The Daily Grind: What MMO fuels your wanderlust?


As much as I do appreciate solid direction and guidance from my MMOs when I’m looking for useful content, sometimes I like to strike off the expected path and head for distant horizons. Games that empower and encourage me to explore are wonderful treasures, especially if they have delightful things to discover.

Of course, not all games are as explorer-friendly as others. Some of my favorite titles in this regard are post-apocalyptic adventures — such as Fallout 76 and Fallen Earth — that present a wide-open, weird world that doesn’t try to hem me in.

What MMO(s) fuels your wanderlust when you want to go exploring?

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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Bruno Brito

Everquest 2. Simply because it’s huge beyond belief.


If you’ve not explored Black Desert Online, you’ve missed a lot of beautiful scenery – the world is vast, and the density of critters that want to eat you isn’t such that you’re *constantly* on the run for your life, even if you’re in places you definitely shouldn’t be at your level/gear. :)


SWG was the primary one for me.

Not only did I have the natural desire to explore, based on my existing love of the IP, but the points of interest system gave me plenty of interesting destinations to visit.

Beyond that, any MMO with an IP that I already love tends to make me want to explore, so at that point it’s just down to the game to deliver. LotRO did a pretty good job of building an awesome world that was fun to explore, SWTOR did the opposite and didn’t make exploring fun, or even really possible.

Cory James Hill

MMORPGs are trash for this and have been for north of a decade, IMO.

I really enjoyed striking out, with my camping gear, on the various huge planets of Star Wars Galaxies. Rewards were slim other than getting crystals and sometimes decent loot from mobs, but it was still a blast and the maps had great POIs.

Being able to setup camp as a Ranger and have passers-by see the smoke from my fire and come sit with me was one of my favorite things to do in the game. Many an adventure with strangers organically started like this, and a lot of those people became long-term friends. No game has offered me that kind of experience since and because of that I have never found another true MMO home.

Dug From The Earth

For the longest time, this award went to Asherons Call 1. The mmorpg were I was inspired to just travel around, exploring. I ran the entire coast line of the continent at one point.

The next game to come around that really made me want to just explore, even if it was away from the games story and content, was ESO (oddly enough). They have done a great job at rewarding those who explore off the beaten path, especially if you dont use addons that tell you “there is a chest here” or “here is a point of interest”. The one downside after exploring most of ESO…Wasted Waterfall opportunities. There drastically needed to be MORE secret things behind waterfalls. The number of times I specifically went to check to be met with nothing but a wall, was disappointing.

And lastly, a follow up reward goes to Wildstar… It added elements that tried to make you explore, that sometimes were ok, and other times were just frustrating. But at least they tried to bake it into the core gameplay.


I spend most of my time playing four games lately.

Warframe. The open world maps are static, and the rest of the mission maps are procedurally generated from preset tiles. Even though the exact layout is always different they’re built from the same handful of rooms. That said, I spend most of my time playing solo and just doing missions at my own pace, taking time to run down each dead-end hallway and smash all the boxes. The maps are… I suppose comfortingly familiar, even though the exact layout is always different.

Ark: Survival Evolved. The story maps are quite large, and some of the “free DLC” maps where user-created Workshop maps have been polished up and made part of the base game are absolutely huge. Moving my character to a new map for the first time is exciting, since I don’t use research them ahead of time (nor would I have played the Workshop version.) Even once I’m familiar with the map there’s a sense of scale that’s hard to describe.

Space Engineers. Again, the maps are static, but here the premade “Star System” map is huge (for this type of game.) The preset planets are still “video game scale,” with the Earth-like one being 120km in diameter, and I think that all four planets (and another four moons) are “only” about 8,000km apart from one end to the other. The rest is just open space and procedurally generated asteroids (and randomly spawned NPC ships and stations, depending on what mods are installed.) So it’s mostly just space, and more space, and rocks in space.

Even though it doesn’t come near the scale of Elite: Dangerous or the sheer random weirdness of No Man’s Sky, there are times when all I just want to spend time flying from asteroid to asteroid, recording which ones have ores I need or interesting features that might make them fun to build a base in, while I keep an eye out for Space Pirate contacts or “distress beacons” that might mark a derelict ship or abandoned station or pirate trap. (It’s usually a pirate trap.)

Deep Rock Galactic. This is the one I play when I want to see something new every time. Again, procedurally generated maps, but the sheer variety is just nuts. Every single mission takes place in a cave, and I’ve never seen two of them that are exactly alike. Even when I take missions over and over in the same biome. This time I might find a set of relatively open tunnels, but each one studded with crystals that shimmer in the light of the glow flares. The next time, it’s a narrow twisting corkscrew where I have to use the 3D minimap to navigate as I dig my own tunnels through solid rock to get from level to level. The time after that might be jagged cramped passages constantly blocked by rockfalls, until I stumble into a cavern so vast that I my flares can’t even hint at the far walls and every surface studded with luminescent life that makes it look like I’ve just dug my way into an abyss filled with stars.

Even the alien bugs that haunt every cave have a different feel each time – one cave might be barely inhabited, with only the occasional Glyphid Grunt running up for a quick nibble, where the next is swarming with the armored Paetorians, and the one after that the first thing I see after jumping out of the drop pod is one of the terrifying and nearly invincible Bulkers that can tunnel through solid rock to reach me and that die in a massive explosion that can carve out an entirely new cavern.


I suppose I did pretty poor job of actually answering the question though. My apologies, I’m not as skilled as a writer as I want to be.

It’s hard for me to explain what “fuels my wanderlust,” or even exactly how the games I mentioned above do so. I have a really good memory, and it doesn’t take me long at all to become familiar with a new map (even one that’s a couple of kilometers on a side, such as the Ark maps.) But even when I know basically what I’m going to find, there’s still the sense of discovery when the exact details change each time. On the maps in Ark, the Redwood Forest is always over here, the Murdersnow is always there, and if I get turned around I just need to locate one of the Obelisks that dominate the skyline. It’s the *details* that matter, I guess.

For Ark, I’m constantly searching for high level creatures to tame, or ones with unusual or just attractive color combinations. I eventually want to fight the bosses, so I need to collect the rare “trophy” materials that are part of the keys, so I’m always looking for the special “Alpha” creatures that drop those. Even a relatively routine trip to one of the dense metal resource areas might turn into an improvised adventure because I spotted a max level Rex or Brontosaurus, or got surprised by a rogue Giga that somehow wandered down from the handful of areas where they normally spawn.

All of which is much different (at least to me) than “Theme Park” MMOs like WoW. Where the same group of Murlocs will always be standing in exactly the same place, day after day, week after week, year after year. As reliable and predictable as the animatronic buccaneers in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.


I dunno, you made me immediately go and download Deep Rock Galactic!


Really? O.O I hope you enjoy it. Good luck! Rock and Stone!

Jon Wax

Entropia did. That is a huge map.

Actually it’s a perfect map. Every other game is small. Even chernarus feels tiny now.

I think we are stuck in a point where the tech can’t keep up with the ideas or wants.

Use Google Earth as a template and build from there. That’s about the right size to start.


None of them anymore, which is awful really. Subnautica did more to make me want to explore than any MMO in the last five years.

Robert Mann

MMOs don’t. It’s part of the problem MMOs have with me, or I have with them, at this point. There’s really nothing to go out, explore, and discover most of the time. It’s all densely packed mobs and areas that everyone goes to because the space is used too much.

As somebody who enjoys more than just convenience, quests, and combat it is quite painful, actually.


Yup, every square [insert unit] must be utilized. Can’t make areas that isn’t connected to specific content (story), that would be wasted development resources(money).
This is a “feature” of themepark design, then add story driven to that and the problem is supreme.

Funny that single player games are better at “fueling our wanderlust” because that is what mmos were supposed to do … and used to do pre wowolution.


The obvious and definitive answer is Minecraft.

And its honestly shitting me to tears how mmorpg’s have these absolutely amazing worlds, they really do, yet have not learnt from Minecraft, which kinda just lets you explore them.