Tell us how you really feel (Episodes 19, 20, and 21)
In this block, I go over a game that impressed me that quickly fell out of favor, a game that impressed me but slowly fell out of favor, and a unique concept that was dead in the water, until it died along with its publisher. What a fun description that was! Oh, I might have gotten a little too in detail on one of these. The vents are open.
Episode 19: Elsword
Elsword wasn’t something I expected to be enjoying when I started it, not knowing exactly what it was. Fun, flashy, and satisfying as hell, it was something I found really easy to get into, and even easier to hop in and out of… it wasn’t until the video’s odd reception that brought up the whole “knockdown” controversy, a mechanic that I still find baffling that no one group can decide exactly what it does, but they all know their idea is the real one. Will knocking down an enemy (or “KDing” them) cause them to gain a defensive boost when they get back up? Is that defensive boost permanent? Will that defensive boost stack? Does it only last when the enemy is on the ground? Does it stack then? While the “defensive when on the ground” makes the most sense out of a system that makes absolutely no sense (falling down is not empowering, and the enemy is clearly not in a “defensive curl”), people will argue you to the death over their version, and this whole thing really put me off on the game. Is that a stupid thing to not want to play the game over? Yes. So is the knockdown system. My personal annoyance aside, I’m willing to overlook it with a group that is willing to not give a shit about that system. The rest of the game is solid, if not repetitive fun. Seriously wish the Banthus track was every boss fight, though.
Episode 20: World of Warcraft
Man, if I had done this nowadays, this would have been my first “Special Episode” but using its Free-to-Try status to lump it into the show works and this was definitely something I needed to do to set the groundwork for where I was coming from.
I loved WoW. Loved. Past tense. WoW is the reason I’m doing this show… both in my initial interest in MMOs, as well as the reason I started looking for other games, getting me the idea to delve into the F2P market in the first place. If not for WoW, I would not have been sold on the genre (Phantasy Star Online wasn’t immersive enough, and FFXI was convoluted and confusing without a wiki and a full party to carry you everywhere.) It was WoW that made me go, “Holy hell, this is the game I was looking for.” all those years ago.
That did not last. WoW and I have had a tumultuous relationship. Save for what I call the “mid-level crisis”, Vanilla is what got me into roleplaying, raiding, and just the idea of exploring a world in general. The first expansion had me giddy with excitement. A new world! Flying mounts! Then I watched that giddiness crumble the day I arrived home from the midnight launch, and watched my formerly cohesive and welcoming guild, of whom we JUST had a server-wide massive RP march on the Dark Portal, fracture into a bunch of self-absorbed elitist showboaters. I watched my RP server devolve from one of the most influential, and friendly roleplay communities, the kind others spoke about in other servers, where RP was free and open, and massive character driven stories could be found echoing throughout the continents… into yet another normal server, where speaking in /say with a complete sentence was met with responses “lol y u talk lik dat?” and roleplayers hid in obscure places and spoke only in custom channels and party chat. It’s disheartening.
I HATED Burning Crusade. I hated the ridiculous faction grind. The repeated dungeon crawling. The stupid fascination with poop jokes. The multicolored “You’re in Swamp World now, turn everything blue!” world design. The lower raid member counts turning raid fights from massive battles we could overcome if we worked at it hard enough, into nothing more than min-maxy “play our way or you wipe” mechanics dances. To hell with the attunement to Karazhan, and that goes double for the ridiculous raid dungeon grind for Black Temple. When I saw that list of “how to get to Elder game” from Wildstar, my first literal thought was “Oh, that’s where you fucks went.” Because as much as people pine for the “best expansion ever” to WoW, there’s got to be a reason so many people from that team suddenly weren’t on it anymore, off to tote their wares and pedigree games with delusions of grandeur. It was the expansion that made me quit the game until the Sunwell patch (which I felt was getting it back on the right track) and Wrath of the Lich King was on the horizon.
And somehow WotLK brought me back, and HARD. This is where I felt WoW met its balance. Let the raid guys bitch and call me a casual. They can fuck right off, because MMOs aren’t an exclusive VIP club of nerds willing to put up with a developer’s bullshit and jump through flaming hoops for a sense of false superiority. If you make content that only a quarter of your playerbase will ever see, the rest aren’t going to want to play it anymore. You didn’t “earn” anything, you just stuck your nose in the shitpile longer than anyone else was willing to.
Ok, before I lose everyone, my decision to drop the game wasn’t as sudden. I loved all of Wrath, even if I was jumping in and out while Blizzard spun its tires in the mud, trying to create holdover content while people just wanted to go kill Arthas.
I was genuinely excited for Cataclysm, even if I feel it was a necessary, but rather rash decision to remake the world and adjust the leveling process. Cata was out for a while and their absurd decision to only provide 5 levels of story/explorable content before accessing raid content, had me concerned. There wasn’t even any real content when the expansion launched, instead forcing us to play a daily holding pattern in the form of the “Firelands” dailies, a repetitive slog though the same few quests until Blizzard finished the content they should have had at launch. This same pattern carried over to your mops and your wads, and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight until the company realizes it has been skating though the market since 2009.
This is the reason people claim “MMOs are all about endgame!” No, motherfucker, WoW is what made people think that. Even WoW, in the vanilla days, was clearly not “all about endgame” and the community at the time would have scoffed at you for suggesting such a thing. But BC onward, Blizzard was in some creepy rush to push players through the actual RPG part of their MMORPG and turn it into a endless curse-laden, group-filling, UI-clogging-addon-collecting, mechanics dance for marginally better purple text that will be rendered obsolete with the next dungeon release. That is ridiculous, and those who believe this is all an MMO should be, are ridiculous.
I think the moment I knew I was done with all of it, was the day I did this review. I was walking around Stormwind, a place that felt like a second home to me for so long, and I looked around at the city and thought to myself, “I don’t belong here anymore.” Everything felt foreign, like I was walking around a place I remembered as a child, and felt alone and empty. There was no connection to my past at all. No memories or emotions to play on. Just a bunch of shapes and buildings that felt like they were in my way. Obtrusive. I uninstalled the game after the episode was complete and I’ve never played it since.
Recommended?: NO. Not anymore. There are far better games out there for free. For the love of god, let this monstrosity convert, or die.
Episode 21: Project Powder
Oh.. shit. Sorry, I went off on WoW for a good while. Some bad blood getting spilled out there.
Anyway, this was my attempt to showcase the world of Sports MMOs, and I though something as fun as a Mario Kart meets SSX style snowboarding racer would do the trick. For the most part it did. Pretty fun courses, but the lack of characters, and the generally awful music left a lot to be desired. Then of course I found out the game was literally in developer limbo, content to sitting on its content until no one played it anymore. Unfortunately Outspark’s noble goal of hosting the game for as long as they physically could died along with Outspark. No one was picking it up and mentioning my recommendation is a moot point because even if someone were to pick it back up, there’s no developer to be had for it. Remake? SSX Online? Someone should make this happen. Not EA though… speaking of “shutting down your MMO projects.” Case in point, I think this game held up well as a game, as long as you had some friends, or just liked the unique snowboard racing aspect.
Recommended? If it was still around, YES. Mostly for some quick fun.