Perfect Ten: MMO zones I love to hate

Let’s be frank: Not every MMO zone can be a masterpiece of art, design, quest flow, and navigability. I mean, they totally should be, but that’s not how it shakes out in actual games. Sometimes regions get rushed, or the developers get a little too crazy with level design, or someone with a doomsday device in the office threatens to set it off unless an area made up of nothing but jumping puzzles is included.

The end result? “Those” zones we love to hate. We all have them. They’re the ones we seem to relish whining and complaining about to anyone who will listen, often instigating an echo chamber of like-minded grudges. We’ve been there, done that, and felt that our psyche took a hit as a result.

Today I want to look back at 10 MMOs I’ve played over the years to pick out a zone from each that, honestly, I really, really disliked. Perhaps the fact that I still remember them so vividly means that they were more important memories than the well-done zones that escape me at the moment, but I’m not going to think on that too much. Let the gripe session begin!

1. World of Warcraft: Desolace (vanilla)

I sometimes wonder if the crowd that keeps clamoring for a return to vanilla World of Warcraft has selective memory regarding how incomplete that core game experience was, especially with the zones as you went further up in levels. One of the worst offenders was Desolace (or “Depressolace,” as we always called it), which committed the double sin of being flat-out ugly and having sparse content to offer. It was clearly an unfinished blotch of a zone, yet somehow I had to go into it for each character I leveled up to grab some of those rare quests. Also there was a rep grind with centaurs and I never want to speak of that again.

2. Warhammer Online: Badlands

I sometimes wonder if developers end up using barren wastelands as zone options because they’re easier to create. WAR’s Badlands was one of several such areas in the game, an eyesore to consider for the most part. But what puts it on this list for me is that there was a quarry or open mine in the north-east corner of the map that was one of the most frustrating areas to navigate. The hand-drawn map style didn’t help at all with this, and before I was done with the related quests I was gnashing my teeth in frustration.

3. Star Wars: The Old Republic: Quesh

I’m a big fan of the variety and visuals of most SWTOR planets, but I have to draw a line when it comes to Quesh. Actually, I think the devs drew a line too, because this “planet” only has a single puke-ugly zone that runs in a corridor, is coated in poison gas, and has no interesting storyline of which to speak. Also, every time I see the planet name I think “quiche” and then am disappointed when the game doesn’t satisfy my hunger.

4. City of Heroes: Faultline

I was severely tempted to put Perez Park on here, because if you’ve ever been lost in that forest, you accessed a level of loathing that turned you into a supervillain. However, I’m giving the nod to Faultline, because forget that place. Oh, the idea of an earthquake-ravaged area is interesting, but the reality is a zone that is only accessible by those with certain travel powers. If you had super-speed, forget it; this was not for you. And frankly, it was an eyesore of a place that was more of an empty setpiece than it was the staging ground for any truly exciting content.

5. Lord of the Rings Online: Moria

This might be a controversial entry for a few reasons. Some people do appreciate and even enjoy Moria to this day, and I cannot deny that it was a technical achievement to create and is one of the largest underground regions in an MMO ever. Plus, this is kind of a combination of several zones across a whole region, but I couldn’t pick just one.

So why Moria? Other than the pressing claustrophobia that this underground kingdom seems to trigger in pretty much everyone who plays, my biggest issue is that it’s incredibly frustrating to navigate. Once again, hand-drawn maps are more of a liability than an asset, especially in some of the spaces that involve a lot of verticality. I have many memories of trying to get from point A to B and not knowing exactly how to do that in this place.

6. RIFT: Goboro Reef

Nightmare Tide was somewhat of a misstep for this MMO, and I always felt the dev team had a hard time selling players on the weird water plane concept going on with it. For me, I could never level past Goboro Reef, which hit so many wrong buttons for me. It went on forever, was purple and pink as far as the eye could see, wasn’t always the easiest to travel around, wasn’t that fun to explore, and smelled of fish.

7. Guild Wars 2: Orr

Again, cheating a little bit by combining three zones for this entry, but this whole island just annoys me to no end. It’s definitely a neat concept with some striking visuals, but Orr’s dense undead population (from chickens on up to sharks) and cluttered landscape make getting anywhere and doing anything a chore. I know that the community is divided here, with some ardent defenders, but I cringe at the thought of having to do more map exploration on this island.

8. The Secret World: City of the Sun God

We’ll see how the reboot pans out with any quest flow changes to this region, but I’m not going to hold my breath in anticipation that I’m going to end up adoring it. City of the Sun God is a middling-to-bad desert region where most of the NPCs are statues or a genie that despises you. Just about nobody enjoys this place, and it sucks a lot of the momentum out of progressing through the story.

9. WildStar: Wilderrun

In my top three most-hated zone biomes, “jungle” only comes third after “lava” and “desert.” I’m seriously not a fan of sprawling, foliage-dense regions, of which Wilderrun is a card-carrying member. It’s seriously way too big and sometimes had me taking the long way around to get anywhere. I would prefer the infected regions, with all of their eyeball-stalks, to this humid hellzone.

10. Star Trek Online: Kobali Prime

Can someone explain to me how Delta Rising ended up so bad? I mean, Neelix and all that, but what a terrible expansion. It actually made me quit the game for a long time, and a big part of that reason was Kobali Prime. In a game where you mostly stayed on your starship with occasional away missions, suddenly you were asked to spend a long, long period of time on a planet that was nothing but a warzone. I called it “The Planet of Soul-Sucking” back when I was playing, and I stick to that. It was uncalled for, really.

Everyone likes a good list, and we are no different! Perfect Ten takes an MMO topic and divvies it up into 10 delicious, entertaining, and often informative segments for your snacking pleasure. Got a good idea for a list? Email us at justin@massivelyop.com or eliot@massivelyop.com with the subject line “Perfect Ten.”
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64 Comments on "Perfect Ten: MMO zones I love to hate"

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hughmbehavior
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hughmbehavior

Moria = insanely great.
Best dungeon in any MMO ever.

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Space Captain Zor

I would add:
WoW
-Westfall (Vanilla) (boring story, visuals, too many bandanas)
-Eastern Plaguelands (zombie fart gas)
-Badlands (Vanilla) (boring visuals and really tough elites everywhere)

SWTOR
-Taris (zombie fart gas planet)
-Hutta (fart gas planet)
-Makeb (mob density was originally horrendous)

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Castagere Shaikura

I like your list. I really agree with most of it. I just would like to add an old one to it. Anarchy Online’s Southern Artery Valley was i nightmare to run through back in the day. The mobs were just so evil and in groups at times.

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Fred Douglas

I’ve twice made it through City of the Sun God and then quit the game. It is indeed horrendous.

Quesh is alright because it’s a transition planet and not a main story zone, but indeed, the hutt drug dealing storyline is a little drab.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Oh right, Hoth is the WORST for me. And I can be OK with arctic zones. Hate Hoth so much. The worst. The worst.

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Malcolm Swoboda

I’m okay with Goboro Reef and I’m one of the weirdos that rather liked City of the Sun God but instead felt more of a slog in Blue Mountain (not the difficulty but a few annoying missions and I think 3 zones can be too much for a region in some ways) and Shadowy Forest (stopped my TSW mission completionism here, though I finished main story and one DLC).
In RIFT its harder to get through many Storm Legion zones as they multi-zone theme in too open of zones, went too far. I still assert they could have closed in that content by 1/3 (resulting in several zones instead of ten) and it would have been better.

atherenlightspeed
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atherenlightspeed

World of Warcraft: Desolace, I’ve been through the Cataclysm zones too many times now and they all make me cringe, all of the Broken Isles Zones.
Lotro: Angmar (so dark and dreadful), Foroschel (it just never fit in with the rest of the game, and I generally don’t care for snow zones), Lothlorien and it’s unending yellow makes me want to poke my eyes out.
Guild Wars 2 I really tired of the Asura area quickly, maybe I didn’t like my engineer as well, but the zone, ack. The rest are fine, though I favor the Sylvari areas.

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Alex Malone

Badlands in WAR….yeh, pretty desolate zone. However, it worked thematically. Also, the Badlands had Mount Gunbad, a pretty awesome open world dungeon. I loved working my way through each of the wings with my guild, some pretty interesting bosses and designs as you worked your way to the mountain’s roots (giant squig at the end!)

For LotRO, whilst I didn’t particularly enjoy Moria myself, it was infinitely better than Mirkwood! Mirkwood suffered from both terrible aesthetics, a quest-hub patchwork design that didn’t flow together and a general lack of feeling. Mirkwood just sucked on all levels!

SW:TOR…..meh, could pretty much just pick any zone. They all felt bland and lifeless.

Weilan
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Weilan

Desolace is the only one I’ve personally experienced and I can agree, it’s depressing and quite empty, I only go there now (on Vanilla) to get some levels so I can come back to STV and do my quests, this time I went to Thousand Needles instead, a lot better I have to say.

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Tithian

Orr can fuck right off, I always dreaded going to the zones.

City of the Sun God, I thought was fine. Not stellar, mind you, but I think it flew by for me.
Quesh was also just fine, and it served its purpose as a small zone tied to the Story. Not everything needs to be this majestic setpiece.