The Daily Grind: What explorer-friendly mechanics should be in more MMOs?

    
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The Daily Grind: What explorer-friendly mechanics should be in more MMOs?

When Final Fantasy XIV’s Futures Rewritten patch arrives next month, it includes a nifty feature called explorer mode that will essentially allow players to wander back through your completed dungeons so you can explore, take pictures, and get up to all kinds of shenanigans. Imagine the video footage you can score in there!

I personally love this feature. It’s fluffy and unnecessary, and that’s exactly why it’s catching attention. I haven’t seen anything like this in an MMO since classic Guild Wars, which did something similar by letting players go back into mission maps as explorable zones after the mission was done. But unlike FFXIV, Guild Wars did populate the zones with basic mobs, though not bosses. FFXIV’s is definitely better for the pure explorer.

This is just one of dozens of explorer-friendly mechanics I can think of that I wish more MMOs offered. How about you? What explorer goodies should be in more MMOs?

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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Oleg Chebeneev

Treasures/treasure chests hidden in smart locations with clues how to reach them. Also cool little places of interest that tell a story. I love how it is done in Enderal

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kjempff

One way is to have random named mobs in the world, either completely randomly placed, by placeholder with random spawn, and/or named randomly chosen or randomly picked from table. Also chests or crafting resources and similar can be done this way.
This encourages players to explore, it diversify the game experience, and it gives player agency as opposed to on-rails story driven questing.

Some mmos also use achievements for reaching certain places or perform certain actions, which is a nice addition to the above mentioned. I particularly liked the dive jump achievements in gw2.

And I know you will hate this, for quest parts: randomized drops, random droprates, per mob type, per area, etc. This strongly encourages players to go kill mobs that are “just around the next corner”, and it might not be the relaxing picnic exploration but it does get players places they normally might not have gone to.
RNGesus saves games!

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treehuggerhannah

Having a main road/path through the zone that is relatively clear of enemies. I’m much more likely to explore the far corners of a map if I don’t have to fight a mob every six feet all the way from the main city just to get to a point of interest on the other side.

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Bryan Turner

The only MMO I found fun exploring the world was GW2, so everyone should just copy that for Open World.

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Anstalt

Reasons I explore:

1) Interesting creatures to fight.
This is really my primary reason, I love finding weird and quirky creatures or mini-bosses hidden away, providing me with a nice challenge in a unique location. Its not the same if a quest leads me there, the joy comes from discovering it for myself.

2) Loot
In single player RPGs I check every nook and cranny looking for those interesting bits of gear. Morrowind did this best, I was forever finding stuff with unique looks or interesting stats, made me want to explore every single place I came across!

I’ve not really seen either mechanic appear much in mmos, so I’d love to see them put in. Vanilla LotRO did have a little bit of the interesting creatures, there were a few areas dotted about where no quests seemed to take you, so it was good fun exploring them and seeing what was on offer.

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Castagere Shaikura

Right now I am addicted to Kingdoms of Amalur re reckoning. They have these lore stones that you click on that give you a voice-activated zone story. Each zone has around 5 of them scattered around. And when you complete a zone you get a permanent buff. This game world is massive. That is so mmo for a single-player game. You can track your progress in your statues tab too. And you get XP from each stone.

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rk70534

Just giving basic XP from exploring, especially less traveled areas, would be nice.

Yogitus
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Yogitus

I can’t think of a specific mechanic, but I’d love more intentional world design that minimizes empty space. This doesn’t mean fill all empty spaces with npcs, events, or landmarks, but every space should add directly and indirectly to narrative whole of the area. Go to the top of a peak? You should see a few possibilities or neat additions to the area. In a giant field? What’s discoverable to give you a glimpse of the history that occurred there? Want to walk through a canyon just to find the other side? What makes that journey interesting and rewarding at both along the journey and at the destination.

I love exploring, but just a walk through landscape isn’t enough. Developers need to connect that walk to the narrative and history, too.

I think GW2 does a pretty good job of getting you out in the world, but I don’t want every game to take that approach.

PS: 3 dimensional exploration is a must, but near-limitless flying is not a tool for exploration; it’s an eraser.

Zeph
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Zeph

I’d like future virtual worlds to take inspiration from the randomization and procedural generation stuff going on in games like No Man’s Sky and Minecraft.

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Bruno Brito

That idea is pretty good honestly.