Why They Can't Kill World of Warcraft
After the controversy in which I said WoW (World of Warcraft) sucks as a PC game, I was inundated by people who quite rightly said that it was a very good MMORPG. Compared to other MMOPRGs it may very well be the best, but that doesn't mean that MMORPG's in general haven't completely lost their way and ended up shadows of what they might have been.
Every few years, a company will come along with a game that is supposed to be a 'WoW Killer', but it never does turn into a WoW killer because it is usually just a clone that encounters the same pitfalls that WoW does.
What pitfalls do I speak of? Well, let me go back to the beginning here.
MMORPGs are massively multiplayer online role playing games. Unfortunately, World of Warcraft, and every clone that's been made of it, have forgotten that, at their hearts, they're still supposed to be a role playing game, except instead of playing by yourself, you get to interact with other players.
Ideally, a MMORPG would be a brilliant experience in which you battled with and against other factions in a world that constantly surprised you and changed, a world populated by NPC's you could truly interact with and with a destiny that changed every time you made a decision, but WoW has moved so far away from being anything like a role playing game that it barely deserves the term MMORPG anymore.
A good RPG engages you in a world and a storyline you care about. World of Warcraft has a storyline, but nobody cares about it. In fact, most players, even high end raiders, probably can't tell you what the storyline even is. The reason for this is that World of Warcraft quit being an RPG in any sense early on and essentially became a battle system. That's all. If you like slowly increasing your battle ability, you will love World of Warcraft. If you like playing role playing games, you will be sadly disappointed.
The quests in WoW don't matter at all. They're only there to give you experience and to get you to the next part of the game. Most of them are entirely forgettable and very few of them will have any impact on the ultimate destiny of your character. In WoW and other games of its ilk, the NPCs are utterly pointless wooden characters who elicit no emotion from anyone at all.
The sole exception I found in the game was during the Mosswalker quest in which a band of peaceful little creatures has been slaughtered. You are too late to save many of them, and their little woeful cries as they die are so heartbreaking that it almost makes you cry. Having said that, it was one quest out of hundreds Blizzard made me do to get to 80 and it was the only one that had any soul in it whatsoever.
Because the WoW developers have found that people will merrily hack and slash away for hours, days, weeks and months for nothing more than an increasing number of minor upgrades, they largely abandoned the roots of what makes the genre great.
Many MMORPG's claim to be WoW killers, but until a gaming house creates a game with not only a decent battle system, but stories and characters people can really care about, and manages to create an experience that is truly defined by the player, and in which every quest really counts instead of simply bouncing the player from meaningless quest to meaningless quest in the race to level up, WoW will reign supreme.