The Newb guide to MMORPGs

Introduction

You must think I’m nuts. I downloaded 67 GIGABYTES worth of MMOGs to test. 26 of the suckers, 10 of which I’m focussing on here. As for the other 16? Well, they’re listed at the bottom of the article. If and when I get around to discussing them, they’ll be linked here as well. Let’s just say they weren’t worth my time to review, for one reason or another. Not necessarily because they were bad (although some were beyond bad)… just that I had to choose a sample that would be the games that I’d be most interested in trying out. Besides, it’s not as if one MMO isn’t enough already for most people that actually want a social life. Like you know, a social life that doesn’t involve hitting / or ENTER first.  And I had to pick and choose. So these are the ones I chose:

Dungeon Runners (overview forthcoming)

Guild Wars (overview forthcoming)

Pirates of the Caribbean Online

Everquest II

World of Warcraft (overview forthcoming)

City of Heroes/Villains

Lord of the Rings Online

Runes of Magic

Ryzom

The Chronicles of Spellborn

Happily, I can say that I managed thus far (knock on wood) to avoid severe addiction to any of them. Well, mostly.

The Scope

Before I even get started, I should mention something: I’m a PvEer. I don’t play PvP and it’s not my focus, nor interest. So I didn’t test out any PvP while playing these games. If that’s your thing, these articles may still be of interest to you, but they are talking only in terms of the PvE component of these games. Just thought I’d mention that up front.

I play these games to get sweet loot. I play to kill monsters.. of some sort or another.

I’m not going to be writing hard-core, in-depth reviews of each of these games. If you want reviews of them, the vast majority of these games (perhaps excepting a lot of the free to play ones) have been reviewed ad nauseum elsewhere on the web. What I’m going to do is tell you which ones I think are worth the time downloading and testing. I’ll tell you what I liked, what annoyed me, and what I thought stood out – both in a good and bad way. If you are a newbie, this might be a good place to start before you get your download on.

Just FYI, I don’t really get into that whole ‘role-playing’ business very much. I play these games to get sweet loot. I play to kill monsters.. of some sort or another. I suppose leveling and assign skills or stats has become synonymous with role-playing, which I don’t entirely buy, or take part in. But whatever, that’s for another article.

NEWB!

First and foremost, the difference between a ‘newbie/newb’ and a ‘noob/n00b’. The Urban Dictionary breaks it down like this: Newbs are those who are new to some task* and are very beginner at it, possibly a little overconfident about it, but they are willing to learn and fix their errors to move out of that stage. n00bs, on the other hand, know little and have no will to learn any more.

Read more here: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=noob.

The Breakdown

The articles are broken up into 3 main categories, as I see them:  Free to play games with cash shops (Part 1), Free to play games with caveats (Part 2), and Pay to play games (Part 3).

For each game, I’ve tried to give it an honest shot. Really. Even if it sucked and I swore at myself for doing this while playing, I pushed on. I put myself through the torture so you wouldn’t have to. For the greater good, right? That’s not to say that I played each of these games up to level 30 or anything. Heck, I doubt I broke level 10 in more than a handful. But that wasn’t really the point of these articles; if you want guides, go elsewhere. These articles are intended to give you first impressions of the games and to summarize whether or not it’s worth your while to wait several days (for anything over 3gb) to download and play.

The System

I’ll be talking a bit about how the games perform, so I should give you some context about what I’m running them all on. It’s not a dream rig, but it isn’t bad. I put it together about 6 months ago for a modest $1700 or so. You should be able to build a similar machine now for much less. Nothing’s overclocked, it’s all running at defaults.

Here’s the specs:

Intel Core 2 Quad 2.83Ghz
4 GB RAM
BFG GTX 260 896MB
Built-in Realtek sound
640 GB HDD
Windows XP SP3
26″ LCD running at 1920×1200

I attempted to run every game at full screen and at my default resolution. If possible, I cranked the graphics to the max. I’ll let you know how each game performed at those settings.

The Games

These overviews focus on three main types of MMORPGs: Free to Play games with Cash Shops, Free to Play games with Caveats, and Pay to Play games.

For the uninitiated, the first type listed are games that are (and this is loudly screamed at you on pretty much EVERY game’s site) – Free to Sign Up (no credit card necessary), Free to Download, and Free to Play. So what’s a Cash Shop? That’s how these games make their money. They offer bits & bobs for you to buy via RMT or MT – short for Real Money Transactions or Micro-Transactions – which allow you to enhance your character or overall playing experience. Whether or not you buy anything is completely up to you. So theoretically, you could play each and every one of the following games without every spending a dime.

The second type are Free to Play, but have caveats that adjust your gameplay experience. So what are the caveats? Well, that’s different for each game. I’ll outline what the limitations are on a game-by-game basis.

The final type are Pay to Play games. Clearly, if you want to play them beyond the trial, you have to pay monthly to do so. In some cases, you’ll also have to pay for the game before you can play them, on top of the monthly fee.

I’ve downloaded and tested the following games:

Free to Play games with Cash Shops
Runes of Magic

Free to Play games with Caveats

The Chronicles of Spellborn
Dungeon Runners
Guild Wars
Pirates of the Caribbean Online
Ryzom (formerly the Saga of Ryzom and Ryzom Ring)

Pay to Play games

City of Heroes/Villains

Everquest II

Lord of the Rings Online

World of Warcraft

All right, enough precursor, click on the links below to read what I thought about these games.

Other games I tried in the name of science:

2 Moons

9 Dragons

Air Rivals

Archlord

Atlantica Online

Ether Saga Online

Florensia

Rohan Online

Perfect World International

Pirates of the Burning Sea

Shaiya

Star Wars Galaxies

Talisman Online (shudder)

Vanguard

Warhammer Online

World of Kung Fu

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