MMORPG Recommendations

A year or two ago I was playing Asheron’s Call online and enjoyed it a lot. Unfortunately life got in my way and I had to let the character I had crafted go and stop playing. Somewhere in there I tried to play Everwait (err…Everquest) and absolutely hated it. I was used to Asheron’s Call and while that one had its issues I flat out despised Everwait. Camping at a spawn point for hours on end (real life hours) was not my idea of fun.

Anyway, life has allowed me a chance to get back into online gaming and I was wondering if any Dopers had any recommendations (or ones I should absolutely avoid). I’m open to just about anything that involves a persistent gaming world so don’t hold back any suggestions. I will say that I want to avoid the games populated by spastic kiddies and games that don’t allow time for newbies to ramp up (either intolerant old-timers or a gaming structure that sees newbies killed every 10 seconds). I once tried out Asheron Call’s PvP server and it was flat out stupid. I spawned with a first level charcter only to have a 20+ level character standing right there to destroy me (which he did…to me and anyone else who popped in). Lotsa fun lemme tell you :rolleyes: (actually the newbies collected in a chat room and agreed to all spawn at once (or as near as could be managed) and swarm the prick killing us…naturally he laid waste to all of us but we actually got annoying enough to run him off so maybe it was a little fun).

Oh yeah…one other thing.

I prefer a game that is friendly to solo play. Some MMORPGs are near impossible to solo in (or at least sharply slanted away from making it a viable alternative). Almost none of my friends game online and getting a group together online is difficult and time consuming. It is nice to be able to do and I like it but I also want to be able to strike out on my own for an hour or two when the mood strikes (yet another reason I despised Evercrap…I have absolutely no idea why that game gained popularity and remains popular).

I’m sure people will come to post about Shadowbane or Star Wars Galaxies, but I’ll mention Clan Lord, a small, Mac-based MMORPG made by Delta Tao software that has been running for about 5 years or so.

If you’re running a Windows-based system, you’ll need to get a copy of a free Mac emulator like Basilisk (or possibly Softmac) in order to get it to run.

Clan Lord is pretty much a friendly, non-PvP environment. There are specific locations where PvP is allowed, but they are easily avoided and are in no way necessary to enjoy the game. In general, the world is very friendly and accepting of new players. My experience is that you’ll find less of the hax0r l33t crowd. People actually type in complete sentences. Roleplaying is common and even encouraged, although not strictly required.

The player base is also much smaller than most games you’ll encounter. When you log on to the server, it’s not uncommon to only see from 40-100 players. This small population is good in that you make friends very quickly because you see the same people consistently. It’s bad in that you’ll sometimes be unable to find enough people to journey to exceptionally dangerous areas.

A major strike against for you it is that is not geared towards solo play. You can certainly solo for quite a while at the lower levels, but it’s much more efficient to work with a group. For the most dangerous locations, it’s almost a necessity to bring a party. Again, since the population is small, it’s not too hard to find people you know and like to get together for an adventure.

One of the interesting aspects of the game is that there is no “cap” for players. In most MMORPGs, you eventually reach a point where your character cannot improve. Clan Lord uses a skill-based as opposed to an equipment-based model where there’s no limit to how good your character can become. There are dozens of trainers from whom you can learn combat or magic skills. If you’re patient enough, you can even become a trainer in a certain skill and teach other players.

Good places to learn about Clan Lord are The Official Clan Lord Site, Winds of Dawn (a site devoted to helping new players), and Thoomcare, a CL news site.

By the way, do not judge the game on the demo. The demo sucks and Delta Tao is trying to improve on it. I should also warn you that CL does not exactly have dazzling graphics or sound. It’s actually kinda cartoonish. Oddly, though, the experience was much richer for me than other games I’ve played. Combat is real-time and is much more than simply double-clicking on a mob. There’s a complex system of timing and balance that makes it very interesting.

Let me know if there is any more information I can give you.

Greasy Stain

Personally, I still play Everquest. I’ve played it since about 6 months after release. I do take frequent breaks from it, but I keep going back. There are still plenty of time sinks, but I find all MMORPGs have them. I know you bashed on EQ pretty hard. It’s not for everyone. However, I do feel that they continue to improve the game. Everquest is definitely unmatched in size and scope of the game world.

Currently, I’m really liking the latest expansion called, Lost Dungeons of Norrath. This expansion adds in the dynamically spawned content that you see in some other MMORPGS. To get an adventure, you need a group of at least 4 and you need to be at least in you mid 20’s in level. Your group leader then clicks the “adventure merchant” and gets missions until they find one that the group wants. Missions are your typical themes, slaughter, collection, rescue, or assassination. Once you get your mission you have 30 minutes to get to the dungeon to start the mission. The dungeon entrances are anywhere from in the same zone to two zones away. Travel isn’t an issue though, nor is the 30 minute timer.

Once your party enters the dungeon, you have 90 minutes to complete the adventure. This dungeon is a spawned dungeon. Only you and your group can enter it. The dungeon starts with the creatures spawned. There is no respawn, so it’s basically a classic dungeon crawl. Fighting is generally fast and furious, not to mention a lot of fun. When you either succeed or the 90 minutes runs out, there is an addition 30 minute period where the dungeon remains spawned. If you have failed you can finish the mission for a partial reward. If you succeeded, you can continue killing for loot and experience. Your reward for success is in the form of “adventure points” which can be spent at special merchants for some pretty nice stuff.

There are a total of 5 themes in LDoN. Depending on the theme you might be fighting orcs, undead, or other creatures. I’ve had a lot of fun so far in my adventures. The timers keep things moving along. I think it’s a great thing for a casual gamer. I can usually log in and do a LDoN adventure in a few hours.

Also in regards to EQ, they have added and continue to add things to speed players through the early levels. They have removed the death penalties at low levels and improved experience rates. There have been many improvements to the user interface. It is now .xml based and fully customizable.

As far as other games go, I did play Asheron’s Call when it first came out. I really couldn’t get into it at all. The chat and inventory systems seemed too clumsy compared to EQ. Also, I prefer a first person view and AC seemed to force you to play third person. A friend of mine who has played about every MMORPG out there tried Asheron’s Call 2 and told me not to even bother. I took his word for it, so I haven’t tried it myself.

Dark Age of Camelot was an ok game. I started playing that at release time. Unfortunately, I got very annoyed with the constant “tuning” (aka nerfing). It made me feel that they needed more play testing before releasing the game. It’s very frustrating to level a character up only to have most of their abilities taken away. It really makes it feel like a waste of time.

I played Star Wars Galaxies for about 2 months. If you like the Star Wars universe, I would even recommend it. The graphics are nice. I’m sure it will be very cool once they add in player owned speeders and star ships. However, I again started playing this game at release and again the initially tuning just really took the fun out of it for me. I swear that none of these software companies actually do a proper beta test. I also can’t believe that EQ has had the premier in game chat system for years, but that SWG’s (also a Sony game) chat system sucks so badly. To summarize, it’s probably worth a try, but it wasn’t the be all, end all of MMORPGs.

I haven’t played Shadowbane. It’s sounds like griefer hell to me. I will do PvP, but I don’t want it forced on me.

There are a few others on the radar such as Everquest 2, Horizons, and World of Warcraft. I know many are looking forward to WoW due to Blizzard’s skill in developing the Warcraft series.

So far, I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned about MMORPGs is to give them a few months after the release. The various software companies seem to be releasing them in beta form, so you can save yourself pain by waiting a few months to play them.

Since you didn’t specify graphical games, I will put in a plug for our MUD (multi user dungeon) which is a text based roleplay game. The world is quite large, well written and has a good mix of players. If you have a little imagination it is a great game, it has held my attention for over 6 years. Plenty to do by yourself, quests, exploration etc and lots of things to do with a group, be it taking out large monsters, group questing or just entertaining yourselves at a tavern or town square. There are already a few dopers who play :slight_smile:

All the information for playing is at and it is free to play. Ask for me if you need a hand :slight_smile:

Greasy Stain:
I’ve read up on Shadowbane and Star Wars Galaxies and both do not sound promising. Like RogueRacer suggested Shadowbane seems to be Griefer hell. Most reviews of Star Wars Galaxies has it as excruciatingly boring. Apparently when the novelty of being “in” the Star Wars universe nothing else is left. Supposedly the concept of the Rebels versus the Empire is close to non-existant in the game (although it is supposed to be there). Word is the game was getting thrashed so thoroughly on its own message boards that they closed the message boards to the general public (only those who own the game can access them).

As for Evercrap perhaps they have turned things around. I admit it has been awhile since I gave it a shot. Many of the things I disliked appear to have been tweaked and improved upon.

The Norrath add-on sounds cool but as it is unaccessible to a newbie for a good while I can’t consider it too much. It sounds like being a newbie isn’t as bad as when I first tried so maybe EQ is worth another look. I just really, really hated the camping for a particular item for HOURS. Only once while playing Asheron’s Call did I have to queue-up for a particular quest item and everyone there behaved very well. One person took names as people arrived and nobody tried a snatch-and-run. You knew how long it was between spawns of the item, knew your place in line and were assured you’d get your turn. As such you could leave for an hour and come back when you knew it was about time to get your item.

As to overall size I do not know how EQ and AC compare but AC’s world was plenty large and it had no zones. After nine months of playing I still hadn’t seen everything. Maybe it is just because I became used to AC before EQ that I didn’t like EQ. I’m not saying AC was perfect by any means either. I stopped playing when they nerfed my character class. I had spent MONTHS building the character. The class was underpowered at low levels but became a touch overpowered once levelled-up. Seemed like a fair trade-off but no sooner did I reach the promised land then they went ahead and nerfed the class. Not sure why they felt the need either since relatively few people chose that class anyway (so it’s not as if the world was lopsided with a particular class).

I started PC gaming with the Zork series and loved it. In other words…I have no problem with text based games and will give your MUD a look.

I’ve been spinning around the net looking at reviews and Anarchy Online looks like a good bet. Plagued with problems at the outset it seems they have their act together (mostly) now and the latest expansion pack was apparently very worthwhile. Anyone have any experience with this game? The other that caught my attention a bit is EVE so if anyone knows something about that one as well I’d be interested in hearing about it.

While it might be overrun by childrens, Final Fantasy XI has caught my eye. I like the no PvP aspect and the graphics look great. It supposedly is solo unfriendly, which I kind of like. It will come out for the PC in February I think. But if you are not lucky until then, I’d check the reviews and stuff.

Threshold (text-based) seems pretty cool, but I haven´t really had time to get into it yet.
Creating your character takes quite a while, and be sure to read the background info on guilds/religions/races etc. first.

I´ve avoided it because I´m afraid once I get started I won´t get any work done. But the next time I´ve got a few weeks free… :wink:
(and then I´ll have a look at Iteki´s MUD, too)

I helped found Thoomcare. But my Mac HD crashed and haven’t replaced my machine yet (I’m using the HD crash as an excuse to get a G5)

I beta-tested SWG. I liked the skill based advancement system (and the fact that you can train other players) Even the critics agree that char customization is awesome. But yes, it was relased from beat too soon. I think evey MMORPG has teething problems. Personally I think some people are beeing a bit too harsh on it. But then again I haven’t joined yet either (I bought the game, but haven’t installed it yet)

Thoomcare #003 - licenced to heal

I’ve played Anarchy Online, EQ, Shadowbane, and Dark Age of Camelot and I have to say that Anarchy got a bad rap but is now getting a great one. The release was plagued by bugs which have now been ironed out and the expansion packs have received great reviews. There is something about the game that makes me reflect so fondly on it. The whole chat system was done really well and never implemented as well in any other mmorpg. It also had the coolest skill system I’ve seen in a mmorpg to date. I believe you can download a free trial.

Just a little addition:
EQ is super easy to level up in now. I haven’t played for about a year, but when I quit, I had a character to lvl 40 in about a month playing a few hours a week.
Beta testing Horizons right now (haven’t played for a few weeks though), it’s going to be a good game if you like crafting, and you can probably get into an open beta.
I’m personally waiting for World of Warcraft and most likely won’t play anything more MMORPGs for a while though. They all have the same problem. Time sinks.

Ultima Online isn’t a bad game from what I’ve heard these days. The graphics aren’t stellar and some features are rather hodge-podge but it appears they’re trying a lot of new stuff. Getting to a point where you can be independent isn’t too hard once you get over the learning curve.

EQ is certainly easier for the casual player now, but it is not and never has been particularly solo-friendly. LDoN is inaccessible until at least level 20, and is difficult to find a group for until you’re into the mid-high 50’s due to the top-heavy player population (much of the population of my server at least is 60+). There’re also some major bugs with some adventure types, and the time limit adds a sense of panic that isn’t always enjoyable.

Yes, it is definitely easier to be a newbie in EQ now, with the introduction of PoP portals, soulbinders, newbie quest armour, and some level 1 mobs dropping loot that sells for about 2p. However, much of the game remains unchanged; it’s still about timesinks and rare spawns (outside of LDoN), and even within LDoN, the adventure point system ensures a TON of playing time to really obtain worthwhile items (especially given the 1 point reward at lower levels and the high cost of the more desirable items). If you’ve already tried EQ and hated it, LDoN and the other recent changes are not going to make it a game you enjoy.

Personally, I play EQ to hang out with certain friends, but am looking forward to World of Warcraft as the next worthwhile MMORPG. Given your desire to solo and avoid immature players, I’m inclined to suggest you look at a single-player type of game like Morrowind, which is my current favourite. It isn’t a persistent world in the same way EQ is, but dungeons and outdoor areas do respawn after time. Questing and exploration will keep you very busy in Morrowind, and how difficult the game is really is up to you, depending on how you roleplay your character and where you set the difficulty slider. :wink:

Let us know how things go with whatever game you get into. Anarchy Online might be a good bet for you. The friend of mine that I mentioned who plays all of the MMORPGs played that too. He loved it for the first few days after release and then hated it. He ended up trying it again a while back and said it had turned into a pretty good game.

If you do decide to give EQ another look, you should be able to reach the 20’s in level within a week or so. This will give you access to the LDoN expansion. The early levels are very easy now. I mentioned the size of EQ. One other thing they have improved on is travel. There are now many ways to get from one place to another quickly regardless of class or level.

Already played it…already finished it…already started playing again with a different character but I haven’t been back to it for a few months now.

Don’t get me worng about my desire to solo. I very much enjoy grouping with others and going on a dungeon dive. It’s just that sometimes (many times) I might get home from work and want to squeeze in maybe two hours of play time. Unless you have a pre-arranged meeting time with others it can take that long just to form a group. Even if a group gets formed more quickly it isn’t fair to the group when you have to drop out before the particular adventure is done. And what really got me was once having to drop out of a group and coming back into the world at a later date in a high-level dungeon all by my lonesome…I got creamed.

As such I like a game that affords some solo possibilities but I am still thrilled at the grouping as well when I get the chance.


I’ve been involved with this game since Beta and while I don’t play very much these days due to time constraints (school and the like) it’s quite a game. There are flaws, to be sure, but on the whole it’s one of the most unique MMOGs out there. The whole premise of the game is that it’s structured as a huge political, economic and military PvP playground, as opposed to being a leveling treadmill like so many other MMOGs. Players can join corporations (or form their own), many of which are in turn parts of larger Regional Alliances, which are entirely player-operated. Or, they can go freelance, making their way in the game world however they see fit.

An amazing amount of political intrigue has taken place in the game since release, and the storyline has at times been absolutely riveting to watch unfold. For example, one of the largest regional alliances, the Venal Alliance, was in fairly recent history split down the middle when the CEO of a multi-subsidiary megacorp within the alliance placed bounties on the heads of three other CEOs on the Venal council, following a vote on whether to keep his corporation in the alliance. This plunged the entire Venal region into civil war, with both sides actively working to spread their respective propaganda throughout the EVE universe, recruiting people to their sides for the ongoing struggle. All of this was conceived, instigated and executed entirely by the players themselves, with no intervention whatsoever from NPCs, Game Masters or developers. To my mind, this kind of game play is a damn sight more fun than waiting in line for your magical armor.

That said, there are some problems. Recently the game has been going through a bit of a stale patch. The economy is slowly crumbling due to the lack of high-end minerals in the game world; large ship manufacturers don’t have enough of the rare minerals to be able to build and sell ships at regular prices, which has led to tremendous inflation. This, coupled with the prevalence of piracy, has pushed many deep space miners out of the game, and many players are finding that they’ve hit the roof, content-wise. The developers have promised new additions for a while now but nothing seems to have come of it yet, and there are consistent reports of corporations closing up shop due to too many of their members opting out and canceling their subscriptions.

The game’s only in its sixth month of release, though, and most MMOGs aren’t really known for hitting their high strides until well after that mark. I’m sticking with this one, because once they add more content, do more promotional work and expand the playerbase, it’s gonna knock the socks off anything else out there.

Oh, and the graphics are gorgeous.

If you have any more questions, go right ahead.

I was very interested in the newest Everquest expansion, almost to the point of buying the game and every expansion released so far. I love soul-crushingly hard random dungeons which this game has a lot of. (Right now I’m relying on ADOM for my random dungeon fix, having beaten Nethack.) Unfortunately, solo play is also very important to me, and it seems that the random dungeons quite simply won’t let you attempt it. In general, I don’t like grouping with people that I’m not on good terms with, and it’s occasionally difficult for me to find that sort of people. So for now, I’m sticking with one-player games, though that Rubies of Evertide looks good.

Are there any MMORPG games with difficult (yet balanced) random dungeons that are nicer for solo play?

Asheron’s Call Darktide (PvP) is the best MMORPG ever, ok, WAS. I played for the first 3 years of the game and finally got fed up with the cheaters that Turbine refused to crack down on. But in regards to your experience - being killed as a newbie is part of the game, you just have to get away from the training halls quickly to avoid the level 20s (who are usually from carebear servers) killing everyone. Sometimes I would go lay waste to these crappy PKs with my level 110, but other times I would log on my level 20 guy and kill newbies =P My main character was killed ~500 times, with 400 coming in the first 20 levels.

Once you get away from the starter towns and gain a few levels you can survive on Darktide with the rest of us, you just have to fight through. It’s too bad that game went down the drain with the dozens of hacks, especially since I no longer get to “hang out” with 6 of my RL friends in other states. But I would still recommend this game over anything else out there since it is as easy to solo as to group unlike almost every other RPG out there. I suggest a life/bow spec archer, level up quick to 45 and then check out the Sanctuary, I hunted there for a year almost every night with friends or alone, it’s a great open area to kill fun easy monsters, get the best loot in game, and find some good PvP fights. Or just go buy a character for $50 on Ebay :slight_smile:

Don’t play AC2, and stay away from Dark Age of Camelot if you hate grouping. Otherwise it’s an alright game for about 4 months.

I played Anarchy Online, and I really liked it. The game has a huge amount of depth, and solo play is very practical in it. It was also the first MMORPG to make random personal dungeons for players to perform missions in, which is something others (including EQ) are copying now.

Besides, there’s nothing more fun than having a 7’6" 500lb. musclebound brute run around in a t-back swimsuit.