Surviving WoW Itch

May 16, 2009

I mentioned recently on Twitter that low points in game release cycles are bad for me.  It’s not that I don’t have other hobbies to fall back on; I’ve actually been catching up on my reading a lot lately and am writing like a madwoman.  The problem is that any lull in gaming, any significant amount of time in which I’m not consistently playing an MMO or other engrossing game, sets off an automatic reaction in brain that tells me the time is ripe to return to World of Warcraft.

It’s certainly true now more than ever.  For the first time, I’m out of the loop on WoW.  I haven’t played in a year, I missed an expansion release and major patches, and have very little knowledge of the state of the game.  Unlike other slow gaming periods, WoW’s pull is especially strong this time.  The only major thing holding me back from reinstalling is that Boyfriend is decidedly against returning to the game.  I won’t play without him; I did that a few times with WoW and it was too depressing.

So in the meantime, we’ve been searching for another game to play.  I mentioned in a previous post that my farming experience in City of Heroes left me soured on the game, likening it to the boredom one feels after going through a game in god mode.  We played earlier this week for a few hours, but it wasn’t the same.  I’m definitely excited about the Going Rogue expansion, but until that comes around, I think I’m done with the game except for casual play.  My last post, in which I discussed the sniper update (which has evidently been expanded to include a spy update as well? or it’s just a spy update?) for Team Fortress 2, got me back into playing TF2 some, but as enjoyable as that is, it isn’t a long-term option.

The game I’d been betting on to cure my WoW itch was Champions Online.  I hadn’t been interested in it until Syp posted his first impressions of the game.  That, combined with the good experiences I had in CoX and the need to resist the WoW urge, had me eagerly anticipating the release of the superhero game.  Unfortunately, it was announced today that the launch has been delayed.

The Sims 3 is still on schedule to release early next month, so that’s one option.  It’s a solo experience, though — as much as I’d like it to be a co-op experience with Boyfriend, we’re both a bit stubborn about being in the “driver’s seat” of the game — and ideally I’m looking for a game we can play together for the long-term.  The Sims 3 will likely be a game that I play when I’m home alone and have some free time, or when we’re doing our own thing in the evening.

With no other new games on the horizon that we’re interested in, Boyfriend and I tried Runes of Magic last night, for the first time.  We didn’t get higher than level 6, but I’m afraid Runes of Magic just suffers from the same flaws every other free-to-play MMO I’ve played does.  It’s clunky, it’s gritty, it’s rough, and it isn’t a fun experience.  It feels more like a job than a game, and the problems we encountered when we first tried to install the game made it even worse.

The most difficult thing about trying out new MMOs or going back to older MMOs (like CoX, WoW, or, as Ysharros suggested, EQ2) is that Warhammer Online, as flawed as it is, has ruined me for other MMOs.  WAR has so many great features that I feel like I can’t live without — public quests, quest item inventory, no durability on items, secondary targets, and so forth.  They’re little things, but together they add up.  I’d imagine that, as fun as going back to WoW might be, I would be frustrated with durability, with random quest drops (and the fact that they’re usually one-per-mob instead of shared for all group members), or with other little annoyances.  And WAR certainly has its share of annoyances: small bank inventory, lackluster crafting system, and horrible clipping issues being only a few of them.  Many of its great features are now must-haves, though.  It’s definitely a boon for Mythic; if their modern features keep players from leaving WAR for older games, they’ve succeeded.

While I discussed this problem with Boyfriend — the fact that WAR has so many significant features that other games don’t — we started reading more about 1.3.  A lot of the improvements are really exciting, not to mention the huge content update coming with Land of the Dead.  It’s not a certainty yet, but there’s a good possibility we’ll be resubscribing to WAR when 1.3 goes live (my favorite thing about modern computers with their massive hard drives: no need to uninstall a game permanently).  It’s impossible to tell if Land of the Dead will be the shot in the arm that WAR needs, but it’s at least worth a shot.  It seems clear that Mythic is aware that much of the game needs improvement, as they continue to tweak and add content consistently.  I like game designers who aren’t complacent, who recognize that their game is far from perfect.  Fortunately Mythic seems to be working nonstop to remedy that fact, and I appreciate it.  If the new improvements to WAR can cure my WoW itch, I’ll be even more appreciative.