Old MMORPGs Can Still Hook Players
It has become painfully clear that I need a newer PC to play Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, or MMORPGs, as the cryptic acronym describes them. Or do I? Over the past few months, I have been deliberating about upgrading my rig with one of those nifty new iCore processors and a powerful video card to play newer games like Neverwinter, but with so many satisfying older games on the market, I really haven't been able to talk myself into the investment. I have been distracted by excellent games which are free-to-play and don't really tax my somewhat antiquated system.
This really goes to the crux of the argument: Whether superb modern graphics mean that a game is superior to another game, perhaps an older MMORPG which does not boast of quality graphics but which is still entertaining, even without the pretty graphical dressing.
Some people will swear to a game's effectiveness or immersive qualities by pointing to its graphics, but I maintain that is not the only requirement to define a MMORPG by, but to understand them and to realize what makes players really enjoy them, you have to look at the history of the genre.
One of the earliest MMORPGs people played and enjoyed was America Online's Neverwinter Nights. It launched in the Spring on 1991 and back in those days, before high speed internet became the norm, players had to pay by the hour to use the internet. Imagine how expensive a proposition that would be if you had to pay by the hour for a game like World of Warcraft, which some people complain about having to pay a monthly subscription to enjoy. Neverwinter Nights and its subsequent expansions was based on the TSR Dungeons and Dragons license and was the first multi player online role playing game to feature graphics, but in comparison to today's graphics, they were downright primitive.
Of course, as innovations in computing advanced and as video games became more and more popular, so did MMORPGs improve in both execution and graphical look and ambiance. Games like Ultima Online, and Lineage had players hooked on virtual worlds but it wasn't until 1999 that a little game called Everquest (Evercrack as it became known in some circles to allude to its immersive and addictive qualities) changed the landscape of multi-player fantasy worlds forever.
Of course, a lot of the early games faded away, but some are still around and are as popular now as they were upon their original releases. Some have found dedicated fans and communities which have stuck around and loyally hung around their game world of choice with staunch loyalty. Guess what? Some of these games are even tons of fun, though they lack the more polished graphical elements of new releases. I'd dare say some are even better than their modern counterparts.
Take a game like Dark Age of Camelot for example. Launched in the Fall of 2001 by Mythic Entertainment, DAoC is a fantastic medieval fantasy MMORPG with engaging player combat. In fact, it's the game's player vs. player feature that makes it a standout among the early MMORPGs with its emphasis on three factions warring against each other.
Sadly, I got into MMORPGs late in life and was not around for DAoC's early days and did not get to see the game blossom in its heyday. Prior to World of Warcraft becoming the dominant game in the genre, Dark Age of Camelot boasted of large subscription numbers and players adventured to combat others, take keeps, and explore. By today's standards, DAoC's graphics look dated and this turns off a lot of modern players. For me, the classic look of the characters, and the game's unique races make it an endearing environment, and I revel in frolicking in the lush mythical lands of Midgard, Hybernia, and Albion.
Dark Age proves that a game does not need to be a graphical juggernaut like Guild Wars 2 to provide hours of entertainment.
I have also spent a lot of time playing Dungeons and Dragons Online, the free D&D MMORPG based on the classic Eberron campaign setting. This game is also not a graphics behemoth, but its combat and entertaining dungeons and instances make it a solid choice for players whose systems are somewhat graphically challenged.
Even 2D games which run in an Internet browser like Runescape can capture the imagination and immerse players into virtual worlds to rival any of the modern games. Even outside of the MMORPG genre, older games often have an edge. If you polled everyone who played Diablo III versus its predecessor, I wonder how many would choose the newer game over the original? I think the results would surprise most. As for me, I am going back to playing some Dark Age of Camelot. I have some Albion n00bs I gotta pwn.
|Ariel Carmona Jr.
Ariel Carmona is a reporter, freelance journalist and new media consultant. He has been playing PC games since the days of Doom and currently enjoys playing and writing about PC titles and MMORPGs.
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