So have things changed much since I last visited? I can't say for sure, being that the last time was sort of a blur of gripey FPSers who did little more than yell at me and shoot me in the face. I had fun with some of it back then, according to the article, but I'll be honest and say that I did not expect to have as much fun as I did in this third visit. If there was ever a doubt about the importance of revisiting titles from the past, it's long gone.
"After all, Face of Mankind inspires the same passion and style of play that EVE Online does. These are hardcore players."
They achieved these riches by organizing group crafting and gathering missions. Over the chat would come a call to "join the group!" and we'd all link up, teleport to a planet, and start mining and crafting items to sell and to use in battle. It was a bit frightening to see such dedication and passion and eye toward detail. It showed me that video games might be a waste of time for some people and an unhealthy obsession for others, but for most players, it is simply an intense hobby. I was brought along with other new players and shown how to build medkits, how to spread out in a fight so as to avoid shooting my mates, and how to recognize an enemy. I gave into it, something I have been trying to do for a while and something I tried to do last time. (If not for the last article, I would have never remembered.) The truth is that I really miss playing with other people. I just don't stay in one place long enough to join up with people anymore, something that is the opposite of what I believe we should do in an MMO.
Perhaps I had a bit of an Oprah moment -- Oprah with a bazooka, that is -- when I found myself really enjoying fighting alongside a group of players who all shared a common goal. One night earlier in the week, I found myself logging into the middle of a galactic political showdown. I'm not exactly clear on all of the details, and frankly many of them would make absolutely no sense to non-fans anyway, but essentially, the law enforcement faction in the game was accused of corruption. Lines were drawn; mercenaries were hired. For two days, they fought it out, and I lucked out to be part of it.
"We knew they were coming, so suddenly the leaders told us to "Form a line! Right here!" So we did."
Suddenly the teleporters lit up, and my PC froze for a split second as though it couldn't handle the onslaught, but the next moment a line of enemies covered my screen. "Back up when they hit!" someone yelled. I fired a few rounds and hit a few enemies, then moved backward. Soon the entire room was a claustrophobic frenzy of gun blasts. "Spread out!" I heard again. I did what I was told, or tried to, and it even appeared I did some damage.
After the fight was over, someone noted that I killed (or helped kill) 12 enemies. I have no idea whether I did or not, but I felt proud. I was also beaming from ear to ear. I'd not had that much fun in an MMO in quite a while. That's when I knew that a game like Face of Mankind, even with its older graphics engine and intense bursts of combat followed by hours and hours of crafting, was a perfect example of why I love my job. It defines what an MMO is, something that we MMO fans need during these days of press releases that make you ask, "So, does anyone know whether this is an MMO or not?" Don't get me wrong; I am a fan of social gaming, FarmVille, Amazing Alex, and all sorts of oddness, but I rely on the persistence of the persistent nature of MMOs. Not only that, but I got into this field because I love playing with other people, joining up with them in groups, and helping each other out.
So if you like intense combat between more common moments of crafting or scouting for enemies, Face of Mankind is a good game to play. You'll find some of that trollish, saucy language, and the developers don't seem to want to do anything about it, but a good faction will soon filter a lot of that out. Sure, I was babied a bit during my visit, but I saw how other people were treated. We all stood on the line together, and we all charged the enemy together. It was pretty damn cool. Face of Mankind still surprises me. Each time I play it, the game gets better and better.
Next week I will be taking another revisit to Allods Online. It came in second in my Choose My Adventure poll, but as with Face of Mankind, I would like to go back and really take a hard look at the game. I'll be streaming it live on Monday, the 6th of August, at 5:00 p.m. EDT, right here on our Twitch.tv channel! Join me in the chat room or during the week in game.
Each week on Rise and Shiny, Beau chooses a different free-to-play, indie, or browser-based game and jumps in head-first. It might be amazing or it might be a dud, but either way, he'll deliver his new-player impressions to you. Drop him an email, comment, or tweet!