Massively Overthinking: Which MMOs are memorable but not actually fun?


Earlier this week, we ran a Daily Grind on MMOs that are fun but not especially memorable, throwing it back to a quote from MOP’s Andy. A reader on Mastodon, however, proposed the inverse: MMOs that are memorable but not especially fun.

“Inverse: MMO that is memorable but not fun?” PaJamas wrote. “EVE Online. I wish I liked that game. Some of the highlight stories are amazing. I’ve tried many different parts of that game and they all are ‘meh’ to me.”

Let’s tackle this for this week’s Massively Overthinking. Tell me about an MMO that you can’t get out of your head but you know in your heart wasn’t actually very enjoyable. What makes it memorable? What was missing that made it un-fun? How do you split these concepts for yourself? What MMOs are memorable but didn’t work for full entertainment purposes?

Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Oh yeah, EVE has got to be up there, exactly for what PaJamas said. Similarly was Age of Wushu. Being an NPC while offline skilling and being able to kidnap other offline players or bounty hunt sounds like my thing, but the horrible localization job turned it from what could have been an interesting game to a constantly breaking sentences down grammatically in order to figure out word and sentence meanings, oof.

I may be stoned for this, but also FFXIV. It’s not that it’s a bad game at all! I think for many players, there’s a whole lot there. Altaholics could downsize if they want to, fashionistas have large potential wardrobes, pet collectors have a zoo-load of content to chase… heck, I jumped in because of an accessible bear-wearing-a-Santa-hat mount! But the thing I hate most about MMOs is reaching max level to raid the same content repeatedly with people for ages, and that’s where a lot of FFXIV friends wanted to go. As with the other titles, it’s good for those who enjoy it, but it’s not for me.

Andy McAdams: I’m going to have to give EVE a big shout-out here. On paper, it should be everything I want from a spacey game, with fun space battles, trade, etc. The reality is that it’s a hellscape of folks who did their best to rip me off because they could and disparage me because I had the audacity to not have been playing consistently for the last decade, while I was simultaneously being told that the playstyle I wanted was going to take six months of real time as I waited to learn all the skills on my character to actual play the playstyle. What sounded like it was going to be a great game was just a miserable experience every time I tried to play.

Black Desert is another one. As a sandbox with lots of ancillary systems, it should be a blast. But I hate the myriad half-explained systems, a combat system best personified as “button-smashing, gender locking, and a fair amount of Why play the game? Just let the game play itself for you.” Something about that game inspired a deep, persisting, abiding dislike. It might be a phenomenal game, but I can’t bring myself to play it.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): The first MMO that comes to mind for me is Warhammer Online. I have very strong memories of playing this game at launch, probably because my whole guild was giving it a serious attempt and we really wanted a juicy alternative to WoW. We went really hard for the game, so I have specific memories of PvP (shield-bashing people off bridges, lol) and dungeons (absolute clusterfudge of AI design that failed so hard my guildies laughed about it for weeks) especially. But the game was kind of a mess, and I certainly didn’t think the grind was fun. I didn’t like the actual gameplay loop at all; I found the open-world leveling extremely stressful compared to the dozens of other MMOs I’d tried by that point. So I completely understood why it ultimately bombed after we (and apparently the majority of folks) left.

There’s a player group running the rogue server for the game now, of course, and it’s had plenty of enhancements, so please note that I am judging the launch game, not the current version! Go give those guys some love.

EverQuest (again, the first few years – I can’t speak to now) was also extremely memorable for me, but I didn’t really have a great time. I hated grinding in the game, I didn’t really enjoy most of my characters, the community was dreadful, the drama was inescapable, and I spent most of my time dreaming about playing other MMOs (and sometimes just going off to do it). Running a large raiding not-uberguild in EQ was so stressful that I literally passed the the torch to a friend for a while during DAOC to recover. But memorable? Yep, it was definitely that.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I’m just going to have to admit to myself that Black Desert is a game that is a standout in my mind for not particularly glowing reasons. It is impossibly pretty, and its combat is fantastic, but neither of those things is good enough to prop up an otherwise absolutely humdrum world and series of activities.

For a while, Guild Wars 2 also was memorable for only being a confusing morass and an awful time in Orr. I’ll also parrot Sam’s later assertion that Final Fantasy XI was not fun to play, even if it similarly was a touchstone in my MMORPG development.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I’m going to throw it all the way back to my first full time MMO, FFXI. It was a really memorable game, and most of my experiences in it are locked into my core MMO ID. I remember reading up and learning how to unlock the dragoon. I remember waiting on some boat to arrive and ride it to wherever it was going. I remember waiting around to form a group that would stick together long enough to farm monsters for leveling effectively. And I’ve mentioned a few times my first MMO friend, whom I met in FFXI.

And while all those experiences are locked in, it wasn’t really fun. Having to wait around to play sucked. Not being able to just play and level up casually stunk. The general gaming, play experience all around was just a chore. A large part of that game experience is probably what led me into the original Guild Wars’ arms.

Tyler Edwards (blog): This won’t earn me any fans, but the first thing that came to mind was WildStar. With its goofy graphics, grating humour, half-baked PATH system, poorly thought out combat model, and obnoxious “hardcore” sensibilities, it certainly isn’t a game I’ll forget any time soon, but while I’ll always remember it, I can’t say they’re fond memories.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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