My gaming partner and I have been rather inactive on the MMO front recently, due to Real Life(tm) constraints. We play infrequently enough that we only racked up 7 days played out of our 14-day free Vanguard trial, and did not make it off the trial island during that time. I also logged on to the Allods Online beta a few times, playing a different race, class, and faction than I planned to at launch so as not to burn out; unsurprisingly I was then unable to form an attachment to the character I created specifically for its disposability (although those Gibberlings sure are cute).
The more I learn about Allods, the more I realize it won’t be a game I will be able to enjoy due to its open-world PvP and group/guild-driven content. It looks and plays beautifully and I wish it every success – especially in breaking the common stereotype of free-to-play game inferiority. Given the limited spans of time in which I have to play, however, I simply cannot get heavily involved in a game that requires large amounts of group collaboration to proceed. This will probably result in my playing anyway, but having several characters parked around level 20. This is actually fine with me.
We miss Vanguard, and intend to return to it at some time in some capacity, but with Star Trek Online on the horizon we don’t consider it worthwhile to potentially maintain two subscriptions for games we barely have time to play (again I register my protest with the subscription model for requiring me to make decisions like this). Instead I am brushing up on my STO information, watching vidcasts and leaked beta footage, reading every piece of news and every interview that the developers see fit to release.
The last time my better half was excited enough about an upcoming MMO to pre-order it was when Warhammer Online was about to be released, and we had nearly six months of rip-roaring fun in that game. This was before shifting populations, class imbalances, and the server-merging tango caused us to cancel our subscriptions. But on the scale of Game Chosen to Fun Had, he’s 1 for 1, so when my partner makes excited noises about commanding the U.S.S. Enterprise via Gamestop pre-order, I know well enough to simply follow along and offer the services of my Borg bridge officer (courtesy Amazon.com pre-order, of course).
I still have reservations about several aspects of the game:
- Ships are boring: Space combat looks boring to me, though I realize there are several complicated factors taking place at any given time; I am certain to suck at it because I suck at things I find boring and complicated. No, I never really played space games as a kid. Heck, I even sucked at Asteroid.
- Moving like a plastic doll: Ground combat still looks a bit unpolished to me, but it’s getting noticeably better. The more beta footage I watch, the better I feel about it, so I’m open to changing my mind about this one.
- Pretty Pretty Princess: I love the Star Trek franchise, for watching, but I’m not sure how much I will enjoy living in it. I haven’t had much success getting excited about games outside of a fantasy setting (sorry, Fallen Earth!), largely due to the lack of resources to dress my characters as prettily as I like. If there is a social clothing option for hanging out at the spaceports/Quarks equivalent, and/or the ability to dress my Captain in a TOS skirt uniform, this will go a long way to alleviate my worries. (I’m not a fan of the miniskirt per se, but do I like skirts and it certainly is a skirt)
- What do you mean, “content?”: Will this game suffer from the lack of content issues that plague(d) Champions Online, and how will this manifest in a game that is said to have procedurally generated planets for exploring and episodic mission content? Would that mean that there are no planets to explore at launch, or only three out of thirteen Episodes are complete? How will this impact me, a 5-10 or fewer hour per week player?
However, I do love the following:
- NPC Bridge Officers/Away team members: Oh, Guild Wars henchman model, please allow me to make out with you for a moment. Thank you for letting me have the option of joining my better half’s away team, or join up with him with my own team of NPC pets for planet exploration. I think I love you.
- Art style: It seems most people are either in the love or hate camps for the Champions Online graphic style, but I was rather on the fence about it once I realized I could turn cell shading off. The style Cryptic has gone with for STO is much preferred, however, and I find myself wishing they had gone in this direction for CO as well. I especially like the look of space – I don’t care if space isn’t as busy in real life – this is worlds more fun to look at, and I’m here to have fun.
- These quotes:
“Some of the systems you discover will have combat and others some will have non-combat missions. Many involve acquiring and delivering certain commodities like industrial replicators or medical supplies. There are also thousands of points of interest throughout space and on planet surfaces that can be scanned.
“You can bring this data back to planet Memory Alpha. Collect the right data, and you may learn how to create something new, or you may peak the interest of a prominent Bridge Officer who may offer to join your crew.
“What you can expect is that your Bridge Officers will often work something like mission Contacts. For instance, if you fly by a spatial anomaly, your science officer may speak up and say he detected some unusual activity, and prompt you to explore it.”
Oh, please be like that for real, and not like the “bears, bears, bears” of Warhammer Online. If you can do this, Cryptic, I’m yours.