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One of the best MMORPG's has always been the red headed step cousin of Everquest and Dark Age of Camelot and that is Asheron's Call. I have never found another MMORPG like it, and I am afraid probably never will.
Asherons Call had no classes, you were given a set number of skill points and beginner stat points, from that point on you tried to max everything out. Ofcourse, there was recommended builds, ofcourse specializing 2 Handed Sword and War Magic left you with little else and didn't maximize attributes, but you could do it if you really wanted to.
Sandbox world, that's right, a legit sandbox world. You could run from one end of the continent to the other, ofcourse an awesome portal system made the game a lot easier as you could "tie" to a couple portals and use a portal hub area to move around a ton faster.
Grinding, without feeling like grinding. In AC, you killed stuff for XP, quests gave items. This World of Warcraft popularized idea of quests being the main form of experience annoys me, while Korean games have such a grinding curve that it is almost unenjoyable.
Ultimate PvP server, I heard Ultima Online was good, and Darkfall was supposed to be similar to Darktide, but Asheron's Call is really most known for its full drop no safe zone full pvp server "Darktide"
I remember awesome stories of people going into town, and dropping half their suit to a famous monarch leader. Now, people became wise eventually items drop on value, so they would find valuable items that don't have any function and/or purpose and carry them at all times as "death items" this made dropping you're actual useful items a very low % chance.
Over 250+ Dungeons, a fully sandbox explorable world, PLAYER HOUSING on the continent, thats right, if you own a guild wanna own a mansion on a cliff? Wanna run you're entire guild across the desert to a rival mansion and fight them on their lawn? You could do it.
---- Ofcourse Asheron's Call was missing some features, an auction house, "raids" although it did have some boss monsters. It also has a complete lore and creature list thati s worthy of a full screen movie?
So what killed Asheron's Call?
Turbine now runs Lord of the Rings Online, successfull in its own right. What also killed Asheron's Call was they made a sequel ahead of its time (Graphics/client base wise) Asheron's Call 2, WHICH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH ASHERONS CALL 1,THAT IM SPEAKING OF.
It would literally be like Final Fantasy coming out with Donkey Kong and calling it Final Fantasy 2, and AC2 was a flop. So they basically destroyed an awesome, unique game that still has loyal followers and just rolled into LOTRO.
I know World of Warcraft is successful, and I know that Asheron's Call wasn't perfect, but the complete control of your character, the endless world, the lore, the exploration of never knowing what cave or portal you were crawling into, owning literally a mansion on a mountain a piece of the land, and having "vassals" real people sware allegiance to you and your guild for a portion of XP bonus, was such a good tutelage idea. So many unique ideas in AC have gone unused in other games.
When are they going to quit pumping out typical modern day "MMORPGs" and go back to the roots of the variations of EQ, Ultima, DAoC, and AC1, and look at the alternative idea's pioneers had, and come up with a good innovative game. They are going the "FUNNELED, LINEAR PRETTY GRAPHICS" line now, (Rift, SWTOR) and it's just not working...
Anyone who played AC or knows of a sandbox MMO comparible let me know, but I sware I've tried almost every MMORPG that has come out in the last 10 years.