This mornings post is going to be a bit of a departure from my normal routine in that I am going to talk about some of the games that I really enjoy, but am not playing for one reason or another. I guess with the recent news about Daybreak, it highlights the fact that there are so many games we hold dear… but aren’t actually actively supporting by playing them. As such here goes my attempt to write a post about the three best games I am not playing.
Like so many former Everquest junkies, I am in love with the setting of Norrath. I love its cities, and races and the aspect that I enjoyed the most playing EQ2 was how often times you would just see glimpses of the world that came before this one. The folks behind the zones in Norrath 2.0 were exceptionally good at tugging on your nostalgia at just the right moment, while at the same time making something entirely new. More than anything I think it was the scale of this game that made me fall in love with it. I did not play it at launch, but a few months into World of Warcraft I took a break and joined my friends who did. The world felt so much larger than anything I was seeing in Azeroth, and this sense of amazement through scale never really faded. It felt so much more like a living breathing world. This game also gave me one of my favorite playable races in any game… the Ratonga. While often goofy comic relief I enjoyed roaming the world as my little rat shadow knight.
The problem is that each time I play Everquest II, I ultimately leave due to the same problem. I absolutely hate the combat system with its largely unintelligible stat increases, alternative advancement point minutiae and what feels like three hundred different attack buttons… that are largely indistinguishable. The funny thing is playing my Shadow Knight was a key sequence of about twenty five attacks… and still to this day I can reinstall the game and play it entirely through muscle memory. For me it is the gaming equivalent of chicken fried steak… that comfort food you return to over and over even though it is largely uninspired. The problem is… I will always return to it eventually. It has my favorite world in any game, so full of life and mystery. I just wish I could transplant that world into a game I enjoy on a technical level.
Rift was the game that pulled me away from World of Warcraft by giving me every single thing I ever said I wanted in a video game. I spent a good amount of time playing Rift at launch and since release it is a rarity that I do not have an active account. The problem is… I am not playing it. This game is one that I want to love so badly, and I wished and tried so many times to transplant my WoW family into. Rift is a game made up of extremely well crafted systems that are honed to lightning precision… but have been assembled in the wrong order. That is the best possible analogy that I can give you. Have you ever walked into a house and felt that something was just off, and then spent the rest of your time in it trying to figure out exactly what it was? There is something wrong with Rift, and I cannot figure out what is missing.
I have heard the complaint that “Rift has no soul” and as much as I have rebelled against that notion… maybe that statement is right. There is some spark that ties everything together that is missing in this game. I will always keep returning to it, because there are lots of well crafted components that make up this game, but the overarching game itself lacks something. With the Nightmare Tides expansion I came back and started playing more regularly, but it was not long before I realized that all I had been actually doing was logging in to play the minions mini-game. Even now talking about this game I am getting the desire to pop my head back in, because it is like this puzzle I cannot quite solve. I want to know why it doesn’t work, but never actually find the answer. What I do know however is it is a game supported by a lot of awesome people, and while I am trying to figure it out… I absolutely do not mind funding their efforts.
The Secret World
When The Secret World was released, I thought that it was absolutely going to be the game I could settle in for the long haul. I believe it in so much that I spent the almost two hundred dollars to purchase a “Lifetime” membership, after having missed out on that same opportunity for Lord of the Rings Online. The experience of leveling through this game and completing all of the content was absolutely amazing. It still has some of the most thoughtful and interesting quest lines I have experienced in any game. The thing that broke myself and the rest of the AggroChat crew was the fact that behind the Gatekeeper encounter there loomed a giant wall. When we began nightmare content, we came to the realization quickly that we were essentially “playing the game wrong”. The answer to beating the content was for us to change our specs to something that the content wanted us to be. Doing this would have destroyed the magic of the game, the fact that we could craft the characters we always wanted to play.
All of this said, it is still a game I think upon fondly, and still consider the lifetime membership some of the best money I have ever spent. Content is released in “Issues” and while purchasing one of these gives you the main story quest… there is also a substantial amount of minor content that goes in with each of them. Games are notoriously bad about pointing out things that have changed in the world, and The Secret World is no exception. I find it a mentally daunting task to not only try and remember how to play my character each time I return, but also try and figure out what is actually new. The fact that you can repeat almost every quest in the game only serves to make this more maddening. The answer of course is to claw your way through copious patch notes to figure out what new elements were added, but instead… I simply don’t play apart from logging in every now and then to buy a cool new outfit with my monthly allotment of in game store currency.
Fondly Remembered Loves
There you go, this morning in honor of Valentines Day I give you the games I love but am not actually playing. I feel like all gamers have these games in their history. I am curious what some of yours are. Leave me a comment letting me know what game or games out there are you still smitten by but just not playing anymore.