What Drives Your Tastes in MMORPGs?

"Whacking on stuff" is not an answer.

Why do I like MMOs? What keeps me playing the ones that I like? I have trouble answering when someone unfamiliar with the MMORPG genre asks me why I play them. Having been doing so on and off for over a decade, it's still not something I can simply put my finger on.

2005 was a simpler time. Note my awful bars.

Everyone looks for something in particular in their MMOs, whether they realize it or not. Some people prefer sprawling landscapes and open-world PvP, some look for games with everything to do and a community to welcome them as their own, and yet others look toward MMOs for their dose of developed storytelling or a robust roleplaying community.

Having jumped head-first into a huge chunk of the free to play market and tried my hand at most of the big name titles, I'm still not sure where I stand. I used to think I valued combat over all else. I've been an avid PvPer since my beginnings as a wee nubcake -- but after putting several months into TERA and coming out no better (nor entertained) for it, I don't know whether the sweet, sweet taste of beating the poop out of other people is really the main draw to the genre for me anymore.

It's certainly not dressing up, though it is hard to resist.

Very hard to resist.

After having come back to Aion again, it's so hard for me to really explain why I like the game to my friends wondering why I've grown to like it so much.

GameSkinny's own Jeremy bothers me to play RIFT all the time, begrudgingly trying Aion every once in a while to try to figure out what all the fuss is about. Having tried RIFT myself, I can't say I enjoyed it much.

Both of us are avid players of the genre with extensive experience in multiple titles, but neither of us can come to a consensus on which MMORPGs are fun. We can both see when one is well-made and constitutes a good game, but we just can't agree on one to play together. That's just the way it is.

It's not uncommon for groups of friends to find their passion in completely different titles. In my group of friends, we have people who play World of Warcraft, Aion, RIFT, The Secret World, EVE, Guild Wars 2, TERA, and a whole slew of miscellaneous free to play titles. That, again, is just the way it is.

What is your poison?

What game devours your soul, makes you wake up early, stay up late, and gets you pumped up? It's easy to say which MMOs you enjoy, but it's not so easy to say why.

The competitive aspect of the genre, I think, may be what drives me. Comparing DPS (or heals), gear, and PvPing are all aspects of the genre I like and thrive on; though I cannot say they are my only reasons for enjoying the games I like and there are times when I hate those facets of the genre.

What drives you, as a player and a person, to connect to your favorite MMORPGs? I really would like to know.

Associate Editor

Ogryns are good lads. Simple as. Anyway, I'm basically a human tornado and I love jank. Also simple as.

Published Apr. 2nd 2013
  • Lithion_Shadowscale
    I agree that it is sometimes very difficult to define why we love our MMOs, but I'll try my best to.

    For me, it all started with Runescape many years ago. It was my initial draw into the MMORPG scene, and one of my most enjoyable and memorable gaming experiences.

    I enjoyed Runescape so much because when I first played it, I had no preconceived notions about what an MMORPG should be like (it was my first MMORPG after all). Runescape may not have compared to any downloadable pay-to-play MMOs, but it was still my game of choice for over 1 and half years because it was the best I had seen at the time. The social aspect of it was also a huge draw, since I had many RL friends who played it, and I was able to make some great in-game friends over the years.

    Next I moved onto WoW, and what initially made me fall in love with WoW was its triple-A quality and overall experience. Coming over from a browser-based MMO like Runescape, WoW just completely shattered my expectations for what MMORPGs could be like. Everything about it just astounded me because I had seen nothing like it before. Then my RL friends started playing, and that had me hooked for YEARS.

    So I truly loved my first MMO experiences (Runescape and WoW) mostly because they were indeed my first MMOs (I had no preconceived notions or expectations when I first played them) and also because my RL friends played them with me. At that point in my life I didn't have a single doubt in my mind about the MMOs I played.

    But unfortunately the same cannot be said for any MMOs that I play(ed) after WoW because now my expectations are indeed very high. Now I look for very specific qualities and my enjoyment of an MMO depends on how fun the experience has been compared to prior MMOs that I have tried.

    To sum it up quickly, I'll make a list of qualities that explain why I love certain MMOs:

    -Varied content (raids, dungeons, structured pvp, open-world pvp, etc.)...
    I do a bit of everything, so having varied content is a must!

    -Fun combat mechanics...
    The combat in an MMO affects just about every other aspect, so it has to be enjoyable

    If my friends play an MMO with me, it will definitely keep me playing for MUCH longer

    -Good progression/reward system...
    I will rarely do anything in an MMO more than once unless there is a good reason for it (I'm looking at you WoW dungeons!), the only exception being PvP, which I usually do regardless of rewards

    That about sums it up for now, and this was my first post on GameSkinny! I had to restrain myself quite a bit to prevent a Wall of Text.
  • Starnap
    My transformative experience in EVE Online was the first time someone declared war on my corporation. This was genuinely scary - these were real people who were trying to damage our gaming experience! We needed to organise and fight back. It was like being bullied at school, but through the medium of a game, with all the in-game options of avoidance and resistance.

    I know that sounds just horrible to many people, but to me it was the most visceral experience I ever had from a game. It led me to a career in EVE pvp and I think the most exciting, pulse-racing gameplay to be found anywhere.
  • Sublimeprince
    we all started with rpgs, then mmo's most mmo's are about length short games don't last 7-15 years
  • Varón V.B.
    I don’t know if my thoughts on the subject really count, but hopefully they don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. See, I’m not actually an avid mmo player, but rather an avid mmo attempter (that made sense right?). Over the years I’ve tried very hard to find an mmo that is right for me. It’s the vastness of an explorable world that fascinated me with the genre. But I’ve come the conclusion the norms and standards of the genre I can’t get along with. Leading me to think that I actually dislike mmos. My brother and I both have never enjoyed the grindy, limited, and constricted nature of the genre. This is why we’ve been absolutely die hard Guild Wars fans ever since Factions (where we discovered the franchise). The Guild Wars franchise has always been the anti-mmo. Doing many things against what was the norm, the granted, and the given of traditional mmos. Tera was the very first mmo I decided to give a serious shot at playing (I’ve tried many big name mmos). I gave it a good try, but eventually for the better enjoyment of my life I decided to give up on it, and any other future mmos, because they just do so many things that I find not enjoyable. I could probably write a 5,000 word post on all of the reasons I’ve been in love with the GW franchise for these many years, but I’ll try my best to summarize. Beware, wall of text incoming.

    A really big part of it was instanced, and balanced structured pvp. I relate to pvp the way a cat relates to socialization – I want to pvp when I feel like it, and not be forced to when I’m not in the mood. I don’t enjoy open-world pvp in my pve world. There’s nothing wrong with people who do, but I just personally want to play the game at my own pace, in my own way.

    The next big reason is I hate mandatory grind, which every other mmo seems to be bursting from the seams with. GW never had mandatory grind. Original GW max level was 20, and that certainly wasn’t the point of the pve experience. GW2 max level is 80, but they removed the exponential xp requirement in the leveling process. Each level after I think it’s 15 (not sure) takes about the same amount of time. I define grind as a bad “time spent playing vs personal progress and/or enjoyment” ratio. Now, before anyone calls me out for being some impatient person who wants instant satisfaction let me remind you – it’s just a GAME. Games are meant to be fun. If you’re not having fun, then stop playing, it’s really that simple. Everybody has games they don’t enjoy, so it’s not like I’m some evil product of today’s society.

    For those people who enjoy having a long term-goal, there was always COSMETIC things you could go for. Titles, pretty armours, shiny weapons, etc. But NEVER a stat advantage. And that’s how I view prestige. I think it’s really important for people to have a long-term goal, and to have something to show for their time spent playing the game, but that long-term goal should never give you a stat advantage. If you’ve played the game a really long time, you’re going to understand it a lot better than a new guy. That is what gives you the upper hand. Skill should always trump math in my opinion. That being said, I’ve always been against invisibility in pvp. I think it’s stupid, and if you do allow it in pvp, then everyone needs a reasonable way to counter it, or be able to see them. When they announced that GW2 was going to have it (original GW didn’t), I was very, very saddened that they chose that route, but I can honestly say that it is the only thing I dislike about GW2’s design. That’s it. I’m not going to throw out the whole pizza just because I don’t like olives.

    Earlier I mentioned that my brother and I find mmo’s limiting, and constricted. What I mean by this is party composition. I don’t like the dps,heal,tank trinity. It puts up very solid boundaries in who, and what you can play with. GW2 allows all of my friends and family to play the class they want to, and not be forced to pick something else because “Oh, sorry Tom, but you’re going to have to play a dps because we already have a healer.” We all find it frustrating trying to co-ordinate who can or can’t play what. We all just want to enjoy the game, but there’s this crazy frustrating barrier in the way.

    Another reason I find mmos limiting is because of the nature of how leveling in rpgs works. You grow higher levels, and then you can’t play lower level content because you’ll one-shot everything. My friends and family have vastly different schedules, and there is simply no way that we could all find time to level a group at the same rate, at the same time. GW2’s level scaling system allows myself (who has a lot of free time) to continue to play the game and grow my character, and still be able to join up with my sister when she has a few spare hours to play here and there, even though I’m level 80, and she’s level 26. This is a freedom that most rpgs simply don’t have.

    This last reason is probably the biggest one of all as to why I love the GW franchise – art, music, and the world. I have a deep love of art, music, and aesthetics. The first thing that grabs my attention to any game, regardless of genre, is its art style. I don’t mean realistic graphics vs non. It’s hard to explain, but the only thing I can think of calling it is art style, or aesthetics. For example, I think Crysis and WoW are both really great looking games. Crysis because of its crazy high-end graphics. But I like the way WoW looks (I find the game boring as hell, but I think it looks nice). It’s very clean, has a nice cartoony feel. It’s well done. So ya, I’m a huge fan of how GW2 looks. I’m also a huge sucker for orchestral music, and Jeremy Soule is my favourite composer. He’s done the music for almost all of my favourite games, and I love everything he makes. I guess I could throw in the fact that I also love the story and lore of the Guild Wars universe as well. I like learning about the history and background of fantasy worlds, whether it be GW, Halo, Star Wars, or The Hobbit.

    So, in summary, I’ve been shamelessly in love with the Guild Wars universe ever since I found out about it. Before GW2 came out, every design or game aspect preview they would talk about would make me squee. I am dead serious that (aside from the invis in pvp) it’s truly as if AreanaNet designed a game specifically for me. If I wrote down a list of everything I wanted in an rpg, they checked off every single item on that list. I’m not saying any other mmos are bad, there’s nothing wrong with any of them. I’m just saying that GW2 is the perfect one for me. I took a break from GW2 to try out Tera because I wanted to give the traditional mmo format one last try, but in the end, I have definitively proven that they are simply not for me.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    Thanks for the responses, guys. Hoping to get more opinions from other avid MMO players.

    I believe the polarity between different MMOs and their fanbases is one of the more unique aspects of gaming culture. Sure, there are single-player RPGs that vary in mechanics, story, and world -- but the scope of differences between one MMO to another is what makes these games unique among other gaming experiences, and is what makes dedicated players so proud of the MMOs they have invested themselves into.
  • Joseph Rowe
    Featured Columnist
    For WoW specifically, it's the lore and the awesome people you meet in roleplay servers (especially Wyrmrest Accord.)

    For MMORPGs in general, I'd have to say it's the socialization aspect. I have a hard time playing non-multiplayer games, whether they are MMO or not, because I constantly want to share my gaming experience with other people. With MMOs, you get to do that with a larger group of friends or with some interesting strangers.
  • Juna Zell
    They are just so MMOreish.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    I'm so glad someone feels the same. I can't put to words why I love MMO's. As bad as this is, its the same when someone asks why you love someone. That's a ridiculously hard question to answer.
  • Wokendreamer
    Featured Columnist
    As bass-ackwards as it is, I prefer my MMOs to have a rewarding single-player experience to them as well. It's something that I've enjoyed a great deal in both Guild Wars 2 and in the early leveling on The Old Republic.

    There are also a few games that are specifically fun to play with friends. EVE Online doesn't actually appeal to me much at all as a solo experience, but the corporation I'm in is like its own family, and that's an extremely comfortable and rewarding experience in the otherwise unapologetic harshness of the game.

    Open world unrestricted PvP is a huge turn-off for me in most cases, simply because it's usually too easy for high-level characters to make life hell for lower-level ones (I'm looking at you, WoW) but balanced structured PvP is a lot of fun with friends. It was that team dynamic that originally sucked me into League of Legends so hard and I've spent a great deal of time on Guild Wars 2's structured PvP arenas as well.

    But the single thing that probably draws me into an MMO the most is a combination of aesthetic and variety. I'm that guy who has dozens of characters where I'm allowed to. I love trying multiple classes and multiple branching paths.

    And yes, sometimes dressing up is really hard to resist.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor

    Regular content updates aren't what draw you in, though. They should just be part of a well-run game. Progression, however, is a plus.


    I can relate to circumstances changing my tastes in the genre, simply because I can't put the 17 hours per day into MMOs that I used to. I don't even think I have the attention span for it anymore, to be honest.

    I like content and PvP to be challenging myself, but not a gimme. Like I'm okay with only progressing a bit to level over a couple of hours, if there are enough side-distractions to the leveling.
  • Amy White
    Former Editor in Chief
    BTW, snazzy lightning shoulder pads and top hat. I approve.
  • Amy White
    Former Editor in Chief
    My reasons change along with my circumstances. In college it was a way to hang out with my friends and I'd spend 72 hours straight at the computer only breaking for food and other absolute necessities.

    These days I value a place to escape and unwind. Something compelling, but not necessarily challenging. Juuust hard enough to make me feel like I'm not a newb, but easy enough for me to get somewhere in the 30-45 minutes I have to play.
  • Jeremy
    I think my big things for an MMO are regular content updates, and a good sense of progression. I really do love the little things in the game though, like housing and what not.

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