Dark Age of Camelot I City of Heroes I Star Wars Galaxies I EVE Online I Ultima Online I Freakin' Hot Rena Tanaka Picture of the Week
Issue #34 Heath's MMORPGuide, Part 2 May 28, 2005

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Welcome to Part 2 of the MMORPGuide. To remind readers of the idea here, this column will serve as a general guide to help people choose which MMORPG is right for them. The information given here is based on many things, including personal experience, news, reviews, conversations with players of the games, and various other forms of research.

A game is listed, then I talk about it with bolded sub-headlines. The games are not in any order or "rank" of any kind; these are not reviews. This is merely to provide information and a description of why certain people may or may not want to play the game. Since there are so many freaking games to cover with this, it has been divided into two parts. More games will be added to this over time.

Volume 1 can be found here.

 Dark Age of Camelot [Category: Traditional/Medieval]

Dark Age of Camelot is the main focus of developer Mythic Entertainment. Its deep story rooted in Celtic, Norse, and Arthurian lore make the setting very different from other MMORPGs. The appeal of the game itself is somewhat limited, though.

Three Way
Players going through DAoC must choose an army with which to align, as the game's central focus is a three-way war between the realms of Hibernia, Midgard, and Albion. The actual importance of this choice is affected by what type of server a player chooses. On some servers, players of opposing realms will be your mortal enemies, while on others, it's possible to be in their parties. On some servers, you can't understand their language, while on others, you can.

Realm vs Realm
DAoC features a special type of combat called "Realm vs Realm." In short, it's for people who love large-scale medieval warfare. There's more to RvR than the huge battles, but those are the highlight. This article is a decent read on the subject.

Where are people?
The sad truth about DAoC is that there just aren't that many new people coming in. A few servers (Lancelot comes to mind) can be good places for new players to find parties during peak hours, but being a lowbie in Dark Age of Camelot is an uphill battle. It's definitely possible to power through it, but it'll take some work. Really take a Good, hard look at this game before doing anything you might regret.

So who should play this?
Gamers who don't mind the uphill battle that will most likely occur when they are new. There is a huge world and tons of content for those who power trough it, but the first day or so of play might be discouraging.

 City of Heroes [Category: Um, Comic Book?]

City of Heroes

City of Heroes is just like playing a comic book. Many offline games have been made using licensed super heroes, but CoH gives MMO players the chance to create their own legendary super hero using an outrageous amount of customization. The goal is to protect Paragon City from the various threats it faces every hour of every day.

Fast and Furious
This game packs more pure action than your normal MMO. Traditional roleplaying is pushed aside in favor of fast-paced combat and missions. The combat is smooth and has such a unique premise behind it that City of Heroes arguably packs more pure fun than any other MMO out there. There is another side to this, though. While simply going through the game can be quite enjoyable, many of the deeper content features found in other MMORPGs are not in City of Heroes. Those that play should be prepared for a game whose focus is clearly the combat. Said combat and the overall process of protecting the city with your friends provides great entertainment, but not if you're the type of MMORPG addict that plays for upwards of 25-40 hours a week. Over time and with that kind of play, the game will most certainly get boring.

No child left behind
One thing I feel I must point out with City of Heroes is the fact that all expansion packs are free. Every new expansion thus far (called a new "Issue" for comic book style points), no matter what it has added, has come as a free download for players.

So who should play this?
People looking for a more passive, casual MMORPG experience whose emphasis is the immediate fun factor and unique environment.

 Star Wars Galaxies [Category: Sci Fi]

Live in the world made popular by the hit movies and interact with thousands of nerds just like you.

Another one bites the dust
I've mentioned it with Asheron's Call and Dark Age of Camelot, and I'll bring it up again with Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies--players are leaving. The recent "Publish 17" update has made the game very unstable. The game was already not known to have very good customer service, and releasing some apparently-undertested content just plain pissed people off. According to community message boards, even dedicated players are expressing discontent at the newfound lack of population. So hey, if you're a Star Wars nerd that loves to do nothing but solo for $15 a month....

So who should play this?
There's not really a whole lot to say about SWG that isn't already obvious from the above. The people best suited for this are the hardest of hardcore Star Wars fans who want to play an MMORPG. You should be the kind of person who is patient with technical shortcomings, since the lag in Star Wars Galaxies is as annoying as the graphics are beautiful.

 EVE Online [Category: Sci Fi]

Another entry into the Sci-fi category is EVE Online. Combat in this game is ship-to-ship, so instead of running around city streets in search of new hats and swords, players cruise the universe upgrading their spaceships.

Don't like where you are? Is that clown bothering you? Pack up and fly to another galaxy. You'll definitely be able to find one; there are thousands. EVE Online really runs with the concept of being in outer space; all players are on the same server, and left to roam the countless galaxies according to their will and pleasure. In talking with RPGamer at E3, developer CCP Games compared the common MMORPG to an amusement park, while EVE Online was more like a playground. The example demonstrated that in an amusement park, one rides the roller coasters and sees the sights provided, but in a playground, the equipment is provided and people do what they want with what's there.

William Wallace would be proud
As if MMORPGs weren't already non-linear and open enough, EVE Online gives players even more freedom. The economy is entirely player-operated. Groups can form corporations and divisions with each other, too.

So who should play this?
If you'd rather ride around and fight stuff in a spacecraft rather than on foot, this is pretty much a no-brainer. There's also much more economic involvement and direct player-to-world influence. Deciding if this game is right for you doesn't take much more than a quick tour of the official site.

 Ultima Online [Category: The Original]
Ultima Online

While Ultima Online is old, there are still a bunch of raging addicts in there. Some because they've been around for 8 years and have invested so much they'd feel wrong quitting, others because of the undeniable depth to the tradeskill system.

Grumpy Old Men
Like a plethora of other MMORPGs, the community of Ultima Online isn't exactly growing so fast, if at all. However, the game stays alive because so many stubborn people refuse to leave. While new players don't come in as often as they do in the newer, more mainstream games, the adaptation period is generally very short because the game is teeming with experienced vets who are plenty willing to lend a hand. In my case, seeing a newbie is a rare treat, so I find it a pleasure to give directions or lend a hand with cash. It might be odd being the only lowbie around, but no one will hold it against you. ...You doesn't have anything worth killing you for, anyway.

For Why...?
UO gives the option of playing in 2D or 3D, though the 3D client looks like unfinished surgery (use your imagination), so there's not much point in using it. The graphics are still very what exactly is this game's appeal? It's got to be the tradeskills. Tons of MMOs have those side jobs, but Ultima Online's tradeskill system is so well done, it still outhines newer games' attempts. From cooking, to tailoring, to blackmithing, to mining, fishing, and so on forever, doing your job in Ultima Online just plain feels more rewarding than in other MMORPGs. This is why it has stood strong for 8 years. Friend of mine and fellow UO player Brandon Bailey said via IRC, "you can keep yourself entertained with [Ultima Online's tradeskills] for like...years." Customizable player housing is also nice, especially in the Samurai Empire expansion pack.

So who should play this?
Be used to soloing while young and don't care about graphics if you play this. You should favor tradeskills over combat as well. While the game itself is truly amazing, every player has is breaking point, and even the hardcore oldbies will drop some day. As much as it hurts to say, I've noticed more of the good players not being around as much as they used to be, for countless reasons. Many of them haven't quit, but just don't play the game very much anymore. There are still some great guilds, but not as many as are present as games like World of Warcraft and EverQuest II.

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More games will be added to this column in the future. Right now I have to hit the road in order to make it to lunch on time. I'll update in-column when I patch up the MMORPGuide series.

Don't forget to pack your Heath Hindman

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