So I was having a rather one sided discussion with my wife today about how clearly Minsc is the best character. She had no counter for Boo, mainly because she hasn’t ever played any of the Baldur’s Gate games. “Minsc is clearly number one!”, I exclaimed as I raced to the internet in search of lists to validate my claims. Alas, I found no such lists. Only forum posts littered my search results discussing the best party from a strategic perspective. Look, I know there wasn’t a lot of voice dialogue but party members in the Baldur’s Gate series (especially the second one) had character! Also, I realize Baldur’s Gate has nothing to do with MMORPGs, but BG1EE is soon to be released, and this is a blog post so I do what I want.
Spoiler alerts, etc incoming. Seriously, if you haven’t played the game by now why are you even reading this list? OK on to the top 10!
10. Garrick - “Brave, brave Sir Garrick, Sir Garrick ran away.”
Garrick, it’s going to take more than a Monthy Python reference to get on this list. Wait, what’s that? Ah, OK we have room in spot #10 so come on in. Garrick is a romantic opportunist who lives a carefree life. He thinks more of himself than everyone else who lives in a non-make-believe world. His personality is best expressed in BG2 where he falls in love with a beautiful girl, attempts to woo her with a friend’s help, that friend ends up marrying that girl, so he shrugs his shoulders and runs off with a bridesmaid. Garrick may be able to teach some good lessons on the fluid nature of love, but other than singing bardic songs of bravery I can’t say he’s an ideal contributor to combat.
9. Xzar - “I ate his liver with a nice chianti and some fava beans.”
Xzar, half the time you are one of the most perceptive wizards I have ever met. Unfortunately, the other half you are a rambling mass of nonsense. It’s hard to differentiate between the two when they come seemingly at random. His bouts with sanity are a thing to behold and while not playable in BG2, he does make short lasted appearance.
8. Edwin - “O, YES, MASTER. What shall I FETCH NOW?!”
Edwin, you are a douche but there aren’t any other pure wizards that seem to be available for god hunting so come along now. What’s that? You are a really powerful mage so we should be glad to have your company? Then why did you muck up reading a scroll that changed your gender and then later contest the powerful Elminster (i.e. the D&D version of Gandalf/Merlin) which led to a permanent change into Edwina? There’s nothing more fitting than seeing a douchebag getting toyed with by forces far more powerful than his own.
7. Anomen - “There is no glory in watching the grass grow”
At first was I like “ugh”, but then I was like “awww yeah”. Unfortunately from time to time I still get reminded of why I used to feel “ugh”. Anomen is an interesting character because my opinion of him changes throughout BG2. Like many characters, he is overconfident, and he loves flattery. He’s also the son of a lord who would rather spend his life as a noble warrior of the Order of the Radiant Heart than take over the lucrative family business. He begins to show his “weak” side when family duties later conflict with duties of the order. His internal conflict between two powerful forces opens our eyes to the depth of Anomen’s sometimes annoying character. In the end, he’s a good guy who wants acceptance to a fault.
6. Jan – “I’ll do it, for a turnip.”
There isn’t a single thing you can say that I will trust, but I’ll still listen to every word. Part inventor, part thief, part businessman, and all eccentric, Jan is as much an opportunist when it comes to making money as Garrick is when it comes to making love. It’s quite convenient that he makes his own crossbow ammo and he’s pretty good at getting out of (and into) sticky situations. He’s useful in a lot of ways, but none more so than his storytelling abilities. Got to keep morale up one way or the other!
5. Sarevok – “Face ME! FACE THE NEW LORD OF MURDER!”
Hey bro, care to fight for the ascension of godhood? No? Well maybe you shouldn’t have tried to kill him! Despite killing Sarevok in BG1 he makes a return in BG2:Throne of Bhaal through some improbable events involving the protagonist or Imoen giving up a piece of their soul to progress their adventure forward. No longer blinded by power, he is pretty confused on where to go in life. You can slowly direct him towards the side of good if you like, but whatever you do it’s pretty hard to go from being a full fledged Bhaalspawn close to ascension to just a big, beefy fighter. Redemption is out of the question but props to Sarevok for trying to figure out his life.
4. Imoen – “Heya! It’s me, Imoen.”
Seriously, I know your name. Stop reminding me. Imoen would probably be a fun girl to hang out with in short spurts. She can act really childish and that’s not something I like to deal with when I’m fighting powerful mages and spawns of various gods. However, she’s the protagonist’s bhaal-sister and has some godly powers so it’s probably best if she stays close to your side. She darkens/matures after Irenicus’s torture, but handles it all like a boss. Her biggest asset is her nearly unflappable loyalty to the protagonist, and she is the staple of a good adventuring party.
3. Viconia -“I am beginning to tire of spending my time with fools”
Viconia, you are a bitch and for some reason I’m turned on by it. This drow cleric is an interesting dichotomy of personality from Jaheira. They’re both strong, secure ladies with healing abilities to keep parties going. While Jaheira has led mostly a happy life, Viconia’s life has led to a crueler personality. She was nearly sacrificed by her mother, saved by her brother who was then turned into a half-spider, did time as a sex slave, and was buried alive. Coming out of that with a “neutral evil” alignment and not a “murder everyone” alignment takes some strength of character. She has absolutely no patience for weaknesses or silliness and pokes fun at many characters while showing intrigue in characters such as Sarevok.
2. Jaheria – “Yes, oh omnipresent authority figure?”
Jaheira, how on earth did you marry Khalid? He is a baby and you are a strong, stubborn, proud, and beautiful woman. You fight fiercely and offer assistance to the party through druidic magic. How she handled living with him was almost as impressive as how she handled his death at the start of BG2. Clearly broken up over losing her husband, she manages to stay focused and continue assisting the protagonist with his journey. Jaheira is with the protagonist practically at the beginning of his journey and for many, she lasted until the end. Her inner strength and depth of character places her at #2.
1. Minsc - “Go for the eyes Boo, GO FOR THE EYES!! RrraaaAAGHGHH!!!”
Minsc, you are batshit crazy and you give 0 fucks. That’s why we love you. Minsc talks to his “mini giant space hamster” often and his sanity ebbs and flows pending the status of his current “witch” (Dynaheir from BG1 and Aerie from BG2). It’s pretty easy to set him off if he believes evil is afoot and he is a brutal warrior. Despite his mental issues he has a good heart that can be directed well by others of similar values. Minsc’s value as an ally, his amusing bouts with mental clarity, and references to him in Mass Effect makes him an easy #1.
So many free to play games everywhere, just coming out non-stop. Then you have games like Vanguard that used to be pay to play but are switching gears. There are a lot of different ways to approach “free to play” and all of them have to generate revenue for the company.
As much as some idealistic gamers seem to believe, servers, development, and support are not free. That’s not to say that people who never spend a dime on free to play games don’t provide something back to the company. More warm bodies make the experience better for the population at large, encouraging more of those who would spend money to stick around. So while it’s great business sense for developers to think of ways to get spenders to spend money, the freeloads can’t be shut out without a massive population decline.
I got to thinking about this over the previously mentioned Vanguard’s initial proposed move to to free to play. It severely limited max money, quality items, the inability to send mail, limited chatting, and a few other annoying quirks. This was no way for free players to enjoy the game and the developers wisely changed their minds. I’m still not sure it’s the best balance of revenue and free player retention, but it does highlight the importance of these matters.
In my opinion, the best system for a company is to follow in the footsteps of League of Legends. Basically, with real money, you can buy faster advancement and cosmetic only skins. Paid players might get to unlock champions faster and look cooler, but the champions they unlock aren’t exclusive to them. There’s no reason this can’t be applied to a traditional MMORPGs. Don’t make paying for the game a requirement to have fun or be as powerful as other players unless you want your game to die an early death.
A recent priority of ours has been sifting through our MMORPG List to make sure all of our links are working properly. We’re also updating every game to include screenshots on respective individual review pages. In doing so we found that an astonishing number of MMORPGs have closed over approximately the past year. Was 2011 a brutal year for MMORPGs or are we just inundated with subpar products in the genre?
Here’s the list with some comments attached for each:
9 empires – Kind of cool gameplay reminiscent of Heroes of Might and Magic. Ironically, it may have been better than Might and Magic Heroes, especially for PvP fans. The community was always pretty small.
Faxion Online – Heaven vs. Hell with epic RvR and semi-offline skill training. Except it was released with bugs, without features, and they failed at listening to their community.
Kitsu Saga – Nice cell shaded graphics. That’s about all it had going for it. Who knew that gameplay mattered?!
Legendary Champions – This game lasted less than a school semester. It tried to offer a lot of things and was pretty bad about all of them.
Luna Online – Sad and surprised to see this one go. It had been up for 3 years, had a cool job system, the ability to raise pets, farm, and fish. It was pretty damn grindy though. It also seemed somewhat popular. I guess they just weren’t monetizing very well.
Prius Online – Same company as Luna Online but lasted less than a year and with good reason. This game was generic and awful in every way.
Secret of the Solstice – Ragnarok Online without quite as much charm or fun.
Tales Runner – A cutesy racing MMO. Please be more niche kthx.
Three Kingdoms Brawler – I love the 3 Kingdoms setting, but I’d rather play a good sidescrolling brawler. I’d take Final Fight from freaking 1989 over this and an AOL chatroom over this.
Upshift Strikeracer – Mario Kart with some legit graphics. It was pretty cool, but I’m not sure the market for MMO racers on the PC is very big. Perhaps it’s also a tough balance between providing free content and balanced paid options?
Wonderking - Like a lot of games on this list, this is a crappy rip off of MapleStory.
The Chronicles of Spellborn - Oh Spellborn, your tale is so sad. This actually closed in August 2010 but was supposedly going to come back revamped. That hasn’t happened and probably never will. It offered a free targeting system that’s not getting popular with games like TERA and Dragon Nest. Players could combo abilities and experience was gained pretty much exclusively through quests. Basically the developers went bankrupt, Acclaim bought it but didn’t support it, then they sold it off, and it died.
Caesary – Generic strategy MMO. They were getting sued for something that led to the closedown.
Divine Souls – A pretty crappy version of Dragon Nest.
Majesty – Strategy MMO with tactical turn based combat, completely under the player’s control. People complain about no real tactics in these games, but every online strategy game that breaks the mold “build up troops and overwhelm the enemy with numbers” fails or ends up clinging to life.
Troy Online – Many were heartbroken over Troy. Not because it closed, but because it was ever made. I mean you could level up. That’s a feature right? Oh, it had some borked PvP too. It closed after 3 months. No idea what anyone involved with this game was thinking.
World of Kung Fu – This lasted for a while based on fast paced combat (for an MMO) and the odd lack of MMOs set in ancient China at the time of the game’s release in 2008. It had a good run filling a market void, but at it’s core this game was pretty bad unless you enjoyed mindless grinds.
Outside of Luna Online and The Chronicles of Spellborn these games were hopeless. Spellborn needed more development time and perhaps better developers. Luna still appeared to be a strong contender amongst cartoon MMORPGs. Perhaps they should have lessened the grind and figured out how to monetize better. Empires and Majesty failed probably by adding a tactical features most strategy gamers complain about not having. They may have had a pay2win model though. Always a deal breaker for me and many others.
I don’t think there are too many MMOs. I think there are too many bad MMOs. Now there are ~17 less.
Generally in a given MMORPG the goal of the game is to rush through the leveling process so you can begin “end game”. This is the point where you are max level and to advance your character you must spend long hours for relatively small gains. This has been focal point of the genre for a while. “End game” provides the most challenging content, emphasizes group play, and allows access to most (if not all) of your abilities. It’s also where you get the shiniest loot to show off to the rest of the world.
There are games that do more to focus on the journey itself though. The journey in a typical MMORPG is a way too overextended tutorial where one only cares about max level. I think the journey and progression in SWTOR is good, but the MMO elements feel too tacked on to immerse myself in the game. A strong middle game is created by several small, frequent achievements alongside branching content paths that are useful over the career of your character.
One example is Eden Eternal and it’s job class system. It’s similar to FFXI but boasts a better UI, easier leveling, alternate solo/group advancement possibilities, and friendlier gameplay. At it’s core you can level up multiple classes which later unlock more advanced classes. You can then combine them in a variety of ways to supplement your main class. You can also change classes during fights which provides greater incentive to level up these classes. I’m a big fan of the multi-class, only need for one character, job class system and right now I feel like Eden Eternal does it best. It has it’s faults, but it’s a game that I like to keep installed because I don’t feel like maxing out everything on my character is the only point.
LOTRO is another good example, mainly because of the crazy amount of achievements (deeds technically) one can attain. A lot of these you will need to do some heavy grinding like killing hundreds of some type of creature. Others are a little more interesting with story based quests or exploration at the helm. What makes LOTRO interesting here is that these deeds provide virtues that noticeably enhance your character’s power. Instead of focusing purely on levels, one also will have the desire to complete these deeds because they are useful now and they are useful later. There are a lot of deeds available and they provide a lot of “middle game” content to enhance your character.
Eden Eternal and LOTRO are strong casual game options because there is a lot to look forward to without the need to max out your level. Neither are my ideal MMO (which sadly doesn’t exist yet, but I’m hopeful for 2012), but they perform better than many competitors by providing a strong middle game.
How do you feel about the quality of the article writing at whatmmorpg.com? I think it’s fair that if you enjoy it, you might want to look for where you can find more. So here’s a “better late than never” introduction to our two most frequent contributors.
Tyler Edwards has been writing for whatmmorpg.com for a few months now, primarily providing ‘Top 10′ type articles on the MMO community. Some of my favorites include Most Shocking MMO Incidents and 10 Common MMO Player Types. If you haven’t already these are certainly articles worth checking out. Tyler posts about his work as a freelancer, reviews on games, books, and more, and other musings on gaming. You can read more about him over at his personal blog, SuperiorRealities.
Jessica Brown has been writing and contributing to the site for several months now. Her latest articles discusses censorship in TERA. She is a full fledged gamer and is now getting into creating videos in addition to playing and talking about games. Allahweh’s Domain is her internet home and you can read more from her there.
We are always looking for other talented writers and media professionals to help promote the site. If you have video, writing, or other media skills please feel free to email us. Maybe we can figure out something to work on together!
The time for the release of Guild Wars 2 draws nigh. Less than 2 weeks ago, ArenaNet opened sign ups for their upcoming MMORPG for a period of 48 hours. Those who were on top of things, and signed up, are now eagerly hoping to see an email for the first round of betas invite. Those will likely go out towards the end of this month.
With the announcement of public beta sign ups, the history of Guild Wars 1 release date, and status updates dropped by developers, there’s enough information to make an educated prediction for the Guild Wars 2 release date.
The original Guild Wars Prophecies beta started October 29, 2004 with a World Preview Event. Guild Wars was released April 26, 2005. That’s a difference of 27 weeks. Guild Wars 2 started their closed beta on December 16, 2011. 27 weeks later would be June 12, 2012. The sequel’s beta test doesn’t directly correspond to the original’s in terms of how players were selected, but ArenaNet hyped these milestones with similar enthusiasm. Hype is an important, gradual progression for a game. Too much, too early is a waste. Not enough is just bad business. June 12 is a good starting point.
Let’s look at the time period between release announcements and release dates for another pattern. Guild Wars Propechies announced February 14, 2005 for it’s April 28, 2005 release. Guild Wars Factions was announced March 10, 2006 and released April 28, 2006. Guild Wars Nightfall announced August 24, 2006 for a October 27, 2006 release. Eye of the North announced July 2 ,2007 for a August 31, 2007 release. That’s an average of 11 weeks between announcement and release. That puts release at 5/22/2012 at earliest (if announced today).
February 14 fell in between the 3rd and 4th weekend beta events for Guild Wars 1. Mike O’Brien, president of ArenaNet, announced that the size of beta tests will be aggressively ramped up in March and April. As noted earlier, we should see the first beta invites sent in late March. That’s big news. Following the theory of a slow, steady, disseminating hype train I wouldn’t expect anything that big for at least another couple weeks afterward.
There’s also the whole thing about the beta test being…well…a beta test. It serves a much larger purpose than doling out excitement. Given that semi-public beta testing has been going on since December, I think they are just looking to make sure everything is in order. Within a month, a vocal and dedicated Guild Wars 2 community can point out any fatal flaws that would need fixing prior to launch. Guild Wars 2 seems to be in great shape, so it’s hard to imagine any glaring issues that couldn’t be resolved within an average 11 week “announcement to release” cycle. I would expect an announcement around April 20. That’s towards the middle/end of the big ramp up period, which coincides with the release date announcement of Guild Wars 1 during beta. Games release on Tuesdays, and 11 Tuesdays after April 20 is July 3, 2012. We could celebrate American independence with independence from generic MMOs, or whatever marketing speak sounds best.
That puts the date somewhere between June 12 and July 3. TERA is releasing on May 1, 2012. Guild Wars 2 isn’t going to beat that release date, but it will be ready shortly after TERA players finish their first free subscription month. The Secret World, another high profile MMORPG release with 3-way faction combat, is set to release on June 19, 2012. TERA and The Secret World developers are likely more scared of Guild Wars 2 than the other way around. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a strategy to crushing, instead of just beating, the opposition. June 19 is a safe release date, will overshadow a potential competitor, and provides a Q2 release to improve NCSoft’s earnings over multiple quarters, carrying into Q3.
June 19, 2012. Guild Wars 2 release date. Mark your calendars then come back to where you heard it first.
I am pretty pumped about this year. We will be seeing a slew of new innovative and evolutionary concepts coming to fruition this year in the MMO market. Truly new games with fresh concepts means a better experience for myself and fellow gamers. Here’s a quick rundown of the top MMO games scheduled to release in 2012 and why you should be excited about them:
Team based, real time combat, shooter MMO with strong cooperative and competitive PvP elements. It’s sadly lacking open world PvP so don’t expect PlanetSide. It will offer competitive gameplay between clans and a slew of awesome cooperative content. Teamwork will be involve than healbots and taunts and should offer refreshing action-oriented gameplay. Oh, and the founder of developer was a team lead for the original World of Warcraft.
Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 is bringing a new acronym to PvP: WvWvW. So many letters…WvWvW stands for World vs World vs World. You see, players are essentially divided into their own servers and will fight massive battles against other servers for supremacy and other rewards. Guild Wars 2 will also offer competitive, small team arena PvP. Guild Wars 2 is providing the coolest PvE content imaginable: dynamic events. Dragons will randomly spawn and possibly DESTROY local villages unless enough heroes gather around to stop them. There’s still plenty of things to collect too, but in every aspect Guild Wars 2 raises the stakes quite a bit higher. Without a monthly fee.
Basically you take World of Warcraft and you add real life reflexes to the mix. This is a fantasy MMORPG where you will level up, find loot, and do so while outmaneuvering your enemies, dodging their attacks, and hitting with precise movements rather than hotkeys. There is no limited faction based combat here. In it’s place is a free for all political system of sorts. Anyone can rise to power but in a game like TERA, quality of followers might matter more than quantity.
Salem is planning on being the most realistic, immersive MMORPG since….ever. Just to make sure I don’t excite you for no reason; this game has permadeath. As in when you die there is no corpse run. You simply lose your character. If you said ‘No corpse run? Genius!’ then there is still hope. In addition to the ultimate ‘your decision matters’ feature there is also open PvP where players must police themselves, mysterious magic that allows limited players to learn witchcraft, and a top notch crafting system which will rely on players to create items and buildings. MMORPG.com wrote a preview on it recently. If the Salem developers can deliver this is going to be much more than a game, it’s going to be an experience that is Legen- wait for it. Dary!
The Secret World
The Secret World is about three secret societies waging war on each in large realm vs. realm settings. The keyword is ‘three’. Where games like World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and The Old Republic failed in faction based PvP is that with two sides one will always be better. You will never have balanced long term battles unless you queue for instances that don’t affect the overall world. The Secret World fixes that by adding a third faction, something that worked very well for Dark Age of Camelot a decade ago. Secret World also has skill based leveling which is typically reserved for more sandbox games, which this probably won’t be. Further working for it is that Funcom has developed two MMORPGs before. Working against it is that Funcom has had two of the worst MMORPG launches in history. Time will tell if I will find a home within the Illuminati.
Of these five games, I predict three successes for what they are setting out to accomplish. A MMORPG like Salem isn’t out to conquer WoW, but if done well, could easily find a strong and loyal niche like that in Eve Online. I’m happy to see some innovation and strong evolution in 2012. It’s been a while since something set out to change the genre and actually succeeded. We are rarely treated to more than one MMORPG with long term potential, but this year will be different. This is going to be a year full of tough decisions and lack of sleep for many MMO enthusiasts.
Atlus just sent over 1,000 promotional keys for their RvR centric MMORPG, Pandora Saga. We’re passing those on to our visitors for free, and it doesn’t take much to get them. You can either leave a comment and we will email you, email our support box, or post in this forum thread and we will send you a private a message.
So just what do these promotional keys get you? How about these goodies below:
Premium One-Day Ticket
When used, the following bonuses will be granted for 24 hours: experience gain will increase by 30%, your item drop rate will increase by 20%, and your death penalty will become 2%.
Short Sword +5
A weapon used by warriors-in-training.
A blunt wooden weapon.
A dagger that even beginners can use.
A wand that increases magical strength. Not intended to be used for physical attacks.
Clothing typically worn underneath armor.
Gyanbose Cuisses +5
Quilted leg armor.
Quilted Gloves +5
Quilted gloves worn to protect your hands.
Quilted Boots +5
Quilted footwear worn to protect your feet.
If you’ve heard about Pandora Saga and want to play this is a pretty cool opportunity. If you haven’t heard of it, you can read our Pandora Saga review.
The end of 2011 is nigh. It’s a natural time to look back through the past year and to look forward to next year. Our average number of visits has grown by 1000% since the first week of January. I don’t expect that sort of growth to continue, but I do hope to see another good year. The question is how do we get there, and the answer, unsurprisingly, is you!
When this site was first created, the only goal was to create a site where MMO gamers could find new games more quickly and easily. We distill MMORPGs down to a few core bullet points and categories. No more lengthy reviews – YAY! Our mission hasn’t changed, but we have run into an inadvertent problem. We have created a site for people to get in and out as easily as possible. It’s not as pretty as some other sites out there (though we will be going through some minor redesigns in 2012), but it is super functional. This means people don’t stick around once they find their new game. Thus, a lot of our unique content falls by the way side and our forums are rarely used.
I set up a contest for the site to run for a month between November and December in order to raise the level of activity on the forum. We were giving away around $500 in prizes to US residents but under 100 people entered the contest. About 6,000 people read the contest page but only around 1% of those actually signed up. The process was pretty simple – requiring only to create an account on our site and then to click a check box. Was this too much for the type of visitors we attract? Perhaps since What MMORPG is still fairly new, there wasn’t a high enough trust level that we would actually give out the prizes? Is it possible people didn’t want to have to make one forum post a day to maximize their entries? I don’t think there were any technical difficulties and if there were, nobody contacted us about them. It’s a shame because the more successful these kinds of contests are, the more we can give back to the community in terms of similar giveaways.
Creating a real community has to be a goal for any website and it certainly is for What MMORPG. We may run some more contests in the future, but we’ll need to rethink how we do this. Certainly we are welcome to any ideas our visitors may want to share. In the mean time, we will continue providing the great, unique content offerings we always have. We hope you have had a great 2011 and will enjoy an even better 2012!
Months upon months of free World of Warcraft await one lucky winner. Might that winner be you? Oh, you play Rift you say? Have no fear for we are giving gift cards to the game of your choice. It’s pretty simple, really. We launched a contest that will be running until December 14th. As long as you have a user account on our forum you can sign up. If you haven’t used our forum, it’s free just like pretty much every other forum you’ve ever seen. That means the contest is free too! Winners will receive anywhere from 1 month to 1 year of their subscription paid for to their favorite MMORPG. OK, technically it’s 30 days to 360 days thanks to how these gift cards work but it’s damn close to a year. If you are currently playing a free MMO we are also willing to instead give out the equivalent value in gift cards to Aeria Games, Outspark, Perfect World, Runes of Magic, and gPotato games.
So what do we get out of it? We want to see What MMORPG rise in popularity as place for gamers, especially of the MMO variety, to discuss their games. To encourage greater participation, entrants will receive an additional entry for every day they make at least one, measly post on our forum.
If you are interested in signing up, read the overview and rules here. If you don’t have one, register for a forum account(free). Otherwise just head over to the contest entry page and log in to your account. You’ll see a friendly box that you will need to check and after that you are all good to go.