Why do you play MMORPGs? What keeps you questing through these ever-growing worlds? I think a lot of us might answer like Zyrusticae in Blade and Soul here, as we enjoy inhabiting and exploring virtual fantasy worlds.
“See, this is the sort of thing I play MMORPGs for,” Zyrusticae writes. “That sense of ‘place.’ Being somewhere else, even if it’s only behind a computer screen. Old shots, yes, but still some of my favorites just for that. It’s a very pleasant feeling, really.”
Will you find your sense of place in the following player screenshots? Let’s find out!
It’s been 16 years since Final Fantasy XI initially launched in Japan, which is a really long time. If the game were a person, it could learn to drive a car now. Producer Akihiko Matsui took the opportunity to thank players with an open letter as well as hinting about the plans for the next year; there’s a promise of more content to explore the theme of “playing with friends” and reunions, noting how many players truly enjoyed being able to interact with friends in-game historically.
Of course, the game is also celebrating with some anniversary goodies; players who log in during the game’s seven-week course starting on May 20th will be able to pick up an Echad Ring, a Red Crab mount, a special clock, and a Kupofried cipher. Players who already have any of the above will get vouchers usable for other items, so even veterans will get something worthwhile out of the event.
If you’re curious to see how the game actually plays 16 years in… keep your eyes peeled as we kick off Choose My Adventure in Vana’diel.
This is actually a Choose My Adventure that I was somewhat reluctant to do for a long time, simply because… well, in some ways, it goes against the entire spirit of Choose My Adventure. Or at least the spirit that I’ve always used as a guiding principle for these columns, for however much it matters.
The goal of Choose My Adventure has always been to take someone who is either wholly unfamiliar with a game or at least not an expert at it and throw them into a game with as little support as possible. There’s no way that I can realistically hit the level cap and make major headway into the endgame, of course, but I can at least try a game with fresh eyes and see how it plays, while presenting those thoughts in a non-tedious fashion.
And then we have Final Fantasy XI, which I cannot possibly look at with new eyes because I know this game very well. If I had to list the MMOs I know best, FFXI would probably be third or fourth on the list. Which is why for a long time I didn’t bring it up, because… I know all of this stuff, right?
For what amounts to a PlayStation 2 game from 16 years ago, Final Fantasy XI looks really good, even now. But… well, that’s the caveat right there, isn’t it? The game was designed for a PlayStation 2 in 2002. It has aged very well, but it’s still an older title with older models and animations and textures. What a good thing, then, that one fan has decided to overhaul all of the textures in the game with an HD texture pack to draw out all of the game’s potential.
You can check out a trailer for the pack just below; the modder, Amelila, had worked on an adaptation of Ronfaure into Skyrim before he realized that the same skills could be used to make FFXI more attractive. Modding the game has always been something that enterprising fans have engaged with, but it’s good to see that even as time has marched onward, fans have continued to find ways to make the game that much prettier.
Nexon posted a strong first quarter in 2018, with its earnings call reporting that the game publisher raked in $827M in revenue (a 21% year-over-year increase). The company did most of its business on PC (84%), although mobile (16%) continues to be a significant factor in its success.
Most of Nexon’s focus continues to remain in the east, as both China (67%) and Korea (22%) pull in a vast majority of its earnings. The company singled out the the performance of Dungeon and Fighter, MapleStory, and Durango: Wild Lands for praise.
Coming down the pipeline in North America this year and beyond is MapleStory 2, Durango, MapleStory M, and Final Fantasy XI Mobile. Speaking of the mobile version of FFXI, purported screens were leaked on Reddit that showed this still-beautiful game in action.
Yes, this is going to come in as the shortest Choose My Adventure series, but I feel it’s got a good reason to be so. I went into Ultima Online with a very simple question: Is the game worth playing now as a free-to-play title for the curious? I very quickly got the answer to that question: No. Definitely not. And writing a whole lot more on it is just going to continue to harp on that point.
That’s not to say that there aren’t at least a few more words to be spared on the subject, of course. There are a lot of games with a free-to-play option that players have said don’t feel like free-to-play titles; you can technically play without paying, yes, but the game doesn’t seem to want you there and keeps hitting you with paywalls. That wasn’t the problem I ran into with Ultima Online, though. If anything, it seemed like the game didn’t want me there at all. Not as a free player, but as a new player.
Tabletop games and MMORPGs seem like they would go well together, but remarkably they often don’t. That’s true for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that we have a lot more games adapting different source material separately. You can certainly run a Star Wars: The Old Republic-themed game with a Star Wars tabletop system, but neither one is based on the other. (Technically there was a supplement published for it, but that was covering the first two single-player games, which themselves were based on that tabletop system.)
But there have still been incursions from MMOs into the tabletop space, and MMOs which pluck that fertile ground for the seeds of inspiration. So let’s spend today looking at these games, when you can log off of your favorite MMO, gather around a table with your friends, and keep playing your favorite MMO. More or less.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from TERA, Neverwinter, Battlerite, The Black Death, Royal Blood, Saga of Lucimia, Skyforge, Prosperous Universe, Pokemon Go, Ocean Legend, Ultima Online, Reign of Guilds, Dofus, Final Fantasy XI, Destiny, and Osiris: New Dawn, all waiting for you after the break!
Have you never tried Final Fantasy XI but always wanted to? Have you tried it before and want to catch back up? Good news, then; the game is making it very easy for you to jump in during the month of May with its discount campaign and welcome back campaign. The former is really simple: You can pick up the entirety of the game, expansions and all, for $10. Just need the last expansion? $5. Need a world transfer? $9. So you could get your account caught up with every expansion and transfer to another server for less than the game costs.
But wait, there’s more. If you’re a previous subscriber, the welcome back campaign will let you play free of charge, along with letting you enjoy an array of bonuses like increased experience gain during the month’s events, special login rewards, and rare alter egos available during the month of May. So you’ll be able to get a lot out of returning, and even new players will benefit from all of these boosts. There’s lots to do and lots to be happy about; if you’re thinking of returning to Vana’diel, May is the time to do it.
It occurs to me that it is very difficult to find MMOs that I have literally never played before in some capacity. There are titles on the list, of course, but it’s a short list. Which amuses me, since anyone who listens to me on a regular basis knows that I have a small number of games that I consider “my” games, and usually there are just two that are fairly consistently on that list. But it’s part of the job; back when I first got this job in the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (the late aughts), my lifetime game count was at four. Maybe four and a half, if you want to count the Champions Online beta that talked me out of playing it at launch.
Of course, that’s one of the interesting elements not just of this job but about MMOs in general. You react differently depending on how many MMOs you’ve played, and considering that these games are big, long-term time commitments, that can produce some interesting dynamics. So let’s go ahead and take a look at what your personal lifetime count says about you and your understanding of the genre.
Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:
“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”
I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
For all of the improvements made to Final Fantasy XI over the past several years, some things were still harder than they needed to be. Case in point: playing a Ninja and trying to track down your various Ninjutsu scrolls. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier with the latest update, which makes the necessary scrolls and several of the tools easy to purchase directly in Jeuno. Of course, there are other ways to get both the tools and the scrolls, but now you can just buy them if you haven’t yet tracked those other options down.
This patch also brings out the new rotating reward for Dynamis – Divergence content, with a new area getting bonus rewards each time the Conquest rewards are tallied. There’s also a new rotation of Ambuscade content and a new system for enhancing job-specific capes, both of which should bring a smile to the faces of players. It doesn’t make the game easier, per se, but it does make things more straightforward.
It’s funny how presentation problems can have such a huge impact on the same product.
Warframe, as a game, is almost crippled by its lack of guidance and the poor resources it has to explain things to players. Some of this, as has been noted in the comments, is the result of a general design philosophy that producing more fun stuff is more advantageous than providing guidance, but some of it is also a result of having a philosophy that doesn’t seem to take full advantage of its business model. Better tutorials and direction would do a whole lot to redeem the game.
This would be a good thing because Warframe is also strikingly unique and fun in a lot of other ways, and it seems to be to be the logical apotheosis of a lot of game design aspects. It has flaws, it could use some streamlining and refinement, but at the end of the day it’s a slick and fun experience that is mostly let down by its failings in guiding players. And it’s another game that I’m not really done with even though my month is up.