MMOs and exploring

Massively OP had a post recently to ask about what MMO gets you exploring. I have written posts on exploration in MMORPGs before but nothing touching that topic recently, that got me thinking. It appears I’ve shifted towards the ‘achiever’ end of the spectrum quite a lot at some point since I was playing Rift and Vanguard.

Exploration as a playstyle tends, in my mind, to be a solo activity – think of the fantasy stereotype of the wilderness ranger blazing new trails or watching the forests for new threats. In older games that I mostly played solo I would often allow myself to get distracted, if I saw an unusual tower on the horizon I’d put questing on pause and go find the entrance!

I used to play Everquest 2 in this manner to an extent, I’d start a zone and then just wander around finding quests, gathering materials and doing other activities as I came across them. The knock-on effect of having a heroic character and wanting to reach the cap has been a much stronger focus on level progression, which ultimately turned me off the game somewhat as it seemed to actively resist me levelling at a decent pace without following some narrow, prescribed path such as chrono-mentored dungeon-grinding.

I was playing FFXIV this way, following the main scenario quests sure but also doing a lot of wandering around following FATEs or looking at zone features – several times I’ve had to binge on main scenario quests to catch them up with my character level because I was too busy doing other random stuff. We’re focused now in this game on leveling to the cap because of the expansion so I’m not likely to do as much exploring for a while. But the game seems to offer plenty for level capped characters to do in old zones (hunts and FATEs offer something for level 50s too) so there’ll be time enough to revisit what I’ve missed.

As for solo gaming sessions I’ll need to rethink what I’m doing. I don’t want to be solely focused on progression in two MMOs in parallel, that’s a recipe for burn-out. So I may have to go back to EQ2 with a different view on why I’m playing that game, just getting to cap ASAP to join the masses is less important to me in that game. If I’m going to do endgame in any game, it might as well be in FFXIV with my husband’s character beside me. So hopefully I’ll find my ‘exploration’ groove again in Norrath, it’s certainly a big enough world to get lost in and that’s a good thing!

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2 Responses to MMOs and exploring

  1. tsuhelm says:

    To boldly go where noone has gone before…
    er..well, lots have gone before…
    To boldly go where none of my characters have gone before
    er well… maybe some of them have…
    To boldly go where I have been before in the hope of finding something new…
    er well…
    To boldly go and do ‘something’ and have a modicum of fun in the process?
    I explore MMO’s to find fun and most days I do not even know what that is! But of late that has pushed 1 char nearer and nearer to level cap, I wonder what I will find there?
    It will not stop me go back to earlier zones with the same char or other chars …I want to see it all one day…

  2. bhagpuss says:

    My experience mirrors yours. When games designers keep adding achiever hooks it becomes harder and harder not to get caught by them. Yesterday, though, I spent most of the day exploring Orr for no reason and today, although I went to Iron Marches because it was in the Dailies, I stayed there for a couple of hours just wandering around taking screenshots and looking at the view. I felt much more satisfied after both of those sessions than I usually do. I need to get back to exploring for the pure sake of it, not fitting a bit in here and there around achieving.

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