The Dullest MMORPG Expansions

MMORPG expansions are usually a time for developers to show of their hot new skills, their amazing and creative ideas for pushing their baby forward or for managers to try out their new development team in China. Either way, I expect a lot from an expansion. I want to be wowed, I wanted to inspired and, most importantly of all, I want to be drawn back into the game for another few solid months.

Yet some expansions are just plain dull. They lack grand ideas and vision and come across as mere by-the-numbers updates. Here’s a few of the worst offenders (in no particular order):

Everquest: The Scars of Velious

ZzzzZzzz. After the success of their first amazing expansion, The Ruins of Kunark, it was going to be hard to for SOE to bring out anything that managed to excite us that much again (although they did with the release of The Shadows of Luclin the following year) but Velious was a particularly poor expansion from my perspective. It contained – wait for it – a bunch of new zones. Ice zones. Wow, stop the press, I think I just fainted. Classic example of a development house resting of their laurels.

Everquest 2: The Kingdom of Sky

Another snooze-fest from SOE, the saving grace of this expansion was the introduction of Alternative Advancement points. Still, even with the increased level limit, I found this expansion to be pretty dull and not anywhere near as interesting or inspiring as the later Echoes of Faydwer or Rise of Kunark expansions. Some may disagree, but this was the worst EQ2 expansion for me.

Dark Age of Camelot: Trials of Atlantis

Mythic made a lot of very good expansions for DAOC but Trials of Atlantis wasn’t one of them. Apart from the new races, there was nothing very special here and the underwater areas didn’t appeal to me in the slightest. After Shrouded Isles, which updated the graphics engine, added three new continents, three new races and six new classes, this expansion just felt like Mythic were taking a break. Well deserved, perhaps, but still a dull expansion none the less.

LOTRO: The Siege of Mirkwood

Aka the “Siege of Mehwood”. I’ll probably get strung up for saying this considering the expansion hasn’t even been released yet and I haven’t played LOTRO a lot but I have to say that I’m disappointed in the list of new features that are coming with this. Sure, it may be fine for the existing player but as a potential new player (which I’ve always considered myself to be), I find nothing here that makes me want to get into the game and that’s a shame because I know it’s good. Give me Orcs and Uruks as playable races and then we’ll talk.

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26 Comments

  1. Jim says:

    Shrouded Isles was a great expansion. I liked Trials of Atlantis too, but I did not try to grind the Master Levels and just enjoyed the PVE content. But Shrouded Isles was far superior. Still miss that game. If they offered a station like access with WAR I would be all over it.

  2. spinks says:

    You know, I thought Trials of Atlantis was a brilliant expansion. Brilliant, but flawed.

    It introduced ships, underwater zones and fights, and the zones were simply amazing. Remember that Egyptian based zone where you could walk down beside the Nile and fight crocodiles and look up to see pyramids in the distance?

    The master levels were also quite incredible experiences. On my server, we ran lots of public ML raids and although some of them were clunkers, others were like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Imagine raid groups so big they crashed the server. We did that. (Then we did it again after they fixed the server not to crash when you had over 200 people on a raid).

    It was deeply flawed as an expansion, but there’s no way that it was dull.

  3. Scott says:

    Siege of Mehwood will finally, after 2+ years of us complaining about it, remove the stupid auto-attack in between skill attacks to fix the combat pacing.

    I think it will also do a little to fix the not-as-Legendary-as-we’d-hoped Item system, but that still needs a near-complete overhaul.

    Regardless, still looking forward to it since it’s the only MMO I bother to stick with at all anymore, despite my frequent breaks from it (and all MMO’s).

  4. Longasc says:

    Yup, and I will put the hangman’s noose around your neck. Or better, I will strangle you with my Mirkwood preorder-cape. :>

    But you have a point. I think the problem is that players have to get through a quite lengthy zone and levelling process to even get to Moria, not even to mention the Mirkwood. And LOTRO has indeed some motivation curve holes. I did not subscribe after my trial initially and played Aion intensively for quite a while. Strangely enough, Aion convinced me that I need with a background that is not trashy, and this left me with LOTRO. Re-subscribed and did not regret it – I post pics of my latest adventures almost regularly. ;)

    On the other hand, Keen wrote something about MMOs and the time we want to spend on levelling recently. People nowadays want to be max level asap, as if the levelling content would be bad. Then they want an endgame… and what they get is raids, and nowadays you seem to get new raids every month and gear gets outdated on a monthly basis or so.

    • Gordon says:

      Hehe, yeah I think this article is going to have a few people out to hang me :D I definitely will need to get into LotRO properly sometime. It’s one of those games that I really want to like.

      • Fortuente says:

        I’ve always liked LOTRO and I’ve been playing off and on (mostly on) since launch. That said, I have perhaps similar feelings. In fact I just recently cancelled my subscription after a solid year-and-a-half.

        I’m more disenchanted with the fact it seems to be going the way of WoW with the ever-increasing level caps and increasing loot whoredom. Seriously, f***k endgame. The game itself is endgame to me.

        If I only found the mise-en-scene of EVE compelling …

  5. Eel says:

    Scars of Velious? That’s probably my favorite expansion across all MMORPGs ever (admittedly, this could be because I started playing EQ in the Velious days). It’s true that it’s mostly a bunch of new zones, but they are wonderfully crafted. There are tons of great storylines between the giants, the dragons and the dwarves. The Sleeper storyline in particular stands out, with its unique approach of a one-time event affecting the whole server (although it was poorly implemented technically).

    The thing about EQ in those days is that it was much less linear than it became during Planes of Power and beyond. This linearity carried over into later MMORPGs as WoW, which is really a shame. In Scars of Velious, it was theoretically possible to walk up to the Avatar of War and defeat him at release day with an arbitrarily large raid force – no keying, no instancing, no bogus limitations. But the game was balanced in a way so you simply could not – you had to level and gear everyone up. This is really how raid bosses should be – instancing is a cheap copout, although of course much more convenient.

    The thing about Velious was that it actually felt like stepping into an existing world, which lived on with or without you. Contrast that with the WoWs equivalent third snowy expansion and there is a world of difference. WoW has been going in the other direction, with phasing content so that everyone gets to experience the story as if they are the special hero. While the lazy side of me appreciates this, it is a shame that WoW is becoming less of a true MMORPG and more of a 25 or 10 player coop game. And this comes from a typical casual player I might add – I never even raided until much later in EQ.

    From the Iceclad Ocean to the Temple of Veeshan, Velious stand out as a pinnacle of MMORPG design. Luclin, I would argue, was the beginning of EQs slow demise, for a number of reasons. But that is another discussion anyway.

    • Jason says:

      I have to agree with Eel here. While the snowy winter wonderland might not have been the most visually stunning expansion (especially after Kunark’s lush jungles, volcanic wastelands and more) the layout and design of the three factions (Coldain, Giants, Dragons) and the various quest lines and raid zones, Velious was, from bottom to top, one of the best designed expansions of any MMO. Ever.

      • Bhagpuss says:

        Well, it’s all subjective, but Scars of Velious is my favorite expansion for any MMO to date, and it’s Mrs Bhagpuss’s as well. Not only that, but in polls and discussions over the years it’s generally come out either top or second (to Kunark) as EQ players’ favorite expansion.

        Mrs Bhagpuss and I were both so disappointed when EQ2’s next expansion turned out to be Odus rather than, as most had expected, Velious we cancelled our Station Access accounts, which we’d held (from original EQ accounts) for nearly ten years.

        Maybe you just don’t like snow and ice zones. They’re our favorites in any game. That aside, though, Velious was just fabulously well designed and is still a great region to explore to this day.

        • Moorgard says:

          Scars of Velious was easily my favorite EQ expansion and it is statistically one of the most beloved among the player base. I suppose if you hate snow and dragons you’re out of luck, but to suggest that Luclin was a better expansion seems to border on the absurd.

          • Gordon says:

            Yeah, I’m definitely getting the vibe it was very popular! I’m surprised though because I never cared for it. As I said in another comment, I think wasn’t in the right gameplay state for it. I must be in the minority :)

            I absolutely loved Luclin though and thought it was fantastic and probably the 2nd best EQ expansion. How come it wasn’t popular?

        • Gordon says:

          Very subjective indeed. I’m very surprised that’s so popular actually! I was never a fan of it but it seems like I’m in the minority :)

          • Wolfshead says:

            I have to respectfully disagree with you Gordon and agree with these folks. Scars of Velious really was a standout expansion for me. I liked it better then Ruins of Kunark.

            Here are some of the revolutionary (see that’s not a bad word Moorgard :) ) features;

            -It introduced the idea meaningful player choices such as factions that a player could ally with: Dragons, Frost Giants or Ice Dwarves
            -zones like the city of Thurgadin could completely change depending on player actions
            -the tech that allowed the Sleeper who was awoken to ravage and destroy players in various zones
            -the amazing Ring War event — sheer brilliance and never duplicated since
            -the Coldain Shawl quest — one of the best quests ever created in a MMO

            What’s missing from your list is the EverQuest: Gates of Discord expansion which is probably the worst expansion in MMO history. Uninspired design and implementation. Zones that you could not pronounce. Amateur character models just to name a few.

            Keep up the good work Gordon. You are a blogging machine my friend :)

            • Gordon says:

              Eek, I must’ve been the only person who didn’t like Velious! Maybe I just wasn’t in the right place at the right time (gameplay wise) to appreciate it.

              Hehe, I actually quite liked the GoD expansion mainly because it introduced the Berserker class which, although highly broken, became my favourite class in the entire game. Something about being a giant, reckless Ogre wielding a big 2h axe really appealed to me :)

              And thanks for the praise! It truly means a lot to me coming from someone as respected as yourself!

    • Gordon says:

      I think I was just in a different place – gameplay wise – when Velious came out. I didn’t have a max level character so couldn’t enjoy the high level things like the Sleeper and just found the new zones dangerous and frustrating when I went there. I remember enjoying it more when I returned to some the dungeons later on in my EQ gaming experience but initially I found it quite dull especially compare to RoK.

  6. Actually, you can play as Orcs and Uruks in LotRO. It’s only in one zone and it’s only PvP, but you can’t have everything.

    I’m still on the fence as a subscriber. I think the skirmish system has the possibility of being fun; visiting old familiar places and having a giant battle there is kind of cool. I just wish they’d stop dicking around with my Champion’s abilities every few patches.

    • Gordon says:

      I always wanted to level an Orc right from the start though and have them as playable character. I’m sure Turbine mentioned something about it coming in a later expansion but they haven’t mentioned it recently.

  7. Bronte says:

    Expansions aren’t the only dull event this time of the year. There are a ton of seasonal events going on in a lot of MMO, most notably Halloween-related in-game events.

    I made a post about some of the most popular MMOs and their Halloween-related content. You can check it out here, I would love to hear how you think your post ties into it.

    http://arewenewatthis.wordpress.com/2009/10/17/halloween-horrors-or-nothing-rhymes-with-orange/

  8. One of the things I hated a lot about Scars of Velious was that it was entirely targeted toward high level players, even that early in EQs run. There was absolutely nothing for sub-40 or 50 players, and that turned me right off.

    Also, I have to mention Star Wars Galaxies: Jump to Lightspeed. It sucked. A lot. For an expansion that promised an entirely new aspect of gameplay, they didn’t polish it well enough to make it playable. For shame.

  9. Ferrel says:

    I’m not sure if we’re talking “dull” or “bad.”

    Now I can agree that KoS could be dull but it was a good expansion. Desert of Flames was a terrible expansion.

    I can’t see Velious as dull or bad though! Too each their own of course. I was a hardcore raider so it was like candy land for me. I can see the negative side if I wasn’t though. Beej makes a pretty good point on that.

  10. Mike C says:

    KoS by far had the best lore compared to EoF and Kunark. EoF was a snooze fest, canceled my eq2 account for the first time since beta because of it,.

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