50 MMOs in 50 Days #34: Pandora Saga

Last played: 2011
Experience: Very Minimal

Pandora Saga was yet another free-to-play MMO imported from Korea, this one by Atlus, that was simply thrown against the wall to see if it would stick in North America. It didn’t.

I played it for a few days for a bit I was going to write about it in Massive Online Gamer, and, despite its predictably grindy nature, it did two things that still stick out to me to this day. Maybe that’s because Atlus’ PR rep was a guy named Aram Jabbari (not to be confused with ARAM), who now works for Sony, and was the most batshit insane (in a good way) PR rep I’ve ever dealt with. Here’s to you, Aram, you crazy SOB.

Pandora Saga was the first MMO I ever saw that auto-pathed players to content – I think. As I think about it, I can’t remember if it walked you to the next quest automatically, by virtue of your simply clicking on it in your log, or if it just lit up the path along the ground for you, but you still had to WASD your way there. Either way, it was a bit of a /shrug moment for me. I don’t quite feel like I want to condemn the game for trying to be even more casual and hand-hold-y than most – if other games didn’t take that route, we’d all be playing EVE – but maybe this was taking it a little too far. Just a smidge.

Pandora SagaThe other odd thing about Pandora Saga was that it put you in a “starter guild” right from level one. You could leave the guild at any time and form/join another guild as usual, but it was a way to match you up with a circle of prospective friends right from the get-go.

It’s a neat idea, and while I don’t know that the implementation was the best, I like the idea of MMOs trying to get you to socialize more. Some games do that by tossing dynamic events at you in the hope that you’ll form friendships that way, while others assign you to a faction and hope that you’ll identify enough with them to fight “for the Horde!” Anything that can be done to make MMOs friendlier – though not necessarily simpler, as the other Pandora Saga feature did – is OK in my book.

Oh, and one of the playable races was “vampire.” Maybe they should have called it Pandering Saga.

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