The MMO Chronicles
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So, given my multi-hundred game backlog on Steam, I really can't justify paying for an MMO, either up front or especially not a subscription fee. But I like the idea of having a vast world in which I make progress with a friend. So I try to get various friends to join me in free MMOs, start together from lvl 1, and play our characters together whenever we have free time, in a casual sort of manner. This will be a list of the MMOs I play, what I think of them, who comes with me, how long they last, etc.

If you find the idea of team MMO play appealing, and might like to join me for some free MMO you've been meaning to try not yet on the list starting from level 1, let me know! I am on Steam way too much, and easy to find. (Currently, DC Universe is atop my short list, although I just got a recommendation for Atlantica as well. And of course, if the Elder Scrolls MMO ends up F2P, I'm there.)

EDIT: For those who want a tl;dr list:

AMAZING BUT NOT REALLY MMOS:
(Yes, you are playing online with many players, but these two games don't feel like MMOs at all to me, so I haven't reviewed them here. However, they are BY FAR the two best Free-to-play videogames I've ever played, so if people are using this list to find F2P games, I figured I should add them)

Warframe
Path of Exile

RECOMMENDED MMOS:
RIFT
Guild Wars 2
The Secret World
Wildstar

MIDDLING MMOS:
Dungeon Fighter Online
SW:TOR
Neverwinter
Vindictus
DCUO
Atlantica
Dragon Nest
Closers


I'D SKIP THESE MMOS:

Age of Wushu
LotRO
Wakfu
Ragnarok Online 2
Elsword
Anarchy Online
Metin2
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1. Video Game: Star Wars: The Old Republic [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:457]
Video Game: Star Wars: The Old Republic
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The one that started it all. While I guess I technically played with friends for an hour or two during my free week trial of WoW, I knew that was just a test. This was an MMO that sounded cool and story-based, especially since I like the original KOTOR universe.

I convinced a local (non-VGG) friend to give this a go with me once it finally went free. Which took a lot longer than we expected, but I digress. My stipulation: We had to be Team Evil, because Evil is more fun. He was an assassin named Sithister, I was an inquisitor named Sithistress. Each character had their own story bits behind special portals that we could come along to watch because we were partied, and it occurs to me that were one to play this game alone, you'd miss half the story bits in your opening area. I actually think 2-person may be the best way to play this game, so you can see both stories for your area.

We played one session towards the end of 2012 and enjoyed it quite a bit, I think we may have gotten one more session in, but then he got really busy. I hope he will eventually have more free time, as I'd happily get back to it. Still, this game was pretty cool for a one-shot or two-shot. The graphics are good, the writing non-terrible, the story interesting, and reasonably fun so far. I enjoyed zapping things with lightning from a small distance away, and he seemed to enjoy destroying things at a closer range. Satisfying killing is key for a Sith!

My understanding is that this is fairly standard MMO-type combat. I've heard from others that the game lacks endgame, and I really don't care. I think playing through the story and levelling up is fun, and if level cap is where you stop rather than starting a series of 3-hour 40-man raids to grind epic gear bits, that's perfectly fine with me.


ADDENDUM, 3 YEARS LATER:


A friend got me to return to this one this week, and while the story remains delightful, it is almost comical how punishing this game tries to be to F2P players. You are prohibited from so very many things, including even *equipping* high-grade armor. I still think it's a cool game to screw around with, but their pushy pricing has guaranteed I won't be paying them money.
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2. Video Game: The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:561]
Video Game: The Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar
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to give this one a try with me, so in January 2013 we booted it up and chose characters with actual vaguely appropriate names like Delgan the Dwarf and Alora the Elf (as opposed to my usual silly M.O. in multiplayer games). As we were two opposed races, we had different intro areas, but found each other fairly swiftly.

I'm sure LotR geeks would get more out of the somewhat thin story presented, but we were unimpressed. I especially wasn't keen on the fact that my intro had a particular tribe of Dwarves ransacking and destroying my hometown, then three levels later I returned to my town where I had lost the authority to so much as open gates, and was sent to go talk friendly-like to all the dwarves who had just come through a-murderin'. Clicking on them and getting brusque greetings (with no ability to attack), and then getting fetch-quests from Captain Evil who was in charge of the evil dwarves, did not endear the plot to me.

The graphics were similarly unimpressive; I was amazed the game hadn't been out very long, as the graphics felt very dated to me, worse than the much older World of Warcraft. The gameplay was likewise not particularly compelling. Combat was I suppose typical MMO affair, but felt choppy and slow.

In spite of all that, we might have continued had paralipsis not somehow fallen off the quest wagon, with no quest-givers or quest-completion-spots anywhere on his map, and no ability to receive quests from any of the people giving quests to me. (since one of these people was a dwarf, and we were allied, we didn't think that was the issue.) He quit soon after another session failed to solve this problem, and frankly, the game really isn't good enough to revisit alone, even for free.

Also, apparently I'm a dwarf racist, as I often had trouble telling Luke's character from the baddies I was trying to attack.
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3. Video Game: Dungeon Fighter Online [Average Rating:5.25 Unranked]
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This one I'd already downloaded (but not yet tried) before I even thought of asking VGGers to play with me. It looked like 2d old-school wackiness, so I got
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to join me. After a starting snafu because our characters did not have cool matching names, we settled on RunRunMcZoom (his Thief) and ZapZapMcBoom (my Mage).

It's called an MMO, but feels nothing like one at all. I mean, okay sure, there's technically an auction house and a bunch of people running around town with various titles flashing over their heads, and there's undoubtedly a way to PvP if you want to.

But it's basically an old-school SNES-type beat-em-up mashed with an RPG. You can make your party of up to four people, and then walk into a level. A "level" consists of a network of rooms that are basically only a few times as big as your screen. Your 2D SNES-lookin' character walks around and beats the bejeezus out of bad guys, first with a basic attack or two, but after a few levels you have a preposterous array of skills, most of which can be activated with street-fighter-like commands in addition to assigned their own hotkey.

This game is dumb nostalgic fun. In a world of ever-improving graphics, there's something comforting about just playing a 2D SNES-type beat-em-up RPG. (Some people take regression further and just nethack, but the SNES was my graphical era of choice.)

I'm just at the point where I could theoretically start crafting, but only after I gather literally four hundred special cubes, which you get 5 at a time as tiny quest rewards. So I think it's safe to say the game is excessively grindy, and I know tankexmortis got burned out on it after a month or so.

But I still have my lvl 22 guy, and plan to play him occasionally. Dunno if I'd want to start another toon though; seems like a lot of grind. As far as the gameplay goes, though, it's just dumb fun of the old-school beat-em-ups plus the allure of progress. So, hard for me to argue with.
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4. Video Game: Vindictus [Average Rating:5.85 Overall Rank:6202]
Video Game: Vindictus
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Suggested by the aforementioned tankexmortis, I managed to convince
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to play this one with me to start 2013. He made an archer named DodgeThis, and I'm a mage named CatchThat. And we are still playing in February. It's no Path of Exile, but as MMOs go, it's pretty fun.

I think it helps that it's not really an MMO. That is to say, there's one giant town where everyone congregates and buys gear and gets quests and so forth, and then you go to a dock where you can set out on tiny instanced adventures alone, in a party of up to 4, or joining a pick-up party.

Oh, so the actual gameplay. Is not MMO-like at all. It's a ridiculous action game, where you run around a level and attack things in real-time with your sword-chopping, fireball-blasting, arrow-shooting skills, each room remaining unprogressable past until you kill all (or most) of the enemies, and the last room of each instanced dungeon having some large boss creature who you must fight.

And this formula is pretty successful. It's not a deep game, by any means, but it's flashy and fun to roll through the level killing things and then take down the big boss. There's lots of scenery to smash, and anything on the ground (from pots and treebranches to defeated enemies) can be smashed to bits, used as a weapon to bludgeon someone with, or thrown at enemies.

The physics of the game work pretty nicely, with the result that a few of the traps like Spiky-swinging-log are pleasant to deal with. Traps can hit you or the enemy. You don't get anything for killing individual mobs in the dungeon; you are grinding through them to take down the big boss, at which point you will receive XP, gold, and AP at the "level complete" screen.

AP? Yes, you dump ability points into your various skills to rank them up, with the expected ever-increasing cost curve. Unlike many games, AP are granted separate from level up, so there's no maximum on the number you can gain, and therefore no "wrong" skill advancement choices that can't be fixed by just running more instances to get more AP.

Anyway, the 3D smashy action in this one is fairly solid, and so we're still playing so far. It doesn't offer a whole lot of variety, but it delivers visceral action and character advancement in an efficient way, and I'd say it's worth playing on a casual basis. (We have a guild, if you want to join.) Best yet, there's a skill that gains you AP slowly over time, so there's every incentive to try out the game, spend an hour levelling up to get that skill, and then not feel bad at all if you don't play for a few weeks, and then come back to hundreds of free ability points.
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5. Video Game: DC Universe Online [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:2106]
Video Game: DC Universe Online
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Started DCUO last week with
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You can be heroes or villains. Either way you have to ally with a mentor. We all agreed that The Joker was the obvious choice (and, we're led to believe, has superior voice acting), so we chose villains. Plus, we're all playing villains we've named after board games, which I think is pretty cool. Alongside the lovely Mrs. Jack, alluring Ella Grande, and alien Galaxy Trucker, stands my blue-faced crystalline hulk of a man named Cayluss. (the unforgettable!)

The character creation may be a bit constrained, but at least the few skin choices are sufficiently varied to add interest. Graphics are quite decent, even if a lot of the voice acting (aside from the Joker) is pretty bad. As for the gameplay, it's a more actually-MMO-feeling MMO than DFO or Vindictus (meaning that the gigantic expansive overworld containing many missions is one huge instance filled with players), but still more action-packed than LotRO or SWtOR (as combat is based on real-time attack combos and connecting, rather than clicking on random skills and waiting for them to activate).

It's a free-to-play MMO, so it is silly, but as a longtime comics fan, I have to admit that the trappings are sort of cute. I mean, you get to run missions for the Joker, see Catwoman, and stand atop Wayne Enterprises tower. Plus the travel powers are fun. Leaping into the air or running up buildings just lets you feel super, as a supervillain should. Besides, I have an ability where I can light my own head on fire, which is entertaining even if combat efficacy does not seem to be high.

With a large cast of recognizable characters, decent action gameplay, and a big world that feels cohesive, I will likely be playing this one until all three of my teammates quit.
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6. Video Game: Atlantica Online [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
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As foretold in the scrolls of lore, I ended up trying this out with some local friends. As opposed to the rest of the MMOs I've played, this one is a tactical turn-based squad combat, making it very different in that way from other MMOs. In other ways, it's quite similar -- there are grindy kill 50 of something quests, crafting that takes forever, and plenty of equipment to upgrade.

Still, the music isn't bad, standard combat moves at a good clip for turn-based (optional skirmishes and TBS missions take longer), and being someone ever-indecisive on class, it's nice to be able to build a 9-person squad. Naturally, as you level up, you can buy better (and more expensive) mercs to join your team... eventually, I hope to replace my lame spearman with someone who is not as terrible.

But I digress. Oddly, I don't feel like this game would appeal to many people. It appeals to me, but I'm weird. Most gamers I know seem to prefer actiony combat to turn-based select squad skill combat. And those who do appreciate tactical RPGs probably prefer the much deeper combat of a FFT that offers position, while only the rare TBS battle offers that kind of depth in Atlantica. Mostly, you just use your squad's powers to attack the 9-box of the opponent. Each skill has a different area of effect; the axe swipe will hit whatever's directly left and right of your target, the gun shot attacks a full column, and the sword only hits a single enemy. My main character is a cannon user, who attacks a full cross shape, but naturally does less damage to each than other weapon types.

Still, the rest of the game moves at a nice pace. The world is... this one, plus Atlantis. You start in Asia, and eventually journey to europe, and other continents. Crafting is learn whatever you like, so you can theoretically do it all but really after the first few levels it takes a while to level up, so you have to pick and choose. But weapon enchanting is a snap - you just take two of the same weapon (e.g. Crappy Sword), and then smash them together with an enchant stone, and now you have Crappy Sword +1, which is 20% better. It'll take a pair of +1s to make a +2, so by the time you're trying to enchant +6 or above items, you're talking about a lot of crappy swords, and it's probably cheaper to get the base item of the next better grade (Mediocre Sword), presuming your level is high enough.

A few annoyances are the limits in the game. sharing crafting info, buying from wandering merchants (as opposed to town market), or reading books all takes willpower, a slow-to-regenerate mana-like resource. Also, you can only open 300 boxes a day. All the boxes that drop are annoying jackpot-like devices which flip through many pictures with annoying sound (which I turn off) before finally dropping a random item. Frankly, it's probably good they limit to 300 a day, or I'd go mad from box opening. Oh, and also the economy is ridiculous, with millions of gold being worth hardly anything.

Overall, I'm likely to keep playing at least as long as my local friend does, although I spend more time crafting than questing. I don't imagine this game will be for everyone, but I'm finding it pleasant enough.
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7. Video Game: Wakfu [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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I guess technically I should add this one. I tried it back when it came out, because I'd gotten a code for a free week of premium play from PAX East, back in 2012, and played it for a week with a local frennamine who'd also gotten a code.

The combat was turn-based and sort of slow -- actually the reason I was so skeptical about Atlantica, which manages to keep its turn-based combat speedier absent a few special dungeons -- and consequently especially when playing with a friend, this game sort of plods along in combat, which may be why my friend quickly lost interest.

As a paid player, parts are interesting, though. You align yourself with a nation, and then you are trying to maintain a certain amount of vegetation in your regions. You do this by planting and harvesting things. And as a bonus, everything you harvest can either be planted and/or crafted with. And so there's this tension of, you want to harvest everything because craft mats! But if you harvest too much, it'll be hard to have things to harvest later. Pruned trees grow back. Trees chopped for wood don't. So there's this environmental balance thing that is actually pretty cool.

Unfortunately, all the harvesting/crafting/national interest stuff all goes out the window when your paid subscription runs out, so after a week although I could have continued to play the game free to play, I quickly lost interest. Probably the biggest "Cripple" of a free to play MMO that I've played, so I can't really recommend it, but the free week of premium time was at least fun.
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8. Video Game: Ragnarok Online 2: Legend of the Second [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Finally got to try this on the suggestion of
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, and we were joined by
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The world is ostensibly loosely based on Norse mythology, but aside from Freyja's brood being the main evil in the land, you'd never guess it was Norse. Anime is clearly the main stylistic influence here, with cute hopping slimes, girls with high-pitched voices, and bright colors everywhere.

This may be one of the more MMO-ish MMOs I've played so far, aside from WoW. You start with a few skills on a combat bar, all on cooldown, and immediately delve into talent trees that offer incremental improvements. I was, as always, playing the mage, so I could shoot a fire, ice, or spark bolt at enemies, all with a cooldown bar. I specced into fire, gaining a fireball that does more damage, and some talents that give me a small % chance to reduce cooldown on fireball after firebolt. Click on slime to aggro, cast fires at it as it bounces against me for a few damage, repeat.

The graphics, if you don't mind anime style, are quite solid, and the sound was fine too. With the exception of a little lag/displacement of fallen enemies turning into shiny lootable piles, the game seemed to be fairly smooth. All in all, a pleasant enough experience.

But, alas, also not terribly compelling. Paralipsis said, "this felt like the least multiplayer MMO I can ever recall playing. Being in a party made it so that everyone was visible as dots on the map. Otherwise it just seemed like we were all playing separate games, and it did very little to promote or encourage unity of action in any way."

And I find myself hard-pressed to disagree. I'm sure at higher levels combat requires more cooperation, but I must admit we did just each run around randomly, rather than feeling like we were teaming up to do something. So, my sense is that none of my compatriots are eager to continue with this game. I think it's better than LotR, and very pretty, and I'd be content to keep playing it, but I can see why everyone else isn't really interested.
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9. Video Game: Elsword Online [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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I really wanted to like this game. I guess more specifically, I wanted it to be a replacement for Dungeon Fighter Online, which was just a charming game. And I'd heard about a new 2d brawler MMO, and this sounded lovely. So,
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and I bravely sallied forth to give it a go.

First off, the instancing leaves a lot to be desired. I think it wasn't until this year that I started to appreciate how really good (or really bad) instancing could strongly affect my enjoyment of an MMO. Or multiplayer game in general. I don't tend to consider Diablo clones to be MMOs, so I haven't put them on this list. But this year I played both Path of Exile, and Marvel Heroes. Path of Exile is my exemplar for good instancing; easy to join a friend's instance, keep people not in your group out if you want, or start a fresh instance, as you like. Partying is super-easy. Marvel Heroes, meanwhile, dumps you into an instance with other players who are added to your party whether you like it or not, and they may grab things you needed.

Anyway, ElSword has what I'd consider bad instancing. While the dungeons are party-based, the wilderness areas outside of town sometimes involve both players leaving town to find themselves not in the same wilderness. You are, however, likely to find other random players in your wilderness, killing the bosses you have a quest for and leaving you with no credit.

I think part of my disappointment is the layout, rather than being a 2d on a plane brawler (like final fight, double dragon, or any old-school beat-em-up), is that this is a simple flat 2d brawler, a la maplestory or smash brothers. There's no depth to the field, and that removes a lot of the interest. Combine that with a randomly haphazard uninteresting story, and you have a game that while perfectly playable, just can't manage to hold my attention. We tried it once, went back to it a second time with a brief cameo from
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, and I'm not convinced it's worth a third day playing.

The name is fun to say though, if you imagine yourself as a Spanish announcer.
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10. Video Game: RIFT (2011) [Average Rating:6.80 Overall Rank:2010]
Video Game: RIFT (2011)
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After reading through the MMO Grinder site that Kempeth recommended,
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decided she'd like to try this game, and I was eager to join her.

One thing I will say about it is that it is a game where... many THINGS are happening all the time. You can be wandering towards a quest you have, when you suddenly notice a giant RIFT opening in the sky and creepy death beaming down. So you rush in to deal with the rift, and then you notice there's an invasion alert, so in addition to closing rifts, your country needs you to kill some invading armies and (ideally) not let the evil monsters destroy your wardstones.

Obviously the instant-event trope is hardly unique, similar to FATEs in FFXIV, Dark Anchors in ESO, and probably many other examples I haven't played. But my understanding is that RIFT was one of the progenitors of the idea, so credit where credit's due, that's pretty cool.

Admittedly, after coming off of some trials of FFXIV and ESO (not listed here because they are not free), it's hard for RIFT to measure up. Especially since those games let me do every type of crafting and then realize organically that I need to specialize to get anywhere, rather than making you choose exclusively. But those are paid games.

For a free game, RIFT really does seem quite solid. Aside from an annoying narrative trope to open the game, the story is pretty interesting, dialog is non-terrible, combat works, there's a fairly delicious mix and match skill tree, where after you pick a class you get to pick 3 of 8 sub-schools to learn skills from... hopefully we'll be playing this one for a bit.
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11. Video Game: Dragon Nest [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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Playing this one with a pair of local friends, actually the same pair with whom I was playing Atlantica (above). They both got bored of Atlantica, so we're trying this game. Which, incidentally, is published by NEXON, who also publish Atlantica. The pedigree, however, is not at all similar, and instead feels more like some of NEXON's other games like Dungeon Fighter or Vindictus.

That's because this is another Instance-based Dungeon game, with no real MMO component save for the towns which serve as busy-looking hubs. All the fighting is in instanced areas you enter with your party. The graphics style is very MMO-standard (as opposed to the more 3d-brawler aspect of Vindictus), but the combat is less typical-MMO-like and more beat-em-up like. The global cooldown on skills is quite short, but the individual skill cooldowns are pretty long, with the result that you can't spam any one skill, but rather have to cycle through an array of different skills.

The cash shop isn't overbearingly pushed, although I imagine attempting to do any serious crafting/enhancing without shelling out for the "avoid failure and subsequent item destruction" items would be an exercise in frustration. 6 classes (which each branch to 4 upgrades) offer a decent amount of choice skillwise, even if you have no control over appearance -- Want to play an engineer? You're a twee 12-year-old looking midget girl, who can choose her hairstyle.

Anyway, not a super-favorite, but not bad for a free MMO, and the fact that everything is instanced makes it easy to find stopping points. Will probably keep playing until my compatriots tire of it, but I'm not overly invested.
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12. Video Game: Neverwinter [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:2371] [Average Rating:6.79 Unranked]
Video Game: Neverwinter
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For the past month or so, have been playing this with

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And we're enjoying it a fair bit.

I grew up in Rhode Island. And one of the big advantages of being in Rhode Island is that you're only an hour from Boston and 3-4 hours from NYC. And people in RI rarely actually go to Boston, and almost never go to NYC.

The story and lore in Neverwinter are above average. There is a cohesive, evolving plot, reasonably well-written character dialog, lots of stuff from the D&D worlds if you know the background, and generally pretty solid writing where many other MMOs just have filler. And half of the time, we end up skipping through it, because it's an MMO.

The combat is also above average. I'd say it's at a halfway point between your traditional MMO in the RIFT/Ragnarok style (clunky-feeling slowish timer-target based combat) and your action MMO in the Vindictus/DragonNest style (almost pure beat'emup). it's almost the best of both worlds; combat feels more orderly like an MMO, but is a lot smoother than most I've played and things have hitboxes that you can dodge and so forth.

Crafting is done through a system that is like an old Facebook Mafiawars game, where you just click on "do thing" and then there's a long timer while your mook goes out and does things and you can check in and gather the resources and keep sending them out to level up. Two big advantages this game's crafting has are: 1) There's a special craft tree called "Leadership" for people who don't actually like crafting, you just hire mercenaries who go out and get you gold and XP and avoid all the resource trees, and 2) There's a web interface to manage said timered crafting, so you don't have to log into the game to send out your mercs.

Frankly, the most exciting part of the game is probably the community-written content. Like Neverwinter Nights, this game is very much a D&D system within which players are encouraged to build their own quests. In a system called the Foundry, ratings float the best quests to the top, and you can earn XP and currency by running these just like the story quests. Often, they are more involved and even more interesting than the standard quests. So there's basically infinite content updates, and the studio doesn't even have to make them. Pretty clever.

Regarding currency, that's one place the game's a bit stupid. Gold you find is used basically for crafting resources and potions. Anything you *actually* want can only be bought with Astral Diamonds, which are awarded for daily quests. You can also trade cash shop currency for preposterous amounts of AD. But the auction house only accepts AD, so unless you're running dailies, your adventuring will net you lots of gold but no love.

Cash shop pressure is moderate. Opening more than 2 extra bag slots will take cash, but mercifully crafting resources have their own special sack that doesn't take inv. space. Crafting enchantments beyond a certain level has a high failure percentage without cash shop items. And most annoyingly, your pets/mounts/etc. all have low level caps liftable only with cash or obscene amounts of AD.

Still, the game's quite playable without paying, we're having a grand time so far. (I am, naturally, playing a wizard. Jythier is playing a tank.) And at the time of this post, we're mid-lvl 40s, and my hope is that this may be the first MMO in which I finally hit lvl 60.
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13. Video Game: Anarchy Online [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:3491]
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was talking this one up, so I agreed to give it a try with him today. The skills seemed involved, which is something I love, but the UI was so ancient and clunky that I just couldn't get past it. It visually resembled a less polished KOTOR, which is maybe a bit old-school for me graphics-wise but would have been totally forgiveable if the gameplay and UI had been similarly smooth.

Sadly, this was not the case, and since MMOs tend to be somewhat repetitive to begin with, I knew that the frustrating interface was just going to frustrate me more over time, so this takes the new record (half-hour after play start) for shortest amount of time in which I quit an MMO I was trying with a friend.

Kempeth said it was an acquired taste, which I totally believe, but like many acquired tastes, I have decided there are so many games I want to play I already like the taste of, I'm not really interested in slogging through I game I find unpleasant in the hopes that it eventually raises the bar to "fine". I've got lots of options for fine games already.
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14. Video Game: Guild Wars 2 [Average Rating:7.65 Overall Rank:468]
Video Game: Guild Wars 2
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I totally forgot about this geeklist of mine, but realized I should now add this game, since GW2 has gone free to play. A number of VGGers have played this one; I think I've played with at least half a dozen at various times, from tickmanfan and tatoolo at the beginning, to rindis, smudge, and indramir at the end. There's a guild on there and some active players, for those who want to jump in.

Best MMO I've seen for making it easy for players of disparate levels to team up; areas auto-level-cap you downwards, and each level range has 3-4 areas of quests so my lv26 character can join your new lv2 character for your starting quests in a different region, they'll be new quests for me, and my character will be reduced to lv2. Pretty cool.

GW2 also eliminates a lot of the stupidity common to MMOs where you kill 50 wolves on your way to Bob who asks you to kill 20 wolves as a quest. In GW2, area quests auto-start when you enter the area, and while you still talk to the person for the info and lore and official description, if you're killing wolves on your way to the wolfskinner, then you get credit for it! The combination of the auto-questing and auto-levelling makes everything a lot less cumbersome.

And it's also a great MMO to play with other players, not only because of the level scaling, but also because it's designed so players don't steal from each other. If you get a hit on a monster, you get credit for the kill even if I get the final blow. If you mine a resource node, it doesn't remove it from my map, and I can still mine it for iron as well. Unlike most games, random other players in your MMO don't ruin the world for you by taking everything you need, which is a lovely change of pace.

There's also a LOT to do in the game, but rather than being hidden in arcane achievements and an infinite questlog, it's all easy to see on your giant map where every region has a number of areas with their own autoquests, points of interest to visit, vistas to climb, &c. This is a reasonably large land to explore, with some interesting races and fun little areas.

Probably the best free MMO I've yet played; I did sort of stop playing because I got to a point where everyone was just dungeoning or doing jumping puzzles, but I enjoyed it for a while, and who knows, maybe one day I'll go back.
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15. Video Game: Wildstar [Average Rating:6.58 Overall Rank:5460]
Video Game: Wildstar
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Played this with paralipsis for a while before he decided he'd rather be flying airplanes than fighting on crashed spaceships. I think there are probably three main things that make Wildstar different from most MMOs:

1) Saturday morning cartoon feel. While many MMOs are either non-descript fantasy, or anime, Wildstar very much reminds me of watching silly cartoons on a Saturday morning of my childhood. Bright colors, evil aliens, overacting, roadrunner-desert-looking cliff formations... something about the game just conjures up that kind of atmosphere. This may be a positive or negative depending on your disposition

2) Choose-your-own-sidequest. In addition to choosing a class, you will also choose an occupation such as Explorer, Soldier, Settler, or Scientist. These occupations will determine what weird sidequests you can undertake for bonuses, as Explorers will jump up vines and use their GPS to find beacons, Soldiers will have to fight against waves of enemies in defense scenarios, Scientists will examine research cubes, and Settlers will build structures to help others. These sort of map onto the Bartle's Types (Heart, Diamond, Club, Spade), so it's neat that you can select a sidequest set that suits your playstyle/personality.

3) Arcadey-feeling combat. While many MMOs I've played seem to have a lot of timed skills that you can't really avoid, Wildstar's combat is all about skills that have charge-times and show hitzone boxes, both for you and the mobs. The result is a much more active-feeling game, where even the easy combats feel a bit more actiony.
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16. Video Game: The Secret World [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:2342]
Video Game: The Secret World
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- and possibly others eventually.

Picked this up in a Humble Bundle, and so far have been enjoying it for its uniqueness. Two main ways it differs from most MMOs I've seen:

1) Theme. Rather than being swords and sorcery, or sci-fi, or ancient whatever, this is a whole MMO that is set in modern times where all conspiracy theories are true, a battle between the templars and the illuminati, and your characters wear modern garb and go to airfields and sewage plants and modern london and so forth. I love high fantasy, I really do, but pretty much every other MMO on this list is fantasy and/or sci-fi (with the exception of DCUO). It's nice to play something different.

2) Advancement. There are no levels, capped XP gains, or scaling XP. If you start the game tomorrow, and we both run the same lvl 1 mission and kill 10 slimes, we both get the same amount of XP, and we'll each need the same amount to put our first point into shotguns, even if I have 20 points in Magic. While it's true that higher levels in a skill require more points, it's nice to have the static advancement to know you can reliably advance.

Skill advancement also involves width as well as depth. We might both have 2 skill points in Elemental Magic and Blood Magic. If I play for another 5 hours, I might drop 2 skill points in every other weapon also, but since we can only use 2 weapons at once, it won't make me stronger than you, just give me more options. But you can have ALL the options, because there's no cap. So if you decide after 100 hours with your chaos mage that you wish you'd been doing shotguns this whole time? You don't need a new toon, you can just start dumping points into shotguns, and it's not as if a character who started shotguns from day 1 can get to a shotgun level you can't. That's a really nice feature I appreciate.

The quests are organized by type, from sidequests and standard main missions, to the two less typical types "Sabotage" (stealth missions which I am terrible at) and "Investigation" (do web research to solve puzzles using your mind instead of in-game stuff -- turns out I'm not good at this either). This is a pretty nice change from the usual as well, even if it's not my cuppa.

F2P-wise, it's not too bad; paying players get some bonuses to xp and a fancier mount and not paying to use teleports, but it all seems to be minor stuff and a player could totally play for free. Overall, I'd say it's a pretty cool game I'm hoping to play more.
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17. Video Game: Outside the Scope of VGG [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Outside the Scope of VGG
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Closers

In the wake of Dungeon Fighter Online, this was another Beat-em-up MMO that looked like fun, so I played it for a while with Jythier.

It was indeed fun at the beginning; gameplay was relatively decent, you keep unlocking cool moves, plow through levels and mow down enemies, and the instanced levels are sufficiently short that they aren't too annoying.

But here are the two things that were too annoying:
1) The game was super-grindy. This is true of any MMO, but when the main questline forces you to repeat the same level many times in a row, it somehow feels worse than a "Kill 20 wolves" quest in WOW. The levels are already pretty similar since you're just walking through waves of mobs, so to repeat the same level over and over swiftly becomes mind-numbing and fun-draining.

2) Way too many required solo-only levels. The only reason I play MMOs is to play with friends, and so when the main quest line (really, the only quest line, since all quests are basically sequential) has the next level force you to play alone, it means it's pointless for me to be playing with someone. And heaven forfend you have different characters, you may find you have solo quests at different points in the questline, so you can't even do your solo quests simultaneously. One of the last sessions we played, I think we only got to play 1-2 levels together vs. 3-4 solo missions between the two of us.

Those two negatives, plus the usual stupid microtransaction-hammering F2P MMO nonsense, were enough to have me leave this game. Gameplay itself was fine, but the larger game just wasn't worth wading through.
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18. Video Game: Age of Wulin: Legend of the Nine Scrolls [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Age of Wulin: Legend of the Nine Scrolls
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Technically Age of Wushu.

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And we both recalled enjoying the martial arts setting of Jade Empire, so we thought we'd try this martial arts-based MMO set in ancient China.

Indeed, the setting was delightful if you like that sort of thing. Even leaving aside the fact that half of the game's pop-up messages are still in Chinese, the world is very much ancient china. It's a big world filled with sprawling cities boasting impressive temples, humble merchant stalls, and buckets of (pointless) NPCs running around. And you can leap onto rooftops like crouching tiger hidden dragon.

Even the dialogue feels very much ancient china. While the translation leaves a lot to be desired, and indeed the dialogue is often such meaningless pablum that the fault can't be just the translation, the important point is that the pablum FEELS right, like it belongs in a bad kung-fu movie, which is what we were going for.

The combat, while annoyingly MMO-ish in terms of delays, does allow you to rotate a variety of martial arts moves that look pretty cool, block enemy attacks, and unleash devastating rage-induced martial arts moves that come with what are basically mini-cutscenes that zoom in on you pummeling the mob.

And there are a vast number of martial arts styles you can learn in the game. In addition to the beginner style and the 9 different schools you choose among, there are bunches of other styles to be found in the world -- and each style comes with its own set of a dozen moves or so to toss on your skillbar.

That all sounds pretty good, right? Well, the game isn't.

Quests are exceedingly formulaic, which combined with the eminently skippable and poorly-translated dialogue, means that you likely click on the quest-giver, ignore what they say, go to the waypoint on the map, kill appropriate enemies and/or find appropriate object, return to quest-giver, rinse, repeat. Sometimes literally repeat, as many town quests are repeatable each day.

Also the game is incredibly punishing for free players. All of the gathering professions (Mining, Woodcutting, Fishing, etc.) are limited to paying players, so you can technically learn some refinement crafts, but you'll never be able to gather your own materials without paying, which means it's auction house or nothing.

But the worst thing about the game may be the levelling system. You get experience all the time, for completing quests, or just jumping around. But you don't actually GET that experience, because you can only advance your level and skills with Cultivation points. And a single Experience point converts to hundreds of Cultivation points, but it does so ve ry s l o w l y. The rate of conversion can be as low as 7 Cultivation points per 100 seconds, and averages 43 points per 100 seconds.

To give you a sense of what that's worth, your typical skill takes 20k points to reach level 2, and 60k points to reach level 3, and it only gets worse from there. So that means, even after earning all the experience you need, your character will need to be logged in for 2 hours to reach lvl 2 in a skill, and 6 hours to reach lvl 3 in a skill. And remember, that's per skill, not per martial arts style. To level up a martial arts style even a single level, you're looking at days of being logged in.

And that's why I can't really recommend Age of Wushu. The setting is very pretty, but the game is mindless questing interspersed with lots of waiting, and life's too short.
 
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19. Video Game: Outside the Scope of VGG [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Video Game: Outside the Scope of VGG
Osirus
United States
North Adams
Massachusetts
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Microbadge: Pebble of the Community - Always present, only occasionally kicked aroundMicrobadge: Dood!Microbadge: GameChat League - Swedish Meatball DivisionMicrobadge: Fallout fanMicrobadge: 'When playing a game, the goal is to win, but it is the goal that is important, not the winning' - Dr. Reiner Knizia
Metin 2

Imagine if you liked the setting of Age of Wushu, but felt that the graphics were too good and you didn't like all the talking with NPCs to gain stories and plot, and you wanted a more stripped-down game where you just attacked mobs.

That's basically the only scenario I can imagine where you might want to play Metin2, but even then, I couldn't really recommend it. Played this one for a bit with
Agent J
United States
Coldwater
Michigan
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He's looking real sharp in his 1940's fedora. He's got nerves of steel, an iron will, and several other metal-themed attributes. His fur is water tight and he's always up for a fight.
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He's a semi-aquatic egg-laying mammal of action. He's a furry little flat-foot who'll never flinch from a fray. He's got more than just mad skills, he's got a beaver tail and a bill.
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But it started terrible and never really got much better. There's not really any plot to speak of, you're just immediately thrown in a field and told to go kill some of the infinite morass of dogs and wolves milling about just down the hill. And there's no plot or even character progression, you just keep clicking on stuff to kill it without much motivation for a dozen levels or so. At that point I think we eventually found another NPC to talk to, but the whole game felt very clunky and failed to provide any motivation for the grind.

Which would be okay if it were just a Diablo clone and the combat was good enough that plot was irrelevant. But the combat here is terrible, not only much worse than any diablo clone, but worse than most MMOs as well.

Even for free, this game is overpriced.
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