I’m probably not suited for massively multiplayer role-playing games, for the most part. I was never the guy, when I was a kid, that read the manual before jumping headlong into the game. I also grew up in an age before strategy guides and online references so I picked up a lot on how to get through a game, simply, through trial and error. It was the source of a lot of frustration in some games but it also led so some great feelings of accomplishment when I finally did get through it. I’m not a fan of MMOs, for the most part: I’ve tried my hand at several popular games in the genre and nothing really stuck. In the few that I actually liked and felt had a lot of replay value and potential to be deep and enjoyable, the community seemed to, for the most part, suck: getting groups were hard enough and getting a group that didn’t berate the newbies, make off-color jokes, or simply being idiots half the time was even harder to come by.
World of Warcraft as it… should be enjoyed?
This brings me to what solidified my opinion of MMORPGs for the longest time: World of Warcraft. Thanks to a couple of friends of mine and their want to bring me into their fold, I ended up getting an account. Having been a Warcraft fan for a very long time, I’d already been very familiar with the lore behind it and what to expect from classes, races, and alliances. This made getting into the game fairly easy for me. I even chose a class that gave me two things that I was looking for in terms of an MMO experience that I’d prefer: a melee class that’s decent to solo with, allows me to dual-wield, and has a decent DPS: I ended going with a troll hunter via the Horde. Things were going well and I’d been fighting tooth-and-nail to get all the things I expected out of the class and by the time I did, at level 40, I found that every expectation I had for the game was not only sorely disappointed but the whole experience pushed me away with extreme prejudice. After trying to successfully play a raid for over a month with no real results and constantly getting harassed for doing nothing that was, for the most part, my fault, I promptly gave up – with exception only to try on Wrath of the Lich King, which turned out to be more of the same – and turned over my account to someone else who wanted it.
I came into this experience thinking it was going to be like every MMORPG I’d played before. This was an MMO unlike all that I’ve played before: this was a game with great potential that almost forced community participation and encouragement; it also nurtured a great solo experience, too, through its main storyline and side quests. It was something where you didn’t feel forced to expose yourself to the rotten apples that tend to infest MMOs, typically. I tried to avoid them like the plague and, finally, there was a game that discouraged being like that and actually afforded me the opportunity to play regardless of who wanted to cause trouble.
Every Duty, FATE, and quest – with a few exceptions, mind you – up until today, had been a relative walk in the park; it had given me the chance to really learn my abilities and make the most of them. If you applied what you learned there was no trouble. This really appealed to my style of game-playing because, like I mentioned earlier, I learn to play by doing. I don’t think I had wiped anything more than once and even then it only happened a couple of times through my entire time with the game. Advice from fellow players turned into something I could apply on the fly and it made for a great learning experience that made learning this game greatly enjoyable.
That was until I met my very first real challenge:
The gentlemanly Primal pictured here is a guy named Titan. Since I started playing this game there were two guys I always overheard talk about: Behemoth and Titan. I never really understood what the big deal was and I suppose that I should have really looked into it before doing my first attempt at it. I expected to be doing my first run long before I actually did – the quest chain to attempt Titan is a long one. Calling the main storyline quest chain to attempt Titan drawn out would be doing it a disservice and preparing for it, properly, wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. This introduced me to the typical MMO archetypes of the game and it was beginning to get on my nerves – instead of slowly feeling like I was progressing through the game and making a change in my player, my equipment, and the story, everything slowed to a crawl and required more effort to do. You had to grind out quests and rely on help and… well… it just started feeling more like your typical MMORPG. I dropped the game last night due to server maintenance and came back as all my preparation, as far as I thought, was done. All I had to do was come back and put the ass-whoopin’ on Titan.
I started the game up this morning and was treated to a completely different experience than anything else I’d come up against in playing the game to this point. Without giving myself any exposure to the fight prior going into the fight, I jumped right in, doing my best to play it out and fulfill my role. There were a couple of things that I did not account for that really set me back and set back my first couple attempts: if you don’t kill Titan’s Heart when you get the chance, he pretty much wipes the floor with the entire party; also, every time he comes back down from jumping in the air, he does splash damage that decreases the further you’re away from it – go too far, though, and the platform crumbles underneath you and you fall to your death. Of course, not knowing this, I ended up in a wiped party a couple of times and that resulted in the anger that poured out into my last post. Looking back on it, the only real annoyance was that I couldn’t try again right away. Thanks to my wonderful Free Company, I was able to garner a little bit of information regarding the battle without having to pour through pages and pages of text and endless video watching just to study the battle; also, one of the higher level members had a character that could help me out and that character was a healer so it actually turned out pretty well. It only took two actual attempts the second time around and I don’t even really count the first run as solid attempts because it was just a shit show right from step one.
I’ve learned my lesson, though: MMOs will always be like this. Hell, multiplayer gaming on the whole will always be like this. So long as your experience isn’t completely solo, you will encounter a few bad apples whose sole existence is to troll the ever-loving piss out of everyone and some people take the game entirely too seriously. I guess, in the end, I had lost sight of the fact that I was playing, in base, an MMO with a similar base structure like many others that, at some point, relied on everyone to do their jobs and… well… that’s just like real life, sadly enough. Sometimes you end up with a great group that makes everything a delight and makes your job ten times easier to do; sometimes you end up with a group that makes even the most enjoyable of things, torture. It’s a societal problem and I really shouldn’t hold the game responsible for exposing me to that.
Thanks to this, though, my perspective on this game and MMOs, in general, has changed greatly. I was waiting for a great game to come along and change everything about an MMO that made it a poor experience but little did I realize that the poor experience – in most games, anyway – had nothing to do with the games but, rather, the people playing them. I’m not going to get into a huge philosophical debate in regards to the social problems surrounding the gaming community at large because, trust me, there are a few and they could be talked about for a good long time but I think those topics are something I’ll save for another post, for another day.
I got kind of lost in all the craziness that happens when you’re in a large crowd; there’s chaos, there’s frustration, and when there’s a common cause that doesn’t seem to be solvable, people spent more time trying to blame someone for their trouble than seeing how the situation could be bettered. You could complain about the situation that you’re forced to be in or you could do your part and be happy that you did what you could and you did that well. That’s the realization that I’m coming to: considering that my character, a Paladin, is the first tank I’ve ever played – typically, I play a DPS of some sort – I’ve done pretty well for myself, going through roughly half of the main story content or more on my first half of the free trial membership I got with the game. I’ve really enjoyed this game and I think I have to embrace the social community of MMOs to really get the most from my experience.
Will this mean I’ll go back to other MMOs? Not likely. With all this being said, Final Fantasy XIV still stands as, possibly, the greatest MMO currently available – at least, in its A Realm Reborn incarnation – in all its facets. The game has spoiled me rotten and I doubt I’ll be playing another MMO for a very long time, though Elder Scrolls Online may try to compete for that if it ever releases for PlayStation 4.
This game has changed how I look at an entire genre of gaming. I doubt you can say that about many other games. I actually did some research into what makes a good player and a bad player at this game and, I must say, I feel pretty validated. I’m not the best tank at my level, no doubt, but I am certainly very, very far from the worst.
I feel pretty good and that’s what gaming is supposed to be about. I’m back on track and it’s feeling awesome. Time to quest some more and squeeze about every drop that I can from this game.