Many people have written posts about their perfect game. I’m not going to try and write up all the features in my perfect game, but I am going to start sewing a few pieces together into my MMO Monster. Tis the season for making horrific creatures after all.
As I’ve been playing a few different games lately, I have come up with a long list of “man I miss X feature” as I play them. So here is a mish-mash of features that I’ve been missing and some things I’ve had to get used to doing again. I do wish games would borrow some ideas from each other more often, (ok, a lot of ideas), while still remaining unique in their own ways.
World of Warcraft has moved a lot of the acquisitions such as unique pets and unique mounts to be account wide. I really love that all the hard work I put into grinding for some of these fluff items can now be enjoyed on any character I play. No longer is the lucky drop of the Headless Horseman’s mount stuck on a character I don’t play very often. Instead, all of my characters can now benefit from it. WoW also has some amazingly clever pets and such a plethora that you can collect. Some of my latest favorites have been pretty easy to come by with just a few steps in a quest chain rather than a grind for reputation and a purchase, well done Blizzard.
Rift has a really smart auction house interface. As I was selling off some extra artifacts I’d collected, I noticed that one of my characters had put the same artifact up for sale earlier. The AH was smart enough to realize this and automatically matched prices for me. Both Rift and WoW allow you to fill in the search box for items you are selling by clicking on the items from your bags. SWTOR’s auction house is primitive by comparison to these two games.
I really like being able to quickly see how many people from my guild are online when I log in. Both Rift and SWTOR show a guild count in your UI. With how heavily into guilds WoW is, I’m very surprised that I have to open my guild, then click on a separate roster tab to see if anyone is online. Both Rift and WoW are miles ahead of SWTOR in the kind of information you can see about your guild, but that one little feature of seeing quickly and easily if anyone is online turns out to be a big deal for me.
WoW having each race start in its own unique “training ground” for brand new characters is pretty nice. I played their new Pandaran area and it gives a real flavor and sense of character to this new race. I really wish SWTOR hadn’t decided to share a starting planet with two classes. It makes trying to play every class in their game a bit more boring after a while. Rift is even worse in having only two different starting areas, in terms of a lack of support for my altitis. Another thing WoW has done with their latest expansion is to not make you visit a trainer to learn new skills as you level up. I really like this feature.
Rift souls are such a smart idea, especially the new souls that they are adding with their upcoming expansion. While it can be harder to learn and build your roles up, the flexibility of play in a single character is fantastic. With their new souls, they are giving classes a completely different type of game play to try out without making people re-level a character. As I was beta testing, I tried out the melee combat role for my cloth wearing Mage. It was fun and a real change up for the class. I love that my mage can switch from a fully built set of bars and abilities for healing, to a fully built set of bars for ranged DPS, and soon to a fully built set of bars for melee DPS, on the fly.
I have had to force myself to read quest text a lot lately. I tend to skim through it and just accept quests and move on, and that loses a lot of the story. It is a real struggle for me to balance listening to the voice acting in WoW and Rift and reading their quests in order to make up for the easy richness of the story you get in SWTOR. Picking up quests in SWTOR is much more entertaining. Oddly enough, I really had to get used to picking up and turning in quests solo again in Rift and WoW. I’m so used to waiting to talk to NPCs until my husband is ready to talk to them with me when picking up and dropping off quests in SWTOR. I’m not sure which I prefer. Sometimes it is nice to just get and turn things in at my own pace, but I do like feeling like a party when everyone in my group in SWTOR is represented.
Having a place to call home is a surprisingly nice feature in a game. While I’ve never considered myself a big player housing advocate, seeing the potential in Rift’s upcoming customized dimensions has opened my eyes to why this feature is so popular. I got to play around with customization options in their beta and I spent hours enjoying myself doing so. It was great to be able to express my creativity so fully. I’m not sure how much time I’ll spend hanging out in my nifty dimension, but making it nifty will certainly be fun. I enjoy having my ship in SWTOR, but it isn’t really mine to customize. My female trooper is stuck with stupid girlie posters on her locker, and that just doesn’t feel quite right. I’d love to be able to change some of the features of my SWTOR ship and customize the interior. I do like that I’ve been allowed to unlock features on my ship such as a mailbox though. I can’t believe how much I dislike the capital cities in WoW or how much I dislike not having my own private retreat in that game.
Crafting is another area where I have been missing features from other games. I really like sending my sidekick in SWTOR off to pick stuff up for me, or having my crew busily getting me needed materials while I adventure. Crew missions rock. I also LOVE being able to put all my crafting stuff in a cargo hold and still be able to make things from anywhere I happen to be standing. Having to go to the bank in WoW and pull things out into my overflowing bags has been driving me bonkers lately. Rift also tracks crafting components that are in your bank and lets you craft from bank stock. However, Rift makes you stand at workstations to build various items rather than just allowing crafting on the fly.
Mod-able gear in SWTOR is one of my favorite things about the game. I can customize my look while keeping the same stats, at least until end game. I love the variety you find among people playing the same classes, at least until end game. You still get a lot of cookie cutter max level characters running around, but it is getting better with some of the newer sets of gear. Rift’s wardrobe feature takes customizing the look of your character to a whole other level. I love wearing a certain set of gear for the stats, but looking completely different. I just wish they didn’t make additional wardrobe slots so dang expensive. WoW’s gear is still cartoonish and annoying to me. Even their attempts to let you reforge and customize aren’t implemented very well. Being able to wear pants if I want to on class that typically is stuck with dresses/robes by default is pretty important to me. What I do miss gear-wise from WoW is how they have pieces of heirloom gear that are account wide and scale to your level. Now if I could just hide how they look by putting on wardrobe overlays, I’d be a happy camper.
Travel is another really big part of MMOs and is handled so differently in Rift, WoW and SWTOR. SWTOR giving me sprint at level 1 and letting me unlock faster riding on my speeder at level 10 is fantastic. Their quick travel options are also something I really love. Once you visit a place and learn its travel point, you can get back to it every 30 minutes (or faster with unlocks) with a button click. WoW has portals and you can fly around once you get high enough level, but they still make you slog around by inconvenient means for a good portion of your play time. Rift is my least favorite overland travel game, but I do like their porticulum system where you can fairly quickly get to an instant transporter. SWTOR’s is by far the most convenient in letting you travel from anyplace you are to anyplace you’ve been on the same planet. A lot of people don’t like SWTOR’s galaxy travel and having to get to your ship to leave a planet, but I find it one of those important distinction building features. I do love my flying mounts and having the option to avoid a lot of annoying monsters in WoW. If SWTOR decided to add some atmospheric travel options, or just stopped knocking me off my speeder after a while, I’d love it. I do enjoy being able to bypass terrain features in WoW.
And lets not forget SWTOR and Rift letting you revive in place. I really don’t like running back to my corpse in WoW. SWTOR giving every class an out of combat energy and health renewal option is fabulous.
This is a pretty big MMO Monster by now. As you can see, there are a lot of features I’d mosh together if I had the chance, and I’ve only been talking about 3 of the games I’ve played most often lately. What are your favorite features if you were building your own Frankenstein’s MMO?
I love playing SWTOR, but miss some features from City of Heroes. The varied and extremely detailed chargen, the grouping (particularly the sidekick/exemplar mechanism to let high and low levels play together), and I miss flying. Though I can’t really see a way to fit that into SWTOR without violating canon… Also, space combat is a bit blah in SWTOR after Star Trek Online, but I’m more interested in story than starfights in any case.
I did like STO’s space combat, it felt very realistic to me. The only part I didn’t like was trying to get to combat zones, only to find the enemy already destroyed.
Rift and CoH sound pretty similar in grouping options. Rift has their mentor program and getting into group scrums is really easy.