Perfect Ten: Fresh approaches for familiar MMORPGs
Short of taking a blow to the head, there’s very little I can suggest in the way of experiencing a familiar MMORPG for the first time again. That new car smell eventually fades away, that initial head-over-heels enthusiasm settles into routine, and a vast world full of mysteries gradually gives way to familiar knowledge over time. It’s not a terrible thing, mind you; relationships change and develop with games as they do in real life.
But I find that every so often I come to a point when I don’t want to give up a game that I’ve greatly enjoyed, yet I’m also a bit burned out and feeling like I am hemmed in by a daily routine and the same-old, same-old. That’s when I start to employ a series of tactics and approaches to inject fresh experiences and perspectives.
So if you’ve been playing an MMO for too long and need to change things up to keep from getting stale and restless, what can you do? Here are 10 suggestions that I found quite helpful in my own gaming career.
1. Let it go fallow for a while
While some might put this last on their list, it’s going first on mine, and this is why. We all need to know that it is OK to walk away from an MMORPG. We need to give ourselves that permission. We aren’t bound to the game, we aren’t locked in for life, no one is forcing us to play, and it won’t be the end of the world if we put it down for a while.
In fact, it’s actually a great thing. The farming metaphor that I like to use is that of farmers who let their fields go fallow — to rest for a season without planting — every few years. Then in the following year, the ground is revitalized and ready to come back better than before. Taking a break from an MMO might be the thing that makes you appreciate it that much more. I’ve had so many great experiences in returning to a game and coming at it from a different angle when I did that I have long since gotten over any guilt over leaving in the first place.
2. Marinate in the lore
It’s understandable that the first time you go through an MMO, you’re not always picking everything up and fully understanding the game world and its lore. There’s a lot thrown at you and some is bound to zip by. Subsequent alts might be used to speed through, ignoring story completely.
But it might well be worth taking up the challenge of slowing yourself down and really getting into the lore of the game. Actually read the quest text, darn it. Don’t skip cutscenes. Read in-game books. Pursue flavor dialogue with NPCs. It might just change how you see the game altogether.
3. Try a different class
This is obvious, but it should be said. Sometimes we get so stuck on a single class or character that it doesn’t even occur to walk in another class’ shoes. Man, I’m using a lot of hackneyed analogies here. But seriously, a class offers one viewpoint for a game, and others might have perspectives that you’ve never even considered. Always been a tank? Try a healer. Always pew-pewed from a distance? Get up close and brawl it out.
4. Investigate the economic scene
I am forever breaking promises to myself to actually getting into crafting when I start up with new MMOs. But then I get so busy leveling and exploring that the crafting process gets left behind and I never quite do it. But I should, and once in a while I do.
The economy and its related systems — crafting, gathering, trade — can be a massive and revelatory experience if you tap into it after years of ignoring it. It can be extremely satisfying to build yourself an economic empire or be able to craft something that your friends and guildies need.
5. Switch factions
Get over the extreme loyalty to one faction thing already. It’s completely fabricated friction and unnecessarily divides the player base anyway, in my opinion. But it can be hard for us to switch over in MMOs, especially if we have ties to guilds.
Then again, many guilds have chapters on “the other side” for alts, and getting to see that faction’s missions, lore, and races might be worth it.
6. Join a focused guild
Let’s move on to a few social elements to assist you in reclaiming your passion. Having a group of players around you that are working to accomplish something specific can be a great motivator, whether it might be to join up in the raiding scene, create masterful housing plots, or take part in elaborate roleplaying scenarios. There are many guilds that have a dedicated purpose, and those might be worth seeking out.
7. Play with a dedicated party
Or what about joining up with a party that meets on specific days to level and run dungeons? Some of my most favorite MMO experiences were these dedicated group nights in which we progressed through the game together and never had to worry about sitting around in the LFG queue. This is how stories get made!
8. Engage in the community
Grouping and guilding aside, there are always ways to take part in the larger community. Make a point to take advantage of player gatherings and events, such as plays, concerts, storytelling, games, and contests. Some MMOs seem to foster these more than others, of course, but by perusing chat and the forums, you’re bound to come across a few for the game you play.
9. Get on board with the latest expansion
Maybe you’ve been drifting away or absent from an MMO for a while. An expansion or major content release might just be that right time to leap back in and experience a “mini-launch” alongside a rejuvenated community. It makes returning easier when everyone is figuring out stuff at the same time as you.
10. Blog or record your journey
You might think that no one would care to know about your own journey through MMORPGs, but I bet that you’d be wrong. There is always an audience out there that enjoys connecting with like-minded players by reading or watching their MMO experiences, and you’d be surprised how much documenting your adventures infuses your play with a greater sense of purpose. I’ve been doing it since 2008 and have loved every minute of it.