Choose My Adventure: The perfect sandbox MMORPG already exists in Project Gorgon

    
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You know, I don’t think I’ve ever delighted in being so lost in an MMORPG before.

Most of the time, being kicked out into the pasture and told to figure it out is upsetting to me in sandbox MMOs, but with Project Gorgon, it arrived at just the right time. The starting island pretty much equipped me with all of the tools in terms of skill and actual equipment to make my arrival to the wider world feel far less daunting than it has in other sandboxes I’ve tried.

Of course, it was getting to that open pasture that provided a bit of a problem. Somehow, I completely lost how to get to Serbule Hills from where I was logged out initially, which inadvertently had me running around Anagogue Island for a bit trying to find the dungeon that led to the cave and to the area I was tasked with going. I ended up accidentally finding another quest chain that opened up teleportation magic to me, which I’m happy I did beforehand; it was a happy accident to unlock this bit of convenience that otherwise is just par for the course in most other MMOs.

This whole quest chain once more illustrated just how much Project Gorgon breaks from the traditional themepark MMO mold even when it’s doing themepark-y things. I was tasked with touching these obelisks that were dotted around the island, and doing so showed off a series of numbers for coordinates. Each instance of touching these obelisks also had some quest text that said that I should write this down in a notepad. I thought it was just flavor text, though, and that my character was automatically remembering the number, but it turns out that there’s literally a notepad in-game that I have to use to make notes. I don’t know why such a small touch makes such an impact for me, but it really does. It’s so effortlessly clever.

With quest complete and coordinate in hand (after a quick Googling because I didn’t have the wherewithal to write anything down), I ended up off of the island and in Serbule. Not Serbule Hills, mind you, but Serbule. So it wasn’t quite what was voted on, but it was adjacent enough.

From there, there were another couple of quest steps that gave vague instructions on where to go, but I was left to my own devices. Which circles right back around to being out in the middle of a large area and left to my own devices. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t really paying rapt attention to my quest steps. I was too busy wandering around Serbule, taking in the sights, exploring the interesting looking areas I saw, and getting my ass beat by tigers. I even managed to find what I assume to be one of the higher level dungeons there, which I foolishly entered and when screaming out of shortly after once I realized my egregious error. It kind of sucks I won’t be able to explore that delve, but it was also kind of nice that a dungeon was something to both look forward to and fear once again.

I honestly got completely lost and distracted, truthfully. I was trying to follow the instructions I was given, but I would see something interesting on some distant rise, run towards it, halt myself to try to get back on track, then see something else interesting. This went on for about a couple of hours. I’m glad this game’s map doesn’t have a dotted line that tracks your walking, because I’m pretty sure it would look like a tangle of spaghetti.

I suppose I should be miffed that I didn’t really accomplish anything. I suppose I should feel bad that my hopeless dependency on minimap markers and indicators on where to walk neutered my ability to wayfind quest objectives myself and actually figure things out. I suppose, if I had more time, I would have actually focused down on what the heck I was meant to do and maybe get further along. But I legitimately and delightedly do not care. This is fun.

Also, props to you all for selecting sword and psychology as my combat build. Using a skill called Tell Me About Your Mother on a skeleton has brought me no end of smiles. I can’t wait to psychoanalyze more sentient creatures.

So yes, ultimately we didn’t get anything done, but I’m enjoying myself so thoroughly that I’m not upset. This game is just that good. It transcends frustrations I would otherwise feel with other sandbox MMORPGs because it knows how to balance guiding and letting you carve your own path.

Really, that whole teleportation quest perfectly encapsulates how Project Gorgon toes this line. I wouldn’t have found it if I didn’t just wander to an interesting location. It guided me to what I needed to do, but not so much that I felt braindead. It provided me the tools but didn’t turn my head every single time, respecting the fact that I would be intelligent enough to read and understand the instructions.

For the number of developing sandbox MMORPGs that bang the drum about the good old days and how they’re going to bring back the heart of the genre back and suck out the poison of themeparks and solo play, Project Gorgon is already doing it. Not only that, but it’s doing it better, more competently, and more confidently, with (what I assume is) less budget than the big sandbox titles out there. Seriously, don’t let the dated looks or the very EQ1-like arrival turn you away. Do not sleep on Project Gorgon. Believe the hype. Every single bit of it is absolutely earned.

Needless to say, I’ll be playing this game some more, but as for CMA, it’s time to push forward with our next game. As we stride into the new year, it’s time we all take a moment to face a reality: mobile MMOs are a thing. So it’s time to investigate them!

I’ll be honest, I wholly expect that these games will be very linear in scope in terms of poll options, but if a game we choose to check out does indeed offer moments where I can stop and ask for directions, I’ll be sure to do so, but if not, then I’ll just move down the list of chosen titles. First, though, we have to figure out just which mobile MMORPG we’re going to check out first in that list. Here’s where I’m thinking of going.

Which mobile MMORPG should I start with? Choose My Portable Adventure!

  • Villagers and Heroes. Check out this underrated piece of gaming. (33%, 143 Votes)
  • Black Desert Mobile. Tiny desert, big sandbox! (34%, 149 Votes)
  • AdventureQuest 3D. Obey the Moglin (22%, 95 Votes)
  • Lineage 2 Revolution. Let's see if this one is worth the time. (11%, 49 Votes)

Total Voters: 436

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Like usual, polling will end on Friday, January 3rd, at 1:00 p.m. EST. I know that this decision will draw all sorts of eyerolls, scoffs, and other /r/MMORPG-like reactions, but I hope you’ll hear me out, follow along, and submit your thoughts. Who knows? Maybe we’ll all learn a little something. Or maybe it will confirm your biases against these types of games. There’s only one way to find out, really.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.
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Adam Russell

Still having coding issues though. I played 15 minutes and then the mouse started going screwy. Had to shut down.

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Zero_1_Zerum

V&H is cool, for a F2P game. It feels like playing a PC MMORPG on my phone, just with a touch screen, not a mouse and keyboard.

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Solaris

PG is ‘just that good’. Great article.

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Sarah Cushaway

Technically, it’s way, way too limited to work as a modern sandbox on a large-scale basis. Let’s be honest: it’s clunky AF and looks like it came out in the late 90s. Most MMO gamers are not going to go for it. That’s just the way it is. It’ll do well with a small, niche base, and that’s what they were shooting for anyway. But let’s not pretend it’s “perfect” or even really a “sandbox” by modern definitions; it’s not.

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Bruno Brito

I mean, for the graphics and niche i think that’s intentional. It’s the lack of sandboxy features that are giving me the doubts.

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Sarah Cushaway

Yeah they were always shooting for niche, but regardless– it’s a sandpark, not a true sandbox. And that’s fine, but it’s never going to hook the majority.

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Robert Mann

PG isn’t bad, and has a lot of pros that you mention, but definitely not a sandbox. It is not really something you can alter, outside a few very temporary graphical changes. It’s entirely in the realm of sandpark. The amount of ‘sand’ in such games so far is tiny. It has more than some, but so much of what is talked about here isn’t something ‘sandbox’ but rather just a lack of handholding.

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People on Steam reviews with hours between 300 and 3000 say the game is no longer good and it’s both stale and slowly going downhill.

Updates breaking versatile and fun builds to enforce a small meta instead and making many builds useless. Mostly sword and shield is one of the biggest metas.

They say if you post something on the forums that’s considered as unpopular opinion, the fanboys jump on you and destroy you, because you’re not praising the game.

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Neurotic

Yeah, V&H, awesome sauce! Can’t wait. :)

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cursedseishi

Psychology is legitimately one of my favorite skill lines in the game. And it is even better when you can kill an enemy through it, then dissect them to know how they died…

It’s the sort of sandbox where it more feels like if it’s fun, why not toss it in. Why NOT make one of the curses you can be afflicted with essentially be the cheesy Big Head modes you saw all the time in the 90s? Why NOT turn someone into a cow, and make that an actual skill line too?

It’s a refreshing oddity.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

Can we add an option for anything that’s not mobile? The autoplay makes them all really dry to observe.

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Minimalistway

Villagers and Heroes work on mobile but does not have autoplay, they even put that as a major point in Andriod store.

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Bruno Brito

Is PG a sandbox? Always felt like a sandpark to me, lacking some of the more sandboxy features.

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PanagiotisLial1

it lacks housing(but has plans for it) and its not a sandbox with focus in PVP but its more sandboxy than many others that cross the line deeper to themeparks(ArcheAge, BDO etc).

Another good thing is it currently asks only a box fee and nothing more. There is an option in forum to donate or help them with funding future mounts and houses but literally the game has no cash shop.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah though that $40 entry price can seem daunting. But I guess they did create a Demo for it and it looks like they did put a lot of thought into giving folks enough of a taste of the game. So there’s at least a good amount to explore and dabble around with in the demo itself.

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Sorenthaz

Basically it’s a sandbox in the same way that Runescape is. You’re given the freedom to work on and pursue whatever you want, but when it comes to combat there are obviously areas that are meant for folks with higher gear/combat levels. The game also doesn’t hold your hand and tell you where to go – you essentially have to explore and figure it out as you go.

In general I’d say that Project Gorgon feels kind of similar to a third/first-person Runescape, except PG has much more depth/variety to its skills and NPCs can offer more than just quests if you build up your reputation with them.

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PanagiotisLial1

Maybe closer to the classic Runescape than the new one(without the wildy though) but Runescape’s exploration wasnt so important, at least on original classic game, as it is on Project Gorgon.

Runescape is actually the first sandbox I ever tried – I dont remember which year but I remember the game was new back then(less than a year)

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Bruno Brito

To be fair, Runescape has years of content. PG will get there.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, I think of a sandbox as having things that can (semi-) permanently change based on what I do… outside of just my character. PG that is not. It’s very themepark in most ways. Just like most of the games that get called ‘sandbox’ here with the thinnest amount of anything that isn’t 100% set in stone.

If having crops grow for a little bit, or not having specific guidance at all times makes something a sandbox, then I guess it is. I disagree with that as defining something as a sandbox, but I also see the idea as far more than kicking down each other’s virtual sandcastles, and expect somebody to bring deeper systems along that really show what one should be (sadly, attempts at doing so have been quite thoroughly lacking).