Evolution of MMOs: The End of the Line?

By Kei Beneza (Dividelife), Onrpg writer

This article was originally published in Thirteen1 Gaming Magazine, read the July Issue here!

Due to the rate of subscribers, it would seem that MMO games are more popular than ever before.

The age of offline gaming is over!

It’s time to kiss our offline games goodbye as most games now cater their own version of online play, and those who cater it as their primary feature are being bombarded with tons of players worldwide.

We can’t deny how much MMOs have evolved throughout the years, while trying to cater more features to attract gamers with their own unique gameplay. During the old days, MMOs would use the isometric bird’s eye view system, which doesn’t help much when trying to explore the game’s respective areas. Exploration has always been a treat and has been constantly improved throughout the years.

As new games started to surface, more ways of exploration became possible. What was once a fixed camera angle can now be tweaked to fit your desired view-mode, allowing players to build their own relationship with their surroundings. It is much easier to immerse yourself in a game that lets you see the world with your own eyes (not some bird’s). The areas became more and more lively as more themed worlds came to life. What was once just castle blocks and forests have finally evolved into a more diverse variety. Whenever I compare my first MMORPG (Ragnarok) with World of Warcraft, I can’t help but marvel at how much has changed since then.

Ragnarok Online

Entering newly themed areas as the game progresses does remove the odd feeling of linearity, as well as the horrors of visual exhaustion (getting tired of what you see). It was as though I was really living in a different world. A world that lives and breathes just like in real life. Aside from the sudden change of aesthetics, more and more areas like sunken ships and floating areas were featured, giving players more places to explore and more secret areas to discover. It is quite impressive how MMOs managed to take Role Playing Games this far, for what was once a linear set of blocks and leaves have now been issued with diversity (awesome sauce).

Bring out teh 1337 S3xYz0r5!

Other than gameplay matters, other features have also been extended to reach out to a broader line of consumers. New elements like violence and sexual fanservice have been quite successful in luring a wider variety of gamers (awesome). Mature gamers would normally dismiss cutesy characters as childish and would normally not even mind them. This results to the tightly-dressed-overexposed characters that flood our gaming world. It is pretty obvious that cutesy characters no longer appeal to us like before. After seeing countless ‘mature-rated’ games like Gears of War and Resident Evil, I could say that we are currently living in an age where saving the princess is no longer fun. MMOs of course, refuses to succumb to that benchmark thus giving birth to skimpy violent games like Requiem: Bloodymare. It’s safe to say that MMO games are continuing to evolve even as we speak, with more features and themes that are more or less appropriate for our current gaming meta.

Requiem BloodyMare

Refusing to succumb to their limits

Soon after the successful implementation of this new genre of gaming, non-RPG type MMOs joined the crusade. Massively Multiplayer Online doesn’t generally mean Diablo-type RPGs, nor does the word limit them from creating other types of MMOs. Since these games are stereotypically just RPGs with a persistent map, other games like War Rock and Special Forces entered the scene. Once again, Massively Multiplayer Online games managed to push through with yet another genre by mixing the elements of the much enjoyed FPS (First Person Shooter) gameplay with the awesome factor of getting to interact with other players online. A breakthrough? Perhaps. Innovation aside, there are tons of ways for an MMO to evolve. Not to mention the other genres that they can mold into as time progresses. Getting to see something that resembled Counterstrike with MMO features did feel pretty awkward, especially since most of the mandatory features come after leveling up. Although just like any other MMO, the game got me hooked for hours.

War Rock

And it doesn’t end there

Things were getting unconventional, and the only thing that kept me alive was my Ragnarok guild. It was kind of funny since we practically enjoyed the repetitive cycle of having to buy potions and wasting them on mindless grinding. Hoping for something to alleviate our ceaseless grinding, we traversed across countless MMOs and eventually found what we were looking for. Being a fan of Pen and Paper RPGs, I was still disappointed at how they managed to exercise this genre. Luckily, some MMOs managed to cease the killing spree by adding quests. Quests basically immerse you deeper into the storyline as you satisfy conditions to unlock more details about the lore. In my opinion, questing is one of the best features the MMO world has to offer, since it literally removes the linearity of grinding without a purpose (It’s always nice to know that you’re killing things for something other than experience). We don’t know for sure what to expect as these games drastically change from one point to another. Will MMOs one day be obsolete? Exactly how far will this genre of gaming reach? Will there be any way to immerse a gamer deeper into the heart of the lore? Only time will tell.

As it is and as it should be

Playing on a PC or console may very well be the most practical way of playing games. If you were to play MMOs on the Nintendo Wii then the chances of you enjoying your games for more than an hour would be close to none, especially when doing dungeons since the Wii’s innovative features are exercised through body movement. If you ask me, one raid would probably cause you to sleep for a week due to exhaustion.


If you have time, I suggest you watch the dot//hack series. The anime did point out a couple of possibilities on how far these games can improve over time. After seeing today’s innovative hardware, the idea of a virtual helmet that takes you to an alternate dimension doesn’t seem to be that far off. If ever these benchmarks can be sufficed, then I suppose we’re on our way to having the biggest adventure of our lives. Grasping virtual objects while swinging them with your own conscious body would definitely be a breakthrough in MMO history. We’ve seen FPSes, Tactical shooters, and other genres work for today’s multiplayer meta. From the isometric birds-eye-view to the now freeformed viewer, it does seem possible to see these areas with our own eyes. The question is…

“Is this the end of the line?”

No… The archetype has been made, and these games will continue to move forward.

About Thirteen1 – The Online Games Magazine

Thirteen1 is an independent, online based, professionally made free-to-read games magazine created in East Yorkshire, UK. Each new issue is released on the 13th of every month at 13.00 GMT. Thirteen1 have published 15 issues to date, as well as 2 supplements, covering a wide variety of titles from multiple-platforms.

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