Five MMOs I’d be playing if I had all of the time in the world (which I don’t)


I don’t care who you are — there ain’t none of us who have the time to do more than either scratch at the surface of a handful of MMOs or really dig deep into one or two of them. Even if you’re so “fortunate” as to have few responsibilities and copious amounts of free time.

Well, unless you’re this lady from NCIS, who apparently figured out how to beat all MMOs:

“You hold the high score in virtually every massively multiplayer online roleplaying game!”

Man, that clip never fails to crack me up.

While I certainly wouldn’t trade my job and family for something as frivolous as having more time just to game, it doesn’t stop me from creating impossible hypothetical situations in my mind such as, “If I had as much gaming time in a day as I wanted, what other MMOs would I play?”

As it stands now, I’m pretty contained into three games: Star Trek Online, World of Warcraft, and The Secret World. I feel like I have a great balance going and can dip lightly into each of these to pursue various goals. But if I was to add more to the pile without concern for time, here’s what I might tackle:

Elder Scrolls Online

This is probably just because ESO has had a good run of news lately, but I’ll admit to always being attracted to/impressed by MMOs that have fleshed out content offerings, have a thriving community, and are showing signs of future growth. ESO has all of these in spades, and perhaps if I had gobs of time, I could end up liking this game as much as any other MMO. My one and only foray into it was rough and unimpressive, but first impressions aren’t always spot-on.

Fallen Earth

Yeah, Fallen Earth probably doesn’t have many years ahead of it or great amounts of future content, but it’s pretty much the best post-apocalyptic MMO out there and one that I had a great time playing. It’s also a total time gobbler, so that’s kept me from heading back into it. I just miss riding my horse across the irradiated wild west and blasting mutated hermit crabs with my shotgun.

Dungeons and Dragons Online

It’s been a very long time since I played this regularly, but I still haven’t come across an MMO that’s quite like this one. The focus on dungeon runs, the dual campaigns, the free-form character creation, the dungeon master, the passionate community… these are all speak in favor of DDO’s worth. And Turbine keeps adding onto it, too. Probably more content in that game right now than I could get out of it in a couple of years of hardcore playing.

EverQuest 2

I and all of the fortune tellers and industry analysts in the world couldn’t tell you what Daybreak has in store for the EverQuest franchise at this point (if anything). The premature demise of EverQuest Next is still rippling out across the MMO community, sending the impression that the lineage of EverQuest has come to a sad end with Landmark.

Yet there’s still EverQuest 2 and it’s still getting expansions and some dev love. This has always been one of those MMOs that I feel that, in a parallel universe, I would be totally into. It certainly checks all of the boxes of my wish list, has a vibrant playerbase, and is so packed with content at this point that it’s almost intimidating to consider playing. Which is probably why I don’t.


I’ve always seen RIFT as a “safety” MMO. If I’m disillusioned or burned out on whatever I’m playing, there’s always RIFT to go back to. Good comfort gaming: lots of features, regular updates, and that sweet, sweet soul system. I think back to the first year or two of playing this game and trigger all sorts of nostalgic love for the fun I had in the game. I never stick around long when I do go back, but I usually have a great time.

So what about you? If time wasn’t a restrictive factor, what additional games would you be playing (if anything)?


5 most immersive MMOs I’ve played to date


Game immersion is perhaps one of the most subjective and indefinable qualities when it comes to MMOs. We know in our gut when we feel more drawn into one virtual world over another, yet it might be difficult if not impossible to explain why.

So instead of fiddling around with definitions, today I want to share five MMOs out of my entire resume that were the most immersive that I’ve played — and why.

Fallen Earth

There’s no doubt that Fallen Earth is a messy title that’s perhaps a little too rough around the edges. It never broke into the big time, that’s for sure. But even so, I was so in love with this game and its breathtaking ambition to create a living, breathing post-apocalyptic world. From the black humor to the mounts that stayed put where you left them to the weird factions and the vivid sunsets over the desert, I always felt drawn into this title like no other. Plus, crafting everything you end up using made those items feel more precious.

Lord of the Rings Online

One of the reasons that I stuck with LOTRO for so long was that, unlike so many other MMOs, it felt like a cohesive world that played by a predefined set of rules instead of ones that the devs made up on the fly. I’d argue that having to fit under the umbrella of a rich IP actually helped to create a world that felt “real,” so to speak. So many times I would lose myself in traversing the lands where it wasn’t just endless packs of mobs, but civilization clashing with the wild and with evil. And I can’t discount that incredible music for drawing me in as well!

The Secret World

TSW’s brilliance is not just in its storytelling (which is magnificent) but in its meticulously crafted world that bleeds over into ours. In fact, the myriad of ways that the developers blurred the line between game and reality broke down that fictional barrier in part and allowed me to believe (or at least pretend very hard) that I was actually part of what was going on on the other side of the screen.

World of Warcraft

Maybe we’re all like this with MMOs that we’ve spent so much time in, but my previous passion for World of Warcraft and the countless hours that I poured into it took my understanding of Azeroth beyond a mere game and into a much more personal space. The little details — the sounds, the animations, the locations, the music — swirled together to form a world that was vividly immersive for years. I miss feeling that way about it, I won’t lie.

Anarchy Online

I’ll probably chalk Anarchy Online’s immersive abilities up to it being one of the first MMOs that I played, even though I felt pretty lost in it at the time. It’s “alien” nature set it apart from fantasy CRPGs and made it feel other, different, and alluring. At no point was I looking beyond the immediate details of the world to number crunch or break down mechanics, which is a sign that I was pretty content just being instead of mastering.

So those are my five. What are yours?

Pros and cons of Fallen Earth

The Hive Leader asked me on Twitter, “How IS Fallen Earth? How’s the combat and such? I’ve heard mixed things. Gonna give it a shot and wanted to know your opinion.”

I thought this warranted a post instead of a quick reply, so here goes.  As a recommendation, Fallen Earth is… complicated.  It’s one of those games that has a great deal going for it while also having a lot of rough edges.  I find that this polarizes people rather quickly; if it clicks, it’ll click hard and if it offends, it’ll turn you off fast.

Now, I love the game and played it a lot in its first year, but since then it’s been an on-again, off-again affair with me.  I want to be as honest as I can in assessing it as a recommendation, so you could read my Why I Play Fallen Earth article on Massively from a year ago to get the basics, and then come back here for a pros and cons list.

Fallen Earth pros

  • Post-apocalyptic setting — This isn’t done much in the MMO space as of yet
  • There’s a great streak of humor that runs through the game
  • A good blend of theme park and sandbox elements
  • An absolutely terrific crafting system — You can make over 90% of the game’s items just through crafting alone
  • Being able to queue up crafting recipes and seeing them run whether you’re online or offline
  • It’s free-to-play with few restrictions
  • Mature themes and elements (if that’s your bag)
  • Plenty of contemporary cues
  • Huge world that encourages exploration
  • Nice assortment of mounts, from horses to cars
  • Skill-based character system that offers a lot of build flexibility
  • Some crazy mutated creatures (prairie chickens, giant ants)
  • Six factions with strong identities
  • Gorgeous sunrises/sunsets
  • Has a “wild west” feel to it
  • Really terrific help channel and dedicated folks (including GMs) who staff it
  • Probably the largest assortment of dance emotes ever in an MMO
  • Some semblance of housing with player towns and camps (but not true housing)
  • Combat is generally quick
  • Good assortment of weapons, from shotguns to golf clubs
  • Some pretty entertaining and interesting quests
  • Physics engine makes NPCs fly back and fall down in interesting ragdoll ways

Fallen Earth cons

  • Visuals are a mixed bag — sometimes it looks a little artificial
  • It really requires a huge time investment to level, explore the zones, and craft
  • Combat isn’t terribly engaging, especially at first
  • Animations are stiff, particularly jumping and fighting
  • Free-to-play does limit crafting queues and lengthens scavenging times
  • Little in the way of fast travel
  • Inventory management can be a pain, since you have to consider both weight and spaces (hint: get a horse that can carry a lot of stuff)
  • The cosmetic wardrobe system costs money to unlock
  • Interface isn’t the best-looking or most functional I’ve ever seen
  • Your mount stays put when you dismount, so you have to keep running back to it (which, for some folks, is immersive)
  • If you don’t go off the rails and explore, you might get bored with the quests
  • Clans (guilds) seem pretty insular and I don’t see many of them recruiting openly these days
  • It’s a smaller MMO that was “rescued” by GamersFirst, so you have to consider the size of the community and GamersFirst’s style of running MMOs
  • The fonts that are used in the game world annoy me and all look alike
  • Mobs in combat sometimes “float” around you as they move into position
  • It can be glitchy at times

MMO gaming update

revSo here’s a quick round-up of what I’ve been doing in each of my four primary MMOs lately:

The Secret World

Our cabal is under a general consensus that Issue 8 will drop sometime this week, if only because Halloween is next week and, y’know, Cat God.  In the meantime, I ran the latest 5-person instance stage of the Whispering Tides event (honestly, the whole thing has felt meh and grindy, so that’s why I haven’t been talking about it).

On my own, however, I’ve been filling in the gaps that I left with my first playthrough on Yeti.  I realized that I didn’t have 100% exploration and 100% missions, and that’s a shame.  So I’m working my way back through the game methodically, using the achievement panel as my guide.  Last night I did a few Orochi quests in Egypt, which all revolved around corpses and crashed planes because, y’know, Orochi.

Lord of the Rings Online

The 100% XP boost is nice and all, but what I’m really enjoying is reconnecting with  my kick-butt Lore-master as she whizzes through Moria.  The revamp is really nice and keeps progression flowing forward, and I just love how the LM plays.  It’s a good diversion for the month before the expansion, and I kind of want to just keep playing her.  But man, there’s a long road ahead to get her to where my Captain is.

Guild Wars 2

Over the weekend I finished up my October monthlies, and I’ve tried to be diligent about doing dailies as of late.  I’m getting pretty good at figuring out prime spots to go when I need to fulfill a certain achievement.

I also finished the Halloween meta and the final instance.  It was… okay, I guess.  Story-wise, it wasn’t much of anything.  Oh, the Mad King has a son.  Oh, I have a candy corn elemental (?) that will put him back in his coffin.  Oh, that’s it.  Seriously, that’s story?

Mostly I just spend time working on my Ranger and kicking myself for not spending each play session finishing up the world exploration for my Engineer.  WvW is not a fun place to visit when you’re just trying to hit vistas and POIs.

Fallen Earth

Right now this game is vying for my attention really hard, and I’m not really doing much of anything super-interesting.  I’m in Odenville, another low-level town, sort of doing quests but mostly just harvesting and crafting.  There’s a really great field of nodes surrounding a cemetary that also has a lot of enemy NPCs to kill.  I’m just raking in the mats left and right.  I also built a new rifle to use that is a really nice improvement over the starter version.

What’s nice is that, for whatever reason, I got a month of subscription in the mail.  So that lets me harvest faster and queue up 20 crafting recipes instead of just 3 at a time.  I figure I might as well use this initial month to get a jump-start on my crafting — the quests can always wait.

Too much to play, too little time

scopeYou ever have one of those periods where the entertainment scales tip from “nothing to play” to “in my groove” to “holy crap I want to play everything right now?”  The latter is me at the moment.  There’s just so much that’s interesting me right now to where I’m almost paralyzed with indecision.

Lord of the Rings Online has captivated me with the fun that is my Lore-master.  It’s been a while since I last played her, and after getting reacquainted, it all came back to me in a flash.  The pets, the crowd control, the bizarre dual wielding.  The fact that she’s my first character who’s going through the newly streamlined Moria adds to the compulsion.  So far I’m really liking the quest flow and progression, although I am resigned to the fact that I’ll have to put her back on hold when Helm’s Deep comes out next month.

Then there’s Fallen Earth, which has quickly gone from a little experiment to see if I still have feelings for the game to a full-on obsession.  I really missed the crafting and the world, and even though everything in the game moves at a snail’s pace in the beginning, I keep wanting to log in and spend another half hour here and there.  I finally found a clan to join, which was more of an issue that it seems to be in other MMOs.  I just never see clans recruiting in the chat channels, and someone told me that they’re very insular and elitist now.  Fortunately, I think I fell in with some good folk who made a point of saying that they’re about supporting each other and putting on fun group activities.

Guild Wars 2 just dropped its Halloween patch, so that’s another big attraction.  I got some time in with it last night, did the new opening quest, and joined up with the massive zerg in the labyrinth for a kill-fest.  Man, that brings back memories of last year and it was quite relaxing to just go with the flow and enjoy the scenery.

I couldn’t wait for the tablet version, and so I picked up The Wolf Among Us last night.  Telltale Games has become one of my favorite studios after putting out The Walking Dead and Back to the Future: The Game, and I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed with this.  It’s an adventure game based on the Fables comics, and boy is it one of the best-looking games I’ve seen.  I love the comic-style art design and color choices, and the return of tough decisions that must be made quickly is welcome.  Only the first episode is out so far, so I should pace myself… but I probably won’t.

I’m also squeezing in Hearthstone matches here and there, trying to stay on top of my dailies for that precious, precious gold.

And if The Secret World drops its Issue 8 soon?  I’m going to be in serious trouble.  Thank goodness WildStar isn’t coming out this year.  I’d have to give up sleep.

Fallen Earth: A horse and a girl

horseMy recent return to the post-apocalyptic Grand Canyon of Fallen Earth has been slow-going but oddly satisfying.  I don’t craft in any other MMOs at the moment, but I can’t resist doing so in this game.  There’s something very compelling about constantly harvesting and queuing up recipes.

So my character’s name is Syppi, and she’s still in her starter town of Midway.  I’ve been taking my time to do all of the quests for the sweet AP and the free crafting books, vacuuming up mats as I go about my business.  It’s a nice re-introduction to the game, as I’ve been here before and that familiarity is triggering all of my memories of how to play.

My goal with Syppi is to eventually craft and use shotguns, although right now she’s stuck with her initial rifle and fire axe.  I did make some good progress on my transportation, however, “crafting” a racing horse to replace my old nag.  She’s faster, has a big inventory, and is full-up on stamina.  I honestly like the horses more in this game than the vehicles.  I think I might just stick with them.

I did wrap up all of the quest lines in Midway, culminating with a raid on the CoG underground bunker to mess with them a bit.  In keeping with Fallen Earth’s quirky, offbeat, and sometimes dark humor, the CoGs all worship old technology like broken fridges and cell phones.  And their leader’s name is Mother Board.

You really have to take the Fallen Earth package as a whole deal, warts and gems and all.  The combat isn’t always the most exciting (although I do like pegging enemies with head shots while they try to run up to me), the AI is sometimes laughable, and there’s a complexity here that takes some getting used to.  But dang if it’s not a really great setting with lots of funny bits, and there’s a great deal of satisfaction in being able to make all of the gear you use.

My next steps for Syppi’s journey is to take her to Odenville for a few quests as well as to work on her initial crafting.  Her gear load-out is very thin right now, and while nothing’s seriously challening her in the combat department, that time will eventually come.