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Why I Play

Why I Play: ArcheAge

Fantasy, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Why I Play

Addicted may be too strong a word when talking about my relationship to ArcheAge... but not by much! Have I logged in every day since the early access? Do I look forward to logging in? Have I said, "I'll go to bed right after I plant a couple more things" only to find more hours have slipped by before I finally do sleep? Do I get excited about the next trade run? Have I set alarms to wake up to try and nab a prime piece of land? Have I had dreams about ArcheAge when I sleep?

The answer to all of these is yes.

ArcheAge may not have everything I have ever wanted in a game (entertainment classes should be a requirement), but it checks more than a few of my boxes. I haven't had this much fun throwing myself into a game in a very long time. I look forward to each play session, and I tend to spend hours in game each day enjoying whatever I happen to be doing, be it sailing, trade runs, sneaking into enemy territory, or even just staring at my plants waiting for them to grow.

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Why I Play: Star Trek Online

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Lore, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Why I Play, Subscription

The nacelles are different, but it feels right.
I always feel like explaining my desire to play Star Trek Online can be summed up quite simply with eight words. "Space -- the final frontier. These are the voyages..."

It sounds corny, but it's true. My various natterings on the site have covered a lot of settings for which I have no real affection, but Star Trek is different. It's been a fixed point for me since I was around seven years old. It's a setting I have an immense fondness for, something I've been invested in for most of my life. Really, the thing that amazes me is that I manage to take time away from Star Trek Online.

But loving the name on the box would only take me so far if the game were a big steaming pile. Every time I go back to the game, even though I have complaints here and there, I fall back in love with the game as a whole all over again. It's not perfect, but it's amazingly well-done.

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Why I Play: Neverwinter

Fantasy, Video, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, Why I Play, Neverwinter, Player-Generated Content

Neverwinter screenshot
I have to say that for all of my yapping about needing to play MMOs that allow me to freely roam and to explore a virtual world and live a virtual life, I sure am a fan of linear themeparks. Who isn't? In fact, show me someone who now claims to be the enemy of all things themed, and I'll show you someone who at some point enjoyed the benefits of a good themepark, most likely World of Warcraft. I'm not sure why there's any shame in admitting that one enjoys a good romp through a virtual storybook, but I sure do. In fact, I often depend on it in order to get me over lazy sandbox slumps.

Neverwinter is one of my favorite themeparks out there. There are quite a few reasons it works so well, many of them obvious. I'd like also to point out some of the reasons Neverwinter might work so well for certain types of players.

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Why I Play: Defiance

Screenshots, Culture, Game Mechanics, PvP, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Casual, MMOFPS, Humor, Sandbox, Why I Play, Defiance, Buy-to-Play

Defiance screenshot
As I did with RIFT when it was announced, sent to beta, and released, I gave Defiance a bit of a hard time. Sure, I dug the shooter aspect of it, but its attachment to the television show and (what I took as) promises of interactions between both the game and show had me giving the game the side-eye. Yeah right, I thought, this will be some sort of "revolutionary" game. Well, I was half right. That means I was also half wrong.

The game is not really revolutionary in many ways, but it does do many things that have never been done before. The more I play it, the more I see that the game developers and producers of the show sold the entire thing the wrong way from the start, but "the show will grow on ya, don't worry" would not make for a good tagline, and "the game is damn fun and does away with all of that level-based stuff that plagues RIFT" would probably not look too great on the game's website.

Either way, I'm glad I've stuck with the game and the show. The game, especially, has provided me with hours of entertainment. In order to illustrate how I enjoy the game, I think it would be easiest to detail a typical evening of play.

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Why I Play: Final Fantasy XIV

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Lore, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Why I Play, Subscription

Now fall.
I hate two kinds of MMO: themeparks and sandboxes.

Much like "nerf," these are two terms that have been beaten into the ground until they no longer have any intrinsic meaning. The original "themepark" game was freaking EverQuest, which is not what anyone thinks of when he uses the term in a more modern sense. There's more concern given to whether or not a game fits into a given category than whether or not it's actually fun to play.

And that is a bad thing. Sure, your sandbox features a great housing system, but so does The Sims 3, and the latter doesn't abandon me in a featureless wasteland that eschews actual content in favor of letting me choose my final destination (here's a hint: All those destinations are grinding). Yes, Mr. Themepark, I see you chuckling in the background, but your single leveling path followed by the exact same huge-group gear-grabbing jamboree is not better, just annoying in a different way.

That's why I play Final Fantasy XIV. But I should probably elaborate a bit on that.

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Why I Play: RIFT

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, RIFT, Why I Play

Why I play RIFT
I've heard the common complaints. Heck, I've been the one issuing them from time to time. RIFT is too much like World of Warcraft. Its story often feels bland. Its 50-to-60 journey takes just this side of forever. Its cities are more like "one building and a couple of adjoining huts." Its dynamic content never lived up to its potential as the core feature of the game. Its races are some of the most generic in the MMO industry.

And yet I play it. I love it, in fact; I have ever since I first tried it in beta. The sign of a worthy game to me is not perfection (as that does not exist outside of the deluded hopes of fans anticipating the next big title) but a game that succeeds despite its flaws. For every flaw RIFT has, I could name two ways that it's done a great job in entertaining players, pulling together the community, and treating consumers with respect.

Free-to-play has caused a lot of folks to check out RIFT, some of them for the first time. Others who used to play are now returning because the subscription barrier is no more. So why do I play RIFT? Let me give you 20 reasons.

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Why I Play: PlanetSide 2

Sci-Fi, Screenshots, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, PvP, Opinion, War, Free-to-Play, Casual, MMOFPS, PlanetSide 2, Why I Play, Subscription

PlanetSide 2 screenshot
I was this close to saving myself a lot of time by finishing this article with only a few simple words: Why do I play PlanetSide 2? Because it's fun. I'm pretty sure my boss would want me to expand on it just a bit, however, but let me drive those three words home: Because it's fun. I think we are all familiar with the word "fun," but it's something that we really don't hear enough about in MMOs. I don't think we play MMOs mainly because they're fun; I think we play them because they pull out other emotions in us, emotions like wonder or awe. They might help fill in social needs that are sometimes hard to fill out in real life. These are all positive and worthy reactions, but they're different from sheer fun.

I have oodles of fun in PlanetSide 2. Gobs of it. Barrels of fun. The fun is powerful in this one. You get the point. PlanetSide 2 actually makes me laugh to myself, makes me yell at the screen -- you know, those noises you hear from someone who is having a blast. Of course, there are a few other reasons I play PlanetSide 2 as well, so I'll fill you in on those.

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Why I Play: Villagers and Heroes

Fantasy, Screenshots, Video, Classes, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Kids, Family, Livestream, Sandbox, Why I Play, Housing

Villagers and Heroes screenshots
Villagers and Heroes, formerly called A Mystical Land, surprised me. I had gone several weeks if not a few months without logging in to the game for longer than a half an hour, so you can imagine my surprise when I realized that the game not only had been improved but had added systems that I thought it never would. In other words, the game was suddenly a world, a fully realized browser-based MMORPG. Despite my feeling that the game was going to languish in state of semi-completion, suddenly it had housing, more crafting, a better UI, and a fully stocked cash shop.

I've streamed the game before, but now I find myself logging in a lot more than ever. And now, after hosting a livestream with associate designer Cameron England (embedded after the cut), I'm really having fun with the game and have noticed that it offers a lot more than games that are much more well-known.

This is why I play Villagers and Heroes.

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Why I Play: Clone Wars Adventures

Puzzle, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvP, Reviews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, MMORTS, Hands-On (Massively's), Kids, Family, Clone Wars Adventures, Why I Play

Clone Wars Adventures - Dueling Shaak Ti
I'm Jef, and I love Star Wars. This is the part where the rest of you addicts chime in with "hi Jef," before we go about trying to cure ourselves of a life-long obsession. Except we're not going to do that today, are we? In fact, I'm going to dangle another death stick that you may not have considered as of yet.

It's called Clone Wars Adventures.

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Why I Play: Star Wars: The Old Republic

Sci-Fi, Video, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Humor, Hands-On (Massively's), Star Wars: The Old Republic, Why I Play

Why I Play Star Wars The Old Republic
Star Wars is awesome, and Massively's Dylan is here to tell you why. He's a member of Massively's Stream Team, which produces live coverage of MMO titles every week with commentary and special features. So you won't be surprised to find out that this is an unconventional edition of Why I Play in that it's actually a livestream-style video rather than an article. Have a look and listen after the cut!

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Why I play: Lord of the Rings Online

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Lord of the Rings Online, Guilds, Professions, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Crafting, Why I Play

LOTRO Falathlorn House
A year ago I came to Massively as an odd-man-out of sorts. I had very little experience with MMOs, but for the previous two years I had podcasted and blogged about Star Trek Online. That being my only experience with the genre, I had very little interest in (read: I was fearful of) trying any other game. Trying another game meant that I was leaving my comfort zone and also, maybe, risking the perception that I was being disloyal to the game that gave me so much enjoyment.

However, a new friend and co-worker, Justin Olivetti, changed my mind. Because of him and his great The Road to Mordor columns here at Massively I decided to take the plunge and give Lord of the Rings Online a try. So in June of last year I took the plunge and I have found myself smitten by yet another MMO based on a powerhouse franchise that I adore.

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Why I Play: EVE Online

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Opinion, Sandbox, Why I Play

EVE Online
When I was a child, I was obsessed with space. In elementary school, I'd spend my library time reading books with titles like "The Moon" or "Space for Kids." It wasn't so much that I planned to be an astronaut (poor eyesight and math incompetency quickly blocked this ambition) but that I wanted to know what was out there, among the stars and moons and planets. "It can't," I reasoned as a very precocious second-grader, "be empty."

Unfortunately, I never did make it to space. I haven't walked on the moon, flown a starship, or engaged in a series of humiliating and challenging physical conditioning challenges (oh, The Right Stuff, how I love thee). What I did do, however, was discover EVE Online.

It's sort of the next best thing. And here's why.

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Why I Play: The Secret World

Horror, Sci-Fi, Opinion, The Secret World, Why I Play

Why I Play The Secret World
I grit my teeth and issue a soft sound of anguish as my character dies yet again. I corpse run back, revive, and carefully plan my next approach. I dart in, tag an enemy cultist, and then pull him out of the path of his patrolling friends. I know I can take one at a time, but more than that will end me. I've found that out through bloody and bruised experience.

The fight is tough; it takes me a good half-minute to put him down. The quest counter inches forward, mocking me with the fact that I'm still just on the first part of a six-tier mission. And I've been doing it for 45 minutes now.

I focus. I triumph. The next stage has me figuring out a code and then attempting to open a door while mummies burst from sarcophagi all around me. I blow every cooldown I have and invent a few more tricks to survive. The door opens. I step through. There before me is a giant monster from the pit of hell watching me with blood-red eyes. I'm nervous because if I fail here, I have to do the last stage all over again. I mutter a curse at Funcom's developers and then run in screaming.

And I'm loving every minute of it.

This is The Secret World, the title that bowled me over to become one of my all-time favorite MMOs. Despite plenty of noticeable flaws, its daring approach to a stuck-in-the-mud industry more than compensates for that. This is why I play it.

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Why I Play: DC Universe Online

Super-hero, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Reviews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Hands-On (Massively's), DC Universe Online, Why I Play

Why I Play DC Universe Online
Batman.

He's why I initially played DC Universe Online. He's why I bought the collector's edition pre-launch, and he's generally why I got worked up into a sweaty lather of fanboy expectation that couldn't possibly be met by an MMO with a finite budget.

A couple of years on, I've rediscovered DCUO, and now the reason I play it (a lot) boils down to three letters: SOE.

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Why I Play: The Secret World

Fantasy, Horror, Opinion, The Secret World, Why I Play

Why I Play The Secret World
I'll be the first to admit that I've been one of The Secret World's biggest fanboys ever since Funcom first announced its horror-flavored entry to the MMO space. I spent many a conversation extolling the game's many virtues to my gaming friends. "It's like real life if the universe were written by horror authors," I enthused, rambling on and on about the innovative investigation missions, the unique skill wheel progression system, the fresh modern-day setting, and so on and so forth. Then finally the fateful day came that TSW went live, and I loved it... for a while. But for some reason, it just didn't click, and so TSW sat unloved, guilt-inducingly staring at me from my desktop.

Last week, I finally gave into the guilt and hopped back into the game. I had kept my subscription running, as I knew that even if I wasn't actively playing, I still wanted to support Funcom's endeavors with what I felt was a remarkably refreshing entry into the stagnant MMO marketplace. Last I left my Illuminati agent Rouage, he had hit something of a brick wall in Blue Mountain thanks to a very short-sighted and subpar character build. I figured I'd probably be replaying Kingsmouth and/or Savage Coast just to get the AP to rectify my build anyway, so I scrapped him and started from the beginning. This time, it clicked. So here I am to tell you why it clicked, and of course, why I play The Secret World.

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