Around the virtual world, again

Haven’t had much to say of late, because, well, I haven’t had much to say.  Seems most of the sentient universe is spending some time in Rift.  As I noted before, I’ve decided to pass on Rift for now, though I’m not getting into the Rift/Not-Rift flame wars.

I beta-ed Rift and like it quite a bit.  But for some reason, it just didn’t quite grab me though I have nothing but good things to say about its production quality.  Given what we’ve seen in recent years, it restores my hope that the industry can actually produce a game that is worth buying on day one.  Unfortunately, that is saying a lot.

Likewise, after an initial bout of new MMO expansion enthusiasm, the obvious flaws of Cataclysm have left me little enthusiasm to spend much time there.  I got my non-instance group “solo” character to the cap in the middle of Twilight Highlands and stalled.  The linearity and the excessive phasing sucked out any enthusiasm I had for feeding my alt-itis.

I like to explore.  I like to explore the game world, I like to explore what other classes play like and I like to explore how virtual economies work, etc., etc.  Gating off parts of the world behind quest phase walls is the antithesis of a virtual world to me.  If there is a far off, dangerous and exotic place to visit, I want to be able to make my adventure getting there whether I’m a level one noob, level capped or anywhere in between.  Playing with friends or guildies, even in the same zone, is nearly impossible.

Returning to EQ on the time locked Fippy Darkpaw progression server has been a breath of 12 year old fresh air.  Experiment has turned into a bit of an obsession as Wilhelm and I have re-immersed ourselves into the EQ of old.  As a concession to our play budgets and the game mechanics, we are both dual boxing the game which adds its own new experiences.

Its a worldly world.  It takes time to progress.  Combat is slow enough and unpredictable enough to require you to make interesting choices.  Including the choice to run like hell to the zone line.  Death hurts and fear is a powerful motivator.  While on Fippy Darkpaw the death penalty is not the 1999 naked corpse run version, loss of XP and respawning at your bind point makes you more thoughtful.

There are dozens of places I can go to explore and go hunting.  The general freedom from quest driven content has actually been liberating.  Its been a while, but I’m finally beginning to understand what folks like Saylah and Tipa and others have been talking about for the past few years.  Group experiences are still fun, tactics matter and you get to see and experience the world as a living place– with your friends.

A number of explorer types are reporting good experiences with Rift, especially at the higher levels, but I’m still curious whether that will hold up longer than the three-month windows folks have been discussing in the blogosphere.

I hope so, because at this point, there is very little in the MMO space that looks like it can offer the kind of experience I’ve been craving.   I’ve got high hopes for Guildwars 2 and am cautiously pessimistic about SW:TOR since it will likely be fourth-pilloried on its story heavy construction.  But for now, I feel like I’ve been all the way around the MMO-sphere and ended up right where I started 12 years ago.

3 thoughts on “Around the virtual world, again”

  1. If there was an MMO that had all Rift’s technological and graphical modernity but with EQ’s gameplay I’d be playing that. Unfortunately, there isn’t. Even more unfortunately, I doubt there ever will be.

    I’m also waiting on GW2, but even if it’s all it’s cracked up to be, will it offer more than three months exploration? We’ll have to wait and see.

    So for now I’m playing Rift and enjoying it a lot. It does get better the further in you get. It is a proper world, inasmuch as you can walk from any part of it to any other part and it sirt of makes some kind of geographic and cultural sense. Whether it will still reward exploration after three months I’m not sure, but three months isn’t nothing, after all.

    And I’m playing on Fippy Darkpaw too. And EQ2. And I’ll probably get back to the other dozen MMOs I was dabbling with at some point. Overall I’m pretty pleased with what’s on offer, but that isn’t to say it couldn’t be improved upon. Here’s hoping.

  2. I hadn’t really been back in old EQ after the graphical revamp of some of the zones. Its only the last few days that we moved our base of ops to be centered around Freeport.

    If the rest of the world looked as good as those updated zones, I don’t think there’d be much hesitancy to simply staying with EQ long term. They’ve really done quite a decent job in my opinion given the age of the game. Screen shots don’t really do it justice.

    In the mean time, I’m following the comments of folks like yourself to see what Rift holds for those of us with a penchant to wander a bit.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s