I've been looking to replace the MMORPG I've been playing for the last four years or so. Typical reasons, the game is moving away from the play style it started with. The people in charge move on, new goals appear and core concepts change. It's the way of things, when it happens in Pen and Paper you just don't buy the new edition and keep playing. But that isn't possible with an MMORPG, so you find a new game.
MMORPG game design (and PnP too for that matter) has effectively been stagnant for years now. Modified D&D style combat with rare (and rather unsuccessful) exception. And that looks to continue. The online world never experienced the explosion of different approaches that was attempted in the 80s. And given the costs of development and marketing for even a small attempt- likely never will.
But while the core game play remains very familar, they are playing with stuff around the edges.
I've been watching three games in development with an eye towards one of them being my next waste of time: Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, and The Secret World. All these talk about radical changes in game play- they lie. The new stuff from that point of view is little but minor changes or additions.
What is new is the focus on Story. The first two promise individual and personal storylines. Frankly, I think that's a lie too. It's really just a choice between whatever handful of character arcs *they* allow us. In the case of the Old Republic, it's even worst than that- as your storyline choices may not even be yours when in a group, but instead is owned by a random member of your party.
But still, this is quite new for the MMORPG scene. The Secret World doesn't promise an individual storyline, but does promise mysteries and investigation arcs into the storyline of the world and your place in it. Not individual, but still a major feature of the setting.
After more than a decade of playing D&D, it seems the MMORPG world is now ready to try World of Darkness. Let's hope they do a better job than White Wolf did.
Banned! And I Complain about the Rogue class
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