"Rush to Endgame Killed MMORPGs"
So I was browsing Reddit yesterday when I happened across a thread titled “Rush to Endgame killed mmorpg.” That in turn made me want to go ahead and do a video on this subject in specific and see what you guys think.
I actually touched on this a little bit in my “Perfect MMORPG” video, but I wanted to talk about it in much greater detail. Now, the initial discussion was sparked by the user named “andradajimcarlo.”
In it, he went on to say that in this age, whenever a new MMO is released, let’s say for example, Astellia Online, players tend to rush to endgame as fast as possible without enjoying anything the developers put into the game overall.
They disregard the story, they skip by all of the sidequests, they have no idea of any of the backstory for the world they’re playing in.
Everyone just wants to get to the end as fast as they can because they want to be stronger than anyone else, as soon as possible.
And that’s true – a lot of players have the mentality that hitting level cap first means they’ll have some kind of advantage over other players.
They’ll be able to begin running dungeons sooner, run raids before the majority of other players, and even go as far as establishing the overall economy for months to come.
But this in turn leads to the very same people complaining that there’s nothing to do. And this isn’t a small percentage of players mind you. A lot of people have the “rush to endgame” mentality.
Naturally, I went ahead and began scrolling through the comments – yes, all 400 of them because I was curious how people either defended and justified the rush to endgame, or why they disagreed with it.
I saw a comment from “PrivateServerPgmr” (Private Server Programmer) stating that he believed levels, specifically, were the issue. In his (or her, I don’t know their gender) opinion the best games have no levels, and instead, levels inhibit player freedom.
This is 100% correct, but at the same time, not something you can really do much in terms of fixing. See, while levels are what developers use currently to gate content, if level restrictions were removed, other restrictions would be imposed.
Instead of rushing to max level, they might instead employ an item level system like in a lot of MMOs that have raids: So instead of rushing to, let’s say for arguments sake, level 100, you’d be rushing to item level 100 so you could begin participating in the very dungeons and raids you were rushing to max level for.
Yes, levels themselves are the issue – but they’re just the current issue. It would take on a completely different form if levels were removed from MMOs and that would merely offer one less thing for players to actually attempt to obtain in-game.
I then continued scrolling through the comments and actually learned something pretty interesting: The vast majority of users could arguably agree on one specific issue forcing them rush to endgame, and that is the overall uninspired, uninteresting story.
I’m not under the illusion that people actually want to play through the story, nor do they want to read all the side-quests in the majority of MMOs.
Let’s be completely blunt and honest here: Most MMOs have terrible, generic or otherwise nonsensical storylines and the side-quests are more or less “kill 5 boars” or “go tell my friend standing right next to me that he owes me money.”
These aren’t quests that are going to motivate me, let alone other players to want to engage with the world. And I get it – I completely understand.
But just because the majority function that way, doesn’t mean they all do. Some of the funniest, most entertaining questlines in WoW were sidequests, and if you care at all about the world in Final Fantasy XIV you’re gonna wanna do sidequests.
They add so much personality and flavor to it that you’re missing out on completely if you skip.
Well, story and challenge. The other commonly used complaint was that the game offered no challenge during the leveling process, only providing a spike in difficulty once you hit endgame.
This meant that to fully enjoy the game, to fully learn your character and to continue to improve, you needed to be actively participating in endgame content otherwise you were going around 1-shotting grey-named monsters that offered no challenge at all.
I get the need for challenge as well. Back in the early 2000s, which is when I began playing MMOs for the first time, they were much more difficult.
You couldn’t go out and group together 10, 15 monsters and mow them all down in 2-3 AoEs. Hell, we didn’t even have many AoEs. As a melee class, the majority of MMOs I played during early to mid levels we were spamming like 1 or 2 different single-target skills.
And while I have no problem with how combat is handled in MMOs these days, the difficulty, the sense of danger is no longer there when playing.
So not only do quests and the commonly uninspired story bore people, but often there’s absolutely no challenge provided that makes even combat a bit stale.
So after spending probably almost an hour reading through the thread, what I gathered gather from all of this is that the issue here is more the fact that vertical progression is making content on the road to endgame, in whatever form endgame takes, obsolete.
Let’s be real here: For most players, or even moreso, in most MMOs, how many actually offer truly interesting content outside of endgame content at level cap? How much content is doable in large groups when not at max level?
Content currently is created with the understanding that players want to feel powerful, need to feel powerful, and as such there is a necessity for vertical progression.
The focus of MMORPGs is now on getting the player to max level, where you proceed to spam “endgame” dungeons and raids to increase your overall power.
This leads to the next dungeon, the next raid until you’ve hit a high enough item level that you’ve cleared all of the content there is to partake of.
Then you get disappointed because outside of re-running the same content over and over, after rushing to get to max level as fast as you can, you find yourself burned out, bored with the game you invested so much time into.
But it’s an issue created largely by the average player mentality along with developers creating pretty basic worlds for players to explore. There’s no single party at fault here.
The purpose of playing an MMO is supposed to be about the journey – the things you see, the people you meet, the accomplishments you make and the freedom you have, not the destination. That comes after the fact.