There and Back Again … A Nomad’s Tale
I really can’t help but wonder why I do some of the things I do. There’s all kinds of examples, but one of the most thought provoking is that of returning to MMOs I said I would never play again. When I left WoW (a few times now) just before WotLK came out, I didn’t WANT to go back. I really didn’t. But then I saw the game and Arthas was the main bad guy and I REALLY like the story behind him, so to see all of the trials and tribulations of WC III and some of vanilla WoW culminate was beyond my ability to resist. Fair enough, right? Well ok, but now that I’m done with WotLK I told myself I’d be done again. But what do they do? Make me fall in love with Cataclysm.
See, Cataclysm has dragons (if you haven’t been living under a non-gaming rock, you’ll know this) and I LOVE dragons. The stories behind Deathwing and the Black Dragonflight are among my favorites in the game. And yes, BWL was and still is my favorite raid zone. Anyway, a few of the old greats are coming back for a spot in the story, including Nefarian and an undead Onyxia. I’m not sure exactly how they’ll pull off Ragnaros living in Hyjal in his new tower that no one saw them building, but I suppose we’ll see. Point to this is … story trumps my own visions of the game’s shortcomings. More on that later.
Now we skip to another game I so absolutely adore, but swore I’d never play again: Everquest 2. Why? Well I’m not a huge fan of companies doing something just to do it or just to emulate someone else. When I got wind that EQ2 was adding battlegrounds, it really pissed me off. Pissed me off to the point where I quit even though I had just gotten my mythical on my SK and was livin’ pretty large. I love my SK. I’ve had and played the concept of my SK since the first Everquest. I don’t roleplay nearly as much with him as I’d like to, but I also haven’t made much of an effort to so that falls on me.
Long story short: I picked up Sentinel’s Fate yesterday, installed and made a new character to check out Halas. WHY WOULD I DO THAT?! AGAIN!? Here’s the thing: I disliked Sony’s choice for the new expansion to be Odus. I REALLY wanted Velious as that was my favorite expansion for Everquest. All the ice stuff and whatnot really pointed to it being Velious too, but sadly, we got Odus. Well, imagine my surprise when I logged in, did a few quests in the new starting area and found … Coldain Dwarves! And not only them, but Ry’gorr orcs as well! Rejoice! For those of you not familiar with either of those two things, the Coldain were the dwarves who lived in Thurgadin, one of the first cities you actually come to once you get off the boat in Velious. They’re blue dwarves and have neat ice related names, but otherwise not entirely special. The Ry’gorr were the main orc clan surrounding the land mass of Velious and you dealt with them a lot.
Does this mean there’s a bit of a foreshadowing to going back and exploring Velious? *shrugs* Dunno, won’t speculate, but I’m hopeful. It made me really happy to see them and at that point I forgot all my past feelings of hatred for SOE for the PVP stuff.
Now, these two experiences have something very important linking them: story. I absolutely love the story behind a lot of what goes on in the World of Warcraft. I also am deeply in love with the lore that comes from Everquest and is evolved in Everquest 2. Story is what makes me come back, that and the fact that I am so deeply in love with the stories that I feel like part of the world. I have an invested interest in seeing what happens because of what I actually WANT to happen. For that, I will gladly hand over money to SOE and Blizzard.
People bitch about mechanics and balance and easiness of MMOs all the time, myself included. People get frustrated at other people, raid encounters, grouping and group finding mechanics and choices developers make all the time, myself included. But when you can go back to a time where playing the game meant you were doing it for yourself and the friends you play with, I really think you can find a new place in that game, one that makes you feel as happy as you were when you first picked it up. Of course, you’ll never have that same exact feeling again as you had when you played your first MMO (Mine was EQ), but you can be reminded of what it was like for you to be so immersed in a world and what it was like to learn all the stories as you went through, not caring whether or not you were in the best gear or at level cap.
Cataclysm seeks to do that for me with WoW as its focus is in the old world again, albeit a little messed up thanks to Deathwing 😛 Going back to all those places again and experiencing them in a new way, yet still being strangely familiar will do wonders, I think. That and A: playing the game from a different perspective since I’ll be making a Worgen character and have never leveled an Alliance character and B: resolving to raid 10 mans only with people I consider close friends.
Everquest 2 seeks to do that for me with its little bit of lore pointing at Velious and has already done so with its Kunark expansion, which was my absolute favorite expansion from EQ since it gave us Iksar.
Sometimes you do need to step away from a game for a bit to gain some perspective or just to give another new game a shot. I’m sure some of my MMOs will fall to the wayside when The Old Republic comes out, but I’m pretty sure I’ll return to them over time.
As an aside, and since everyone else is doing it! Here’s some screenshots from my new Froglok Berserker in EQ2 with Shaders 3.0 turned on. EQ2’s graphic capabilities are amazing, but pretty weird in how they work sometimes. For example: I was trying to tweak my fiance’s graphics because she kept hitching in certain places. The more I tweaked, the less progress I was making, so I eventually just turned everything up to the max for her and … she stopped hitching and she stopped lagging. Logic would dictate that with everything turned on, she should lag horrendously (though she doesn’t have a slouch for a vid card, which was what was puzzling me), but no … smooth as butter now. Perhaps some of the graphics options are tuned to work with others at a higher level or even actually turned on … I dunno. Anyway, here’s the screens. I really like the detail in the armor and skin. Yes, some things end up being unrealistically shiny and overall there’s a darker tone to the game, but mostly that comes when it’s actually dark in the game. I.E. being outside during the daytime is actually pretty bright and acceptable for me, but overall I do like them.
FYI … I really thing my Froglok looks like one of the Orcs from the old animated Hobbit movie.