A Welcome Return or Just Repeating a Mistake?
When I first started playing MMOs, it was very easy to maintain a degree of “gaming monogamy”. The Lord of the Rings held my attention for two years, without any distractions because everything was new to me at the time. But eventually, the allure of other genre titles became too great that I moved on to pastures new. And so I spent between 2009 and 2014 trying numerous other games. Star Trek Online, Age of Conan, Aion, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars: The Old Republic, The Secret World, Neverwinter, WildStar and The Elder Scrolls Online to name but a few. If a game took my fancy, I would invest a great deal of time and make substantial progress. Conversely, if the “shoe didn’t fit”, it was quickly dispensed with. For example World of Warcraft never “clicked with me. It’s no reflection on the game itself. I just didn’t warm to any aspect of it. Similarly, the reality of EVE Online was vastly different to what I had imagined and expected.
Hence, I’ve left numerous MMOs behind me in my gaming wake over the years. Games that I learned were not for me. Or were they? The thing is, I’m not immune to cognitive dissonance. I’m quite capable of holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. Namely, that hardy perennial among gamers, “I know I didn’t like [insert game title here] last time I played but maybe it’s changed”. And so due to a combination of factors, I have recently found myself revisiting several MMOs I have previously parted company with. Because of the recent coverage of Guild Wars 2 on the Massively OP Podcast, I decided to reinstall the game and return to Tyria. Much to my surprise, I rediscovered that I had three characters at level cap. A Human Ranger, a Norn Warrior and a Charr Engineer. My primary alt was still based in Queensdale which brought back pleasant memories of the “Choo Choo” or Queensdale Express. In fact within a few minutes of pottering around the zone, I began to recall how the various game systems and mechanics work. It began to feel like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers. And then I ported to the Maguuma Jungle and things rapidly went South.
The Heart of Thorns expansion killed my enjoyment of Guild Wars 2. If memory serves, I lasted until summer 2016 and then I quit the game. The “verticality” of the new zone and the grinding for Mastery Points to get the gliding skill and such like, were and remain the primary problem. That and the fact that this expansion made playing solo demonstrably harder and more reliant on others. Path of Fire may well do much to redress these issues but I’ll have to trudge through the first expansion before I can reap any benefits of the second. And as I play MMOs for primarily for pleasure and do not welcome any enterprise that “gets on my tits”, to coin a phrase, I shall be progressing no further in Guild Wars 2. I mistook the MMO for an absent friend because I was focused on my enjoyment of the base game. But the first expansion remains just as frustrating as it originally was and so all I’ve done is repeat a mistake by reinstalling things. I won’t get fooled again. No honestly, I won’t.
So, fresh from this lesson, I decided that it would be a really good idea to ignore what I had just learned and retry Neverwinter. This a game I haven’t played since the beta test in 2013. Unlike Guild Wars 2, I really couldn’t remember much about the game. The only things that stuck in my mind was the combat which was a curious action hybrid. But beyond that, the game didn’t leave that much of an impression upon me. I was most surprised when I found my original avatar still available. However, for practical reasons I think it best to roll a new alt as I have no idea how the game plays. But over the next day or so, I will give this MMO another go. It’s odd that despite being an inferior game to Guild Wars 2, this is the one that seems to be more welcoming. Perhaps I didn’t play sufficiently to become prejudice against Neverwinter. Or may be after a while, suppressed memories will come flooding back. Perhaps my experiment to revisit older MMOs is already a forgone conclusion and these games have been abandoned for obvious and legitimate reason. Either way, it all makes for ideal material for a blog post. If there are any interesting developments I’ll keep you posted.