The Daily Grind: Are you a fan of underwater MMO zones and content?

    
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First Dr. Evil joke gets it right in the face. No fooling.

Underwater zones in video games has been a hot topic lately. I don’t know who started it, but I noticed when I saw the Kumail Nanjiani tweet about how they’re bad and that pretty much everyone hates them – but devs do them anyway to mess with us.

“Hey, you know the pace of movement you’ve gotten used to? How about we slow it way down for no reason and also there’s a rapidly depleting gauge to stress about! Don’t worrywe’ve spent barely any effort on the swim mechanics! Oh no the screen is red and beeping FIND SOME BUBBLES.”

MMO blogger Belghast, on the other hand, admitted that the underwater WoW Cataclysm zone Vashjr is a favorite of his, prompting an interesting discussion about whether it is peaceful, suffocating, or a nexus for motion sickness.

I find I like underwater maps – if the game has planned well for them, has a functioning map system, ensures water combat and animation makes sense, and isn’t trying to make it all into a panic-inducing “am I going to drown” minigame. How about you? Are you a fan of underwater MMO zones and content? Which MMO does it best?

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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starbuck1771

I love underwater area’s and combat. Even in FPS game’s.

kjempff
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kjempff

Underwater I always have trouble judging distance to aggressive mobs. Also if there is a lot of mob pathing going on, it can be really annoying to deal with; obviously because you can’t watch a complete globe.
On top of that I also don’t like when games makes underwater backwards momentum really slow, so that you can not get out of the way while watching pathing mobs.
In theory underwater should be really cool, but for me it mostly just end up being annoying.

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EmberStar

The way Subnautica handled aggressive creatures is that nearly all of the dangerous ones have audio cues. The more bigger they are, the farther away you can hear them, so you at least know they’re around. It also adds to the sense of keeping dread when you hear the distant roar of a Leviathan Reaper and realize that it means that one is close enough to be aware of you, but hasn’t started hunting you. Yet.

Stalkers don’t make tons of noise, but they also aren’t very dangerous. They have a distinctive cry when one does begin to charge though, and it doesn’t take long at all to learn that if you hear it and *don’t* see a Stalker you should strafe to one side. Sand sharks and crabsnakes like to ambush, but they also have ambient cries that let you know one is around you… somewhere.

When I say nearly all, it’s because I can’t remember what crab-squids sounded like. But those aren’t very common and they tend to hug the bottom until they spot something that interests them. They’re also pretty obvious once you know to keep an eye out for them, so if a twenty foot tall glowing jellyfish/squid/crab thing manages to sneak up behind you, it’s probably because you weren’t paying attention at all. OnO

I really liked the reefbacks though. They’re huge, but peaceful, with cries that remind me of simplified versions of whale song. The visual design is interesting too, sort of a cross between whales and manta rays and jellyfish. It’s kind of neat to just sit and watch them sometimes.

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EmberStar

sense of *creeping* dread. Not sure how I managed “keeping dread,” since I don’t even have the excuse of auto-correct. I turned it off ages ago. OnO

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Witches

That last paragraph is a bit like saying, i like water as long as it’s not wet or blue/green/transparent and can walk my dog for me.

To me underwater is only tolerable as a short gimmick, i do it for 5 minutes and then it’s back to non annoying movement, Mannaan in KOTOR would be the best example.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

This topic is low hanging fruit but I’ll bite, GW2 is the only MMO I’ve played with underwater content that was worth doing (still not a fan, but it is what it is).

One of the many reasons I love ESO, no underwater content or combat.

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Oleg Chebeneev

I dont mind unless it is hindered by movement system

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Zero_1_Zerum

Only games I’ve played that really nailed underwater zones weren’t MMOS. They were Subnautica and modded Minecraft Java. Free movement, a decent amount of air storage (or water breathing potions and enchanted gear, in the case of Minecraft), deep depths to explore, a variety of creatures and other undersea life, beautifully designed. I’ve yet to see an MMO that even came close.

I wish they would. ESO didn’t even try, for example, if you try to swim in the ocean, you get attacked by slaughter fish and killed automatically.

I’d love to see an MMO game that was a free roam open world, which put as much thought into what’s under the water as they do to what’s on land. Have some sort of scuba gear, or at least some sort of magic means to breathe water (no pesky short O2 meters), even boats and submarines. There’s a lot of cool stuff they could do, if they even tried.

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EmberStar

Subnautica also arranged the “threat curve” in rings and layers. You start in the Safe Shallows. The most dangerous things there are Stalkers, which mostly only go for you if you get way to close or are holding metal. (They want to steal your dive knife.) You can also bribe them with metal junk and peepers, and they’ll actually bring you metal wreckage sometimes if you feed them a peeper.

The farther sideways you go, the more dangerous things get. The deeper you go, the more dangerous things become. They actually have a pretty brilliant solution to keeping the player inside the map. There are no invisible walls. If you go far enough, you attract the attention of the Ghost Leviathans that patrol the bottomless areas at the edges of the map. Hearing one is your final warning to turn back. Right. Now.

tinythinker
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tinythinker

yup

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Robert Mann

I don’t really care, but frequently developers engage in several problematic things with underwater zones. One of the most common is mob whirlpool. That is to say, that because they want mob density at most heights in the zone to be the same as on land, characters end up either pulling 20 times the mobs carefully, or they get swarmed.

This is merely one of the design issues that seems to be common around these zones, but it is one of the more important ones. Especially when you make/write bland, boring quests to go with this issue. There’s been a few quests in games where I’d be having too much fun with the writing and acting to care… but only a few out of tens of thousands.

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Schmidt.Capela

I tend to like them — but only as long as they are paced similarly to above water zones, including when it comes to travel speed, and whichever arbitrary timers are added don’t prevent leisurely exploration.

Incidentally, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Yw5jkAHgME

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Mr.McSleaz

Not an MMO but Subnautica did the underwater thing really well.

That said, I think it’s time I reinstall that game, been a couple years.

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Tobasco da Gama

Yes, Subnautica really nailed underwater mechanics. The movement is fluid, and the O2 timer is quite generous (with lots of ways to extend it). And the vehicles are all really cool and have a unique identity, as well.

It’s also a first-person game, which I think helps a lot. Third person cameras are very hard to make work for underwater movement, especially in shallow water like you see in most MMOs.

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Zero_1_Zerum

Yup, Subnautica is one of my favorites, because they did everything underwater so well.