I have been an avid gamer since I was kid. I have always enjoyed escaping into these fantasy worlds to experience adventures that I was never going to have in my own life. I even had a gold copy of Legend of Zelda that had a bad save battery so I kept the game on pause when I wasn’t playing just to beat it. As I grew up, I found myself drawn toward roleplaying games. I played every Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy I could. Played Phantasy Star, Y’s, and any other game with roleplaying I could.
That playing extended to tabletop games, including Hero Quest, Dungeons and Dragons, and Magic: The Gathering. I even dabbled in Ultima Online, but because of the random player killers, I never really got into it. As I grew and eventually started college I discovered that those days of playing tabletop games with friends was coming to close. I wanted to experience the roleplaying I used to have so I turned to Asheron’s Call. In the early days of MMOs, this was one of the big three along with Everquest and Ultima Online. The game also had a completely open world experience where you could walk from the top of the world to the bottom without a single loading screen.
This game captivated my experience for about 3 years. During the time I met my wife — who played Everquest and I left behind my experiences in Asheron’s Call. After EQ we played a little Lineage 2 but we settled on World of Warcraft for about 6 years. I have played Rift, Tera, Elder Scrolls Online, and Guild Wars 2 since 2010. Each game has been an experience but no game holds the memories of playing like Asheron’s Call and World of Warcraft. The games had two completely different play styles but with open worlds and vibrant communities.
Yet, my memory of WoW has been tainted by the success of the game and how it has led to the death of games like Asheron’s Call. Never will you experience a game where you have no set path. Where levels are less important than the skill of the player and creating a template. No game will let you be both a healer and a sword or bow wielder. And that has made the entire MMO genre suck. Every game has become a linear grind fest. Go from zone to zone, quest to quest, level up, kill some mobs, get to end game and raid for better loot.
Asheron’s Call of course had loot, but raids didn’t exist in the sense that you had once person getting loot, no you had a purpose you were going to get something like a scroll or a wand, but because respawn times weren’t horrible or they allowed everyone to loot the item no one was excluded. The best items in the game weren’t drops off some boss in a random dungeon, it could come from a random monster that you beat in the world. Quests weren’t marked for you to go from one to the other you had to figure them out.
The experience in the game was entirely different. Sure, the graphics were awful and the company never bothered to improve them or change the engine. This is one of the reasons that the game lost so many players. Quality of life changes never really made the game easier to play but rather made it easier to get higher level to face harder challenges. MMO games these day are single player games with linear characters that happen to exist in a world together. They work together for better loot but never care about actually playing or existing in the world.
This has been distilled down into the essence of every modern phone MMO. Instead of playing these games, you click a button and the game auto plays. You get to watch the game collect loot and you never have to worry about other players or even the game. MMO makers had relegated the player experience to loot collecting. Essentially horde as much money and loot as possible and never worry about the world.
This has made these games terrible now. I am still looking for a game world that captures the old feeling of Asheron’s Call, on where you can explore the world and find new things where the end game isn’t just raiding but rather playing with those people you have made friends with in the game.
MMOs are why everything sucks.