • Stompfoot, I’m not sure how to measure the speed of a combat system, but it’s very, VERY similar to WoW. Feels a bit slower.

    Casters have mana, rogues have energy, warriors have… something, I don’t recall. 😛

    The overall feel is fairly similar to Warhammer, since the game is based on the same engine.

  • SWTOR won’t be out for a while for one reason, media push. Look at nearly every major MMO in the past 5 years. The media hype machine is running full gear 3-4 months before a game launches, at the very least. There’s more info about GW2 than SWTOR right now and no MMO in their right mind launches in Jun-Aug. I’d wager that it’s coming out in September. It’ll be 6 months after Rift launches and a the tail-end of the 4.1 patch for WoW.

    I’m enjoying the pick up and play of DCUO and the immediacy of it all. There’s next to no meta game, you just play which is really refreshing. 15$ a month is too much though and the game will tank on the PC in March or turn F2P by the summer. If people are on the fence for Rift, imagine for a game with 25% of the content.

  • I have started playing Oblivion again (lol) but I installed OOO (Obscuro Oblivion Overhaul) addon which makes it quite a different game. The only things I am looking forward at this point new Shogun Total War (maybe but I will need to build a new PC for it..), Dragon Age 2(unless they dumbed it down too much) and Skyrim I played every one of those RPGs starting from Arena and the new melee combat system they are workign on looks nice + they are going back to Daggerfall like dynamic quests!

    I decided not to reward MMO developers with a single cent of my cash till the produce what I want to play :p Rift (2 factions, battlegrounds = forget it), SWTOR (same stuff) what else? Guild Wars is the biggest question mark for me at this time, but 1 week war reset really troubles me

  • @Skylight: They said in yesterday’s presentation to investors that it is being pushed back.

    @Stompfoot: About the same as WoW. Animations are good, speed is good.

  • Heh, I’m sort of in the same boat, but:

    I’d burnt out from WoW earlier than you 😛 I levelled (in, what, 5 days?) to 85 (from 80) and thought “well, sod this. There’s no guilds that raid around my timeframe and I’m not forming my own, so there’s no point in gearing up, so I might as well quit.” That pretty much was the point that I’d never really be playing WoW again.

    Didn’t try DCUO. PvP isn’t really my thing in MMOs, so, yeah, if that’s its main selling point I’ll pass.

    Rift I’ve pre-ordered (the CE) and 6 months. I’m having doubts now, but not enough to convince me to cancel. Logging into the game reminded how beautiful and…worldly it feels, though.

    Been playing Minecraft (on the PCG US server) and Mount and Blade: Warband. I wish Rift would hurry up and release :/

  • I agree that RIFT is about the same “speed” as WoW. I think objectively they’re pretty much identical, but due to the increased number of instant cast spells in WoW, a RIFT character feels more planted, static, and over a tiny bit slower. More problematic to me is that many of the resource systems and skills feel very samey – while there are a ton of souls to pick from, I don’t think any of them feel as distinct as the classes in WoW do.

    If it says anything about how excited I am for RIFT, I can’t even bring myself to play the beta for free at this point. I think it’s a totally competent and in some places even inspired game – many aspects of the world design and the rift/invasion system are really great. However, I just can’t get beyond how soulless the actual underlying game mechanics are – the combat system and class design feel like they’re lifted from a game made 10 years ago, and the questing game and attitude towards leveling feel even older.

    At this point, an MMO really has to be pushing some boundaries for me to be interested. DCUO came really close, thanks to its combat system – although it seems to have fallen flat with some of its quest design – but I would have picked it up if I didn’t have such a strong dislike of superheroes. :\

  • One of the main arguments against Rift is that its more of the same. Nothing groundbreaking, Wow clone. Personally i really enjoy it, even with it being so familiar, it is innovative enough and almost entirely bug free.
    It will be really interesting when Guild Wars 2 comes out. In a game that apparently is going to be a totally different beast, with no healers, no quests, Tanks that play like casters in plate. It will be time for everyone who says meh to Rift to put their money where their mouth is. Will they flock to a game that is so different from WOW ?

  • @Sisyphean: I agree about the resource systems being very similar to the point of having 1/2 the classes feel the same.

  • I must ask one question about your WoW play: are you on a PvP server? Because I’m quite tired of doing quests, leveling, dungeons… The one thing that truly inspires me in WoW is the spontaneous PvP happening all around the world. I’m on a RP-PvP server, and most of the time Tol Barad Peninsula is a place full of seperated “duels”, small skirmishes, even full-scale raids lashing out against one another! And it’s not just Tol Barad Peninsula, but also most of the places with daily quests or otherwise important locations – Deepholme, for example. It’s not exactly what WoW was before Battlegrounds, but much closer to it than I have ever before seen.

    That’s why I must wonder: why do you log in only to raid in WoW (destroying the immersion and enjoyment), but enjoy the spontaneous PvP in an inferior game? The only explanations I can come up with are A) you play on a PvE server B) your PvP server is solely focused on Arena / BG.

  • I’m on a RP-PvP server. There is some PvP near Tol Barad, but it’s not the same as having PvP all over the world. Having to seek PvP out in 1/1000th of the game’s playable area for nothing but “small skirmishes” and “duels” is not what I’m looking for in PvP.

  • You are partly right. Most of the zones are totally void of any action, PvP or PvE. But how would you have every zone in the game full of action, even in a sandbox game? Before battlegrounds WPvP mostly consisted of Arathi Highlands battling and an occasional town raid, but that’s not really much more than what is now happening in Tol Barad / Deepholme / Uldum / Twilight Highlands (our server). Basically it’s the same now for WPvP as before battlegrounds, except there isn’t as much activity, because the better rewards come through BG/Arena, so most players focus on those.

    What are you looking for then, I must wonder? Would it be good to have every town and city capturable/destroyable, at least on some specific servers? I agree it sounds cool, but I don’t know how it would actually turn out. And how WPvP should be rewarded? It’s impossible to measure skill, so it would only measure time, like the old Honor system – and it sucked, completely. I think the best compromise is rated battlegrounds at the moment, and I much prefer them to Arenas.

    One option might be a huge, open battle area – like Tol Barad, but without inactivity periods, queuing or gimmicky game mechanics. Just some fortresses / castles / towers to be captured by sheer manpower. But that would reward mostly player numbers and, again, time spent. It would make PvP rewards non-skilled to obtain through just faction imbalance abusing, fast player organizing and playing without pause. Perhaps faction imbalance can be helped by having some kind of a stat buff for the lesser faction, but skill or meaningful participation is still hard to meter.

    And what about lag? WoW can barely handle 100 players in the same small area, but what about hundreds of players flooding into the area? It’s safer to move in a zerg, and people would inevitably flock together to battle more efficiently. That might crash the server or at least make everyone lag too much…

    I wonder, too, why you enjoyed small battles in DCUO but not in WoW. I think the most enjoyable battles are spontaneous, small-scale battles in the open world – and that’s exactly what I was talking about in WoW, and so were you in your post about DCUO. It’s much more fun than a huge zerg or a totally controlled environment. However, rated battlegrounds still come as a close second. You should try those at some point! And why not world PvP, while at it 🙂 You seemed to enjoy that most in DCUO, too…

  • It’s not difficult to create a “pvp is everywhere” feeling when the entire world remains used. WoW funnels people linearly and as a result people end up in one place. At the max level players are given few options: Sit in town and queue, go to Tol Barad, or roam and hope to gank someone gathering. (I know that I’ve generalized a bit here). DAOC handled several hundred (400+ at times) in keep battles. Lag isn’t an excuse anymore.

    Compare that to a game like DAOC or UO. PvP is dynamic, happening in varying places, or happening everywhere. DCUO has, so far, fallen into this category. You have level 30’s playing in the same areas as level 5’s. As a result, there’s always a looming threat that a band of super villains will roll over you. In general, a sandbox game done correctly will provide a world in which is feels like every corner of the world is used by someone for something.

  • That’s an interesting point. I always assumed the videos we’d see of level 5s being ganked – well, really, being jumped, since they’d often put up quite a fight – by 30s were due to the 30s being bored. But it sounds like DCUO actually does give those level 30s something to do in the level 5 areas – is that correct?

    It only makes sense now that I think about it, since the two cities really constitute the entire game. You’re probably never all that far from a low level area, and likely have to run, fly, or otherwise travel through them to get around.

    Dammit, the desire to buy DCUO is coming back again. 🙁

  • DAOC might have handled well several hundred players in one battle, but what *modern* games can claim that? Newer games always require more power from the user computers and, especially, the game servers. The more technologically sophisticated the game, the more it strains the servers. That’s why Runescape easily supports hundreds of people next to each other, but advanced 3D games really don’t.

    I kind of get that feeling you try to convey. I remember at Cataclysm launch, every (“new world”) zone was full of spontaneous PvP and dangers for the first week. Now it has diminished quite a bit, though. There’s only an occasional battle outside the Tol Barad islands anymore.

    What would you think to be the solution? I mean, to the sometimes “soulless” feeling of just sitting in Stormwind and waiting for a Battleground or Heroic queue. It would indeed be better, if the whole world felt like a more active, dynamic and “used” place. There are so many instances now (dungeons, raids, battlegrounds, arenas) that some days I spend more time in those than the actual world. It does indeed make the game feel more like an “arcade-multiplayer” than a true fantasy world.

    A part of me wishes for all the instances to be removed and a “return to the roots”, so to say. But, instances are such an integral part of the game now, I have a hard time imagining them going away. And what would take their place? World PvP and world bosses? Could be fun, but not really skill-based or fair to all players?

    I hope they get that true “it’s not a game, it’s a world” feeling back in the next-gen “Titan” MMO – and not only for leveling / random fun having, but as the main feel of the game! Something that is completely natural to the game. If it’s going to consist of just some 5v5 arena-type battles, I’m out. But if it has real meaning to the word “world”, it might be much better than WoW. We will have to wait and see.

  • The main innovative thing I’ve seen from Rift is the class/soul system. Being able to switch out and dabble in 3 of so many classes makes it seem more appealing to me than any other game I’ve played. Kind of reminds me of a MUD I still play(although not nearly as much as I used to) that had a very great class system where you had a primary, secondary, and tertiary and picked ones to compliment each other from a list of many, many options.

    The soul system though has had enough variability and with so many classes that seem incredibly appealing. I’ve spent hours theorycrafting things that seemed interesting and still have no idea what I’d like to play. The possibility of essentially swapping out your class in the middle of a dungeon in order to handle the next boss etc seems very cool to me.

    As far as PVP goes, DCUO doesn’t really appeal to me. The whole random ganking just brings me back to Allods and the Holy Lands which was, arguably, horrible. It’s not a very immersive game and doesn’t seem to have enough to build a community save for the inevitable “hardcore” gank squad types. I’m still all for battlegrounds, but I feel they should have more of an impact in the actual world than most games have. Last game I played with a serious attempt at large scale PVP battles was, in my opinion… I can’t think of the games name but it was the one where you had wings and there was some area filled with floating islands and keeps. Seemed like a total failure, with people I know bleeding back to WoW because of the graphics intensity and instability most peoples systems had during the large scale fights.

    tl;dr the soul system in Rift is what makes it appealing to me, seems innovative enough in itself with the level of customization. DCUO’s pvp system and game in and of itself doesn’t have enough for a real sense of community. Korean game where you had wings did a decent attempt at a high quality graphics game with large scale open PVP, but didn’t seem to hold together due to failing on the part of peoples own computers.