Looking Back at 2009

I think 2009 was a good year for games, even MMOs. Sure WoW is still on top, Warhammer continues to struggle, there’s not been any revolutionizing innovation in the MMO genre, but I don’t really care about any of that. All of the games I started the year playing (EVE and LoTRO) I still enjoy, and I found a new game (Champions) that I like an expect to be playing through the whole of 2010.

Aion

I wasn’t paying much attention to this game until the pre-order/open beta offer popped up on Steam. Considering my poor impulse control, you can guess what happened.

I played the open beta, and I had fun until I hit level 10. I lost interest once I got my wings and found out that they weren’t for exploration or travel but were more for tactics in combat in PvP.  More over you couldn’t participate in PvP until nearly half-way to level cap and the Korean roots of the game started to should around level 18. So Aion wasn’t for me.

Champions

This is another game I wasn’t paying much attention too. I had seen some write-ups on Massively, but I hadn’t been very impressed with the screenshots I’d seen. I was interested though in some of their design decisions: only requiring names to be unique by account, single world with open instances, and flexible power selection. I followed City of Heroes’ development pretty closely and I remember being disappointed when they switched from allowing you to mix and match powers to the archetype system. I was a bit skeptical about how the naming and instancing would work, but I was interested in seeing how it would work out. I can’t tell you the number of times I would come up with a hero name and concept in CoH and after spending an hour getting the costume right find out that the name was taken and then have to spend thirty minutes trying to come up with an alternative.

So pre-ordered and I tried out the Champions open beta, and I liked it enough to buy a lifetime membership. I also have a lifetime membership to LoTRO and have never regretted it, so I figured I’d roll the dice with Cryptic. I am a big fan of superhero comics, I loved Freedom Force, and I enjoyed my time in CoH for about two years, so it seemed a pretty safe bet that I would play Champions long enough to get my money back. Despite all of the drama that’s surrounded the game and the company, I don’t regret my purchase and I’m still enjoying the game.

Fallen Earth/DDO/Warhammer/WoW/AoC/CoH

These are all games I played a bit, but am not subscribed too.

That last time I got on a played WoW, I realized that I wasn’t just burned out on the content or the community, I don’t enjoy the combat system anymore compared to LoTRO. I may try Cataclysm when it comes out, but I’m doubtful I’ll ever go back.

CoH was very similar experience. I tried out a free weekend NCSoft was offering, I wanted to see how much the game had changed and check out the Mission Architect system. I ended up just playing a couple of hours, and I knew I wasn’t going to resubscribe to the game when I kept trying to block incoming attacks. For a superhero game, I enjoy the more active combat in Champions.

I tried AoC at least twice this year, and I’ve finally come to the realization that despite the graphics and mechanics, which I like, I don’t like the world and that’s just too much of a barrier for me.

Warhammer is another one of those that had a free weekend, so I figured I’d check in and do a little sightseeing. Things seemed to have improved, but there was nothing to rekindle my initial interest in the game. To be honest, I can’t really articulate why I’m not interested in the game any longer, I think it is just a matter of being more interested in other games.

That sentiment also describes DDO and Fallen Earth for me. There are both games that I like and enjoy playing, but neither of which I’m subscribed too and neither of which I miss when I’m not playing them.

EVE

EVE is on the border of interest for me, right now. I was playing EVE pretty heavily for the first few months of the year, but I’ve been just doing training, no missions, and very little mining since then. For now, I’m staying subscribed because when I have an urge to hop in a spaceship I want a game to go to, but this may change in February when Star Trek Online releases.

LoTRO

Turbine had a pretty sparse year of free Book updates to Moria leading into their fall release of the Siege of Mirkwood paid expansion. As a lifetime subscriber, I paid $20 for the Adventurer’s Pack and got a cloak, a goat, two more character slots, and shared vault storage, plus SoM for free. Mentally I reversed that to paying for the expansion and getting the AP items for free. Either way, getting two more character slots and the shared storage was worth the $20 to me, but beyond that there was nothing in the expansion that I was excited about.

That is until I was invited into the beta and got a chance to try out Skirmishes. These turned out to be much more fun than I expected for quick or limited time play sessions, and its always nice to have an additional activity to pursue for when I need a break from questing, crafting, or exploring.

Console

I haven’t really played too much on the console. I really enjoyed Batman: Arkham Asylum. I dabbled with a few other Xbox games: Overlord, X-men Origins: Wolverine, Brütal Legend, and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. But I haven’t finished any of them.

PC (Single Player)

I’ve bought and played quite a few PC games this year (most of them from Steam).

  • Dawn of Discovery – I really enjoyed the previous games in this series and the latest is an improvement in every sense, again though I’ve not been in the proper mood to play although it stays marked as a favorite on my Steam games list.
  • Dragon Age – I lost interest after a couple of days, I like to think I’ll return to it at some point in the future.
  • Majesty 2 – I played through a few scenarios, and had fun. I will go back to it when I’m in a single-player mood again.
  • Mount and Blade – A really fun game, I especially enjoyed the mounted combat and riding down footmen with a lance. This is another casualty of the too many games phenomenon though. I played it fairly obsessively for a couple of weeks and then moved on.
  • Torchlight – Ditto what I said about Majesty 2, I would’ve played this game much more if there was a co-op mode.
  • Warhammer 40K 2 – I had fun in the single player campaign, but the multi-player didn’t interest me as much as it did in the original series. While the tactical and strategic aspects of the combat are fun, I really missed the base building.

Summary

For me, 2009 was very much a year of MMOs, with EVE dominated the beginning of the year, then LoTRO, then Champions, and again LoTRO at the end. Sure, nothing happened to shake up the genre too much, but I’ve seen some experimentation by developers with Champions, Darkfall, and Fallen Earth. I think it is too early to say whether these experiments have succeeded or failed, though. All that said, I don’t care too much. I have three MMOs I’m playing regularly at the moment and a stack of console and PC games I would love to have the time to finish.

Note – could I get any more tags on this post? I don’t think so.

8 Comments

  1. GoldenstarNo Gravatar says:

    I didn’t know you were in the beta you little sneak! lol

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      Yup, I was, but I didn’t participate too much just helped out when they were doing the Mirkwood and Skirmish stress tests. I think I did mention the beta on Twitter once they lifted the NDA.

  2. xXJayeDuBXxNo Gravatar says:

    Nice summary. If you ever want to play some DoWII online or the Last Stand mode, i’m there

  3. LongascNo Gravatar says:

    I played Guild Wars for years before 2009 when it slowly got stale, and WOTLK left me disappointed after I had waited for months for its release. So I tried Aion and LOTRO, in the end I decided that I loved LOTRO’s world so much more. Which is a pity, Aion has awesome game mechanics, graphics and and awesome client. Unfortunately it has some very negative “asian” traits, which was a pity.

    I hope they don’t forget that the strength of LOTRO is the beautiful depiction of Middle Earth. The world, not tiny group dungeons. The worst offender in this regard is the Farmhall erm Swordhall of Dol Guldur. I expect that they improve and expand the Skirmish system, right now I almost always have something better to do – solo, that’s it. But it is very cool that you can instantly form a group from players all over the world and do some scenario, that’s definitely a plus.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      As fun as skirmishes are for quick pickup and plays, they are definitely snacks and not meals. I also think they are an experiment. I’ve heard that Volume 2 Book 9 doesn’t have fellowship quests but uses skirmishes instead. Combined with the revamp Turbine has been working on for the older content, and I wonder if we’ll see the skirmish system expanded in the future to provide for automatically scaling quests, that way if you want to solo you can or if you want to fellowship you can do that to.

    • KhazNo Gravatar says:

      RE: “But it is very cool that you can instantly form a group from players all over the world”
      Was there an improvement to the LFF I missed? Can you now form PuG groups easily?
      I thought that they would include scenario in their very underused LFF tool, but i couldn’t see how if they did.

      If they managed to improve the LFF to get it to be used as much as it is in DDO, that would be the biggest improvement since LOTRO came out.
      If it has been upgraded, i have missed it and would love to know how

      • BrianNo Gravatar says:

        No the LFF system hasn’t changed much, and regardless of the tweaks Turbine had made most players seem to prefer using LFF and glff instead.

        What Longasc is talking about is you can form a fellowship and then initiate a skrimish and all of the fellowship members with teleport into the skirmish instance, not running or riding required.