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Monday, September 28, 2015

Are MMO's Dead/Dying?

As I renew my subscription for The Old Republic, I remember all of the people who keep telling me how the game is failing or how it will be shut down within a few months. I look at the new expansion, Knights of the Fallen Empire, and wonder if I should continue sinking my time and money into what may or may not be the saving grace for a game that struggled when first released.
I think what needs to be said first is that an MMO takes more time and money than a regular AAA game. Destiny (yes, Destiny is an MMO no matter how much you deny it) has had a very rocky start and continuing rocky path. From the lackluster DLC to a person directly tied to the game insulting the customer/fanbase that purchased the game in the first place, its not hard to see why. I'm not dogging on Destiny, I'm just saying this is basically what happens. World of Warcraft was a massive giant back in the day. Now its dwindling. Its not a bad thing, just happens. Games loose their interest after a time. The oldest game I'm still playing since when it was released would have to be Dragon's Dogma, and even then its more of a every now and again thing.
Unlike most game genres, MMOs have their own time table. I can play Skyrim until the world freezes over but an MMO will stop eventually. No matter how popular, no matter how much money it may make, its going to end. And I mean end as in no one will be able to play it ever again. Of course, you have your exceptions like Runescape which have basically been around since the dawn of time. The horrible fact you have to realize when playing an MMO is eventually the servers will shut down. That's just facts. Companies can't keep up a server going forever. That costs time and money that could be spent on other things. Part of the horrible thing about this is how much time you've invested in the game. I've probably spent about over a thousand dollars with The Old Republic, minus the subscription fee. That's really excessive. Part of the reason I don't quit is because I've put so much time and money into the game it would be a waste to stop now. Its not something I'm proud of but its just a fact.
The Old Republic is set to release a new slew of content with Knights of the Fallen Empire. It promises a whole new addition to the current story, adding in extra items, higher level cap and all the same stuff that usually comes with an expansion. One could see this as the final death throws while others could see it as a revitalization of the game. What was a slow burn release now finally ignites and makes it's mark. The expansion releases about a month from now, so for now all I can do is wait.
To answer the previous question in the title: no, I don't believe so. No genre completely dies. Not as long as there are those who want to see it still go on.

Straddling the Line Between Annoyance and Success (Video Game Bosses)

While I didn't get to post my reviews or even thoughts about either Mad Max or The Phantom Pain because I purchased them so late, I've been playing them a lot. Aside from guns, violence, blood, cars and both based off of insanely popular series, the games themselves don't have much in common. Mad Max is more about the downfall of society when savagery is left in place of basic resources while Metal Gear is more about espionage and ridiculous yet hilarious moments.
Both games have bosses and... if I'm being honest, I have my gripes with them. Metal Gear's bosses are vibrant, really varied and seriously annoying at the worst of times. Mad Max has the same carbon copy boss for each warlord in an area. I'm sure they change it up later in the game but this is all I've seen. In the case of Max, I really have nothing to say about their bosses, which is probably bad. The worst thing you can do is fall into obscurity. You're not the best so you'll never be praised and gain the recognition and possibly money to go along with it. While being the worst, is bad, you still get some notoriety or at the very least infamy and end up as some GameGrumps or other Youtuber's butt of a joke. While Max is a great game, the bosses win no awards. Apart from a different color scheme, the first three bosses I've killed look and fight the same way. The only difference is their 'personality', a term I use loosely since its more or less a few lines of dialogue here and there.
On the other hand you have The Phantom Pain, who's bosses are insane to say the least. The Parasites, Quiet's sniper duel, Metal Gear Sahelanthropus, the Man on Fire. Each boss is difficult in its own right and defeated in it's own way with it's own backstory, fleshed out characterization and difficulty. But the problem with some of these enemies is, while memorable, are kind of annoying. The Parasites follow you relentlessly and soak up bullets like there's no tomorrow, not to mention having the ability to regenerate their health as well as the fact that there's never only one. Quiet's duel is considered boring by most people since you can easily find her and as long as you have a sniper or long ranged weapon, she's easy as sin. The Man on Fire and Sahelanthropus are bullet sponges that have to be killed in their own unique ways. (SPOILERS) When you actually have to straight up and kill the Metal Gear, the fight itself is probably the most annoying thing for me. This relentless twelve story mech just stalks you and does its best to kill you with its limitless arsenal. If you do manage to get it down to less than half it's health, it breaks out it's instant kill move. I died at least five times that fight.
While Max had the easier bosses, Metal Gear had the most satisfying. Being stalked by the Man on Fire was tense and heart pounding. I had to search around my terrain to get him in a place where there was water. Blast him into it or just make water fall onto him rather than firing off every bullet in your arsenal. Each time I defeated a boss it felt complete. Of course, most times the boss got up again in a later chapter and was even more annoying than before. The feeling of tackling something really challenging and over passing it is a feat unto itself.
I think the best example of this would be any game from From Software, from Demon's Souls all the way to Bloodborne. Each of the bosses was well crafted to be as difficult as possible. You had to tackle challenges that didn't equate to any other boss and each one was weak to its own thing. One minute you could be fighting a lumbering, lazy giant who's powerful swings were a death sentence. Next, you could face off against a duo or trio of enemies that challenged where you kept your mind not only on your terrain but on surprise attacks. The enemies would kill you easily but ending them was a triumph in itself. To conquer a great challenge with the feeling in the back of your mind that there is always another, more powerful enemy just over the bridge.
In the end, I think what it really comes down to is a personal standpoint. Every 'Souls' game I play is met with challenging difficulty that needs to be overcome by my skill. While Borderlands is more about timing and having the right weapons. Or maybe an MMO which challenges you and your party to use their skills and items sparingly and work as a team in order to grasp victory with that last sliver of health.