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Opinion: Open world blues

A rogue and cleric questing in RIFT
A rogue and cleric questing in RIFT

Karok's about to be released for Vindictus which means I've been playing it more than any other game. Vindictus is an MMO, but it's a peculiar one. There’s a heavily sharded lobby with nothing but instanced missions. It’s simple, easy, and fast to find a group for a quest or raid. It’s even easier to find yourself on a desolate shard when you just need a break from all those other avatars. It’s a set-up that I love, but I know that it’s probably a deal breaker for some.

A large amount of people hate the pick-up-and-play vibe while in an MMO. They complain about dungeon finders, they complain about queues, and some will even complain about portal travel. For example, there were a number of gamers that supported the portal removal for World of Warcraft’s Cataclysm (they are back now, though). I’m so far away from sharing this opinion that I can’t even see those folks over in inconvenience-ville. Personally, I don’t want to waste my time spamming LFG chat, wandering the open world looking for quest mobs/items, or sitting atop a taxi for an enormous amount of time.

In fact, I’m not too big a fan of manually traveling long amounts of distances through a game world. Sure, it’s nice to have a big, open world, but all I can see and think about while traversing the digital wilderness is: Time Sink (akin to the opera-singing “Mistake Man” from Scrubs). Not to mention, the unpleasant number of NPCs one has to fight along the way don’t really do anything for me either. RIFT is by far the biggest offender of needless brutality on grey mobs. Why would something so much lower in level than me chase me for half of Silverwood, finally force me to fight it, and waste a good 10-30 seconds of my time? It boggles the mind.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy a finely crafted world or a seamless one at that. However, I think I’m over that novelty in MMOs. Other players get in the way, the world is often geographically troubling, and the negatives of having such a large world outweigh the positives. I think, with a job, a family, and a life outside my digital one, that I’m here to play. I need to do it quickly and I need to be satisfied when I’m finished. I don’t need to get gaming blue balls (pardon the expression) by waiting to do something for hours, not getting to do it, and then having to log off.

I know that a queue requires waiting, but my odds of grouping for anything, and succeeding, are much higher with a queue system. This extends to any type of group finding tool as well. So many of these games rely on the “massive” part of MMO that games require groups to be enjoyed. Although whether or not that’s a positive is a discussion for another time, a queuing or LFG system makes it easier to find a group and undisputedly quicker.

A game that utilizes and prioritizes ease of access keeps my attention longer than one that doesn’t. It’s probably a pretty unpopular opinion, but its mine and I love it so. Perhaps I’m getting impatient in my ripe, old age of 26, or maybe I just want to enjoy my game and move on.

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