One of the reasons that I’m an early adopter of MMOs is that there’s just something hardwired into me that I need to be there at the beginning. I absolutely hate feeling “behind” in MMOs, and no, I’m not talking about leveling so much as coming late to the party and having to absorb a pants-ton (pants is my new word of the day, thanks Britishies!) of info and patch updates and whatnot that everyone else knows as common knowledge.
The truth is that the longer a MMO lives, the more complex and overburdened with information it becomes. This isn’t a problem to the vets of the game, because they’ve been absorbing and adapting to this over the course of months and years as it’s been slowly updated. But for a newbie to come to a game three years after launch? It’s like an info waterfall, smashing you down and making you feel helpless. Where do you begin? How do you avoid feeling and looking like a total noob?
Not to mention that there’s that nagging feeling that the game might be past its prime, that its “best years” are behind it before you even set foot in it. The initial rush of the crowd, the huge growth of the first year or so, that’s all settled down. The community is established. People know people, but you are a stranger. And how long will the game continue? How many more expansions lie in its future? You have no idea, but you know that it’s a lot less for you than it was for folks at launch.
What about the social situation? Even if you find a great guild, or join the game to be with your friends, they’re all going to be level infinity while you’re still a dirt-grubbing peasant. It might be months and months before you’re high enough to do anything meaningful with them.
These are just thoughts that run through my head whenever I consider jumping into an older MMO. If a game is more than a year old, I usually can come up with more reasons why not to try it than to jump in. I need to feel as though I can actually play with my friends and guildies, instead of just having access to a chat channel with them in it. I consider the learning curve and see if it’s just too much to absorb. I wonder if it might just be better to wait for the next game from that company, or better yet, the sequel, and then get in on the ground floor for that.
For example, after seeing the recent trailer for Guild Wars 2 and reading up on it, I’m pretty excited about it, and have even considered giving GW another try. But I remember what happened earlier this summer when I attempted to do exactly that — I stalled out before I even left the newbie zone, because I had doubts as to whether or not what I was doing would end up being fun, since everyone else was probably all maxed out and doing high level stuff. Now, I see GW2 and go, why bother with the first one when I know I’ll be dipping into the second? But the opposing voice in my head tells me that I had a lot of fun with GW when it first launched, and it’d be a shame not to at least give it a try now and then, especially since its free. What will I have to learn, though? What’s changed?
I’m not trying to come to any sort of conclusion here — I just wanted to share what bounces around in my head when it comes to stuff like this.