Broaden your horizon

Alright, I’m a bit pissed off because of last night’s Naxxramas run. But heck, it was terrible! No offense, fellow guild-mates, but I know we can do better. Kel’Thuzad is currently laughing at us from his pimped-out throne!

Anyway…I promised an article containing skill in video games, boredom and puppies. I can’t really promise that this article will contain cute little doggies, but I’ll do my best.

With the release of Wrath of the Lich King, World of Warcraft has become the perfect game for the lazy gamer. You might think that playing a character from level one to eighty takes time? Not anymore. You think dungeons and raids are hard? A monkey on amphetamines can do the trick! Any other challenges left in the game? I doubt it…

So, why do I keep playing this “far too simple” game? Heck, because I have spent so much time in it that I’m not just quitting. And because I just don’t want to get knee-deep into another MMO. You know, they consume time like Chinese math geniuses consume binary codes!

What you say? You want to see what the world of MMO’s has to offer next to WoW? Well, you’re at the right address then, because this Troll has seen quite some hills in the landscape of Massively Multiplayer Online Games! So, prepare for Akinya’s Guide to Games That Are Not WoW, But Are Addicting Too!

Comic book entertainment: City of Heroes / Villains


If you’re from my generation, you’ve grown up with the most legendary superheroes and arch-villains in history: Spiderman, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, Dr. Doom, Shredder and more! And I bet you wanted be just like them in some phase of your childhood. Still feel that urge to throw on some spandex and fight crime, or to plot the doom of multiple dimensions? Run to your local gaming store, and pick up City of Heroes / Villains (I’ll be using the term “CoX” from here).

CoX one of the older MMO’s on the market, running since about four and a half years. Still, the game has expanded in many ways since the start, and offers the greatest character customization in the MMO genre.

When you start the game, you get to choose your powers and their origin, and you can design your own superhero or bad guy outfit! The options are almost limitless, and every time I strolled through Paragon City or the Rogue Isles, people surprised me with their brilliant or whacky outfits.

However, after character creation, the game becomes your standard quest-and-grind-fest: you get missions from Contacts, hunt down the bad guys (or good guys), get experience and rise in level. However, the day has some unique components:

  • Around level 12-14, you are able to fly, sprint and insane speed, teleport or leap high and far. This adds to the supernatural feeling of the game, and who doesn’t want to fly just like Superman?
  • At level 20, 30 and 40 you can attain new Costume slots, and design new outfits for your character. A good idea of the designers to use the awesome costume designer at a later point in the game.
  • Your character can pick up a Day Job, and let you earn money while offline.

Later this year, NC Soft will add the possibility to design your own missions and plot lines. You can be sure that this Troll will keep you up to date about that!

Verdict: CoX is a game for people who want to try a new and unique setting in the MMO genre, and don’t mind the lack of depth and fine-tuning.

The mother of all fantasy: Lord of the Rings Online


When I first heard about a Middle-Earth MMO, my little nerdy heart went bat-shit crazy. And a few years ago, Turbine published “Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar”. A few years and several content patches later, Turbine published the first commercial expansion for their Middle-Earht online game: Mines of Moria.

In its essence, LotRO is a classic fantasy MMO: you pick a race, you pick a class, and then you go out and kill monsters! However, Turbine has found a way to make the players and their characters feel like they’re part of the dramatic tale around the One Ring, and that way is called “Epic Quests”. During Epic Quests, you and your party-members take part in some action that has a direct impact on the storyline. Gandalf himself is the storyteller of this tale, and in very beautiful cut-scenes, you see how Frodo and the rest of the Fellowship continue their trip to Mount Doom. And as you might have guessed by the name of the expansion, they’re currently somewhere around Moria. Wow, that means they’re not even half way their little trip!

LotRO is a damn good Player vs. Environment game. The quests are interesting and often more than “Kill number X of monster Y”, the environment is unbelievable vivid and beautiful, and the game plays just smoothly. Everyone who ever played a fantasy MMO in his life feels right at home with the UI and the game controls. Everyone who doesn’t learns everything important during the Tutorial zone.

So, what does this game lack? Three letters: PvP. There is some kind of Player vs. Player, named “Monster Play”, but that is just a lame excuse. Real gankers and griefers will find this kind of conflict boring and too simple, and will soon leave this game. But everything LotRO lacks PvP-wise, is made up through its awesome PvE.

Verdict: LotRO is the next best thing for lovers of Tolkien and general fantasy, but should be avoided by anyone who rather stabs his party-member than help him.

Fury on the battlefield: Warhammer Online


There is a certain kind of animosity between fans of the Warhammer franchise, and fans of the Warcraft brand. The story goes like this: Blizzard Entertainment called Games Workshop a few decades ago, asking them if they could buy the Warhammer license for a cool computer real-time-strategy game. Games Workshop, fed up with the sucky games created under their license, told the CEO of Blizzard to find some other franchise to ruin, and hung up. Blizzard then said: “Well, let’s create our own fantasy universe then!”, and thus, Warcraft was born. If only Games Workshop had sold the license…

Anyway, Warhammer is still the number one brand when it comes to table-top wargaming, the mother of all nerdy hobbies. And it was only a question of time until someone would make a MMO based on this franchise. May I present: Mythic Entertainment and their game “Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning” (short: WAR).

WAR is, in my humble opinion, THE PvP MMO at the moment. Some might say: “No Aki, Dark Ages of Camelot is still better!” but I beg to differ! The time I have spent with my Goblin Shaman on the different battlefield of the Old World was terrific! Nuking and healing never felt so good, and collision detection never added so much to player-based conflict in a virtual environment.

But WAR has the “reverse LotRO-syndrome”: the PvE sucks! Now I wouldn’t mind a bad Player vs. Environment part if I could level just fine in PvP, but I can’t! Leveling in PvP scenarios is a pain in the butt, and takes ages. Mythic should revise that part of the game, and rely on the freaking strong part of their little masterpiece: smacking people’s heads and tearing them limb by limb! WAAAAAAGH!!!!

Verdict: PvP-monkeys, this is your game! If you’re able to live through repetitive and boring PvE-situations, you can go all-out-ball-out in this slaughter-fest! WAAAAAAAGH!!!!

Well, so far about alternatives to WoW. Hope I could broaden your horizon, and see you next time!

Signed,

Aki

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