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This is a question I struggle with often when thinking about the history of graphic mmos. This is not a fanboi troll thread. I am serious about this question. My history in mmos is very deep. Here are a few of the highlights: 1996 my first mmo Meridian 59, hooked! Only 3 years in EQ because I discovered SWG (pre-nge) 8 years in EQ2 4 years in LOTRO, 3 years in Rift, 2 years in Vanguard and a host of other games. I have been in WOW since release but left for almost 2 years. I recently returned and I accepted the changes and approached the game anew.
I think about all my experiences in mmos. The best time I spent in an mmo was the first 3 years in SWG. What an amazing game. Like so many of you I miss it and shutter when I think of what SOE did to it. My first week in WOW I was not impressed but I kept at it and slowly it drew me in. EQ2 was similar I grew to love it but it took a few weeks. EQ2 and WOW basically came out at the same time so why when I was having fun in EQ2 would I play WOW? There was something about the open world epic scale that kept me coming back. "Why" I would think to myself do I like this game so much. It offered nothing new, it had cartoon graphics, and no housing! (I love player housing)
As time went on WOW just kept getting more and more polished which EQ2 seemed to be lacking. WOW played so well on my system I never felt like I was missing out on graphic quality. Then suddenly it began to be heard of and became a real popular culture phenomenon. It became more then just a game only us computer nerds knew. For many WOW became the first ever mmo and a barometer be which all life would be compared. Many of us in the know who put years into other mmos seemd to take offense to this. The WOW hating began! Yet even now after so many years it is still the king of the hill that so many want to see toppled. Sound familiar "this mmo is a wow killer" "that mmo is a wow killer" yet WOW still wears the crown with not even a prince in sight.
I am not going to talk about all the game mechanics as to why WOW is the best or worst mmo ever, there are thousands of threads that have done that. So why do I ask could WOW be the best mmo ever? After nearly two years away, I loaded up Azeroth and with little expectations I logged in. I started a new Night Elf and as I ran to Darnassus I looked at the landscape and listen to the music and I felt like I was home again! I simple peace and joy settled over me. I forgot the heart break of my father's recent death. I forgot about all the doctors, pills, and life style changed forced on me since my heart attack. I forgot about the stress at work and my daily life. I was in Azeroth and home! No other mmo has ever done that for me. So I will answer my own question "could WOW be the best mmo ever?" Yes it is!