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I recently received an email from ArenaNet about GW2: The Razing. It states "New Allies! New Dangers! New Items!" So the first two are certainly reasonable and expected in MMORPGs, but the middle phrase struck me wrong, and even felt a bit insulting. New Dangers? Really? Well I got to thinking about the concept of danger in MMORPGs and realized it really is missing from MMORPGs and single player games in general.
When is the last time something actually scared you in an MMORPG? Even if the monster I am fighting is challenging, it kills me and I have about a minute of downtime with no penalty whatsoever. Even worse is MMORPGs that allow a player to self resurrect, they might as well just skip the dying part. At worst a player will get a minor debuff for an inconsequential amount of time.
A can recall a couple instances of being scared. EVE online will scare players. This is because a mistake can cause you to lose virtual treasures. That's a bad sign when one of the scariest multiplayer games is based on spreadsheets. I know Wizardry Online released with perma-death which certainly causes fear, but the game itself was pretty bad at least at lower levels.I never played EQ1, but i heard horror stories from players that certainly sounded like they felt fear. Perhaps due to xp loss penalties and impossible corpse runs.
Single player games are often times even worse than MMORPGs with the overall lack of danger. Many many SRPGs let you save your game whenever you want. Which of course translates into saving your game every few feet, or even between swings in battle in case a mistake is made. Dark Souls is a notable exception to this with their soul loss and bonfire system. Even the old Final Fantasy games required you to get to a save point rather than save every couple steps. Final Fantasy is far scarier than Skyrim because you don't get to save where you want, and Final Fantasy is loaded to the brim with retarded monkeys and big goofy birds. The new X-Com has a brilliant ironman mode and is a quite scary game, its actually nice to see a game with a scary theme actually play scary.
Does anyone else feal that lack of danger makes MMORPGs and sRPGs feel stale? Are their any games out there that I am missing that have successfully caused terror in players? I'd especially love to hear about MMORPGs that pull it off. To be clear I dont't mean dark theme or scary graphics, those may scare a 5 year old. When I talk about fear and terror I mean that a player will be scared or upset when they are defeated. I don't care how scary a boss looks when it jumps out at me, if i can just hop back up and fight him again when I die that is not scary in my book.
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I will play no more MMORPGs until somethign good comes out!