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Where's the innovation?
11 March 2012
Posted in MMORPGs
As you might have noticed, I've been playing less and less MMORPG's lately. Right now the only 2 MMORPG's I actually play (though not overly active) are Guild Wars and World of Warcraft. The reason for playing less MMORPG's is quite simple - lack of innovation, and of the 2 MMORPG's I play, I think Guild Wars is the most innovative of the two...

What's innovative then? Well, looking at Guild Wars (which is technically not a real MMORPG though), the gameplay is pretty standard compared with most MMORPG's, but the missions give a change in gameplay. From the World of Warcraft perspective, the innovation comes to the different ways of interacting with things, and even the complete overhaul of the UI when you use some special item. But aside from that, both offer what most other MMORPG's have to offer - level to the maximum (one way or the other) and keep yourself busy with quests and dungeons ).

I hoped TERA or Guild Wars 2 would make a change in innovation, but even those two can't give the innovation promised. Okay, TERA has a whole new combat system (non-targeting) and a neat political system, where Guild Wars 2 will offer the new server vs server PvP system. Both are innovations worth to note, but they won't change my (current) perspective of the lack of innovation that the MMORPG's show these days.

On the other hand, a lot of single-player games do offer innovation compared with MMORPG's. But then we're talking about a whole different kind of gameplay, or are we not..? When I look at The Sims 3 (which I'm playing a lot lately), I enjoy the fact that my Sim can be shaped the way I want - I can learn him any skills and let him progress in them, while on the other hand I can give him (almost) any job I like. The same thing is true with the Elder Scrolls adventures (Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim). Though there is a leveling part in these adventures, you as player are in control of what your character will learn - use a sword and your sword skill will raise, mix herbs and your alchemy might go up (or you end up dead mixing the wrong herbs ). Now these things are innovating for me - complete freedom when it comes to control of your character, and not being pinned down to leveling to the maximum and just bash buttons to reach that goal.

I realize that my idea of innovation is the so called sandbox feeling (and I agree with that). Too bad it's hard to find as MMORPG, and then when it comes to MMORPG's, the Mass Multi-user part mostly fails And looking at sandbox titles, the pickings are very small. We have EVE online and Perpetuum (but I don't like the Sci-Fi setting they're in), Mortal online (ever seen so much incompetence in a developer?), Darkfall (looks good, but I don't like the 1st person combat) and half a dozen smaller indie projects not really worth to mention.
Perhaps one title might bring the innovation I'm looking for: ArcheAge. Though a long way away from the Western release, I think this title might indeed bring that innocative feeling in MMORPG's back to me. Till then, I think I'll stick to the solo-games I mentioned before...

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