The Daily Grind: Do you have a hard time connecting with isometric MMOs?

Let’s talk perspective today. No, not your general outlook on life — which I’m sure is cheery and as non-cynical as can be — but the camera vantage point in MMORPGs. By and large, cameras trail our characters either behind them or over the shoulder, with the occasional first-person perspective thrown in to keep us on our toes.

But that wasn’t the default prior to EverQuest. No, graphical MMOs in the 1990s were all about 2-D isometric layouts, from Neverwinter Nights to Ultima Online. While the isometric perspective has been largely shoved aside in modern MMOs, we do see them persist in MMOARPGs like Path of Exile and the recently released Albion Online. Even RuneScape in its older incarnations drew the camera up and back during its gameplay.

So here is my question for you today: Do you have a hard time connecting with the world and your character in MMOs featuring isometric perspectives (or other similar camera setups)? Does the distance keep you from being as invested in what’s going on, or does it lend a unique charm to your gaming experience?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!
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AGx-07_162

Yeah, I don’t like isometric MMOs. I’m not a fan of that perspective in any genre of game, honestly. There are only few exceptions fueled by nostalgia (e.g. Diablo, Gauntlet). When I play a game in 1st or 3rd person, I can relate more because I feel more like I am that guy/girl and experiencing these things myself. When I play something isometric, I feel more like I’m just watching that guy/girl experience these things.

Karma_Mule
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Karma_Mule

I usually do have trouble, but the single/multiplayer Divinity Original Sin games have managed to overcome it. Their features that make that possible:

  • The ability to zoom very close in and have the camera be more horizontal while zoomed in
  • All clothing items have an effect on character appearance that can be seen
  • Options (albeit limited) to customize your characters’s face (not just fixed choices like Diablo 3)
  • The character is fully voiced so even when zoomed out feels like an actual person not a little smear of pixels

The more of these things an isometric MMO does, the happier I’ll be with it. (Side note: I’m loving DOS2)

Mewmew
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Mewmew

Before EverQuest and UO, Meridian 59 was first person right? As far as I can tell 3D tech wasn’t that great yet (just a guess by looking at Meridian 59 images) and that’s a major reason why they were in the sky or 2D views? I guess you’re saying EverQuest because they persisted after then, while Meridian 59 was unique and they still mostly did the high or 2D views after that one?

An early view we don’t see much is The Realm. It has a 2D side view that was and is often used in graphical adventure games. It’s funny we don’t see that almost ever when one of the earliest MMOs used it. As far as I can tell it still exists too here:

http://www.realmserver.com/

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Schmidt.Capela

2D sideview is good for linear levels, but less than ideal for anything where you want the player to choose (or have the illusion of choosing) his own path, so it tends to not be a good match for MMOs unless the desired gameplay is that of a sidescroller.

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Simon Morris

I hate Isometric. Isometric sharted all over my dreams for an Immersive Marvel Universe game. If i wanted Isometric I’d play Marvel Ultimate Alliance.

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Schmidt.Capela

I actually prefer using some kind of from-the-top perspective like isometric, 3/4 view, top-down, etc. What I usually can’t stand is the first person PoV, except in a few genres like racing games; without peripheral vision, the first person point of view feels almost claustrophobic.

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T

I’ll be honest, I could never really get into Isometric games at all! So no, I can’t really do Isometric MMOs, the perspective just puts me off of a game. I can do overhead, or even 3/4 overhead, but that diagonal Isometric view just… ugh.

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socontrariwise

I find it much more natural to roleplay (vs. play as myself) if the view is isometric.
And it somehow helps suspension of disbelief and immersion because the perspective is so removed from reality that other things not perfectly realistic don’t jump out as they do for me in over-the-shoulder or 1st person.

Cadaver
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Cadaver

I generally have a fondness for outdated and unfashionable perspectives, but I really can’t get on with these fixed camera views. When I play a MMO I want to be able to see the world through my character’s eyes, or else zoom out for better tactical awareness. The limitations imposed by a fixed isometric camera are just too frustrating to bother with.

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traja

Doesn’t bother me at all. Having grown up with isometric and side scrolling games I don’t feel any different about them than 1st and 3rd person 3D games. Unfortunately with MMOs there aren’t many good modern games that are isometric.

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McGuffn

no, isometric is great.