Last played: 2011
I don’t think anyone’s ever actually asked me what the worst MMO I ever played was. If they did, I might answer Gods & Heroes. Or maybe I’m so very down on it because of my rather unique perspective on its development.
While working for Beckett, we would sometimes do 12-16 page inserts in the magazine. These strategy guides were a kind of advertorial, and we often did them around a game’s or expansion’s launch. So when we contracted with Heatwave Interactive to do one for G&H – a game that had been passed around multiple times and that had that pseudo-historical flavor that I love – I was honestly excited.
That lasted until I had the chance to actually play it. Sure, it was beta, but it was also just two months before the announced launch. And holy hell, was it not ready. Not by a long shot.
Typical stuff you expect to be broken in beta, like animations and quests, were an issue, but even if all that had worked properly, the game just wasn’t fun. At all. Early questing was typical MMO fare, but it’s like the game tried to paint it as something epic, with you encountering a god and realizing he/she was your parent. And look! Rome! Or what passes for it in this world! So majestic, so amazing, so… empty. So dull.
On its third host, it was clearly rushed and played like a game from 2005, when it had first been announced. So it had probably been in on-and-off development for eight years. It needed eight more.
The production of the strategy guide was also a clusterfuck, which soured me even further. Heatwave’s marketing director was let go midway through the process, just weeks before the game’s launch (WTF?), and I was passed around to a couple of community people who were probably far more busy with other things than to care about our silly little guide. Honestly, I don’t think anyone, myself included, put our best effort forth into that project. It’s something I’m still embarrassed about to this day.
The game’s one semi-interesting thing was that you could own your own (instanced) estate where you could raise buildings that would provide you with NPCs who did various stuff for you. It was a little like enhanced personal housing, but as I only progressed to something like level 8, I didn’t get to see much of it. Like the rest of the game (I heard max-level endgame was pretty much non-existant, too), I’m fairly sure it wasn’t everything it was made out to be.
I won’t often say that an MMO was so bad it deserved to die, but Gods & Heroes definitely fits that bill. Both of those community people I worked with (whom I won’t name) are still working for major companies in the gaming industry, so I like to think that everyone at Heatwave knew what a mess it was and prepared well for the inevitable.