What Mass Effect 2 Could Teach MMORPGs

I’ve been a bit of a late starter with Mass Effect 2 as it’s been out for a few weeks already yet I only started playing it just over a week ago. I’ve been busier than a Japanese beaver so I haven’t completed it yet but I’m slowly working through it, soaking up every moment of it and loving it more than a fat boy loves cake.

Here’s a few things MMORPGs could learn from ME2:

Hansel Shepard, the very best there is. When you absolutely, positively, have to kill every single mothertrucker in the room; accept no substitute

Hansel Shepard, the very best there is. When you absolutely, positively, have to kill every single mothertrucker in the room, accept no substitute.

I’m A Good Guy/I’m A Bad Man
I adored the Paragon/Renegade morality system in the original Mass Effect and ME2 continues it’s implementation and adds the ability to intervene during certain cut scenes. Regular readers know I have a thing for being the “bad guy” in RPG games (probably because I’m secretly frustrated with being so nice in real life) and being able to actually roleplay a character and make immoral decisions that affect the game and the outcome helps build my immersion and connection.

Fast & Fun Combat
ME2 is a lot more action based than the original and streamlines much of the game to keep it more combat focused. Although I lament the loss of the the inventory system from the original, ME2 gives great combat pleasure. There’s no real reason why we need to stick with the traditional 1-2-3 combat system that most MMORPGs offer these days. This doesn’t mean going full hog twitched based but something a tad more heart-pumping would be nice.

Comrade Care
I care about the characters in ME2. I feel like they have their own personalities and characteristics and it draws me further into the game and makes deciding who’s going to be on my squad even harder. All of this is a refreshing change from not giving a flying toss about NPCs in MMOs. In ME2 they are my comrades, in MMORPGs they’re just pixel meat.

Tell Me a Story And Take Me Away
I feel immersed when I played ME2. I can’t quite explain exactly why but it’s a combination of atmosphere, background lore, setting and story. The universe in ME2 feels real and vibrant and when I play the game I forget all of my real life stresses and strains and for a brief few moments I am Hansel Shepard, Renegade Spectre out to save the galaxy. When I played World of Wacraft, I’m just a geek with a mic. Let’s learn from ME2, find the key to immersion and pile it on to MMORPGs in spades.

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8 Comments

  1. Brian Inman says:

    I am not sure why it isn’t already happening. How many companies out there like EA have bought other companies that make different types of games. Do the Bioware guys talk to the EA sports guys, or the Mythic guys? Do they give each other feedback, or ideas? Is there Bioware devs who play Warhammer that may know how to fix the game?

  2. Sithinious says:

    I agree that ME2 is a very well done game. Unfortunately, playing it has rather taken a back seat now that I’m playing Star Trek Online. But that brings me to the point of this comment… I think STO is an MMO that has gotten your “comrade care” point right. In STO you build a bridge crew to go along with your main character, and I’ve definitely found myself growing fond of them. Especially the gruff, no nonsense security chief who, after a particularly violent battle, will whip out a tribble an gently pet it to calm his nerves.

  3. Occam says:

    I haven’t started ME2 yet…I’m still pretty engrossed in Dragon Age: Origins. But it’s sitting on my shelf unopened. But I think many of those points could be applied to DA as well.

    In fact I think Dragon Age has finally taught me that what I’m looking for might not be able to be found in any MMORPG. Those games have stories, but it’s all generalized world-wide stuff. I suppose it kind of has to be. I don’t think it’s the fault of Sony or Blizzard or anyone, just the reality of the situation. They can’t really provide the kind of personal, emotional drama kind of stories that a single-player game can.

    I absolutely loved the dialogue and friendship/romance dynamics in Dragon Age. They made the game way more immersive than an MMO could ever be. They also made me a huge Bioware fan; even though I prefer the fantasy genre to sci-fi these days, I know ME2 is going to be great as long as the same kind of depth is available.

    • Gordon says:

      Indeed, I felt much the same way after playing DA:O over the Christmas period. I came away wondering if I’d ever get the same sort of RPG interaction in a MMO.

      I think MMORPGs offer a very different appeal though. I find I enjoy them a lot more when I’m playing with people I know and friends and grouping and chatting with them. Soloing just makes them feel like bad implementations of good single player RPGs.

  4. Ryan says:

    It won’t be too long before BioWare starts with murmurs of an Mass Effect MMO. After Mass Effect 3 is launched, Commander Sheppard’s storyline will be played out. With a cult of die hard fans and a MMO of their own already out (by then SWTOR will have been released), the next logical step would be to combine the two.
    If SWTOR lives up to its hype there is no doubt in my mind that there will be a MMO based in the mass effect word, possibly earlier in the storyline than the current game is. I would not be surprised to see one based on the krogan wars.

  5. Aeschylus says:

    This sounds like Guild Wars 2, story telling, visceral combat, choices that will actually effect how things play out.

    However I’m still waiting for a Mass Effect MMO

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