I want to start this column by saying the absolute meanest thing I have to say about Project Gorgon, and that one is probably pretty obvious. This is not a pretty game. I’m reluctant to say that it’s outright ugly because a lot of effort has obviously been put into making the game look as pretty as it possibly can, but there is a hard limit to how much you can do under the circumstances. The result? Even with graphics cranked up as high as they will go, this game is not a looker.
That’s the meanest thing I’ve got. In every other respect, it delivered on what I expected or actually provided me with a little bit more.
Character customization, at this point, is also pretty anemic and terrible, but I managed to make a character who looked at least halfway decent. Then my character got immediately fireballed in the face with several NPCs standing (or hovering) over her body, announcing sadly that her will wasn’t going to break, and so one of them would need to take her on specifically as a pet project. And then I woke up on an island.
I’m really glad to be heading into Project Gorgon for the first CMA of the year. Not just because it’s a title which I have absolutely no experience with, although that helps. No, it’s also because Project Gorgon is another installment in the ongoing and non-absolute answer to the longest-running question in MMO history. Now that we have this neverending game with all of these moving pieces to play with, what are we actually here to do?
That sounds like a straightforward question, but I think it’s important to consider the reality that this has always existed and always been an issue. No matter how much you might enjoy an MMO, ultimately, you need a goal of some kind, and thus most of them have made a point of offering one. It’s important to note that “goal” is not a synonym here for “endpoint,” as most MMOs feature a goal of some sort but not a point when you are supposed to actually be entirely done forever.
It’s tradition around here to take stock of Daybreak’s MMO offerings every year, thanks to the fact that one of the first big stories we did after moving from Massively-that-was to MOP centered on Daybreak’s massive transition from SOE and then round upon round of layoffs, way back in 2015. Last year, we counted it out: Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years – more than most studios will ever launch.
In 2015, you all thought Dragon’s Prophet was the most vulnerable game in the stable. You were right; it shut down, at least on this side of the pond, that same year. Last year, however, you suspected PlanetSide 2 was most likely to crumble, but instead, the game is still going and picked up a largish patch toward the end of the year. How about this year? Has anything changed with the company that once won best studio four years in a row thanks to its one-time reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going? Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?
Those of you who’ve been following Massively OP for a while know that many our writers have a fondness for old MMORPGs – that’s how we got into the hobby in the first place. My little secret is that I still maintain one of my original Ultima Online accounts with a house and gardens and a stable of toons (mostly bards!).
And yet come awards season, classic MMOs rarely win awards, which hardly seems fair. Yes, some of them have graphics that have fallen by the wayside, but most have mechanics that can stand toe to toe with anything made in 2017.
Thanks to commenter Agemyth, who suggested this topic last year, we’re going to put it to a vote, again this year including a wide range of “gracefully aging” MMOs that could reasonably be considered classics based on the era of their launch. No, we didn’t include blockbusters like World of Warcraft that are still winning awards in 2017, nor did we list any closed games (the Asheron’s Call games were sunsetted this year, alas). Onward to the future where the past lives on in the present!
Polls are a quantitative sort of magic that we don’t often get from our other articles – at least when they aren’t being brigaded – which is why I love our Leaderboard column.
Let’s take a look back at our best MMO polls of the year! And if you want a few more, you can look back at our polls from 2016 and 2015 too.
Mobile MMOs have a bad reputation among core MMORPG players here in the West; people are absolutely convinced they can’t possibly compare (even when they do). But in 2017 in particular, we’ve been deluged with more mobile MMOs than we’ve ever seen, for a bunch of reasons: the rise of the MMOARG, the influx of imports from popular Korean franchises, and mobile ports from existing cross-platform games. For today’s Leaderboard, let’s put it to a vote: What was the best mobile MMO of 2017?
So I’ve been writing this column for a year now. A little more than a year, as it happens, but last year there was no point in doing a whole-column recap because… well, it would be one game long and it had just happened. So I’m doing that now, with a trip back through the last year of Choose My Adventure (plus one month because I would rather not leave out The Elder Scrolls Online). We all make compromises.
There’s a lot to be said about this particular set of games, but to be fair, a lot of it was already said in a series of weekly columns about the games because that’s… well, how the column works. Still, the benefit of hindsight does mean that some things I have seen since have produced a different picture for some of these titles. So as we move into the holidays and the new year, let’s hit some high marks, remember the past, and consider the future.
Every year for the last many years, we’ve done some sort of award for the most underrated MMO, or even the year’s sleeper hit. And every year, someone points at our pick and says that it’s actually highly overrated. Like clockwork, that’s exactly what happened this year when we chose Black Desert and Secret World Legends as our most underrated.
So for our 300th poll since the start of the new site (wheeee!), let’s hash it out and figure out just what was the most overrated MMO of 2017!
Earlier this year, when we had yet to actually get much information about Secret World Legends
, I posted a piece in which I discussed at length how Funcom didn’t seem to quite know what it was doing with the whole reboot thing
. On the one hand, the development team didn’t seem to know if SWL
was actually a reboot of The Secret World
or just a new structure for it; on the other hand, it was certainly positioned as a hard reboot, considering how it jettisoned more or less everything players had previously accomplished.
So the question, for me, was always whether or not the game could justify its reboot and still be fun in and of itself.
The answer to the former question, I’m sorry to say, is an unambiguous “no.” There’s a lot of reasons thrown around for why the game absolutely needed a reboot, but none of them actually succeeds at justifying a whole drop-and-rebuild. Partly because, well, the game didn’t rebuild anything. It patched in a few new systems and called it a day, and it did absolutely nothing to address the core problems that kept people from being turned off from the game in the first place.
One of the common tropes held by MMORPG players is that PvP, particularly free-for-all environments prone to ganks, generates the worst type of behavior. But while it may be more common for PvP, I have also witnessed absolutely wretched behavior from all types of players, including psychological abuse from roleplayers, to say nothing of plane-jumping, ninja-looting, and greed from PvE gamers. The problem in my mind isn’t PvP as much as it is conflict and competition, which is something most game types engender. I bet you’ve seen the same.
Making that point is a story from PCGamesN this morning, which reports on a World of Warcraft player who’s apparently been DDOSing teammates to ensure himself a raid spot in the well-known raiding guild Limit. Limit has since booted the player.
One of the things that I promised way back when I started writing this series about Secret World Legends
was to mention the way in which this game seems to tie into The X-Files. There’s an obvious superficial connection (both take place in the real world with added supernatural stuff, for example), but that’s not actually the connection that sticks out to me. It has more to do with the nature of the story both are telling.
While I’m not on board with the game’s character vignettes (which are much more “portrait of this person you don’t really interact with” than anything), there is an underlying story running through every part of the game. I clocked out midway through Egypt when I played the original The Secret World, and there were an assortment of reasons, but part of it was that connection I mentioned above. To wit: the game really likes having mysteries, but it doesn’t really like having answers for a lot of them.
So this morning I’m dishing out cheese crackers for my kid, who was up all night barfing. (If my posts have typos today, it’s because I’m running on just caffeine and gumption.) Anyway, I realize that the Cheez-It box is one whole advertisement that uncomfortably edged into my work-and-fun wheelhouse. It’s Cayde-06 (Nathan Fillion) from Destiny 2, promising me MEGA XP FREE WITH EVERY BOX. All I have to do is text my receipt for my crackers to Bungie’s agents and then I get a code for MEGA EXPIES. I can do this for Pringles, Rice Krispies Treats, Pop-Tarts, and some sort of fruit candy thing that is not actually food. Nathan Fillion wants me to do it, so I probably should, yeah?
That’s not even the only way Destiny 2 is trying to seep into our lives, as apparently Bungie is hyping its new Amazon Alexa tie-in, which I actually thought was a joke when I first read it. It is not.
Would you believe that I sort of forgot about levels altogether in Secret World Legends
? It’s true! I remembered that they were a thing now (it’s hard to miss the explosions when you level up), but it wasn’t until I ran smack into a bit of the main storyline telling me “go level up” that I really was cognizant of them. “Oh, right, there are levels now! I need to work on those.”
My feelings on how this actually plays out are slightly mixed, and they wind up coming back a bunch to a combination of the issues with the original The Secret World and to the stuff the current rebranding does or doesn’t change. At face value, the inclusion of levels is probably not a terrible thing, because it provides a useful at-a-glance power metric and doesn’t really obviate the game’s main system of advancement. Any faults it has are more a result of underling issues the game already had just being thrown into sharper relief.