December 19, 2012 by Devin
It’s that time of the year when everyone seems to be doing “Best of” lists. Considering I have not played nearly enough games to make such a list, this is just a list of games I found notable this year. This is in no way a claim of overall superiority.
This year was a pretty fantastic year for massively multiplayer online games (or “MMO” for short. Free to play games still seem to be doing well, the MMOs that did come out attempted to innovate in serious ways, and even World of Warcraft players got thrown a bone with a new expansion pack. So without further ado, here are some MMOs that I found notable this year.
Best Free-to-Play MMO: DC Universe Online (DCUO)
DCUO does a lot of things right, things that a lot of MMOs do not do. The game limited the amount of skills any character could have active at one time, preventing players from becoming confused at all the icons and forcing them to use the skills they have to their fullest potential. Quests are convenient and quick, rarely asking the player to do a lot of traveling just to deliver something inconsequential. The level cap is low but significant, meaning that players do not need to commit their lives just to getting to the endgame content. Even then, the game accommodates players of all time commitments and skill levels. In short, DCUO is that rare game that I can recommend to just about anyone.
MMO that made me feel the most conflicted: Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR)
I love SWTOR. I hate SWTOR. The contrivances and arbitrariness of the combat frustrates me to no end. Why do I need 3 different skills that all do the same thing? Yet at the same time, I love being able to go into stealth, put one enemy to sleep, deal with his friends, and then stab him in the back. I hate the questing system and how it takes a 10 minute conversation to learn that I have to kill 5 robots. I love the conversation system and how the story actually matters to me. I hate how difficult it is to quest with other people. I love the extra quests that are designed for multiple people and how the conversation system fits well with several players.
In short, I love SWTOR, and I hate SWTOR. I will probably go back to playing it after I publish this, but I cannot guarantee that I won’t be wanting to play another MMO during it.
MMO that kicked my computer’s butt: Planetside 2
Planetside 2 is a wonderful addition to both the MMO and the first-person shooter (FPS) genres. The huge persistent combat zone is unlike any that I have seen before, and the action is exciting and skill-based despite being an MMO. More importantly, it adds something that many shooters do not have: context. Battles seem to matter for more than just points. Some people may be disappointed to realize that the extra layer of context is not exactly thick (the lore around the game is interesting but hidden), but the players that are able to make their own meaning out of it will have a game that will keep them entertained for a long time.
Which is good, because all that wonderful action comes at a cost. Even at the lowest of low settings, the game ran at about 15-20 frames per second, hardly ideal for playing an action-packed shooter. Fortunately, this game will probably still be relevant for many years to come.
MMO that I wish I had but don’t: Guild Wars 2
I played this game during some of its beta weekends, and I really enjoyed it. I mean, I really enjoyed it. I loved the way the game handled quests, making them all public so that everyone feels like they are participating and are on a team together helping each other out, and the combat system in the game, adding a lot of depth with a few meaningful options, and the way the game story progressed, which is mainly due to the excellent writing and voice acting, and the way the characters classes were set up, and the wonderful player versus player combat, and the different lore, and the variety of quests…
Yeah, I will be picking up this game soon.