Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
Recommending a MMORPG

There is currently some discussion on a list Syp compiled on what MMORPG the readers of Massively would recommend to others. The problem I have with that is that I wouldn't recommend any specific game to any specific person without knowing more about him. Has this "other" already played several MMORPGs or is he a complete newbie? What kind of game does he otherwise like? Preferably you'd make that other person do a Bartle Test and give your recommendation based on that.

I do think that not only were the number of responsed Syp got too small to be statistically significant, they also were not representative because of who was polled. A regular reader and commenter of Massively is already a lot more involved in these games than the average MMORPG player. And it appears to me that some people answered more the question of "what would you play" than "would would you recommend to somebody else".

In particular I don't think Syp's list gives good recommendation to new players. If somebody is new to the genre, he would probably be better off with a mass market game that offers a lot of hand-holding, like World of Warcraft. The Secret World which made the top of the list is already less suitable for newbies, and EVE Online on second place is probably the game you'd recommend to a newbie if you hated him and wanted him to stay well away from MMORPGs for the rest of his life.

What game would you recommend to somebody who has never played a MMORPG in his life?

Indeed, I think someone new to the genre should either go for WoW, or else for some fairly uncomplicated FTP game.
A player can be new to MMOs but he most likely has played other games before, no? I don't see how the Secret World isn't newbie friendly. It is harder than most casual games, but so what? Besides, it has a very strong storyline where the player can 'train' solo and when he's confortable, he can go into the group activities.

Also, the modern setting allows people to focus on the game mechanics better, without having sci-fi or fantasy jragon confusing things, especially for non-English speakers.
To be fair to both Massively and Syp, those are MMORPG blogs. I would assume the demographics of their readers are heavily in favor of veterans. So I can accept if these results are largely veterans making suggestions for other veterans.

To answer your question, the obvious choice is World of Warcraft. For all the complaints about the game being so easy, I think it is perfectly balanced for a true newbie who isn't decked out in heirloom gear.

Honorable mention goes to SWTOR, which has the advantage of being free. This is especially important because a true newbie might not like the genre at all, and may be more inclined to give the genre a try if there is no financial commitment involved.
Oh gosh,
Your question really struck a nerve.

I am quite certain that i would never have liked the genre in the first place if there wasn't a friend of mine already playing WoW back when i began.

I am not sure though that i would like playing the current world of warcraft, but that comes from a player whose experience was mostly with TBC and Wotlk secondly.

After that i think that the community as a whole got into a tremendous spiral of insecurity jumping from the "next best" thing to the "next best" thing, while admittedly none of what came after was indeed the ONE. Just take a look at how many games each blogger has taken part to in the last 4 years since the launch of wotlk (most provide an impressive list bragging about their "knowledge" of the genre while admitting to not finding something to cling to).

tl dr; I would recommend to a newbie to go and try out a wow private server running at 1x either vanilla or even better a tbc one, It is what ultimately was the best experience the genre had to offer for a looooooooooooong time and what everyone is talking about to this day. Then we can talk about the "official" games out there.
I wouldn't recommend any MMO unless I knew the person would enjoy playing MMO's. If I am sure a person would enjoy playing MMO's, I would recommend The Secret World.

Ergo, I would recommend The Secret World.
If someone avoided MMO this far, s/he better stay that way. No reason to sacrifice all the benefits of single-player just for a chance for getting some insults from total strangers.
I firmly believe that the 'right' answer to the question of what MMO someone should play is linked to what MMOs their friends currently play. Having a link to the world to explain some of the frustrating quirks each game is undoubtedly going to have is a big benefit.

As such, if I was recommending a friend start playing an MMO today, I would recommend they play Final Fantasy XIV because that is the game I'm currently playing.
If the person was an FPS player of any skill level and enjoys them, I'd recommend Firefall.

If the person really enjoyed the RPG stuff, I'd go with SWTOR.

If just a complete newb and I wanted to be gentle, I think the hand holding or neverwinter is great for them.
I feel like every player that is new to the genre should play World of Warcraft, if nothing else than to understand the myriad of WoW references that players make in other games. Every game gets translated into WoW terms.. something is always like an ability in wow and often gets referred to by that more often than the actual ability name. It has become the "kleenex" of the MMO world, and while when we started playing it... we referred to things in terms of EQ... that is no longer something that happens.
For a new player to MMOs, my recommendation would be SWTOR because "free". Also, a new player would probably enjoy an interesting story on their leveling journey rather than the rushing to endgame that WoW has become. After they get to level cap, you could then explain how the typical themepark MMO works and compare / contrast features.
For someone brand new to MMOs who would need hand holding?

I'd go one of two routes: either get them playing whatever I'm playing so I can help/teach them.

Or get them into a game like Wizard 101 - very newbie friendly =)
Hmmm hard question.
While WoW comes to mind, for the overall polish and newbie-friendly experience, the big stopper is the subscription. Level 20 is a joke, you need to pay (even if it's $5 for the first game with 1 month subscription inside).
So I would probably go for a F2P or semi-F2P, using either SWToR or LotRO (both of which are very wow-like), Rift maybe, but I'm less familiar with that. The problem with F2P is that they tend to push you to pay by inconvenience (limited inventory, constant "pay" nagging).

I would also have a look at the person's preferences, PC setup and sensitivity to poor graphics/character design. WoW has very cartoony design which will turn off people, SWToR characters are just plain ugly....
And I would direct a FPS/action player more towards Neverwinter (or Tera when I finally play it).

So it's not easy to answer without more data.
I'm afraid I could not recommend WoW to a newcomer, though I loved it when I was a newcomer. The reason? Outlevelling zones. The XP curve has changed over the years, so that quests become trivial too quickly. Why, Tobold, even your wife complained about it being too easy.

I would recommend Guild Wars 2 to a complete novice.

Guild Wars 2 is horrendous! I find the tutorials were not as good /non existent compared to other games and so it is great for a veteran mmorpg player but someone new to the genre wouldn't know to look for and do certain things.

The levelling is also harder than games like WoW and Rift plus it does that utter garbage where you go to fight a big mob that turns you into a crab or something with an entirely new set of abilities that you have never seen before and promptly kills you whilst you are still trying to read the tool tips!

I'm an mmorpg veteran now but I rage quit over that B's.
I really don't know what I'd recommend to a newbie. Maybe LOTRO if they like Tolkein -- I think they'd tire of it but would at least get what the game is trying to do with making a world you can play in.

Possibly EVE if they liked space stuff. Even if they didn't stick with it, they'd get a sense of scale and things being player driven.

Possibly WoW or GW2 also. WoW does have a pretty good community on the whole.
I would recommend Guild Wars 2. The biggest weakness, though, is that the tutorial is not very good. But the community is very helpful. For Guild Wars 2 counts that you don't have any griefing there. No kill steal, no node rushing... I have tested with my wife who has never played a MMO before (and is all in all very experienced). It worked beautifully :)

And Woody, I don't understand your comment about levelling. I played WoW and Rift, and levelling is much harder there (in that it takes longer).
World of Warcraft. Then again, it might just be because it was my first mmo. And actually the only one that kept me busy for more than three months...
Claudius, the leveling mobs in GW2 are far more dangerous. You die far more often. Don't take my word for it, read community threads from the launch. Players were boasting about the game being great specifically for that reason!

Plus I described the crab nonsense.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Deleted a comment suggesting that the choice of MMORPG was a function of IQ because:

A) It was clearly used as an insult.

B) People with intelligence play Card Hunter and not MMORPGs. ;)

Joking aside, I don't think any MMORPG in existence requires an IQ over 90. These are not the most intellectual of games. You'd be better off with fast reactions and an excellent memory than with a high IQ if you want to succeed in MMORPGs. And that is not the same thing.

One thing that is often said as an insult in MMORPGs is that somebody is "too stupid to get out of the fire". But psychological studies, e.g. the famous "invisible gorilla" study, prove that not getting out of the fire is a question of selective attention and unrelated to IQ. There are very few examples of actions in MMORPGs where the player actually has to think about the right course of action. Usually what to do is obvious, but getting the timing right and reacting to several things going on at the same time within fractions of a second is difficult. You can call that "skill", but not "intelligence".
I never stand in fire.

Am I skilled or intelligent?

Neither actually.

When focusing on my healing frames, especially at critical moments, I can't see the fire gorilla.

I'm not supposed to see it by nature's design.

I don't stand in fire because I cheat and use an addon that sets off a siren when fire appears beneath me.

The only reason I out heal others is because I configured healing add ons to simplify the process and put large symbols on screen when my spells are off cool down.

No gaming skill or intelligence at all.

The only skill was in using the work of someone more intelligent than me (the addon writer) to fix the deficiencies of the standard ui.
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