As I continue to fumble my way around Eye of the North in Guild Wars — as anyone who watched my stream this weekend can attest to — I’m realizing it’s not not only hard to come back to a game you played extensively and then quit, but it’s even harder to get into a game you never really played.
When Riders of Rohan releases, I’ll check it out — well, once I’ve had my fill of Guild Wars 2, that is, which releases a week before — and once I get to level 85, I’ll probably take another look at max-level instances and raids. Even if I took two or three years off from LOTRO, and had to adjust to whatever changes had been made in that time, I’d still have five years of experience to draw from and a pretty solid idea of how to play my character in top-end content, so I could probably adjust to whatever the game throws at me pretty easily.
I never had that experience in Guild Wars, so even though I can label myself as a “returning player,” I’m really more nooblike in my tendencies. Seeing my playing companion for the evening, Soy Oil, whip out his six heroes with specific builds for the area we were going to made me realize I’ve got a long ways to go before I can consider myself an actual “veteran.” And, truthfully, I’ll probably never get there.
With so many games going free-to-play these days, or doing whatever else they can to lure in new players, it makes me wonder how many people are actually willing to jump into an older game and stick with it when others have such a significant advantage on them in experience, gear, and general know-how about how the game is played. Maybe it’s because I’m more a sampler than a hardcore go-getter, but I can’t think of any game that I’ve started up in — or returned to after giving it a brief try — well after its launch where I’ve driven to max level and become even a remotely competent endgame player. I might dabble, wander around a bit, look at the pretty sights and kill a monster or three, but I’ve never gotten “serious” about such a game and don’t know that I ever will. I’d rather be there from the start, with everyone else on an equal footing, than feel like I have to play catch-up from day one.
Maybe that’s OK. Obviously, games are supposed to be fun and not “serious,” but there’s something about an MMO that makes you want to reach for the pinnacle. If you figure you can’t get there, or that you’ll have to grind for weeks or months — mostly alone, because everyone else has higher-level characters — just to get to the point where you’re semi-competent, how can that be fun? It’s not the same as when a game is new, and most people are less than semi-competent, so your shortcomings can be looked over (“We’re all learning”). Once, I even vowed not to try a new MMO unless I had a friend to adventure with who would take away some of the boredom, make it faster and easier to progress, and not make me look so bad. That was around 2009. So yeah.
Has this ever worked out for anyone else? Have you ever gotten into a game — really gotten into a game — well after it was released? Or are you more like me, in that you tend to look around, smell the flowers, and then decide you’d rather go back to the game where you’re already an ass-kicker instead of having to claw your way up from ground zero? Heck, maybe that’s why people keep going back to World of Warcraft: not necessarily because it’s better, but because when you’ve already climbed one mountain, it takes a lot of energy to want to climb another, especially when there are so many people at the top already.