This has been a pretty challenging year for a lot of reasons, and my 2022 in Choose My Adventure certainly didn’t feel any different in that regard. We had a lot of games that were a bit harder than normal to get through, but we got through them together, which is always the strength of this column – indeed of Massively Overpowered in general.
Even if the worlds we visited and the journeys we took weren’t always the best or the happiest, I’m glad that we took them all the same because you can’t really know if a game won’t work out unless you try, and while I’m hardly the final arbiter of all things MMO quality, it was good to know what worked and what didn’t.
Here’s a recap of all of the MMOs and multiplayer games you made us play this past year.
The Return Trip Bundle
January started off with a return trip bundle of games that I had previously visited but decided to come back to, and The Elder Scrolls Online definitely was a standout, reminding me that I should probably dig into this game with much more frequency than I do. I also felt similarly for Dungeons & Dragons Online, but a bit less so for Project Gorgon – mostly because I wasn’t really keyed in to all of the little mechanisms that make things happen. As you can see, I play a lot of games and sometimes things slip my mind.
While I’m not sure that Zenith is a big and sprawling enough game to make me a convert of VR as an MMORPG platform, I really do have to appreciate that being literally and physically inside of an MMO world was incredibly impactful stuff. In fact, I enjoyed my time in VR gaming so much that I’m enough of a proponent to cheer the platform on. So long as it decided to stay in its lane and be about awesome gaming experiences and not… well… whatever the hell Zuckerberg wants it to transform in to.
The Secret World
This one made me very sad. As much as I love The Secret World as a setting and as a place of impressive stories and unique quests, there was just nobody around me to make it feel right, and both versions of the game just didn’t really play well, though Legends ended up feeling worse to me than base TSW did. I’m glad it’s still up and running, but it just seems like it’s on borrowed time at this point, and it also made me question my whole interest in the series itself, and that sucks.
After a moment to explain the purpose of CMA, I jumped into Albion Online for yet another return trip (though a more thorough one than January’s offerings). Here I found a sandbox with some promise, the enjoyment of using comically large gloves to punch enemies with, and even an intriguing peek into the realm-wide warfare that the game really really really wants people to do. It’s still not quite my type of sandbox, but boy is it the closest.
City of Heroes: Rebirth
After a failed attempt to get in to Final Fantasy XI like I had planned, the month of May saw me hop into the Rebirth rogue server for City of Heroes. Overall, I kind of like how Rebirth does things, though I also couldn’t shake the sense that I was invading someone else’s private server party and I was tolerated as opposed to invited. Not that I was handled poorly or aggressively, mind you; this one just feels very insular. Still, there are a couple of things I wish Homecoming did that Rebirth does. Like making leveling more fun, for instance.
Final Fantasy XI
Thanks to some help from Eliot, I was able to get back in to Final Fantasy XI as I had planned to and… well, this one again pretty much confirmed that I’ve moved forward. Once again, I don’t hate that this game is still operational and still getting things to do despite the devs’ insistence that it’s in maintenance mode, but I also have absolutely progressed in my MMORPG life and enjoy the advances our genre has enjoyed, even if FFXI is a foundational title for me.
Vampiric powers and survivalbox gameplay just do not mix, in my opinion. Even if the way this game controls is fun. Even if the powers have some interesting wrinkles. Even if I can make a great spooky castle. It sucks being a vampire in this world purely because of one thing: survival sandbox gameplay tedium will absolutely suck all of the fun out of any setting no matter how cool it is. Boy what a letdown.
There are pleasant surprises, and then there are left-field, out of nowhere, completely manic fever dreams like Chimeraland, and while I’m not super confident in this game’s chances for survival, I have got to applaud it for its absolutely madcap and creative design choices. Even the usual survival sandbox contrivances that were peeking up on the horizon weren’t enough to derail me from swimming in the unchecked weird of this game. Without a doubt, this was the single most memorable game all year.
Even if I was prepared for disappointment, that doesn’t mean that experiencing being left in the dust in Lost Ark didn’t hurt. As much fun as the Machinist class ended up being, it really wasn’t strong enough for me to get through all of the story all over again, and when I came back to one of my max level characters, there was pretty much nobody around to play with. If you’re new here, it feels like you’re done; if you’re established, you’re probably served well. At least, I hope you are because the actual moment to moment gameplay is really fun. And machine gun go brrrrr.
I admit that there was a bit of personal bias against Pokemon-like RPGs going into Temtem, which probably didn’t really help my experience overall. Even so, there are some good things out of this game, like its creature designs and overall neat-looking setting. Still, it’s a Pokemon RPG. Even when I tried to swim against that tide and explore the world at my leisure, it’s still a Pokemon RPG from the very jump. And that’s just not a game style I dig.
The Quirky MMO Mix
Here we see that whole “nothing ventured, nothing gained” axiom come into perfect focus here. These MMOs are distinct and interesting on paper, but most of them were not particularly great in practice in my opinion. Still, as I said earlier, it was good to try at least, and I ended up having a good time in at least one of them.
Guild Wars 2
Considering that Guild Wars 2 is pretty much a big favorite of mine right now, I’m sure it’s no surprise that I’ve been having a blast with this one. I know that I’m repeating myself here, but it really does bear repeating: The Elementalist is an awesome class, I’m really digging all of the activities going on here, and even if I’m behind the curve, exploring and expanding this game has felt better than it ever has in the past. I am so glad I gave it another shot.
So there you have it: all of 2022’s adventures all summed up. As usual, I genuinely appreciate everyone for taking these trips with me, guiding my hand, and reading my thoughts. Here’s to more in 2023 and onward!