How I Review Games II: MMO’s and Perennial Games

In our last discussion, I talked mainly about single player games and how I approach those when it comes to reviewing them.  This particular post will cover MMO’s and “perennial” games that don’t have a natural “end point.”

What I Generally Play

A circle of friends all around the world.
I am going to play games! Online! With my buddies! It’s going to be great!

When I pick up a MMO, I am typically interested in a couple of very particular things:  I like it best when the “perennial game” is either a fantasy-based game with spells and magic.  My preference runs towards being able to make magicians – particularly if there’s a shape-changing mechanic tied in there somewhere.  [Natural animals are best.]

I love games that are stylized in some way.  Lots of people refer to these as “games that look cartoony,” but I find that these “less real” graphics actually enhance the fantasy aspect.  Plus, they often lead to very saturated coloure palettes and I find that far more appealing than the muddy brown that was going around the first person shooter genre like a plague a few years ago.

The other kind of game I love in this particular vein is the collectible card game.  There has always been something to traditional turn-based games that you cannot find in faster paced games.  That pleasant slowness of strategizing that leads to a plan well executed.

This speed issue tends to worm it’s way into the MMO’s I play, too.  I generally prefer that they are slower, tab-targeted affairs.  I’m not really here to show how good my reflexes are.  I’m here to relax and have fun.  Twitch-based games rarely ever work for me.

How I Generally Play

A general login form.
Uhhhhhh. What are my login details again?!

I try to put a couple of hours a day into a game like this, and I attempt to see all the systems available to me as a SINGLE player.  This is very important.  While group activities do make for fun diversions, they are problematic in the sense that I am not – by-and-large a people’s person.  If I can’t do the greater bulk of the content solo, I’m not likely to be engaged to a point where I can write an informed opinion piece on that game.

My intent is also to sink a fair amount of time into the game before making any kind of statements about it.  This means staying the course until the level cap is reached or until about three-or-so months have passed, whichever comes first.

Things I Strongly Dislike

Most modern MMO’s are now built around the idea of a cash shop.  While I do not like the concept of cash shops, [I feel that there are far more ethical ways of getting money from your players] some behaviours irk me more than others.

Games that I will avoid as a result of cash-shop policies:

  • Games that sell power.
  • Games that sell lockboxes. [I refuse to participate in gambling.]
  • Games that sell cosmetic items [don’t worry, I’m going to elaborate on this in a moment.]
  • Games that sell “timed items.”
  • Free-to-play games that try to “trick” you into spending money/monetize nearly everything.

Let’s talk about cosmetics for a second.  Lots of people seem to have no problem with cosmetics being up for grabs.  Strictly speaking, I don’t have a problem with this if:  there Is some way to earn this item in the game.  Cosmetic items may not be content to you, but they are content to someone.  Automatically locking someone out because “it’s just cosmetics” has always felt like a cop-out.  Most would certainly feel rather differently if raids and the like were treated the same way.

I strongly prefer buy-to-play models than free-to-play ones, because I feel that this is the most fair way of getting a perennial game into the hands of players:  they pay once, have access to everything and subsidize the creation of further expansions through buying the box.

Expansions

A paramedic's suitcase as a vector and all in blue.
There’s a 40GB [!] patch on the other side of the login?! And it’s not cumulative?! So there’s another one after that!!? And another!? AND ANOTHER!!!???
Because these “perennial games” go from strength to strength, the next time I check into a MMO will probably be whenever it launches an expansion or every year or so.  I feel that it is important to give these games a bit of room to breathe and a bit of space to add content.  Additionally, a year may help a badly launched MMO claw it’s way back from the brink.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this has offered some idea of how I go about things and has given you, the reader, some idea of what to expect when I review media.

Thank you for reading this piece.


Images courtesy of Pixabay.