I am trying really hard, over and over again, and I’m constantly failing.
I am unable to get immersed to any online RPG universe so far. It doesn’t matter how good it looks, how good it sounds or what the setting is. And that worries me a bit.
You ask: So what?
For me it matters. I play constantly games, I try new genres all the time. Some I like and some I don`t. But RPGs are one of my favourite all-time genres since I was first introduced, probably 20 years ago. For me roleplaying didn’t start with pen and paper but with roleplaying video games from SSI, like Pool of Radiance or Curse of the Azure Bonds.
My first introduction to online RPGs was Ultima Online. I played it for one month because it was praised highly by a friend. But then I stopped because I honestly had no fun at all.
At that time I was already not on good terms with the new developments in the RPG genre. I hated Diablo. For me it was the Anti-Christ of video game RPGs. I never called it RPG, only Dungeon Crawler or Hack&Slay, but some of my friends did and they loved that game.
So Ultima Online had already a tough start with me because it changed so much of my beloved genre. And I was not all that keen on the social interactions which, in the end, made the game so popular and spiritually lead to something like Word of Warcraft. In my opinion probably the most influencing RPG franchise right now, just by the number of people it reached.
Until now I gave it a few more tries. I played SW: The Old Republic (were I like actually nothing, really), Star Trek Online (where I liked the space part, but hated the away missions), a couple of weeks ago for the very first time World of Warcraft (which I liked, but not a bit for the RPG parts) and at very last a game which is still in development and which I will not mention by name, but had the opportunity to play a couple of times.
The last, unnamed one, let me finally realize, after being a grumpy gamer about MMORPGs for many years, that I really cannot get immersed by the genre. There are always some game elements which will put me off. In the last case, the graphic, sound, voice acting is very good. The setting is one of my most beloved RPG video game settings. But I don’t like the actual game – because I cannot cope with some of the inherent game mechanics of that genre.
Seeing all the players run around from one quest giver to the next. The huge, unreal rooms and caves, which seem to be necessary just because there could be many players sometimes. The quests which you always can solve in that same area and where kill x and fetch y are the standard. The respawning before your eyes because it has to be set up for the next player who comes by. The quest giver, even if he wants something from you, mostly never comes to you – you have to find him, and often he will never leave his place. You can always clip through players or NPCs. There is mostly no surprise or difficulty in the normal gameplay. The difficulty comes with bigger enemies or special dungeons where you need a group of players to defeat the enemy. And last but not least… your character is never special, in the end he is one of the masses.
All that complaining.
I assume that online RPGs wil be the standard in the future. Companies like them because the genre promises a larger audience and more revenue – and players like MMORPGs.
But if I can’t play a RPG in ten years because there is no RPG with ‘old mechanics’ available – that would make me quite sad actually.