They say every dog has his day: I'm not sure if that is true because I know people who have had several and others who are still patiently waiting. In the last ten years MMO’s have seen some amazing dog days but now it seems that this once ever so promising genre of game has fallen into something of a decline.
Way back in 2005 a far younger version of me decided to dive into the now infamous WoW and in many ways the subsequent weeks/months/years I poured into the bottomless pit called Azeroth helped shape my gaming past. These were good times, real friends and new 'digital' friends alike would log in and make legends every night from the safety of our computers. Hey I could write a book on Warcraft and MMOs: in fact people have - but all we really need to say here is that MMOs happened. They had to: for us to develop the games industry and take multiplayer games to the next level.
So what is the next level? Well back in the dark ages of MMOs when Ultimate Online was the thing to beat the basic idea was to make a space for lots of players to co-exsist. A persistent game space that existed whether you were in it or not: this concept was new back then and we were on uncharted ground. To spite the graphics improving year upon year the idea never really changed all that much. Of course out of these exciting times WoW emerged King and thus reigned all powerful. Over time many new MMO's have been developed as 'WoW killers' and are now either super niche games that are kept alive by die hard fans (Lord of the Rings Online for example) or just have their few months and bomb into the nothingness of gaming afterlife. Skip to present day and WoW is still big but each year loses subscribers and the ability to stay relevant.
The last big MMO I played was Wildstar and Jesus I threw everything I had into that game, on top of being the community lead (or GM) for Exterminatus. These roles when done properly are more like full time jobs but it was mostly awesome if somewhat short lived. That's the point I'm coming to really, that MMOs don't seem to be doing all that great these day and I suspect it's not all down to the actual game's strengths and weaknesses. In the last two or so years we've certainly seen a shift in how we play games and how we meet our friends. Single player games still exist of course but more and more we see these hybrids: single player games which also have substantial multiplayer elements. The upcoming Division is a good example of this which has just had it's last closed beta before launch: check out my impressions in the articles section and also my let's play video here.
So why the talk of MMO's? Well for the last two weeks I've mostly been playing Blade and Soul: the westernised version. A game I wasn't going to touch for a few good reasons, the main one being that Korean MMOs are well known for poor content and high time demands. Yet after being hit by the hype train a few days before launch I decided to 'have a few days' - that was two weeks ago and I have now been fully sucked into the levelling process.
Thanks to the aforementioned and unscheduled time in Blade and Soul I am now playing catch up before the big game of February: which of course is XCOM 2. The review NDA lifted a few days ago and the game has so far received critical acclaim. Of course I am still too small to ask for review copies of games so for now I shall just have to hit the ground running on the 5th of March. That said I'm not going to rush it, this game demands all my attention and rightly so - after all it's the grandchild of my favourite game of all time. Lastly I am currently hurtling through The Rise of the Tomb Raider in the hope I can get this review topped and tailed before I set out to save the world from aliens again - wish me luck!
So for now take care guys, I hope 2016 is treating you all well and I will be back very soon.