The Trend In Online RPGs
MMOG, or more commonly, MMO
MMOs are online games with large numbers of players on the same server, often hundreds or thousands. Most MMOs have a large, persistent open world, but there are a few that don’t.
These games can be played on most network-capable devices, like personal computers, video game consoles, and smartphones.
The multiplayer online game (MMO) allows players to cooperate and compete on a large scale and interact meaningfully with players from all over the world. MMOs cover many genres of games, including cooperative and competitive play.
A recent trend in online RPGs is to become more similar to their single-player variants by focusing more on an actual storyline that gives pre-determined reasons for the player characters to adventure.
Fairly recent examples of this trend include Star Wars: The Old Republic, Guild Wars 2, and Elder Scrolls Online. But even the much older World of Warcraft has lots of lore and story pieces in it – after all, the familiarity of the Warcraft world and the possibility to meet its famous heroes were what made the MMO successful in the first place.
But what difference is there between how WoW’s story is presented to how Guild Wars 2 or SWTOR handles it? This is an important aspect – in WoW, you are just one of many adventurers in the world. When you look at any of the legendary bosses – Arthas in Wrath of the Lich King, Kel’Thuzad in Naxxramas, or Garrosh at the siege of Orgrimmar, among many other examples – these adventurers we play are just side-kicks for the real, iconic heroes who defeated these villains with their assistance.
In stark contrast to this, SWTOR and GW2 put the player’s character at the focus point of the story. Even though you are just one person among thousands of players doing the same quests, the story in these games presents you as the hero, the so-called “chosen one” who will save the world and solve most of its problems.
Because protagonists are often all-powerful in RPGs, movies and books, players expect to have access to all content in these online RPGs, too, just based on their own strength. As these games become less and less social thanks to easy-mode pick-up raids and automated dungeon finders, developers have less concern about “hiding” story bits and pieces inside raids, as players will be able to access these anyway in easy mode.
Back in 2009.
WoW wasn’t like this back in 2009, when Wrath of the Lich King was in full swing, with Arthas being the ultimate end-boss of said expansion. People back then accepted that not everyone would have the opportunity to face off against him, as raids required 10 or 25 organized people with appropriate gear and class distribution.
Nowadays, even WoW offers significantly simplified versions of their raids, so literally, anyone at max level can enter them to see the bosses and any associated story elements found within the raid instances.
The issue with this is that many players are content with beating the bosses on the easiest difficulty. Thus they aren’t motivated to become better players, at least for the regular “normal” raids.
Related: Guide to JackBox TV
Because player expectations have also changed, locking away story in difficult raiding content is a very controversial topic – a recent example in Guild Wars 2, where due to the delay of the most single-player Living World season 3, raiders had access to important story bits and lore well before the casual population got the same information from the much easier LS episodes.
Some side stories and parts of lore are still locked away in these raids, thus excluding a significant part of GW2’s population. Or is that really so?
Thankfully, no – ArenaNet solved the story accessibility part fairly well, considering that they do not want to make easier versions of their raids.
In all four current such zones, the story is presented in the form of interactable objects, such as corpses, scattered notes and the dialogue of Scholar Glenna, a researcher NPC who can tell players all about the previously defeated bosses and the stories associated with them.
The fourth raids wing even takes this a bit further by including a semi-hidden short investigation achievement related to such objects.
All these mean that the actual boss fights barely contain any story. Players can also often find cleared raid wings advertised on the in-game LFG too. By entering these groups and exploring the now-empty instances for story-related information, they can fight against the bosses reserved for the more skilled players and groups.
Using this method, the game’s developers ensured that the casuals could get their story pieces with minimal effort.
At the same time, the raiders still retain their “exclusive” access to their difficult fights. Both casuals and hardcore players get what they want the most – story for the former, difficult fights for the latter.
What MMOs to play right now?
- The Elder Scrolls Online (PS4, Xbox One, Windows, MacOS)
- Crossout (PS4, Xbox One, Windows)
- Guild Wars 2 (Windows, MacOS)
- Destiny 2 (PS4, Xbox One, Windows)
- World of Warcraft (Windows, MacOS)
- Final Fantasy XIV (PS4, Windows)
- Ragnarok Online (Windows)
- Secret World Legends (Windows)