One of the many reasons that I enjoy MMOs so much is that they occasionally give me some stunning moments when I see, or do, something so incredible it just makes me think ‘wow’. I’ve played a lot of MMOs and some have been very lackluster (*cough* Warhammer *cough*) and unimpressive whilst others have really immersed me and drawn me in, giving me some incredible sights and moments that I’ll never forget. Here, in the chronological order that I played them, are some of those games that impressed me.
Out of every MMORPG I’ve played, EQ will always be the one that really blew me away the most. I was 17 when I first played it and, although I had tried a couple of small MUDs and read about Ultima Online, I’d never experienced anything like it. From the first moment I saw other players talking, sitting, and interacting I just knew that I could never go back to ‘boring’ single player games. EQ was a vast online world that just stunned me in every sense of the word. I remember the first time I saw an Ogre in Blackburrow, the first time I saw a level 50 character run past, the first time I ran the gauntlet of death to get my Enchanter spells in High Keep, and the first time I trekked the oceans to visit the far away lands of Kunark. I know a lot of this is nostalgia but EQ was honestly unlike anything I’d ever seen before.
The next MMO I played that really impressed me was Anarchy Online. Sure, it wasn’t as groundbreaking as EQ but it was the first sci-fi MMO and it really tried to do new things. One of my favourite memories is going into a ‘nightclub’ for the first time and just seeing people… dancing.
Having played EQ on and off for 5 years, EQ2 was a game I was immensely looking forward to and excited about. Although it was pretty rocky to start with (eventually evolving into one of the best MMOs available however) it was still impressive to see and stunning to play. Sure, it initially wasn’t very well polished compared to WoW but it had atmosphere, immersion and a ton of gall. EQ2 really pushed the boat out and coined the phrase ’second generation MMO’. The graphics were beautiful, it had almost full voice work for the NPCs and it took an entire new approach to crafting. In the early days it may not have been perfect but I was blown away by it’s scope and ambition.
Yep, Vanguard. I tried VG when it first came out and although it certainly wasn’t perfect, it did have one big wow moment for me and that was the first time I saw the port city of Khal. I remember being quite stunned by it and really admiring the beauty of the cityscape and all of the effort that had gone into making it. If VG gave me nothing else, at least it gave me Khal.
Age of Conan
Although Age of Conan was ultimately disappointing, I still found it initially very impressive. I think for me the incredible thing was purely the visuals and the atmosphere. I’m a big fan of Robert E. Howard’s Conan and the game managed to capture the look and feel of the world perfectly. The first time I played it, I was stunned by the graphics and the sense of immersion – Tortage is still a great experience, just a shame that the rest of the game lacks depth.
World of Warcraft
I started playing WoW seriously about four months ago and never really experienced any ‘wow moment’s (pardon the pun) until last weekend. I was playing my level 65 Warrior and entered Terokaar Forest in Outland for the first time and saw… Shattrath City. It completely blew me away, a feeling enhanced by the fact that I just wasn’t expecting to see anything so cool. It’s not the most graphically impressive thing I’ve ever seen but the combination of effects, immersion, atmosphere and my interest the surrounding lore really did it for me. Kudos to Blizzard – I’m looking forward to see Northrend now.