And I’ll cry if I want to, cry if I want to, cry if I want to. You would cry too if it happened to you.
So, there’s a trend in at least some of the new MMORPGs that are coming out that I should find very encouraging: the idea that you can forge personal, individual stories for your character inside the open world of the MMO. City of Heroes is doing it with “Going Rogue”, which has already been released. Guild Wars 2 is pushing this as one of its main selling points. And it should come as no surprise that having one of these for each class, with important choices in each, is one of the main points that Bioware is harping on in advertising Star Wars: The Old Republic. Since I’ve always liked having stories in my games, this should make me very happy.
But instead, I’m a bit worried. Why is that? Well, it’s because it’s not clear that these are going to work out very well.
Going Rogue is already out, and I’m playing it now (watch for previews and maybe even a review fairly soon). But it didn’t implement personal stories all that well. It seems to be what it is: stories welded onto the City of Heroes basic model as an attachment. An attachment that sticks out and makes you notice that it’s an attachment. And City of Heroes had an incredible base on which to build many, many different types of characters, allowing you to potentially run the story gauntlet with multiple attitudes. So that potential seems wasted.
Guild Wars 2 has an advantage in bringing individual stories to an MMO, in that it best fits the model that players of single player RPGs expect: buy a game, play it, and then buy expansions. So if it pulls off an interesting RPG story, it could pick up a fair amount of customers that way. And it also has the benefit of having a successful predecessor to draw customers from. So it might be able to succeed long enough to hammer out any issues and make it all really, really good.
Unfortunately, it’s also not that well-known among people who don’t play MMOs (and even among those who do). So that’s one strike against it already. And the number of classes seems to be low; there are only four listed on their website. And while the questions to set up some starting positions for the story sound interesting, how different can each story be? For me, I’m an alt-o-holic, and I want to play with multiple characters, but Guild Wars 2 seems to be a bit limited in that regard.
Star Wars: The Old Republic, on the other hand, is going to draw the attention of pretty much everyone who knows anything about Bioware or Star Wars, which means they’ll get a lot of people to try it out. However, there’s a lot of money invested in it, which will make it a risk to go bust if things don’t work out properly. While it has more classes than Guild Wars 2, it still is limited to 8. And since they’re really trying to a traditional MMO as well and really need to draw people, it remains to be seen how that will all come together. But it does have some promise.
Ultimately, if either Guild Wars 2 or Star Wars: The Old Republic can deliver on their promises of engaging world-changing impacts alongside good personal stories that really affect you, I’ll be in heaven. But if they fail … well, it’ll be back to City of Heroes, flawed though it is