MMOs are an incredibly popular genre of video games, drawing in millions of gamers to rich worlds with tons of characters, plots, loot, and raids.
But what would make for a dream MMO? What elements of MMOs draw players to them and are what they look for before thy invest their time and money into a new experience. We asked the VGU staff what they thought and here is what they had to say.
It’s hard to say what is the ideal MMO. Each game has things about them that make them special and unique. For example, World of Warcraft has regular updates and an incredibly large community. Eve Online is player run but hard for beginners. Secret World has great aesthetics, story, and faction PVP but the combat is poor. If we were to create the ideal MMO, it would have to be easy for beginners to access, but deep enough for long time competitive users to feel like they are above the rest. The game should have a mix of story and player interaction. At the end of the day, playing a MMO in a vacuum is boring; the point is to interact with others. This game would have to be affordable or somehow justify a subscription that came with a reasonable amount of content. The ideal MMO is almost impossible to create because of that fact the genre has splintered into so many unique forms. The ideal MMO varies depending on personal tastes and monetary funds.
With a strangle-hold on the genre for nearly a decade, World of Warcraft is perhaps the biggest and most successful MMO of all time. Nearly everyone I know talks about WoW and how much they love it/and or are addicted to it. I played World of Warcraft for the first time in 2008 and I did not like it at all. Over the next set of years I would play various MMOs and, despite enjoying said MMOs, there was something missing. Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, EVE Online, and DC Universe are some of the MMOs I’ve played and enjoyed but still, felt something missing.
The question is: what makes the perfect MMO? This is a question can have many different answers depending on who you ask. Mine however, is more of a Frankenstein’s monster than his wife. This is what makes my perfect MMO.
The two things in games that matter the most these days are gameplay and story. Most of the MMOs I’ve played have had mediocre to average stories. The story for my ideal MMO is one that enables it to exist both practically and logically. DC Universe Online for example, has the plot of villain Brainiac invading Earth and the “superpower gene” exobytes given to millions. This doesn’t really work out in the long run as the story can be confusing with each update/expansion. The gameplay is more akin to beat-em-ups than anything else and gets repetitive. The closest thing I have seen to a great story is Star Wars: The Old Republic where the galaxy is in a state of cold war between the Republic and the Sith Empire. Having a world where war is either imminent or looming means that you can tell great stories about valor, honor, and loyalty. Gameplay-wise it’d be a fantastic idea to base it off the gameplay mechanics of open world games like the Grand Theft Auto series or Sleeping Dogs where you can play like a normal person would. Of course with the emphasis on melee and gun combat. A gun may jam on you, your fists, will not.
With nearly every MMO there are quests that can be done alone. But regardless of this, there are some that require more than one player,whether it’s for loot, difficulty, or some other bizarre reason. The problem though, with multiplayer missions is the challenge of finding someone to team up with. I know I’m going back to it again but DC Universe Online is the prime example of how NOT to do multiplayer. By that I mean the matchmaking system was absolutely horrendous. It was even worse when trying to play with just one person. As I tried to do some multiplayer work I was forced out as soon as I got in as the party I joined was waiting for someone else.
The matchmaking for those who play alone would be greatly improved if using a hybrid of the Call of Duty or Halo matchmaking as the system has worked out very well for quite a long time. But behind every matchmaking system are the servers i.e. what keeps the game from falling into chaos. In order to have a successful MMO game you need solid servers to avoid what is now known as SimCity syndrome.
My ideal MMO is one where anything and everything is possible. I could go from an average Joe to a grunt in the military to an admiral over the course of the game. Where you don’t need to do any type of dull multiplayer activities to get better equipment, loot, gear, etc. Having the story of the game come into play as things go on rather than from the beginning like what was done in the prologue of The Last of Us. Like most MMOs, the players don’t really interact but what if, hypothetically, this could be a game where everyone’s class/rank/role all ties in together and you actually have to communicate and be social rather than an isolated member of Hermits United. This would make every single player a part of the big picture and without them the world will go into hell so every player has an important role that is unique to them. Events/PvP could be done with things like an invasion of Daleks or starting World War III. Or, have random events happen like a Second Civil War, or a zombie outbreak where you have all your normal responsibilities but added with the threat of an extinction event.
MMOs for me are all about freedom, scale, and most likely something that isn’t fantasy for the 500,000th time again.
I have played most MMOs out there, but have to say that freedom is not something found in a lot of them. When I start the game, I want to be able to walk/ fly/ drive/ warp into one direction for half an hour, gather some resources, place down my shack in the woods or join a community. I want to see corrupt player governments and shady weapon smugglers and be able to be a part of either. This freedom is essential for me, it provides for new experiences with other players every day, a new opponent, a magnificent castle or a massive business deal. I want it all, whenever and whatever.
Continuing on, I have to say: Size matters, at least for MMOs. On one hand, the world size has to be big enough for me to be able to go out and see something new even after a year of playtime. On the other hand, the game has to be able to let me think big: big space stations, big wars, big businesses. If freedom provides experiences, scale provides a canvas for it, a way to shape the game on the long run.
That’s what the VGU staff had to say but what do you think? Let us know what your perfect MMO would be in the comment below.