Strapped for Time? How MMO Games are Catering to Quick Gameplay

By Jeff Francis
How mmos are catering to quick gameplay

The speed with which people interact with the world has increased dramatically over the last century. Where once people rode horses, they now zoom around in cars. Waiting all week for a favorite TV show to come on the air has been replaced with binge watching through online streaming. This same change of pace from slow to fast has also occurred in the virtual worlds of online gaming. Players want to jump into the action quickly, and developers have been quite willing to accommodate such desires. It's time to grab a fast pass, skip the line, and discuss how quick mmo gameplay features are now prevalent.

In ye olden times of ten to twenty years ago, mmo features actually catered to time-consuming exploration, travel, and adventures. Players had to plod across the virtual landscape, moving from zone to zone, to reach their final objective. Getting a mount was the highest form of transportation and was the pinnacle of quick mmo gameplay. Being able to take a wyvern from one point in World of Warcraft to another seemed to be the height of luxury and speed back then, but things have changed dramatically since that time. Players no longer have the time, or inclination, to spend a ton of time simply getting from Point A to Point B. The same goes with delving into a dungeon or going on some other adventure. Players want to log in and then start doing something fun within a minute or two. Thus, mmo features have evolved to satisfy this need for speed.

Guild Wars 2 waypoint

The most obvious form of quick mmo gameplay is the use of fast travel. Players can now travel instantaneously from point to point in online games. The best example of this is Guild Wars 2 with their waypoint system, allowing players to travel not only to different zones, but to different locations within those zones. Such a mode of transport is great when you hear that a dragon timer is hitting zero and one of the named dragons is ready to show up for battle. Instead of spending thirty minutes or more to get to a place located two to three zones away, you can just open up your world map and select a waypoint (after paying a fee). Marvel Heroes 2016 also uses a waypoint system to get players into the thick of the action right away.

Another facet of mmo features that now cater to quick mmo gameplay is instant queues. I remember having to physically travel in an mmorpg to queue up for a battlefield skirmish. There were times that it felt that I spent more time traveling to the location than I actually did fighting. Now a player can open up a menu, select a queue to enter from a list, and then be instantly transported to the action. A great example of this mmo gameplay feature can be found in Neverwinter, where a player can join skirmishes, dungeons, PvP matches, and special events with just a click of the mouse button. The same is true for Star Trek Online, especially if you're a fan of space battles. The very first game that I encountered this particular feature was Warhammer Online, and my friends and I were blown away by it.

There are other ways that developers are pushing quick mmo gameplay to the masses. Players in Marvel Heroes 2016 can select various challenges by using the game's terminals to pick a particular challenge. Then there's the Danger Room that allows players to play through a custom scenario that they can craft. Within thirty seconds of logging in, old Spidey can be web-slinging against Sentinels or other nefarious foes. In the same vein, players in RIFT can undertake instant adventures that are randomly chosen. Even the PvP-centric, crafting mmo, Albion Online, is offering gamers some quick mmo gameplay through their recently announced Expeditions, These are instanced PvE missions that can be completed in just twenty to thirty minutes, and the player is instantly transported to these missions. Developers have acknowledged that even the most hardcore of players sometimes just want to log into a game, bash something for a bit, and then log out.

Marvel Heroes 2016

The biggest change in mmo features in getting players quickly into the action is the group finder. Trying to form a group to go into a dungeon used to take forever as you would have to endlessly beg for party members in the LFG channel. Trying to get accepted into a group was even harder if you were a lowly DPS instead of a healer or tank. Now players can just click on a particular dungeon, or something similar, and just sit back and relax as the game creates a group out of thin air. Begging or cajoling in chat is no longer needed. The group finder is the biggest breakthrough when it comes to quick mmo gameplay, hands down.

The above mmo features provide a showcase of how developers have catered to players looking to get some quick gaming in. Fast travel, the group finder, queued challenges, and instant adventures are just some of the ways that players can scratch that gaming itch without taking a ton of time to do so. There are some other ways that online games are catering to quick mmo gameplay. For one, long raids that took several days to complete are as dead as the dodo. A raid now only takes a few hours to complete, something that would be unthinkable a decade ago. Most mobile games feature gameplay where players can play a quick round in just a few minutes while waiting for that next text message to show up. The entire moba genre, from League of Legends to SMITE, features fast-paced battles that players can begin in a snap. While some players may bemoan the fact that gamers are not savoring the online world as much by not exploring every nook and cranny, the vast majority of gamers are quite happy not having to waste a bunch of time to actually begin doing something fun. It's a fast paced world, which means that features catering to quick mmo gameplay are here to stay.


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