As I contemplate buying Cataclysm in the next few days, old thoughts have been creeping back into my mind — such as “Why did I quit in the first place?”
That one is fairly easy — but I feel like reliving some memories before I disclose that reason.
When I left WoW, my characters — at least the ones that mattered to me — had all reached the end of their progression, and there was really nothing more to be done with them. I’m not a hardcore raider, so I wasn’t about to jump into that shark tank just to have something to do. I ran out of content that I wanted to participate in. I left with few regrets, however. Actually, I left with some pretty good memories, mostly in PvP:
-I’ll never forget taking my rogue into WSG (“Warsong Gulch”, for the non WoW players) with my best bud’s warrior, where we promptly won the whole thing for our team (I returned the first flag, then he returned the 2nd & 3rd while I set up shop in our Horde flag room and killed anyone who set foot in it. We even earned a few achievements in that bg).
-I love reminiscing about a heated PvP rogue vs. rogue matchup I got into in Arathi Basin once. It seemed like we, the Alliance rogue and I, just always ran into each other at every flag and it was on. The battles were close, too (neither he, nor I ever won by a sizeable margin — it was always by the skin of our teeth). I ended up winning overall in our duels (3-2), but even if I hadn’t, I don’t think I would have considered it too much of a defeat. Those fights were just two skilled PvP rogues who happened to clash numerous times, and we both knew how to play our classes. Those are the kinds of matchups you usually find in arenas.
More than just the memories, I also left with some great visual snapshots to commemorate my time in WoW.
Boy, do I know how to digress, or what? This article is already getting tl;dr, and I still haven’t explained why I left in the first place. Now to get back on track.
As I wait in anticipation of Star Wars: The Old Republic, often I get into discussions with people about it. When I mention that I was a former WoW player, I usually get responses along the lines of “then why are you looking forward to SWTOR so much? Isn’t it just WoW-in-space?”
For the longest time, I didn’t know how to respond to that. Mechanically, yes, there are some very noticeable similarities between the two (though you could make that comparison between WoW and many other MMO’s, as well — including Everquest, which much of WoW‘s mechanics were based upon). However, after really thinking about it for awhile, I realized what it was that eventually turned me off to WoW and got me onto the SWTOR wagon — and though Cata‘s questing looks to be much improved, it doesn’t rectify this one nagging deficiency for me.
Basically: I got tired of playing everyone else’s story.
I never felt like I was playing MY story when I played WoW — or any other MMO, really. I always felt like I was playing Tirion Fordring’s story, or Rexxar’s story, or Thrall’s story, etc. Sure, I was there for some of the good moments, but it just felt like being an assistant.
That is probably not even considered a deficiency for people who play WoW for the time sink aspect, or raiders who spend so much time talking through vent, dissecting the mechanics of the encounter to the point where they barely pay attention to the lore of the game. However, for someone who values story and, more importantly, story integration & immersion, it always stood out to me that I was nothing more than a backseat driver in the grand scheme of things. It certainly wasn’t a game breaking omission, but it left me feeling unsatisfied.
Now, when someone asks me why I am anticipating SWTOR so much, I feel like I can give a legitimate reason. Also, this doesn’t simply pertain to WoW, this same situation could be said of all MMO’s, to this point.
I’m ready for my character to be given attention & focus; everything I’ve heard, seen & read about SWTOR suggests I will get ample attention & focus when the game launches.
Ffs, the devs have already confirmed that there will be quests where I, the Pureblood Sith Warrior, will be the quest giver. Instead of running around the world looking for a NPC to give me a random quest, there will be times when I will get my crew together and give out orders, and those orders will be in the form of quests. That is just so wicked to me.
This is the aspect of RPG that I feel is missing from the MMORPG genre — feeling as if YOUR character is a meaningful part of the grand scheme.
RPG is all about creating a character you might like playing, then integrating them into a fictional world. Most MMO’s are great about giving you tools, in the form of talent trees, to make your character your own, and fun to play. However, few MMO’s have made the RPG element of the genre satisfying. Usually, RPG in most modern MMO games is created and policed by the population. Your character, in the overall picture, doesn’t really do much, except maybe free a village that promptly gets “retaken” a few minutes later. All of the major moments happen as if the “real” heroes do the job, while you merely assisted.
That’s why I am eagerly anticipating what a developer like BioWare, who are known for creating flavorful, enriching RPG experiences, can create with modern MMO mechanics, an enormous MMO landscape, and phasing technology at their disposal.
It is my hope that players will, in fact, get an opportunity to impact the world in a meaningful way. Things like assisting the rebuilding of Taris, or killing an NPC that will STAY DEAD after you kill him/her.
The possibilities are all there for advancement of the RPG aspect of the MMO genre. Who better to attempt to make RPG integral than BioWare?
At this point, waiting for SWTOR is wearing on me, a bit. That is why I said in the first paragraph that I am considering buying Cata. However, I am starting to realize that no matter what game I play, I will never stop looking forward to SWTOR.
While some people don’t bat an eyelash at the “Your choices matter.” mantra, I suppose I took it as a statement that maybe, possibly, I FUCKING hope, that I will finally get a chance to play an MMO with some real RPG in it. Whether that will be the case will have to wait for after release, but at least I feel optomistic about it after seeing what BioWare has shown.
For me, story really does matter. That is why, while some scoff at BioWare’s dedication to it, I still think story will end up being the great equalizer in MMORPGs. But not just story — MY story.
I’m ready to play MY story, where I make things happen, and my motivations are what drive things forward.
No disrespect to the major NPCs in most modern MMOs, but I’m ready for ya’ll to make guest appearances on my tracks, you dig? I’m tired of “Thrall featuring Warrior” or “Darion Mograine featuring Death Knight” — I’m ready for “Pureblood SW featuring Darth Angral”, or “Human Imperial Agent featuring Darth Jadus”.
It’s time for me (the player) to come up in the game.