MMOs, or Massive Multiplayer Online games (once also called MMORPG, where RP stood for Role Play), can be a fun time to get together with some friends and hack and slash or send a photon torpedo spread into an armada of ships, or pull a jedi mind trick on someone. Let’s just put it this way, if there’s a genre out there, it’s a good bet that there’s an MMO about it.
But MMOs have a slight problem. It’s the immersive entertainment factor of the game that sometimes just seems to drag. For a lot of people, the point of an MMO is to level up a character and get as much of the best stuff as you can get to make your character pretty awesome (I’m not sure if that’s how it works in a porn MMO, to be honest). For others, it’s a chance to meet with friends and take part in a past time that explores a world in a genre one really likes, or even a setting from a movie or TV franchise.
Some MMOs have an issue, however, that makes playing the game a complete and total drag. The first part is what’s called the fetch quest.
We’ve seen it before, those who have played MMOs that is. You go to a contact, the contact asks you to fetch them five or ten or fifteen of something. In some games at higher levels the number can be a lot higher.
It’s part of the story progression in some MMOs. Others have done away with the fetch quest. Some have implemented it in another way where it’s not necessary to do the quest if you don’t want to. For others, this is the bread and butter of the game (especially for smaller MMOs by lesser known companies). Others have made more of a story like aspect that has a complete narrative.
In Star Trek Online, there is a progressive story arc, and there’s even added seasons, just like the actual television series. The attention to detail is incredible, as a player will run into historical information that points to an episode of The Original Series, Next Gen, DS9, Voyager, Enterprise or one of the movies. I can only imagine that as much, if not more detail was done to Star Wars: The Old Republic.
Guild Wars has taken up the story aspect, giving the players a full and detailed story which helps the player level up their character. There are higher level and more difficult dungeons that a player can go into, but they aren’t necessary in order to have fun.
A lot of games also have a problem once the players hit the level cap. Some games are at level 50, some at level 60, others at level 80 (and some are higher). What do you do once a player hits the level cap in order to encourage them to keep playing their character? Some games sort of have that solved in a way.
Both Star Trek Online and Guild Wars 2 have added more story content. In the case of STO, it’s new seasons and new places to go. Sadly, you have to pay for the new content, treating it like an expansion to the original game. They did that with the Legacy of Romulous and it’s being done again with Delta Rising, as characters can now go into the Delta Quadrant. In Guild Wars 2, the content is free, and it’s completely separate from the original game content. New characters and new stories. There are other games that do this as well, but these two I’m familiar with.
STO has gone a step further, adding in reputation marks in different tracks allowing a player to “level up” beyond the level 50 cap (soon to be level 60). There’s Borg, Romulous, The Voth and Dyson Spheres, and Species 8472, and soon to be a Delta Quadrant rep system. This rep system allows a player to get extra active and passive abilities, plus craft specialty space and ground gear which includes armour, weapons, shields, warp core, and so on. A complete set will give an added bonus. Which sounds great, but there’s a big draw back.
All of the content for these rep tracks have the same task forces for each track. Some, it’s the usual four or six different task forces that take a five man team. Some are ground, some are space. The first rep track, with the Borg, had five space and five ground task forces (with normal and elite settings). That’s fine for the first level of the rep system, but once you get to level two it becomes repetitive. This is even more so with the Species 8472 track, as there is just one ground and two space task forces.
The Romulous rep track was better, as it had a story to go with, but it was by no means perfect. It too got very repetitive. Even Guild Wars 2 gets a touch boring after a while, especially when waiting for the new content.
Some games have a shelf life, some have a long lasting life. Some games get yanked and shut down that were good way before their time (City of Heroes). But all MMOs have an issue with their content. Some enjoy, others don’t. It’s more a case of buyer beware, and take the time to explore all of the aspects of a game. Do you see yourself playing it three, six, or twelve months down the road? If so, then great. If not, are you willing to sink all of that money into it?