The more I hear about different MMOs, the more they seem to me to be like reskinned versions of each other - the rules
of the game are always the same. The setting and decor is different, but what you have to do is the same.
Combat as the single main challenge, the one that drives the action forward; you get an XP reward for killing anything and that's the main source of XP outside specific quests; pre-programmed quests with a main storyline that everyone plays through; the quests being broken down into a series of small tasks - combats, talking to NPCs, and occasionally locating items - to be carried out in a fixed order; private "dungeons", guilds, vendors... (what others occur to you that I haven't thought of?)
I've seen it said that this is partly a good thing, because it's easy for people who've played one MMO to get the hang of another. But for me, it gets hard to remember/care whether the green thing running across my screen is a goblin, a dinosaur or an Orion pirate - they all have partially filled bars above their heads just the same.
Am I just looking at the wrong ones? What MMORPGs can you think of that are really different in the way they work, in some noticeable respect like that?
I can think of:
- The Secret World's idea of involving puzzles based on real-world information, if it's as big a thing as it sounds - haven't played it.
- Star Trek Online's Foundry system at least introduces the difference that players can write their own preset missions. I know Neverwinter Nights (from the same company) now has that too.
- Mabinogi has made a valiant attempt at having lots of activities other than combat, and gives XP for them, though they're not very dynamic and sadly, after all that development work, the main storyline ignores them and focuses almost entirely on combat, so they tend to get left by the wayside.
- And of course the exception to everything is Underlight - no NPCs, no pre-programmed "main storyline", no dungeons or instances at all - everything takes place in the main game world and anyone can drop in while it's happening if they want to. But Underlight seems to be sui generis.
And of course, the actual game of skill - the basic little arcade game - that they're built around is always the same: the one where you and your opponent each start with a number of Hit Points, and you throw things at each other to try and beat them down to zero. Thinking about it, I don't really understand why that has to be so. Couldn't you equally well build an MMO around a different basic challenge?