The Daily Grind: Which MMO is the best at encouraging players to take on older content?

    
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Games don’t usually need to do much to point players toward the new. If you’re logging in to Guild Wars 2 when the new saga-story-season thinger drops, you’re probably doing so because you want the new stuff. The new stuff was the draw! And this is true whether you haven’t been logging in much for some time or if you have already picked the bones of the game’s existing content dry. But the handful of players who are still working their way through Heart of Thorns content might like it if you stop back over, because it’s lonely out here and there are wolves after them.

Some games seem to have a downright hostile relationship with old content; World of Warcraft has long treated its older raids like punching bags full of outfit pieces for you to solo if you want. Other games spend a lot of time making sure that you’re always going back, either because you have new jobs to level in Final Fantasy XIV or because you’re getting in random groups that might need something older. So which MMO do you think is the best at encouraging players to take on the older content? And which ones do you feel could be doing a much better job?

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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Bryan Cole

FFXI first comes to mind, since they did it before current games like FFXIV, ESO and GW2. All 4 games do it in varying ways and I enjoy most of these, but I think FFXI and XIV do it best since it’s all on one character and it constantly brings players down into lower levels and dungeons to help other new characters on their journeys.

John Artemus
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John Artemus

FFXIV, without question. You 100% HAVE to do older content, for a number of things. And not just when leveling up a new job.

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Brown Jenkin

For me its got to be either GW2 or ESO without question. Between those games I think it boils down to playstyle/player preference. I find GW2’s approach to be a generally more inviting experience, essentially no matter what I do in GW2 I feel like my time’s being pretty well spent and I’m never hamstringing myself by playing with friends or just goofing around exploring, doing world bosses or whatever else. ESO similarly changed everything about their punishing systems from before One Tamriel, and in either game, especially if playing in a small group rather than solo I feel like you can enjoy any aspect of the game while still making progress toward your goals.

Rather than choose between the two, all I can do is hope that the rest of the genre learns from their lessons. People complain really often about how “stagnant” the MMO genre can be, I think that games like GW2 were in many ways deeply innovative if not revolutionary. I think if there is a path forward for MMOs, it has got to learn from the great examples these games have made.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

There have been some negative votes about how ESO does things where people are confused, but I’m going to give it a positive vote here instead.

If you start a new character in one of the new expansion zones, once you are done and leave the zone you start to get letters and NPCs harassing you to go to the other story areas. Story NPCs have different icons than normal quest NPCs. And they made it so if you haven’t done the beginning story, you get NPCs that approach you in varying towns further along in the game that try to give you the original quest lines and send you back to those original starting areas (among others).

If you ignore them and don’t go back to these areas, that’s your choice. The game is open to do it however you want. But it does try to send you back there.

Is there a right one to do first? I don’t know that it matters that much anymore. You can do this stuff in whatever order you feel like. I know that confuses some people and they’re used to being told where to go at every step, but that’s how ESO is these days, open to do it as you explore and feel like it.

There are skill lines that only open by doing certain quest lines. Soul Magic needs that original quest line to be done in order to level it up, though they give you the only needed skill from it (to fill your empty Soul Gems) no matter where you start.

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Zero_1_Zerum

ESO usually has a package deal with all the previous expansions when they release a new one, which is nice if you are a new player.

BUT, when I started to play, it started me at the latest expansion’s starting point, without the option to start at the very beginning. The only reason I was able to start at the beginning of the game, was because of a glitch. I got stuck in a zone for some reason, and had to get support to move me. They accidentally (on purpose?) put my character in the main story’s tutorial area. I didn’t mind, because it was a cool story.

Mewmew
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Mewmew

You would have been directed there anyway later on. Once you finish or leave the expansion areas, NPCs with Story Quest icons over their heads start to come up to you in towns and appear all around the place trying to send you back to the starting areas of the original story.

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Bryan Correll

I just don’t know if they let you see the Coldharbour tutorial which is sort of important to see story wise.

That’s what I was getting at below. The Coldharbour opening doesn’t trigger until you visit your faction’s original start area.

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da3dalus.bat

Phantasy Star Online 2. The long cutscenes they call “story quests” will always make someone wish to just go back to running a free field or an EQ.

Sixuality
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Sixuality

City of Heroes. Orouboros makes all the older content accessible, and the difficulty settings mean it can still be as much of a challenge as you want it to be. The game being extremely alt-friendly helps as well, as does the fact that Paragon Studios continued to add new content across all levels of the game throughout its run, rather than focusing exclusively on max level content.

Speaking of World of Warcraft… WoW is just terrible at this. Once you leave most zones you’ll never go back, and even with a new level 1 character the game seems to regard any content below the current expansion’s level range as an inconvenience to be overcome, rather than something to be revisited and enjoyed anew.

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Utakata

…the cynical side of the right pigtail wants to suggests any MMO that forces you roll a new toon at level 1. >.<

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Jaymes Buckman

I think Warcraft does it pretty well. Especially when they put things like pets in old raids that haven’t been otherwise touched in years.

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Utakata

There’s also Classic, for those who want to revisit ole skool content from 1 to 60 again.

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Bruno Brito

GW2 because of achievements and such. Changing the zones is pretty natural. Can’t complain about that.