Tag halls of the pantheon

Which virtual world to visit this summer?

Summer is coming. Summer means gaming. So does the rest of the year, but still. Which means I need a summer MMO to keep myself busy.

I really did try to give EverQuest II another chance, but after a brief session yesterday I decided to call it quits again. I do enjoy the game on certain levels, the gameplay is fairly solid and the graphics aren’t all that bad (except the character design, which I’m not a big fan of), but I am amazed at how the zoning always gets to me. It really shouldn’t be that big a deal, but I can’t help having to stretch my imagination too far every time I zone – in my head, The Baubleshire and the Forest Ruins aren’t connected in any way, despite the fact that they are right next to each other. The zoning between them completely breaks my immersion, which annoys me to the degree that I have a hard time enjoying the rest of the EQII-experience.

For a weak moment I was considering resubbing to Age of Conan, despite what some people seem to think about Funcom’s latest event screw up, but then I remembered that if there’s one game that has a lot of zoning, it’s AoC. I also did some reading on the official AoC forums and seeing references to the amount of instances of a given zone up at one time, I really decided to skip it. If there is one thing that gets me more than zoning it’s instancing of an open zone (dungeons are exceptions). I even prefer more servers with less people on them than multiple instances of a zone on one server. Just the thought of it makes my skin crawl. It’s a horrible, bad and cheap design solution.

So where does that leave me? Rappelz still won’t co-operate, which really bugs me. A clean install is coming up and some manual patching on top of that should solve my issues, even though it’s really damn annoying that I have to do that just to get the thing running. Champions Online has been delayed until September, but to be honest I wasn’t all that impressed with the press beta. Jumpgate Evolution has been delayed as well, but considering what a train wreck of a MMO NetDevil’s old Auto Assault was, why do I even care to begin with? I’m not very impressed with the ship design and I know I will always expect space MMOs that only has a ship as your avatar to be as cut-throat as EVE Online. Dog fights are cool and all, but I still love the rush of EVE’s PvP fights.

Darkfall? The €42 price tag says “no”. I would love to give it a try, but I can’t for the life of me see myself paying that much money for it. It also seems like the European, and only, server is already populated and entrenched by now. I might consider it if they open up the NA-1 server in June and allow people to transfer off from EU-1, but I would prefer to see a brand new server opening up in Europe instead. Even though the empires are already established in EVE Online, you still have Empire space to keep you safe and cuddly until you dare to leave for low- or null-sec. I’m not 100% sure, since I’ve not tried DF myself, but it seems like it would be harder to start up a brand new, small sized guild compared to getting a corp up and running in EVE.

So, my eyes have once again fallen on Vanguard. There might not be any large-scale politics to get involved in, but it has a massive and epic world filled with places to see and explore. I really liked it when I played it, but since raiding in World of Warcraft got the better of me I cancelled my sub ages ago. I haven’t seen the Isle of Dawn (except the very first parts), I never got past level 20 and since diplomacy has seen a bit of a revamp since I left I’m really aching to see what they’ve done with those quest chains (I really liked diplomacy). I’ve been a bit worried (and still am, in a way) that SOE would leave the game to rot, but the Halls of the Pantheon update was just applied to the live servers which means the devs are keeping themselves busy.

As it stands right now, it’s Vanguard vs a deeper commitment to EVE Online. I love EVE, I always have, always will. But it plays completely different than other MMOs, at least for me. It’s about 10 days until I finished Small Railgun Spec V, then we’ll see if EVE will be my summer MMO. Until then, I think I’ll resub to Vanguard and give Isle of Dawn a spin. After all, Beau seems to be quite impressed with it.

And then there’s that damn Ryzom I just can’t get out of my head…arrrrrgh. I think I’ll go play inFamous for a bit.

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Virtual worlds, massive multiplayer games and assorted ramblings

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