The Daily Grind: Which game is the best MMO ambassador?

The other day I was listening to a podcast in which the host was making a case that Final Fantasy XIV was one of the best MMO ambassadors out there right now. That is, it was a “gateway” title that served to lure in and introduce players to MMORPGs who might not otherwise ever try them.

I’ve heard this concept bandied about before, and honestly, I like it. I think it’s important to make converts of outside players to keep the MMO community from getting too stale and complacent. We need new lifeblood to keep these games from dying out, and even past that, if we love these games and see their virtue, we’ll want to introduce a friend or family member to what makes them special!

So which game do you think makes for the best MMO ambassador? If you were to try to woo a friend to MMOs, which title would you use to suck them into the genre?

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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Toy Clown

Even though I didn’t stick with FFXIV, mostly because I’m more of a sandbox player than a themepark player, I admit it had the best new player experience of any MMO I’ve come across. I loved how they introduced dungeoning, which alleviated the fear of coming in contact with potentially toxic people by showing you the ropes how to play your class in a dungeon environment before tossing you in them. Once I got inside of dungeons, the people were great toward new players if you communicated that.

It wasn’t until I hit my 60’s that I realized players were getting dumber in dungeons, rather than smarter, and I found myself lamenting the friendlier and fun atmosphere of the pre-50 dungeoning game. In fact, it’s why I burned out and left because people were getting crappy toward each other like they are in other MMOs. Back to the sandbox I went where I’m wasn’t forced to deal with people I don’t want to.

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Syran

I dare anyone who recommends Final Fantasy XIV to play through the first 50-100 hours with some friends. I agree that the game has a lot going for it in the long run, but all of my attempts to get people into FFXIV failed miserably because they never even made it past the introduction part of the game. Most of the time it wasn’t even because of the boring, drawn out and badly staged first story arc, nor because of the slow combat and character progression. That was definitely a major turn-off for most, but the real issue is that the game actively discourages playing together. There no incentive for questing together, in fact it’s almost impossible to make progress together at all, unless everyone plays exclusively at the same time and starts in the same city. And even if you do manage to keep everyone’s progress in sync, the game constantly requires you to split up again for solo quests.

It obviously isn’t much of an issue for people who pick up the game on their own, but even then I don’t think FFXIV has much to offer, other than the prospect of eventually getting to the good stuff. There’s no content in the beginning that makes you feel connected with the community and almost no opportunity or reason to interact with other players. Might as well play an offline RPG with a better story and more interesting game mechanics.

The sad thing is… Now that I think about it, I’m not sure which other MMO I could recommend instead.

Mattaui
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Mattaui

My friend and I have played through the entire storyline from ARR to the most recent patch and we’ve enjoyed it immensely. That being said! It is odd that a game which includes mandatory dungeon runs also includes mandatory solo instances, even if most (though definitely not all) of them are pretty easy. Would make so much more sense that everything could be done in a group. We generally work through the MSQ at the same time and do all the quests together, but yes, if someone got way ahead of someone else then it would become cumbersome for the other to catch up. But I find that to be the case in just about any game where there’s some main storyline quest (like in LotRO).

However I will agree that it is a stumbling block that makes it difficult for people who expect to be able to jump in and go. At least now there are ways to pay to skip ahead, not that I’d ever recommend such a thing. FFXIV is much more about the journey than the destination for me.

I do find it interesting that FFXIV seems to be such a polarizing property, judging by these comments. Some people seem to hate and despise the story, for instance, while my friend and I found it more compelling than just about any other MMO story (granted not a very high bar).

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Loyheta

I think FFXIV is a poor ambassador. It has one of the most linear and slow-paced stories that must be played through to access additional classes, zones, and other expansion content. I absolutely love their job system and wish more games allowed you to access all the classes through one character. However finishing ARR and all of its patches to simply play the (imo better) expansion content is a daunting task.

Most games only require you to reach a level for access to expansion content. Imagine having to quest through every one of WoW’s zones and playing a zone’s story just to be able to play burning crusade. Having to do the vanilla raids just to progress the main story, etc.

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agemyth 😩

I would feel like a jerk if I put a friend up to playing the first hours of FF14 with the expectation that it was going to introduce them to the genre and get them hooked. Seriously, FF14’s 2.0 intro/story quest line missions are not good by today’s WoW-like linear questing progression style.

Maybe one would argue in favor of jumping in on a level boosted character in such a game to skip to the more up-to-date content, but I would think trying to introduce someone to our beloved genre by skipping most of the content and just getting into late game dungeon grinds is silly.

Games like EVE Online and Project Gorgon (just to name a couple) are better representatives of the possibilities of where the genre can go rather than just slower paced and server latency riddled experiences similar to what people get in Destiny or Diablo 3.

Don’t trick your friends into buying FF14 and expect them to trudge through hours of bad anime writing and parcel delivery quests just because you say “it gets better” like they are expected to suffer their teenage years all over again.

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rafael12104

Not so fast! As my friend in sports commentary Lee Corso would say.

There can’t be only one ambassador. For example, a Star Wars/Kotor nut would require SWTOR. A Skyrim fan would be most comfortable with ESO. And a graphics snot would demand BDO.

The truth is we have enough decent ambassadors to establish diplomatic relations with any would be player.

To put in college football terms: Alabama isn’t always the best! And Lee Corso isn’t always right. Ask Katy Perry!

http://i.giphy.com/ToMjGpqFB4rKawT6iFa.gif

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Alex Willis

For someone brand spanking new to online games? ESO.
For someone who had experience with online games but not MMOs? GW2.

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Vincent Clark

I find it interesting that the majority of people who have issues with FFXIV focus on the fact that group play is a core principle (for the lack of a better word) in the game. SE has never hid the fact that the game will have an engrossing story that along the way will require you group up with fellow adventurers to progress. In an MMORPG, this should never be seen as a negative. It has stuck to those principles and I think it’s a better game for it. The fact that it still has a growing player base after 5 years tells me they made the right decision. And for those that say they can never find people to form a group…you must be on the lowest population server across all the worlds then…given my experience I just find that hard to believe.

John Artemus
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John Artemus

I’ve said numerous times before (and I’m sure I’ll be saying it again), but FFXIV is the closest you’ll get these days to a traditional theme park MMO in the West. It takes time to level, exploration is encouraged (and even required in some parts) and you have to group up to progress your character. The game is all about questing and exploration. And even trying out different classes and jobs. It also has a very engrossing story.

It’s an all around great game and has become my main MMO.

As to the topic of drawing new people to the genre, I think that’s a tough sell, because, truth be told, the community is toxic and full of locusts. That is, players descend upon a new MMO, devour all the content in about six or so months, and then complain loudly that there’s nothing to do.

They then come to sites like this and others and talk about how boring the game is, how it could have been so much more, how it never met its full potential, blah, blah, blah. You can almost copy and paste their complaints to any game out in NA. It’s the exact same gripes. Thus, the genre ends up cannibalizing itself. MMOs that are truly original, innovative and creative are not rewarded. No one plays them. People say they want something different, but they really don’t. They want WoW clones with some minor tweaks.

And even then, they will complain that the game is “too much like WoW”. That is the North American MMO community in a nutshell.

Mattaui
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Mattaui

FFXIV is my definite fave right now, and I’d highly recommend it, as long as the player involved wasn’t totally allergic to the idea of having to run some dungeons and raids. I say this as a person who isn’t a huge fan of having to group up for MMO content myself, but I enjoy the gameplay and the story enough, and it helps that they’re relatively short affairs and have some pretty creative design.

GW2 is the easiest to jump in and do a few things, and of course no sub, so if I was going to recommend one that I enjoyed with the lowest barrier to entry, that would definitely be it.

I’ve had tons of fun in LotRO, but it’s more of a provisional recommendation for those who are more enamored with world building and quest depth, as the engine is fairly creaky and the classes overburdened with too many hotbars. I still love the painterly outdoor environments, just don’t look too close!

And sure, there’s World of Warcraft, a game I played religiously for many years, and even if it isn’t the game it was, there’s lots to do there for those of us who haven’t done it all before, many times.

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Dug From The Earth

If they are willing to pay a Sub: WoW
If they arent willing to pay a sub: GW2 or ESO.