Jun 192012

If you’ve read any of my articles, I’ve probably made mention of being a big fan of the MMORPG genre. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, because when I look above my fandom and look at the genre without my rose tinted goggles, I see some very terrible things about them. For all logical reasons, they should give me reason to never want to play them. One could say they are all the same, grinding monsters and quests till you get to the end, and then just doing the same dungeons and what have you over and over to gear up for the next one. One could say that paying a monthly fee is silly for a game you’ve already bought. One could say that the players make up one of the worst fan communities in the nerd world. To the outsider these are probably very true, but for me, I dunno. I feel in my mind I can give counters to each of those statements and I wouldn’t feel bad doing so. It’s an interesting genre for sure, and I’ve played a lot of them, probably at least two thirds of the ones people have heard of. I’ve also played the ones that don’t get much press (Trickster Online anyone?) Well, here are five MMORPG’s that I feel were/are my all time favorites. (So far, I have yet to play the much-hyped Guild Wars 2).

5. Star Wars Galaxies (PRE NGE)

Yes, this game was pretty remarkable at the time. I think its original form could have continued to hold up today. It was very much a sandbox MMORPG. You could play and progress as several non-combat classes like Entertainers or Craftsmen. The progression wasn’t in levels (The Secret World eh?) but in the form of skill trees. You’d level up specific skills and then use that experience to obtain more weapon choices and abilities, and eventually with the right combination of skill trees climbed, unlock advanced classes. This also reminds me of Secret World for some reason. There were no Jedi either, not at first. In the beginning you could find holocrons, and they’d give you clues about how to unlock a force sensitive character slot. The problem is, sometimes these holocrons would lead you to a dead end and you’d have to find another. Some said these quests could take nine months or more to complete, so you can see how this would make player Jedi scarce. But it made sense because the time of the game was between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back. So yeah, no hoards of Jedi running around. Another unique thing was that if you died a certain number of times due to other players, your character would permadie. This made it rough to be public about your Jedi. If you were in a guild, they’d probably protect you with in their city walls, and that was another great thing about SWG. Player Cities were an amazing concept. Let me quickly say that Player Bounties were also very much fun. SWG before the “New Game Enhancements” was great.

4. City of Heroes/Villains

This game is a prime example of doing the same thing a lot, but man it was fun. It’s probably still the best Super Hero MMO out there. Champions and DC both have some great things in them, but CoX is hard to beat. I played back before it was Free to Play. I remember staying up all night with Anthem, Nightwave, Red Sprite, and Red Typhoon doing task forces. Unlocking a new power was the key to the game’s appeal for me. Every time I’d earn one, I’d run out on the streets and find someone to use it on. They had a decent amount of power sets to choose from, so there was a lot of customization. Speaking of customizing, CoX has the best character creator hands down. Going free to play has helped the game spread to new fans, as well as give the old fans a cheap way to come back for a few days to relive memories of Paragon City. Adding new powers and still pumping out content, it’s still a fresh game after all these years.

3. Final Fantasy XI

It was the first MMORPG I played for a fair amount of time. Two years if I do recall. It was a unique experience that really felt like Final Fantasy. The game was just so different than other games in the genre. It was such a time consuming game that would devour large chunks of time without even trying. I can remember coming home from work and thinking about how long I’d get to play depending on when I started that night. There was a lot of waiting in the game, especially from some classes. I played a Dark Knight most of the time, and they had a bad rap. Basically bad players were making us look, well bad. I knew I played the class as intended, but until people grouped with me, they didn’t know. The game had some of the best music and wonderful locations. I will never forget it, sometimes I even get that itch to go back, but really it’s not a game I had time for.

2. World of Warcraft

You knew it would show up somewhere. I played for somewhere close to four years. I loved it and sometimes miss it. I think what I miss most are the friends I made in the game, many I still keep in touch with occasionally though I wish it were more. Grouping up with the guild was always fun. Despite people saying the game was Easy Mode, it was fun for me. I experienced challenges and I was rewarded. It’s a game that does a lot of things right, so much so it is often copied. Along with people copying it, there are always people bashing it. WoW gets attacked by so many mmo fans, but at the same time it has the most subscriptions, so it’s obviously doing something right. I have not played WoW since August of last year, and yeah sometimes I think about reinstalling it but usually I don’t. That ship has sailed…. But who knows, Mists of Pandera might be at least worth a try?

1. Star Wars: The Old Republic

Yeah, I said it, but to me, it’s the most fun I’ve had in an MMORPG. Bioware has me wrapped around their finger with this game. With the constant updates, 1.2 being huge and 1.3 around the corner with much requested group finder tool, It has a lot going for it. The future is going to only get better with the stuff they have planned. It’s one of those games, that when I play it, I lose track of time. I have so much I want to do in the game, so I’m always accomplishing something. The worst part of the game is that all the classes are fun in their own way. It’s definitely a game where Alt-itis applies.

There you have it, though it could change over time. There are still a few games coming out I am interested in looking into, so who knows?

Oct 282011

If you are a fan of Blizzard and for the purposes of this piece, a World of Warcraft fan, then it is safe to say you’ve heard all the “exciting” news from Blizzcon. Blizzard’s big yearly convention is often known for important news updates and this year is no different. The biggest announcement of course was for the latest expansion for World of Warcraft, called Mists of Pandaria. If you have not seen it, take the time to watch it below.

Freaking Pandas man…… Pandas. That was literally my response as well as RoboAwesome’s own Adam Kelley. This upcoming expansion is currently a heated debate in the WoW community and there are two very clear sides. There are those who pretty much welcome the expansion with open arms. They are so ingrained with WoW that it’s pretty much a must buy. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s their chosen hobby and at one time it was mine. Then there is the camp that is scratching its head in confusion. These are most likely former players or players who are on the way out anyway.

A Civil War is brewing

There are several small things that bug me about it. For one thing, PANDAS! Next you’re going to tell me that Jack Black is doing the voice. They’ve always been sort of a joke and now the devs are coming out saying that they’ve never been a joke and that Pandas are serious business. The whole Pandaria country baffles me. Azeroth isn’t just a bunch of pre-bronze age nomads. The people have various technology and lots of explorers. How did they not accidentally find it until now? Remember when DeathWing flew around Azeroth and destroyed EVERYTHING? Did he just decide to skip that place? These are questions that I am sure won’t be logically answered.

Looking for RAID! my gear score is over 9000!

The pet battle system (think Pokemon) is a neat feature, but I think it is one of those things that should have been implemented long ago, at least with Cataclysm. There is also the Monk class, which will be kinda cool too, but It’s safe to say I am the most wary about this expansion. They could have done something with the Emerald Dream, or maybe revamp/revisit Outland. To me, it just seems like this is forced. They constantly ret-con their stories and change the game completely. Perhaps this is their way of making the game stay fresh, but it starts to bother you after a while with the classes all going through erratic overpowered stages to stages that have clearly been overnerfed.

Gotta Catch Em All!

Allow me to use Cataclysm as an example. I was super hyped for it and in the beginning it was amazing to me. They did do a great thing with how they completely changed the world. Leveling from 1-60 was fun again. There was so much more to explore. There were two new races. They brought fun back to the early game. Unfortunately from 60-80 the game was stale again and could not quite live up to the first 60 levels. Ultimately Cataclysm made me feel empty inside. Apparently I wasn’t the only one as we began to feel what a friend of mine calls “the fall”. The fall hasn’t hit all of WoW yet, just the smaller servers. You see, I played on a medium to high population server. At the time it was great, always something going on. After Cataclysm the population began to fall greatly. Now it is reduced to a low population server. These smaller servers are all feeling the impact, but the bigger more “hardcore” servers have only sensed ripples. I know, I could have just moved, but not everyone can afford to hop servers all the time and having established characters makes it hard for you to start over.

Did someone say Panda?!

The fall is closing in, but that’s not the only threat to World of Warcraft. Looming over its shoulders is Star Wars: The Old Republic. I am not going to say that SWTOR is a WoW-Killer, because frankly I hate that terminology, but I will say SWTOR will get some of their subs. Blizzard might not show it, but they are at least a bit worried. The reason I say this is because of their actions as of late. Their huge patch that involves the much talked about Deathwing Raid as well as the transmogrify system (which should have been in Cataclysm too) comes out in December. Funny, that’s when SWTOR comes out. Of course now the hardcore WoW fans will have to decide, should we absorb this new WoW content, or go out and try SWTOR? WoW is hoping that these big established guilds will just stay tight since they have new stuff to do, but what happens when they finish Deathwing on hard mode? Will Blizzard have another ace in the hole?

While it’s easy to say “Well, they could play both?” Sure I could have handled that, but not everyone can. Most MMO players stick to one game. Of course, the SWTOR fans that have already pre-ordered may not be effected by this update, it at least attempts to keep the curious parties stuck in Azeroth a bit longer. Speaking of ace in the hole, Blizzard has revealed an interesting offer that could possibly lock in more of their player base. You can sign up to have a year of service locked in. Basically you agree to pay each month for a year, in exchange you will get Diablo 3 for free, as well as Beta access to Mists of Pandaria. Sly move there Blizzard, sly move indeed. I know two people personally who have been tricked by this. Even if you quit WoW to play SWTOR, you still have to pay for that year you locked in. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s a great deal if you are completely married to WoW and you don’t want to explore other gaming options at all. Just seems to me like you are making a deal with the Diablo. (GET IT?!) Speaking of which, does this mean that we can expect Diablo 3 to come out in a year or more time? I mean, if it comes out in March and you get it free for being locked in, couldn’t you just cancel your credit card after you get Diablo 3? Of course knowing Blizzard they will have their battle.net hooks into you so they could probably just shut off your access to the game.

It's just a year... thats all... so come on... sign right there by the giant X.... IN BLOOD

SWTOR is not the only thing that Blizzard has to worry about. What about Guild Wars 2 next year? I know a lot of people as excited for that game as I am for SWTOR. There’s also The Secret World next year, which is growing quite a fan base. With the projected date of Holiday next year for Mists of Pandaria, will that be too late? Perhaps it will be just in time to wrangle some old players back. Even still, Blizzard has that top secret MMO they are working on, and I’m sure the minute WoW is really about to bleed out, they will pop that card out on the table and watch people fold. Maybe this isn’t Blizzard’s last stand, but they need to watch their back, because the west is about to get a little wilder.

Oct 202011

Thanks to our newest member of the team, Adam, I was lucky enough to play in one of Bioware’s Beta Weekends for Star Wars: The Old Republic. It was more than I expected to be honest, which is quite something since my expectations were already so high. I wish I could share more information with you about that time I had, but unfortunately there is an NDA. I can say that in my opinion, it lives up to the hype. There sure is a lot of that going around too. The hype is so huge, I am sure several fans are getting a bad feeling, which makes sense. We have all been burned by over-hyping, one personal experience being with Warhammer. To make matters worse, there is even more hype being tossed around coming straight out of an interview with the co-founders of Bioware at The Gaming Liberty. One such quote had me thinking:


“One of the most common things we’re already hearing is that people seem to find it hard to go back to other MMOs once they play The Old Republic; because there’s a real sense of purpose to everything.”



One of the several MMO's I've played

At first I scratched my head, but then I gave it a little more thought. Ever since that fateful weekend, I have felt a little different. I can remember a while back ago I was able to juggle a few MMOs at a time. City of Heroes, Final Fantasy XI, World of Warcraft, all three of which I would and could play any time I wanted. That’s three MMOs that I spent time on. It might sound like a lot of time, but really with the right management skills you can be active in a couple games and reap the rewards of any “hardcore” player. Even this year I was doubling up on some Rift and WoW but as SWTOR became closer I decided to quit those two games.

Oh Guild Wars 2, maybe some other time I shall get to sample you.

Looking to the future, I am always searching for another MMO to try out. It’s the way of the MMO Junkie, you see. Always looking for the next fix. I had seemingly planned out my next MMORPGs for the coming year. I’d start with Final Fantasy XIV, which turned out to be a train wreck. I would then try out Rift, which wasnt too bad, it was just missing something. Then I’d have Star Wars: The Old Republic. After that, while still playing SWTOR as my main MMO, I’d be trying out Guild Wars 2 as well as that Warhammer 40k MMO. Heck, I’d probably try out The Secret World too. That is, until I played the SWTOR beta. Ever since then I can’t even imagine playing another game. I know I sound absolutely bonkers, but the mere mention of those other games makes me frown that I will have to miss out on them. My sadness quickly fades as I tell myself “Don’t worry, we will have SWTOR, that’s all we need.” It’s so odd to think about JUST playing one MMO. It’s like Gene Simmons finally getting married.

He really got married.

Currently I sit waiting for December. I have two long months to wait until SWTOR comes out. There are plenty of options available for me to play to distract me until then. There are a ton of quality games that have recently gone free to play. You have the standard Lord of The Rings Online, Age of Conan, City of Heroes, and soon Star Trek Online will join them as free to play. As I give them the old college try, I am discouraged and log out. I know its just a temporary game, but it still doesn’t fill that void deep in my MMO soul. It’s a void that SWTOR created and only it can fill. I am not saying SWTOR will be for everyone or that it’s totally groundbreaking, because to be frank it’s not revolutionary or anything. It’s kind of like having a burger at Five Guys. You know there are other burgers out there but no one quite does it like Five Guys. I do know though, that from my experience it entertained the hell out of me and I can’t see myself in a world without it.

SWTOR is the Five Guys of MMOs, Delicious and Crispy Bacon!

Aug 162011

Gamescom ’11 kicked off today in Cologne, Germany, and publisher EA was among the first companies to present some of their upcoming material to viewers. Odds are if you’re reading this, you couldn’t be present at the conference, so take a look at our recap of the event, chock full of news and trailers.

EA Sports Executive Vice-President, Andrew Wilson, and Creative Director, Gary Patterson, kicked off the conference by announcing the return of FIFA Street. The game will run on the same engine as the spectacular looking FIFA ’12, but will take the football/soccer action off the well-kept fields in major stadiums and bring it to the streets. FIFA Street will feature 35 locations and make use of a brand new one-touch passing system to make getting the ball to teammates quicker and easier. The game will release for Xbox 360 and PS3 in early 2012.

Next up was Need For Speed: The Run, the latest installment in EA‘s long-standing racing franchise. The game will take players on a 200 man race from San Francisco to New York, that will showcase the diverse environments that one would encounter on a cross-country journey. Following the trailer, two members of the Need For Speed team showed off in-game footage from a race through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. Not only was the level visually impressive, but looked like it could present a challenge in the form of dodging ice and falling boulders while trying to beat your opponents to the finish line. Need For Speed: The Run is scheduled for a November 18th release in Europe, but we can only hope bringing it to the States isn’t far behind. The only way the presentation could have made me more excited for the game is if you were forced to outrun an avalanche. You’re already working on a new SSX anyway, EA, so we know you can do avalanches. Make it happen.

Breaking away from the conference’s early focus on sports and racing, BioWare co-founder, Dr. Ray Muzyka, came on stage to discuss four games from the developer. He spoke briefly about Dragon Age: Legends, which debuted as a Facebook game last year, and recently appeared on Google+, before moving on to Warhammer Online: Wrath of Heroes, an Play4Free PC game coming this Fall.

Next Muzyka debuted a new trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic, the highly anticipated MMORPG set in the Star Wars universe. The trailer was in German, so unless you’re fluent in the language you won’t be able to understand the dialogue, but that only makes it slightly less enjoyable. Muzyka said the game has set a record for EA pre-orders since they became available last month. Considering how many people pre-order EA Sports titles like Madden and NBA Live every year, that’s saying a lot. The trailer showed viewers the MMO’s first end-game operation, The Eternity Vault. To end the presentation for SWTOR, the MMO’s lead designer took us through a live eight person demo of the game.

BioWare ended their stage time with perhaps the only game that could top the audience’s anticipation for The Old Republic, Mass Effect 3. Muzyka debuted the first video in Mass Effect‘s new Combat Reveal series, titled “Squad Leader.” We’d tell you more, but you’re probably going to want to watch it for yourself. For some reason, I was expecting to see more from Mass Effect 3, but I’m additional trailers and information will be coming over the next few months.

With BioWare‘s presentation drawing to a close, EA gave us the latest on SSX, including information on a new multiplayer mode, Explore. Explore saves a ghost of your best runs and tricks and broadcasts it to your friends, so you can be competitive with your friends even when they aren’t online. An iPhone app for the game  that will alert players when a friend has one-uped their best runs was also announced. SSX will also let gamers create customized events that allow for a massive 100,000 players to compete in real time. The snowboarding title let players “like” certain drops and recommend new courses based on their preferences, as well as rank their friends in a new feature called Ridernet. SSX arrives in stores this January.

EA Partners announced two upcoming RPGs, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and The Secret World. The first title is an open-world RPG set in a lush fantasy-based universe created by R.A. Salvatore, author of the best-selling Forgotten Realms fantasy series. The game is designed by Ken Rolston, who served as the lead designer on The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, so we have a lot of faith in the team’s ability to develop an immersive world and deliver a rich, engrossing story. The Secret World is an MMORPG that takes place in a modern world packed with mythology, history, and conspiracies, and lets players join secret societies. Rather than have players adhere to the a specific class and develop the skills related to it, The Secret World will allow the user to develop their own unique combination of skills from over 500 options. The game will be available exclusively for PC and is planned to be released in April, while Kingdoms of Alamur: The Reckoning is expected to arrive February 7th and will be on XBox 360, PS3 and PC

After kicking off the conference with FIFA Street, EA Sports brought out FIFA ’12, the latest game in the yearly franchise. The game will bring a new dimension of realism to the fast-paced soccer action by improving the AI to match each pro player’s actual style. This, along with more accurate controls to make passing, dribbling and defense easier should give an additional element of authenticity to the latest edition of FIFA.

EA closed their show with modern military FPS, Battlefield 3. To demonstrate the game’s co-op mode, two players demoed a mission to capture a target that delivered stealthy gameplay, as well as a more aggressive, guns-blazing approach after triggering an alarm in the warehouse where the mission begins. After exiting the building, the action takes to the streets as gamers had to escort a convoy down a street lined with enemies.

Following the demo, footage of the game’s multiplayer was shown, and featured a variety of combat situations, from soldiers on foot attempting to take out enemy tanks, to epic aerial battles in fighter jets. It was definitely a strong finish to the conference, and makes us believe that while Battlefield 3 might not sell as many copies as Activision‘s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (we’re just being realistic here), it could definitely give the king of first person shooters a run for its money.

Overall, EA put on a great show and I’m blown away by not only the apparent quality of their upcoming games, but the immense diversity in content. Take a look at the trailers/demos and let us know what you thought about the conference, the games you’re most excited for and what you thought was the overall most impressive game to be shown at EA‘s Gamescom presentation. Not only can you do that in the comments section, but you can, ***SHAMELESS PLUG TIME***, register for the new RoboAwesome community forums and talk about it there. Be sure to keep checking RoboAwesome for news, trailers, and updates from Gamescom ’11.