It’s been three years since I’ve actively played any of the MMOs I used to main. I’ve tried returning to Guild Wars 2 and The Elder Scrolls Online and Black Desert. I’ve tried getting into Final Fantasy 14 and The Old Republic. By the time New World and Lost Ark turned up, I’d grown weary of trying. I’ve changed since the days I was a teenager, first taken with the original Guild Wars in 2005, and unlike so many types of games I continue to enjoy, MMOs just haven’t changed with me.

The traditional thing for me to do would be to watch the genre I loved change and howl about how it was better “back in my day.” But I already lived through the good old days. Or at least some of them—sorry Ultima Online, you were before my time. MMORPGs had a great 2022 as a whole, but I want the giant online experiences of the 2020s to feel as groundbreaking as the ones of the 2000s did and for that, they’re going to need to step out of the shadows of their ancestors. I’m begging MMOs not to stay the way they were.

On cooldown 

(Image credit: ArenaNet)

One of my primary gripes with MMOs is that the way we interact with them hasn’t meaningfully changed in decades. World of Warcraft and Guild Wars can’t go upending entire systems, but even new MMOs still nigh unanimously rely on skill hotbar combat while every other interaction in the world is handled with a single interaction key. F to talk and F to loot and F to place that key quest item in its designated slot. Please, I want to do anything more interesting than pressing F everywhere I go. I’m lucky that Guild Wars 2 at least has jumping puzzles as an activity.

I wish that new MMOs would stop chasing all that old glory and pursue something that attains the spirit, rather than the letter, of what MMOs were in the late aughts.

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By nmybx

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