My travels then led to Asheron's Call (AC), where I lingered for a time. The "clunky factor" of a new game once again wore me down and I eventually drifted away from MMO's for a time. Asheron's Call 2 (AC2) drew me back, and I enjoyed that game for its brief illustrious time until the server issues drove my guild (and most other players) away. I enjoyed the innovative play style in AC2, especially the Lugian tactician and the vampiric Tumerok tank. The PVE content was fun, and it seemed much more polished to me than EQ or AC had been. I had just reached a high level with my character when the game became unplayable so the complaints that there was not enough content didn't impact my experience in AC2.
Star Wars Galaxies (SWG) offered a brief and severely flawed gaming experience. I loved the amazing character models and customization, but running from alien animals shooting a blaster over my shoulder was just too much to take. The X-Wing vs. Tie Fighter action that should have been in the game was missing along with fun playstyle. Having been treated with AC2's engaging combat, SWG just couldn't represent.
I did find amazing combat in the venerable FPS MMO, Planetside (PS). This game was fun enough to engage me for several years of massive fun. The large scale battles that occasionally happened have been unrivaled to this day for me. Sadly, SOE was not up to the development task with PS and was unable to continue innovating and improving the game. PS stagnated, and I now only rarely dip into the Vanu world every year or so for old time's sake.
I tried World of Warcraft (WOW) and Lineage 2, but found them too rudimentary and "grindy." Spending months to finally get to the interesting "end game" just wasn't engaging for me. I had been spoiled by PS and AC2, which both offered engaging ways for lowbies to enjoy the ride. PS especially made it easy for anyone to contribute to the fight at any level. You just gained access to more options when you had risen in the ranks with experience in PS. Anyone could pop anyone else in the back of the head in Planetside!
This disgust with gear or level being the defining force in determining effectiveness in PVP led me to one of my all-time favorites: Guild Wars (GW). Here was a game that made it easy to cap the character, yet still provided engaging PVE with a great objective based PVP system as well as fun arena battles! GW fulfilled the MMO need (with occasional dips back into PS) through the Factions and Nightfall expansions. However, after working at getting my toons fully developed in GW, I was disappointed when Arena Net announced GW2. I had invested in awesome characters, and now they were killing the game to start again. (We saw how well that seemed to work for EQ2...)
I briefly tried Dungeons and Dragons Online (DDO) and enjoyed the game overall. However, I didn't like how they set up healing in the initial release, and this put me off the game as I often enjoy playing healing classes. DDO has phenomenal dungeon crawling, and I feel it is a highly underrated game. I still dip back into DDO from time to time, and look forward to checking out the recent addition of the Monk class at some point in the future. Turbine seems to be attentive to improving DDO, and they have worked most of the kinks out that the game shipped with.
Around this time, my brother had been beta-testing Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO), and he convinced me to check out LOTRO and pick up a lifetime subscription. I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere and lore of the game, so this seemed like a good fit. While I heard the complaints that LOTRO was a WOW rip-off, I found the players to be more mature and enjoyable on average and dove into Eriador. The bulk of my MMO time over the past 1.5 years has been with LOTRO. I love the Monster PVP (PVMP), and I feel Turbine has done very well with the Player Housing, Crafting, and frequent free expansions they have added to the game. I am excited to check out the Mines of Moria expansion expected this November.
I hope to explore my thoughts on LOTRO, gaming, and MMO's in general as this blog develops. I have been learning about EVE Online over the past 3 months, and look forward to checking out a new world soon. I hope this blog will develop into an interesting travelogue and offer some worthwhile reflections or even insights. At the least, I hope it might be entertaining!