The Daily Grind: What’s the worst MMO zone transition of all time?

    
29

OK, stop me if you’ve heard this one: You’re going along in a new MMORPG, happily zipping across verdant landscapes, doing quests in a world of farm land and crystal lakes and classic architecture and it’s beautiful and welcoming. And then an hour or two in, you get to The Cutscene, and on the other side is… absolute devastation.

I’m talking about classic Guild Wars, of course, and the transition from Pre-Searing Ascalon to Post, which was so jarring that it was an easy bail point for a lot of folks who’d been enchanted with the pastoral introduction and couldn’t stomach the ashy ruin of everything they’d come to know in the game. I suspect the switchover from soloable to group content right about then also had a lot to do with it, but if you chat with any old school GW1 player, he or she will have a story about the feeling of having lost an anchor to the game right around that transition.

I dunno whether that was the worst zone transition of all time – I still love the game myself and feel mostly nostalgia rather than repulsion for Post, nowadays – but it’s surely one that MMO zone designers use as an example of how good storyline intentions can go wrong for the actual player experience. What would you say is the worst MMO zone transition of all time?

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!

29
LEAVE A COMMENT

Please Login to comment
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Reader
Jon Camp

I don’t recall the zone names as it’s been years since I played Rift, but going from that lovely verdant green jungle in the 1st zone of the 1st Rift expansion (Storm Legion? ) to the death-plane themed next zone was not only jarring, but depressing as all get-out to play in.

Reader
Matt Redding

I really do think Guild Wars takes the cake forever with that transition because it was unexpected by most people (even if you read the physical manual the story didn’t quite make sense until you lived through the apocalypse known as The Searing). Also I think the game did an actually bad job with the tutorial, you don’t get death penalty in the Pre-Searing area and nothing warns you about it. The whole pre-searing area is more of prototype and less an actual tutorial. Honestly there were mechanical issues with the game that I never understood until I played through the tutorials in the expansions and had info handed to me.

Rift was a little similar in that you start in pre-apocalypse Mathosia and by the time you return to it as a level 40 or 45 character it’s now the death magic corrupted land of Stillmoor, but you’ve been told that’s what’s happened long before you get there.

Reader
Rheem Octuris

Still it’s better than launch Vanguard: Saga of Heroes, where the world was open but zone lines were placed willy nilly. Oh, and you had a 50% chance of ending up 50 feet in the sky on the other side, and falling to your death.

Reader
Barantor

Greater Feydark Forest into Clan Crushbone in EQ1. It wasn’t the landscape so much as the weird way that mobs chased back to that point making it very dangerous if you were at level for that zone and came in just as someone was fleeing a mob of orcs.

Reader
officeape

I’m going to go with entering Lavastorm from Nektulos Forest in original EQ.

You go from spooky, dark forest to rock and lava pools.

Also, I had a rough time once in that zone wherein I gained and then lost a level 3 times in one session.

Elsa
Reader
Elsa

Final Fantasy XIV goes from the constantly blizzard-plagued Coerthas Western Highlands to the very mild Dravanian Forelands with little in the way of connective tissue. It’s very jarring.

UpayaBlossom
Reader
UpayaBlossom

I think GW2 had some of the most jarring, nonsensical transitions from zone to zone that I have ever seen.

Now I have a question: I am getting a strange itch to give WoW a new shot. Haven’t played since 2014ish and I have certainly not been the game’s cheerleader as of late. But after bouncing about into and out of various other games for years, and with SWL being a sometimes-game by nature now, I just feel like WoW is the one that actually has resources and support and has no weird, persistent lag (60fps! yay!) MMORPGs seem to have been more-or-less a failure as a genre, leaving slim pickings for games that live up to initial sorts of hype for what massive shared worlds could become. So, is this nostalgia or should I resub for a month to see how I feel? I’d be starting 100% over again on a new server and have enjoyed 1-10 on starter ed. Open consultation!

latorn
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
latorn

No one can answer the question of whether or not you’ll enjoy resubbing WoW except you… But I can give you an opinion.

I was in a similar boat, I resubbed for BFA and must say after the initial shine wore off it was a very disappointing experience/expansion. I’m currently subbed to ESO and having a blast, much more fun and engaging than BFA is imo.

UpayaBlossom
Reader
UpayaBlossom

ESO has been one of those jump-in/jump-out games for me. I actually straight up own a lot of content there and enjoy it in some nice bursts. But I’d like to move away from “action combat” toward tab-target again. Just a stylistic preference I have never shaken.

Reader
Michael18

Haven’t been playing WoW for ages, either, but I’d say WoW is always worth a visit.

OTOH, I’d recommend giving LOTRO a try, if you haven’t tried it before and do not mind slightly dated graphics/engines. It has laid-back tab target combat, great world building, good story-telling, tons of content, and a great community. Compared to WoW it’s more about leisurely questing and wandering through zones, and exploring the world, than running dungeons or raids. But to get the most out of it, you should enjoy taking your time even on low/mid levels; for rushing to max level and doing end-game-style content it’s not a good option, imo.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

Most of the themeparks. I remember guild wars 2 you’d be in eternal springtime land > then eternal desert world > adjacent to ice world. So lazy and uninspired.

Reader
Bruno Brito

I found the transition in gw2 quite decent. I mean, you went from plains to more elevated grasslands, to mountains. I think most of my issues was ascalon starting to become a volcano area, while still having healthy wildlife.

Other games fail a lot on it true.

Reader
Songs for Children

How would you have done it?

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Armsbend

Not made it like mario levels.

Reader
Songs for Children

That’s how you would not have done it. But okay.

Mordyjuice
Reader
Mordyjuice

I suppose you could say that between Brisban and the Maguuma Jungle you’ve got two mini deserts, but then if you go to Washington State you’ll find that it has those picturesque Twigglight Movie forests along with a desert in that state.

At first I found the Shiverpeaks jarring since it appears that their article zone goes straight down to the equator and to the top of the Desert Highlands map; but then it’s not called the Shiverpeaks for nothing, they’re basically the Rocky Mountains that run almost the whole length of North America from Canada to the Southwest US (possibly Mexico for all I know) and those peaks are snowy almost all year round.

You can’t really bring up the brand as that’s a scar created by the passing of a dragon.

Staff
Kickstarter Donor
Chris Neal

There was a point in SWTOR’s primary story arc where you get to Quesh, which not only is probably one of the least interesting planets from a story perspective, but also is this sepia tone hellscape visually.

Reader
officeape

Yes, definitely agree on Quesh. I’ve always been a big fan of SWTOR, but Quesh was/is definitely a low point in the game.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

If it was the transition itself, it would be Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.