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Serial MMOgamy

By Shamus
on Monday Nov 9, 2009
Filed under:
Video Games


Leslee Beldotti – who you may recognize from the comments around here – has started a blog chronicling her trip through various MMO’s. Serial MMOgamy.

It’s just started, but I love the idea.

I’m currently looking around, seeing what MMO I might tackle next once the Champs Online thing has run its course. I’m looking for something with a decent supply of plot, since there are only so many jokes you can make about, “I spent three hours killing rats, looking forward to next level when I can advance to dire rats.”

Star Trek Online is a must, but that doesn’t launch until March. Same goes for Old Republic.

I could probably enjoy Lord of the Rings Online, provided I could get myself into the right frame of mind. That lore and I have some history together, and I could probably get into that if I can avoid seeing its betrayals of the source material as a personal insult. See also: The movies.

Conan might be fun, although “it has boobs” is the only thing I know about it, which leaves me with the impression that the game is just a really convoluted and troublesome boob-viewer.

Aion is out. Too much PvP and too much grind.

From what I’ve read of D&D Online it sounds a little grind-y for my purposes. (And I am of the opinion that a great tabletop system makes for a bad videogame system, and vice-versa, so I see its D&D underpinnings as a drawback despite my affinity for the Pen & Paper system.)

Comments (75)

1 2

  1. Thomas says:

    As something of a Lord of the Rings geek myself, I would recommend Lord of the Rings Online. Sure it veers away from the books considerably, but all in all it’s pretty enjoyable, not to mention breathtakingly beautiful at times. I had a screenshot of Weathertop as my desktop background for almost a year.

  2. Silfir says:

    I actually liked D&D Online (it does many, many things better than Neverwinter Nights 2, ESPECIALLY camera and controls), up until the point when I realized I’d have to pay to get more non-grindy excitement out of it, and I didn’t like it enough for that (I am a cheapskate of gargantuan proportions though). That was at character level four (which is 16 in-game “ranks”; every D&D level consists of five ranks). Free D&D Online is basically a demo version of the full game, albeit a very, very good one.

  3. Mark says:

    Maybe try Love? It’s in an open alpha right now.

  4. The Crusader of Metal says:

    I’d also recommend The Lord of the Rings Online. You do have a small story to follow (called Epic Quest), that altough simple, can get really exciting at times. The game has, unfortunately, some grinding. But you can level easily without having to grind once.

    What I really like about LOTRO is the social part of it. The players are really nice and willing to help, what counts a lot for me in a MMO. Hell, some days ago I wanted to craft an item and asked if someone could sell me one of its components. Got five of them from different people for free :)

    And you can always just stay at Bree and enjoy a little roleplay. Aye, there’s a lot of roleplay. And as bonus, you can just go around and play something on a lute, the game has an ingame music system that is really nice and fun to play with.

    Plus, the game is beatiful and epic.

  5. wererogue says:

    I’m actually right into DDO at the moment, for a few reasons:

    1. It actually feels like I’m controlling my character in a combat. I can block and dodge attacks. I can swing my weapon at the thing I want to hit and hit it. If I turn of auto-targeting, I can even make it so that to shoot the thing I want to shoot I have to make my arrow/spell hit it!

    2. It is kind of grind-y, but not WoW “kill 200 frogs” grindy. All XP comes from completing objectives, so just going around killing stuff won’t get you far (there are some combat areas where grinding works, but it’s slow going and clearly not meant to be the focus. In those areas, you can also get a lot of XP from finding interesting places and killing rarely-appearing bosses.)

    Instead, there’s a lot of replaying (if you’re free-to-play only.) So there are a bunch of well-crafted quests suitable for different levels, and how you play them determines how much XP you get. For example, killing a lot of stuff gets you an XP bonus when you finish the quest. Finding a lot of hidden doors does too. So does *not killing anything*. There’s a bonus the first time you play a mission on a certain difficulty, and a penalty for exiting the dungeon and coming back.

    When you’re replaying missions, they can stay interesting, partly because they’re rich and detailed, (usually) with good motivation for your objectives, and partly because once you’ve played the normal difficulty you unlock hard, then elite difficulty. These not only make the monsters harder, but will introduce more loot, traps and bosses.

    3. I don’t feel like I’m being ripped off, or pouring money down a hole. You can spend money on pretty much anything – even XP! However, *almost* anything can also be gotten in game, as rewards. Doing quests gains you favour, and doing them on higher difficulty gets you *more* favour (non-stacking – you can’t farm favour like you can XP). Some of the races, Warforged and Drow, are pay-to-play, but as I just hit 400 favour on my main character (at around level 7), the game now lets me gen Drows. I can also create 4 characters per server now, whereas the free-to-play basic is 2. I haven’t paid for either of those things.

    Some of the most fun missions are premium. You can either subscribe to have access to them while your subscription lasts, have a friend who *does* have access to them buy you a “guest pass”, or buy them outright. They’re not super-cheap, but once bought, you have access to them for every character on every server, for ever.

    I’m quite happy to make that kind of investment in an MMO, the same way I was happy to pay for a guild wars chapter – I know that if I get bored and don’t play for a couple of months, then when the new free content tempts me back in I will still have access to everything I paid for, and I *won’t have spent $50 on not playing the game for half a year.

    3. Lots of my friends are playing. This is important. But the reason that lots of my friends are playing are that we are far apart and this game is free.

    4. I *know* D&D. The game is fairly heavily 3.5ed based, with a sprinkling of things that I suspect were actually developed to make it more fun as a video game and then were added to 4th ed (like spell cooldowns instead of limited uses for a lot of the spells.)

    It’s nice not having to learn a new system for once. It’s nice that if I want to be better at finding traps, I improve my disable device, and if I want more weapon damage, I try to boost my strength.

    At the same time, my non-d&d friends are still happy playing it, because if you don’t want to carefully customise every character stat, you can pick (and the game suggests you pick) a path which will handle them for you.

    5. As previously mentioned, the quests are well-written. Star-on-chest doesn’t want to go and kill the little religious cult for the big church? Tell the big church to bog off, and don’t do their mission. Every quest can be turned down, and picked up later, and you can share quests with your party at the touch of a button (so that if Star-on-chest is ok with killing the cult to help out his friends, he can do it that way around.) There is (terrible, hammy) narrative throughout the quests from the Dungeon Master, and fairly satisfying dialogue with the NPCs (for example, a fairly early quest has you used as bait – you go into this guy’s library to steal back a book he stole, and he knows what you’re up to and has you ambushed. When you go back to talk to the quest-giver, you get to have a huge go at her for sending you into a trap :V)

    I could actually say more, but it’s time for work! My main is Guillame on Cannith, and we have a guild on that server (which I bought) called “Rhenean Antiquarian Society”, if you end up trying it and fancy looking us up.

  6. OEP says:

    I actively plays World of Warcraft (6 80’s)and Champions Online; have played to some extent Aion, LOTRO, Warhammer Online, Asheron’s Call, Asheron’s Call 2; and I have sampled Age of Conan, Everquest, and Everquest 2.

    WoW is by far the least grindy of all of them in my opinion.

  7. Ron says:

    If you want to review the full game, which I couldn’t tell the difference between full and free at low levels. You can buy DDO for $6.75 http://www.buy.com/prod/dungeons-and-dragons-online-stormreach/q/loc/108/202239856.html

    And it’s not a scam. I bought a copy for only $5 a few months ago.

  8. Kibrika says:

    Thank you for pointing. I think it’s something I can greatly enjoy as an MMOgamer myself. And I share the opinions of the author in the first two posts so that’s pleasant too.

  9. Torsten says:

    There’s Anarchy Online if you are looking for rich backstory and gameworld. The story does not however get much into the actual gameplay, it is more creating the setting than making you do quests troughout the game. So the plot is something you have to find out yourself.

    The classic game is free, expansions have purchasing and monthly fee. It is eight years old game with eight years old game mechanics and craphics, but in content the game is still quite solid. A lot of players keep coming back from the newer games because of the content.

  10. SolkaTruesilver says:

    Do you HAVE to take a MMO?

    If yes, I heard Warhammer Online wasn’t bad.

    If you can consider a non-MMO game, how about you crack open a game of Dwarf Fortress? I know there is many things in this game you yearn in other games.

  11. Joshua says:

    My wife and I played Lord of the Rings Online for the past few years since beta. It’s a lot of fun, and so similar in play to WoW that there’s very little of a learning curve.

    The storyline veers from the books mainly in that the PCs are involved in a few major quests that involve details that probably would have been mentioned in the books had they occurred, such as Elrond and Gandalf sitting in a council of elves about ANOTHER magic ring.

    That being said, there’s about a thousand times more loving attention to detail of the books than the movies you parodied. This includes several plotlines dealing with the Sacksville-Bagginses, Bill Ferny, Old Man Willow, and even items out of the appendices such as Forochel. It becomes obvious that the designers scoured every inch of the books for references to include in game.

    We eventually stopped playing because we were tired of running into brick walls to complete certain quest chains. Although it’s fairly easy to get to level 60 by soloing or duoing, there are certain quests at the end of chains that require full or nearly full fellowships to complete. Some of these quests are also high level, so you can’t even just wait until you’re higher level and run it through with fewer people.

    Although there’s other things that you can do, we found ourselves with 3/4 completed quest chains all over the place, and sometimes it took several months before we finally had the time and luck to find other people needing the quest(s) to go back and finish them.

    This is especially frustrating with the later book quests from Volume One, such as Fire and Ice and any of the later books dealing with Amarthiel. Our level 60 mains eventually got stopped at the point(14.1?) where we needed to have a full fellowship to go back and get this guy’s missing breastplate(for sentimental reasons I guess), before we could sally forth. This quest is supposed to be extremely hard, and we could never find anyone else needing that chain, as most had moved on to the newer expansions.

    The game designer solutions to this are the Mark of Valor system(which seemed really weak to me)and the good old “join an active kin”. There were many times we longed for a system that would allow us to choose a difficulty option that accommodated less people for the trade-off of less rewards, as long as we were able to just finish the story!

    Speaking of Dungeons & Dragons Online, it has a system like this. Before you go into many instances, you get to choose which difficulty you would like, which also allows you to take in a smaller number of people.

    That being said, we didn’t enjoy the game very much, even playing it for free. Please look back to your review of Tabula Rasa for lack of things to do besides grinding makes the game grow stale quickly. In addition to this, the gameplay seems rather weak compared to other modern MMOs(controlling Aggro especially), and the quests quickly become monotonous, after you enter the umpteenth basement of a house or sewer to kill kobolds.

    Also, the game seems to favor melee characters over archers/casters, as it’s harder to lock on a target and you’ll often find yourself shooting the wrong enemy or even barrels and crates in the vicinity.

    On a positive note, the designers seemed to require physical interaction more than other MMOs I’ve played, such as jumping across ledges, climbing up and down ladders, etc. to make it feel more like an action game. That, and some of the physical puzzles introduce ideas that I wish were used more often.

  12. Mr. Snugglesworth says:

    Warhammer online, at least I felt, was very good. But it lacked a story that really got in your face. It was more or less “Haven’t read the books? Bummer. Haven’t played any of the previous games? Sucks for you!”

    But I had fun.

  13. Dev Null says:

    I’m playing DnD Online at the moment and quite enjoying it. I actually find it less grind-ey than most MMOs I’ve been exposed to just because the experience system rewards you primarily for completing quests – you basically get nothing for killing things. Think you said something similar about Champions? I’ve been quite enjoying doing lower-level stuff on my own, but for anything higher up you appear to need a full somewhat-balanced party (which makes sense from its pen-and-paper roots, but can be annoying if you were in a less social mood or just wanted to play for 20 minutes before work.) The individual adventures have reasonable bits of story in them, but I haven’t found anything like an overall plot yet. The city is _big_ and actually feels a bit like a city to me, which I liked.

    Plus, y’know: free. Also, Gary Gygax narrates one of the adventures, which is kinda cool.

    (Though on the Gygax mission exploring my second or third graveyard full of – dum dum DUM! – undead, I couldn’t help thinking; in a world where the undead are as common a pest problem as termites, wouldn’t you maybe finally get a clue and burn the bodies of your dead instead of burying them?)

  14. Robyrt says:

    D&D Online has at least ONE strip that sprang immediately to mind upon reaching level 2:

    You take the boat off Newbie Island, and arrive in the crowded city of Stormreach. Everywhere you look there are exclamation points, exciting new quests to take… right next to the quest location. There are maybe a dozen quests within about three city blocks. If any of them ever left their own front porch, they could form an adventuring party and clean up their OWN town.

  15. GTB says:

    I’ve been playing DDO since it went “free” and I enjoy it quite a bit, though it’s only fun if you are playing with a good group of people. It’s a decent translation of the table top system, and I don’t find it to be very “grindy” at all. Is it worth 15 bucks a month? No. Is it worth free? Definitely. One of the very unique things about it is that it requires rogues to actually perform rogue skills: disarm traps, unlock doors, etc.

    Too bad Eberron is such a terrible setting.

    Edit: I think you should play dwarf fortress too. That would be hilarious.

  16. Nick says:

    Haven’t you tried Warhammer? As a big time WOW player, I hear WHO is a pretty good alternative. It focuses more on PVP than I’d like, but it also has the good parts (good interface) from WOW. And I hear the game is free to play until you reach level 10. If you want to level any higher, then you can subscribe. The times I beta tested and/or free trialed it, I never got that high, so 10 levels ought to be enough time for you to decide if you like it.

    As for D&DO, I tried the free version for all of 1 hour before I gave up in disgust. The controls felt clunky and slow, and coming from WOW, not being able to regen magic points automatically really restricted my time as a mage. Probably chose the wrong class to start as, but felt the game just wasn’t the same.

    I really do recommend trying WOW again. It has a bad “grindy” reputation, yeah, but that is the old content. When they released the first expansion pack, they learned from their mistakes. It’s not necessary to do every quest everywhere now, and certainly not as grindy as the original game.
    But, as everyone will tell you, the only game is the end-game. If you don’t become 80, you will not find anyone that isn’t either totally new, or speed leveling an alt and ignores you.
    And the end-game isn’t that bad of a thing. There, you can go for the challenge or the joy of the encounter, but the loot pinata that are the bosses really tickles my loot bone, similarly to Loot-em-ups like Diablo.

  17. Zack says:

    I have heard very good things about the attention given to existing lore in the Tolkien universe. I ran into an artist at a party who told me that he had to redo an entire building once because the column textures were mirrored (for texture space efficiency) making half of the elvish unreadable. This was seen as a huge bug and held up the project until it was finished.

    The Tolkien estate caretakers take this VERY seriously and from what I have heard they have been very happy with the treatment turbine has given LotRO. So I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the treatment lore gets in the game though it may not make for good comic material.

    DDO has some adherents, and is now free to play. The recent promotion has given it a huge surge of new players and means that you could mine it for comic content without financial outlay. Some twink friends have had amusing stories about entering a dungeon and having the entire party die in the front room except one character who then soloed the rest of the module up to the resurrection station. Game hugely favors those who can min max well. It is not needed to play, but it makes it much easier to solo group content.

  18. Zack says:

    Oh and it you are considering WoW again I would suggest holding off until next expansion. They are apparently redesigning low level experience to make it more fun. Apparently they realized that the first thing players see is now several years old and they have learned how to make questing more fun since then.

  19. Rosseloh says:

    I also recommend LotRO, but maybe that’s just because I’m addicted to it myself (and have been since the July after launch). It gets a bit “grindy” in the end-game, where some bad decisions were made on Turbine’s part, but levels 1 to 50 are a ton of fun, especially if you do the quests in the Shire to start.

    If you do decide on LotRO, you should start on the Firefoot server — look me up (Turn or Turnholm) and I can give you a hand with anything you need help with. This includes those “roadblock” quests that were mentioned in a previous comment — Turnholm is a 60 Minstrel and can pretty much take on any instance you’d need help with from level 1 to maybe 40-45 (after that they get harder and have some “group-requiring” tactics). Plus, I can make you buffing food.

  20. Langwulf says:

    LotRO is a fun game, and very quest-driven. You’ll have plenty of material there (like delivering pies in the Shire). The low-level game has sped up so fast that you won’t run out of quests to level on. And it’s all boars and bears, very few rats. :)

    I’ve heard good things about Vanguard (since their sub-optimal launch), but it might be waning too quickly now.

  21. Haviland says:

    LOTRO is stunning – for best effect you need a DX10 capable machine. But, as has been said, some of the large quests are effectively gated unless you’ve got a full fellowship.

    Conan, pretty good and not too many boobies. IIRC one patch had a note to the effect “Lisa now has her top.” Some dungeons were seriously broken. A good game though, where else can you rip someone’s heart out and then set them on fire?

    Warhammer is good, even if you’ve not read the books, but the latest changes to the city siege mechanism have broken it for me, which is why I’m now playing CO, until STO comes along.

    Like CO, it has open quests, so you can just drop in.

  22. Wow! Thank you so much for the mention, Shamus. I really appreciate it.

    But yikes – the pressure! Now I actually have to write something. (And I feel so pedestrian in comparison to your prolific writing skills.)


  23. krellen says:

    I played LotRO for a while. I quit because it ceased to be solo-friendly and because some lore things really bugged me (I’m sort of a lore hound; I also quit WoW over lore), but the things that are really off don’t start showing up until at least your 20s, which is a fair amount of game into things. The Trollshaws and the path to Rivendell is where it starts getting really bad.

    Rivendell is really really pretty, though.

  24. Pickly says:

    You could always try guild Wars again. (I’d recommend doing Nightfall this time, though.)

  25. Gary says:

    I loved LotRO and if I was the type of person to pay a monthly subscription THAT would be the game I’d subscribe to. It is beautiful. I’ve done 3 or 4 trials of it. I’ve done the trial of most of the big MMO’s. EQ was ‘meh’, EQ2 slightly better than ‘meh’. WoW was almost as fun as LotRO but not quite. Tabula Rasa had such promise and was a blast being able to shoot stuff. and all the others were ‘meh’.

  26. Rosseloh says:

    If you don’t mind, what did you find so bad about the Trollshaws? It’s my favorite zone, to be honest.

    Granted, while I’m a lore addict as well (I know a LOT about LotR), I also can ignore certain things since the game as a whole is so well done.

  27. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Although I did enjoy my time spent with Warhammer Online up until I got to level 40 and the so called end game pvp. Shamus I know you would not enjoy it so much since it is meant to be more of a pvp game. I’ve started playing Aion and it hasn’t been to bad for me, yet anyway. I’d have to say out of what’s out there LotRO is probably the game you’ll like the most. If nothing else it looks pretty cool even if it butchers the world.

  28. krellen says:

    @Rosseloh: The southeastern part. The area crawling with dragons.

    I’m also not keen on the “Giantkin” or whatever those things with a camp west of the Last Bridge are called.

  29. Having nothing to contribute on the MMO front, are you planning on playing Dragon Age:Origins at some point? It’s been a lot of fun for me so far…

  30. Syal says:

    You could always play Kingdom of Loathing

  31. ngthagg says:

    I’ve tried both DDO and LoTRO with trial accounts and was pleased with both, although not enough to pay for them. DDO is one of the better games based on tabletop gaming that I’ve played. The instances, even from the very beginning, are a refreshing change from the typical grinding. The biggest drawback is the necessity of party play, although if you have a decent group of people, that can be it’s biggest advantage as well.

    LoTRO is WoW in Middle-Earth. The game is very pretty, and there is story and history to everything (assuming you can handle a world that isn’t 100% faithful to the books), but the basic gameplay is going to consist of fetch my missing sword, pick 10 berries, and kill 10 boars quests.

  32. Merle says:

    I’d like to suggest Final Fantasy XI.

  33. Dromdol says:

    As a veteran of many MMOs, thought I’d share my thoughts on the current crop:

    Age of Conan – Highly recommended to try. Melee combat system is very interesting, with directional attacks and chained combos. The first 20 lvls are the most story-driven and immersive I’ve ever seen in an MMO. Lore rich, very flavourful environment throughout. Has a couple of unique classes. Is “mature” oriented, with higher than normal levels of blood, violence and sexuality. The absolute best ingame music of any MMO, the Cimmeria regions combine beautiful mountain vistas with fantastic music, I loved it. Decent, and sometimes very good, writing and story-quest progressions. My only complaint was the lack of endgame content. At 80, there isn’t much to do (or wasn’t when I played). Replay is somewhat limited beyond 20ish. However, I played a half-dozen characters through 20 because the intro is so great. The fatality kill system alone might provide you with a wealth of screen shots to play around with. A Bear Shaman ripping someone’s head off barehanded is something worth seeing. And the Herald’s fatality moves are just awesome incarnate.

    DDO – If you like playing dungeons with the same textures over and over and over and…over…again, this one is for you. Green is the word of the day. Green sewers. Green water treatment plant. Green something cave. Boring, and never felt like D&D. Some of the quests are well done with “DM” voice-overs and scripted events.

    LOTRO – This is a watered down MMO. I thought the lore integration was terrible. I never felt like I was in Middle Earth or that anything I was looking at was connected to Middle Earth. Very poor writing, even by MMO standards. The random “lore” name-dropping felt disjointed. Seeing a familiar dwarf or elf wasn’t helpful when everyone felt out of place.

    Aion – As you say, very PvP oriented with a side of grind. Flying combat is a plus though. Also, has some beautiful art. I like Aion quite a bit, but given the heavy grind and heavy PvP, it probably isn’t for you.

    WAR – Discussions of who copied who aside, this is a World of Warcraft clone. I tried it and quickly got bored. It has a few neat ideas (public quests) but very poor execution. However, if you loved WoW, and want more of it with a few interesting gimmicks and a heavy dose of weak PvP, this is ok.

    For disclosure, I prefer story-heavy games with decent writing. I’m also a PK (Player Killer), not a “PvPer”. Both of those leanings skew my view on MMOs, so take my recommendations with that in mind.

  34. BarGamer says:

    Ugh, LOTRO. Truly a Korean MMO, in that every single aspect of the game requires some sort of grinding. Questing, getting “titles,” crafting, and the LORE! I just couldn’t play it after I hit endgame.

    DDO does favor melee classes over any sort of ranged or caster class, and the build elitism is pretty heavy on my server. The gameplay was great, though. Hardly even minded grinding the same dungeons over and over again for my fifth-of-a-level. Grouping is somewhat of a must, even early on.

    If you ever wanted to play Magic: the Gathering as an MMO, or wanted to tweak the PERFECT build or group of builds for any or just one situation, Guild Wars is great. My favorite build involves raising skeletons from the slain, which triggers three distinct enchantments, casting a certain enchantment on my little friends, watching them run into melee range of some hapless enemy, hitting my Big Green Button to make them explode, and when the new enemies die, they also explode. Health and Energy for all! (This is the Ritualist/Necromancer ‘Minion Bomber’ build.)

    The other great thing about GW is that when the new expansion comes out, your gear/build/previous accomplishments aren’t immediately obsolete. You can even continue playing your current expansion without even noticing anything changed, except for a few skill tweaks. There is ZERO pressure to “move on,” except for a singular NPC that talks about the new expansion. (Can you tell I’m bitter about WoW?)

  35. Mike Ralls says:

    I loved LoTRO but haven’t played it in over a year. I found it to be very loyal to the books and a great integration of the setting into a game format.

  36. Doug O. says:

    I’ll second everything Dromdol@35 said about AoC. *Stunning* visuals/music. Weak itemization. Annoying crafting. Get used to being PK’d. A combat system that isn’t entirely “mash autoattack and spam cooldowns.”

    • Shamus says:

      AoC: Wow. Any game where I could possibly be PK’d is right out. I’m always stopping and admiring the view, snapping screencaps, taking notes, and the last thing I need is some ass running up and ganking me while I’m trying to do my thing.

      If I can’t opt out of PvP, I’m not interested.

  37. someguy says:

    Huh. Not one single mention of EVE?

    (edit: the only MMO I’ve played so far. Might be worth checking out if one wants something for a change. I.e.: no “endgame”, no “levels”, no “xp”. No swords, no magic :) Quite an amazing game actually, although, for me, it feels like an fulltime job to get from the game what it has to offer)

  38. Dromdol says:

    AoC does have PvE ruleset servers available if that helps.

  39. RTBones says:

    LOTRO – I’ve played the trail of this. In general, I enjoyed it. The game, as others have said, really is beautiful. From what I have been able to glean from various forums and t’internet, the Tolkien estate is generally happy with what Turbine has done (which is a plus for me, given that in the films, I was ticked off at a certain director for letting a certain someone handle the ring when he never did. That and creating content for the movie when there was SO MUCH to work from already. Grr…) The community that I interacted with is generally friendly and helpful. And anyone looking to simply enjoy the view — this game has it. It actively encourages exploration (literally delivering mail, and pies).

    WOW — like the game. It gets a little too grindy for me sometimes, but is generally well done. The community? That is another kettle of fish.

  40. Artillery_MKV says:

    Don’t forget that City of Heroes will be coming out with the Going Rogue expansion soon!

  41. MuonDecay says:

    I’m going to catch flak for this I know, but to be perfectly honest I regard The Lord of the Rings as a slight betrayal of its own source material.

    Tolkien wrote The Hobbit of his own accord, and it is really a densely pleasant and consistently engaging piece of writing. The Lord of the Rings books, by contrast, do seem to have some hint in them to the reader of the reality that Tolkien only decided to write them after much request by his family and publisher to continue the popular (and profitable) thread started by The Hobbit.

    According to his son, Tolkien initially did not want to write those books, and to me it always seemed a little bit evident in the writing.

  42. neolith says:

    I’ll have to recommend LOTRO, too.

    I am not a hardcore fan of Lord Of The Rings itself and when I started playing it about five months ago I was very afraid of being restricted by the lore and how it is implemented into the game. I found it however to be amazingly well integrated into how the game is played after you get past the first few hours. Story and lore always show up nicely as you are free to discover things for yourself and rarely get shoved right into your face. Most of the time I am happy to stumble across characters or places I know from the books.

    The graphics are ok – IMO some of the textures are lacking contrast. The scenery however, that the leveldesigners created with those, is sometimes simply amazing. Again and again I let my character walk around a corner or climb over a hill just to find myself stunned by the landscape.

    Another thing worth mentioning is the plesant community. It might be just my server, but so far I’ve been extremely surprised by the kindeness of people I run across. People stop to rezz or heal me when I’ve once again assumed that my runekeeper is invincible. Whenever I ask stupid newbie questions in the chat, I get serious answers and other players try to help me. After posting on the forums, several people told me that they have a char on my server and that I should say hi and ask for help whenever they are online.

    I have never seen it like this in any other MMO I’ve played. The community in WoW is an immature mess, in WAR everyone ceased talking at all, AoC was filled with players bragging about ther CS skills and what I’ve seen in the 15 minutes I watched a friend play Aion has scarred me for life.
    In LOTRO I’ve only met one person that I’ll have to ignore in five months so far.

    And I’m pretty happy about that. :)

  43. Heron says:

    I liked LotRO for the most part, but when I got to level 13 I suddenly couldn’t progress without joining a party (or kinship or fellowship or whatever they call it).

    I didn’t really want to wait around for a group to form; instead, I started exploring by running to the Shire. And I do mean running, on foot. It took me around 20 minutes to travel from Bree to the Shire.

    You see, the “fast travel” system doesn’t actually go everywhere, even if both ends have stables. You can’t ride a horse into the Shire from Bree; you have to go on foot, even though both are on the same road, and both have stables.

    Even better, said road is littered with higher-level enemies that you just have to avoid. I don’t know how lower-level hobbits are supposed to go to Bree. I guess they’re not.

    The quest system was fairly broken. I recall one quest where three different people gave me three different contradictory directions to the same caves, and those caves weren’t on the map, and there were no signs leading the way. I finally had to look up its location by Googling it. That, to me, is a very bad sign.

    Other than that, though, I enjoyed the experience. It certainly is stunningly beautiful. It has been a while since I played it (I had a free 14-day trial), so maybe I’ll sign up for a month and see if later patches have fixed it up a bit.

    (Oh, and if you do go for the 14-day trial, keep in mind that one of the 14 days is spent actually downloading the game.)

  44. noneofcon says:

    I’d like to give another shout out for EVE online.

    Yes, there is pvp everywhere, but if you stay in high-security space, you shouldn’t need to worry about it.

    But what makes EVE different from other mmos:
    1.) You aren’t the hero who’s trying to save the world, you’re just a pilot trying to earn a living in space.
    2.) Everyone (except China) is on one server with about 30k players on at once during the week, jumping to 40k to 50k on the weekends.
    3.) Its a sandbox. There’s very little hand holding, but also very few limits on what you can do.
    4.) Bigger is not better. Every ship has it purpose, even the ones you start out flying. (Frigates for tackle in pvp)
    5.) The economy is player run. (All the ships and most of the weapons used are player built.)

  45. Randy Johnson says:

    I am gonna go ahead and throw SWG out there again. It has a storyline now like all other MMOs, and its terrible. It may be old, but its a legend that is still in the top 10 on subscriptions.

  46. Daemian Lucifer says:

    (And I am of the opinion that a great tabletop system makes for a bad videogame system, and vice-versa, so I see its D&D underpinnings as a drawback despite my affinity for the Pen & Paper system.)

    Wait…You see D&D as a great tabletop system?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!

    I always found D&D to be good for computer games because its so much combat oriented.

  47. sithson says:

    UMMM… why is NO-ONE talking about
    http://www.swtor.com/ ???
    BioWare and LucasArts!!! together making a MMORPG.. you will never see me again if this thing is made. Its 100% voice acted with massefection dialog choices. Im suprised im still forming coherent sentances even thinking about this game!

  48. James Pope says:

    I recommend Dragon Age. It’s not quite the second coming of KOTOR I was hoping for, but it’s still very good and probably will get better since it seems that they’re tossing level making tools into the mix. I’ve been in a mess with real life things to attend to and wanting to play Champions Online you’ve got me addicted to too, and Dragon Age has at least recently been winning out over Snake Gultch and irradiates.

  49. krellen says:

    @sithson: Because Shamus already dismissed it due to it not being released yet.

  50. TickledBlue says:

    My 2 cents for what its worth. And I know I’ll catch flak for this but…

    If you’ve played WoW you’ve played LotRO, lore aside, the gameplay mechanics are almost identical (as are most fantasy MMO’s) that I found myself yawning and logging out to play something else very quickly. However if you are the kind to read all the quest text and you have a penchant for the standard Diku style level treadmill ala WoW then you may enjoy it. Personally I found LotRO far too similar but only worked it out after I’d purchased the lifetime subs.

    In fact you’ll find most mainstream MMO’s follow the Diku formula almost religiously so I’ll suggest a couple of indy games that I think are worth a look:

    Fallen Earth – this is a post apocalypse set in the Grand Canyon (apparently maps pretty close to the real thing) 95% of items in the game are player crafted. It uses a FPS aiming reticule but still has rolls under the hood to determine hits and damage. Graphics are a little low end but I’ve been having fun with it. It has levels and the standard MMO quest styles but you get points to put into skills as you level (not all at once when you ding) so it allows a lot of character customisation and there is something nice about seeing your avatar wearing the combat jacket you crafted after an hour of harvesting. It does have PvP zones but these can be avoided. It is a slow levelling process though so don’t expect to reach level 10 on your first day. I like the pace though and find the ability to explore on par with environments like Vanguard. I’m still playing this one and loving it – get into if you like post apocalypse settings.

    I think someone already mentioned LOVE above but I’d second this one. More a mini MMO and still in alpha (you have to pay a small fee to test) its more about world building, exploring and some FPS style combat. A very unique and engaging art style though. All done by one guy.

    If you’re really forgiving on the performance and graphics end of the scale then you might want to have a look at WURM online. This is a free to play (but limited to a certain level of skill until your paying a subscription) so you can try it out for as long as you like. From my point of view its a great idea but poorly implemented. It has a java client that uses OpenGL bindings so it should run on most machines, but if you have an ATI graphics card you may experience an insane memory leak that has you crashing to desktop after 5 – 10 minutes of play. The developers seemed to have been avoiding this issue claiming it is a problem with the ATI drivers and their support of OpenGL, but its the only game I’ve had this problem with. The intriguing thing about this game is that it is a completely open canvass the players are responsible for creating the buildings and most of the items in the game. So you chop down trees for wood and carve the wood to make planks that you then hammer together to make fences… you get the idea. There is some combat with the wildlife (and there is a PvP server if you like but I stayed firmly in the world of PvE) but this is more to get materials for crafting than anything else. The character development is all skill based and you increase your skills by performing actions. Most skills are crafting based. So if you enjoy crafting check it out. I will say though, that it is a user vicious UI and the use of Java as the codebase really hampers performance. I found it engaging and intriguing but the constant ATI crash to desktop drove me away.

    Anyway feel free to ignore as I realise most people seem to enjoy the WoW style treadmill – I just wanted to suggest some games that are trying to do something different rather than playing it safe and boring.

  51. Polecat says:

    I’d actually recommend trying DDO anyway. I thought it would be a bit grindy myself, but a friend talked me into trying it and I found it rather enjoyable. Plus it’ll fit your ideas for one thing… the DM. Yes, the game has some guy’s voice doing Dungeon master narration when you do instances. It’s the single most interesting idea I’ve seen in an MMO, and oddly has done more to draw me in then any other. It also seems to allow it to stray a bit from the classic ‘Go here, kill these’ style quests (not entirely, there’s still plenty of those around, but it does get away from them a bit too). Besides, since it’s FREE, you’d only loose some time trying it out…

    – Polecat

  52. sithson says:

    @krellen: It’s in beta now, and i didn’t see that one small mention of it in the orginal post, sorry.

  53. Daemian Lucifer says:

    About dragon age,I wonder what will your rant be on this:

  54. Jeff says:

    I’m actually surprised at how non-grind it is in WoW. Which is in direct opposition to some of the prior comments here, but frankly, they’re wrong – as of 3.2, anyhow.

    I joined in 3.2, and leveling has been painless, following quest chains that (if you actually read them) have a surprisingly rich backstory to them. The Blood Elf chain, hunting down the traitor, is pretty neat in terms of lore, and the fact that the world keeps evolving as the story progresses is pretty amazing too.

    The Dranaii starting islands is pretty awesome in that sense too, as you (following the quest line, again with a surprising amount of story) eventually get all the NPCs to gather around and cheer you as a hero. (Mind you, it’s annoying when some other player becomes a hero and all the NPCs stop selling things to cheer them, heh.)

    Of course, my experience elsewhere was in Guild Wars (I think I’m still unclear as to what’s happening), HG:L, and free MMOs, so…

  55. […] thanks to the unexpected bump from Shamus, we suddenly have to fix this place up.  Make it all presentable-like.  Fix up a few […]

  56. Joshua says:

    Oh yeah, I forgot to add a comment about the wonderful community of LOTRO when I made my post. We played LOTRO first, and then tried the 10-day free trial of WoW. Definite different level of maturity.

    Heron, I’m not sure why you experienced a problem, but there are a number of different horse routes between the Shire and Bree. Even without visiting the opposing stable, you can Swift-travel between Bree and Michel Delving for 1 silver(or 80 copper now, with the discount).

    I’m also not sure about broken quests. I’ve seen a couple quests with wrong directions(one was in Bullroarer’s Sward, which is not a low-level area), but they were the exception, not the norm. Most of the broken content I’ve seen is the newer quests, which is understandable, and they usually get fixed.

    My problem wasn’t necessarily with grouping, but that grouping could be rather tricky, and you couldn’t bypass certain plot points until you found that group. Perhaps it might be all right if they gave better incentives to those who helped others complete all of these quests after they had completed them themselves. Even a Deed that tracked each quest you had completed to see if you followed it up with someone else might help, to encourage characters to branch out and try to find people doing different fellowship quests.

  57. pffh says:

    If you don’t mind how different eve is from other MMO’s I recommend it.

    Everything is player made
    You can completely avoid pvp if you want to
    Every ship has a purpose
    The playerbase is usually friendly to newbies
    It doesn’t matter what race you choose at the beginning you can do anything you want to (and fly everything you want to) as all of them.

    The lore on the other hand is in game in the form of The Scope a news network that reports on stuff that happens in the galaxy, these happenings are mostly player made so a lot of the new “lore” comes from the players.

    A great example is the fact that the Caldari (one of the factions) took over a great amount of Gallente (another faction) systems in the faction war and ccp decided to roll with it and it’s now part of the canon and in fact there is a Caldari Titan (super capital ship) in Luminaire (one of Gallente main systems).

    But most of the lore is in the chronicles and short stories on the eve website (a very interesting read), a new chronicle is written every now and then.

    This was probably an incomprehensible gibberish, I wrote this while suffering from a bad case of insomnia.

    Anyway if you (or anyone else) decide to give Eve a try give me a shout I’m Nasferty and I’m in a newbie friendly industrial corporation that just recently set up it’s own manufacturing and research station. Also I can give anyone a 21 day trial instead of the normal 14 day one.

  58. Noah Lesgold says:

    Chalk up another recommendation for Kingdom of Loathing. Far from a traditional MMO, but it’s full of hilarity, cunning and infuriating puzzles, and the ever-growing threat of the Naughty Sorceress.

  59. Brian says:

    My wife and I have played LOTRO for about a year now, and it has its good points and bad points. In my view, the best point is the community. There’s some great people in game. There are whiners on the forums by the truckload, but people are usually friendly and helpful in game, unless you dare say something positive about THE MMO WHICH MUST NOT BE NAMED. (I’m putting this down to a Napoleon complex.) The crafting system is another great point. As some commentors have said, it can feel a little grindy, but the payoff is phenomenal. The equipment you can make for yourself is far and away the very best for the first 45-55 levels of the game, to the point where I felt no desire whatsoever to do dungeons for gear…it wasn’t as good as what I made myself. (As an aside, this works through the Critical Success system…and if you get a crit on a weapon or armor above level 30 or so…you get to name it. Way cool.) My wife and I also really love the music system. You can freestyle in game, or use ABC files to auto play music, including multi part music. It’s hard to top getting a kin together to play Beethoven’s 7th, or, for that matter, “Come on Eileen”. Also, the game is delightfully free of unsolicited PvP. As a bonus to this, the Monster Play system, which is removed from the main game, rarely interferes with game mechanics.

    On the minus side…there’s the lore. I’m not just a Tolkien fan. I’m not just a lore monkey. I met my wife originally on a Tolkien messageboard. We named two of our three children after characters from the Silmarillion. I cannot watch the movies (especially the last two) without blacking out and waking up covered in animal blood, spouting curses in ancient Sumerian. So other experiences may vary. My take on it, as a purist, is that the job is BADLY done. The premise of the game itself, and the two expansions so far (one forthcoming) is not just poor, it is in DIRECT CONTRADICTION to the actual, you know…lore. The “epic” questline is mostly…non epic, and again, lorebreaking. The developers seem to have no real concept of what elves are like in the stories. (Taking a stab in the dark, they seem to have settled on “brooding and depressed”. I imagine at some point someone said “That’s good, but make them more emo.”) I find the combat itself a bit choppy, and not as intuitive and smooth, after playing WoW, though they are near identical in execution. Classes have real roles, and if you choose a Guardian, you are more or less a tank, regardless of your gearing or augmentation through traits. That’s either good or bad…I kind of like it. I play on the unofficial RP server, and the majority of role playing is, frankly, abysmal. RP, to most people, seems to be mostly about emotes which expose your every thought, feeling, and movement, as well as what you’re wearing, what you look like, and how brooding and complex you are, thanks to your half human, half elf, half werewolf heritage. As someone who thinks of a good roleplay as a collaborative effort between multiple parties to weave an interesting and entertaining storyline at best, or at least to give your character a life distinctly apart from your own, most of what I see fails this. Different RP oriented kinships, however, can pull off some really enjoyable RP. Finally, endgame is, in my opinion, thoroughly flawed. All raiding is gated by the stacking of one stat, which is the be all and end all of raiding, and useless outside of raids and raid progressing instances. The Legendary Item system is laughably unsuccessful at conveying any sense of legendary status (“You keep using that word…I do not think it means what you think it means.”), in that the items are not just expendable, you CANNOT progress the system properly UNLESS you repeatedly destroy the so called legendary items. From what I have seen, though, that, at least, will be partially rectified in the next expansion.

    So that’s my input. One may ask why I still play, since my conception of the game is mostly negative. At the end of the day, it is still a pretty good game, mostly fun to play, and I love the first time I talk to Tom Bombadil, or crouch over the well in the chamber besides the crossroads in Moria. (“Fool of a Took!”) Also, my wife really loves it, so that’s that.

  60. DDO! DDO! DDO!

    There are a few indie/F2P I like, but they’re likely not mainstream enough to make comics from. Atlantica Online is a turn based strategy MMO (seriously). Perfect World is like Aion, but free.

  61. Falling says:

    Anyone tried out Perfect World? It’s based on Chinese mythology which is an interesting flavour. I tried it out because I didn’t have to buy anything and there was no subscription fee. I went back to StarCraft after a bit. I’m not too familiar with MMO’s, but I wasn’t really happy with the combat system. The double jump was neat, but the beginning quests didn’t really capture me. But then, I only got a character to level 7 with sporadic playing.

    (edit) I guess I should read the post above me- Ergonomic Cat how did you find Perfect World compared to other MMO’s. I don’t really have anything to compare it to. (Closest similar game I played would be an emulated Ocarina of Time, which I loved.)

  62. A Reader says:

    DDO would be the second best one, it looks good but you don’t need to have a superpowered graphics card, gameplay is fun and has next to no grinding and mentioned before it gives you bonus experience for killing nothing at all, I also found that the people are generally nice and helpful giving useful information to anyone who is new to the game.

    The best one would be guild wars which is great in the nightfall section of the game which introduces the ‘hero’ system In which you gain heroes through out the main story; they level up and can have their armor, weapons and skills customized. they also have better AI and can have second classes.

  63. Melf_Himself says:

    Does Guild Wars count or is your itch that must be scratched a little more Diku flavored?

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