When I was handed the reins of Choose My Adventure by the incomparably awesome Eliot, I had bare little idea what sort of things I was going to get in to. Granted, I’ve been a reader of this column for a while now and always enjoyed its format, but being on the other side of the coin was like nothing I’ve ever experienced before and continues to be something that I’m impressed by. There really is nothing like this that I’ve seen out there anywhere, and I am genuinely honored to be heading it.
We’ve still got plenty of things to look forward to in 2020 as well as the remainder of our December adventure, but as is tradition, I’ll be taking a quick look back at the year that was in CMA and offering my brief thoughts on our shared year of MMO and multiplayer game exploration.
When you’re asked to do a column that a terrific writer like Eliot did for so long, you feel compelled to arrive with as big of a bang as you can, so I elected to start my CMA life with Star Citizen. Almost immediately, I was granted a lot of support and kicked off a lot of conversation. It was one heck of an introduction for me, and I hope one for those who read the column as well.
I’m not surprised at all that this one won out the following month’s voting, and I was secretly hoping it would. The parallels between Elite Dangerous and Star Citizen, however unfairly, are always drawn, and seeing where this particular sandbox stood at the time was a curiosity that I wanted to satisfy. Ultimately, while I prefer the world of Star Citizen more, I can’t deny that there’s a lot to love about Elite Dangerous as well. Maybe something soon will really sink its hooks in for me.
The Elder Scrolls Online
Why don’t I play this game more? Seriously, I had a great time during my trip through ESO, I find the game to be a solid bit of exploratory and freeform PvE adventuring, and I really do think its subscription is one of the genre’s greatest values. Maybe it’s the same problem I have with a game like Guild Wars 2 in that I find it a great video game but not a great world. Unless, of course, there’s roleplay I’m not seeing. In any case, I really had a good time here. I really should play this more.
Legends of Aria: Part 1
This was, for better or worse, my first “real” sandbox MMORPG. I first cut my teeth on the genre with EverQuest Online Adventures on the PS2, but the Ultima Onlines and Star Wars Galaxies of the world are something I missed out on. And boy was Legends of Aria a doozy, rife with confusion and bafflement along nearly every step. Still, I felt like I was the one doing it wrong, so I elected to come back later this year just to be sure I wasn’t a complete moron.
I brought my husband along for the ride this time around and am I glad I did. I really should try to convince him to join me on more sandbox adventures because having some regular backup was pretty invaluable. We wandered, we explored, we ate cabbage to victory.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Can I just say once more how happy I am that the CMA voting public told me to roll an Imperial Agent? As much fun as it is being a space wizard samurai, this story was absolutely top notch and nearly made me want to play through the other “normal” class stories. I say “almost” simply because I really dislike how SWTOR does its free-to-players dirty.
Oh, TERA. You do so much well but then other things not so great. I love me some action combat, don’t get me wrong, and TERA still shines as the best expression of the combat model, but it also continues to be a middling MMORPG experience. But you know what? That’s OK. As I argued in my closing post, not every MMO needs to be a transcendent experience, and really, beating up on monsters in this game just feels so good.
City of Heroes
Out of all of the CMA columns I did, this one was the most revelatory for me. Naturally I’m delighted that City of Heroes is allowed to come back, however tenuously. Of course I’m happy that it’s helping to set a precedent for games preservation. But the time I spent in this game really did confirm to me that I had said my goodbyes a long time ago and have moved on, releasing all of my anger at NCSoft into the ether and enjoying what’s new and next.
The Not-So-Massively Mix
With all of my time spent in “core” MMORPGs, I felt it was time to give a nod to the other games that we cover here. The large-scale and multiplayer titles that send some commenters into a froth when we cover them. I really quite liked doing this and will probably revisit the idea again, especially since it provided a great palate cleanser for all of the single games I was doing.
Legends of Aria: Part 2
With an update made to the game that seemed to be aimed at helping new players acclimate, it felt like the right time to revisit Legends of Aria to both see what it was like and to see whether I was in fact an idiot. I ultimately ended up kind of bored with the game and fell into… well, a bit of madness, we’ll say. I leaned into it, though, fully embracing the lack of caring and turning it into its own story that I think was enjoyable.
Can this game come out already, please? Even in an alpha state, I found a fair bit to love about Torchlight Frontiers. I even managed to like a pet class, which is pretty remarkable for me, personally! How can you not love a pet train, though? I kind of wish that Echtra Games would crank out things a bit faster, but at the same time I also don’t want them to rush it. After all, Torchlight is a pretty revered IP and punting it out of the door would be pretty distressing for many.
Citadel: Forged with Fire
Ah, the game that got me to appreciate survival sandbox games. I still don’t know what it is about Citadel: Forged with Fire that hooked me in so well, but there’s just something that I adore about it despite some baffling design decisions. It’s like that dopey dog that you can’t help but love even though it chews that one corner of the sofa over and over again.
So what awaits in 2020? Only you can ultimately tell me, but I’m excited to see what new adventures await. Thank you once again to everyone for their participation and we’ll see you for the rest of this month!