Top Five Old School MMO Features We Want Back

By Jeff Francis
Top five old school mmo features we want back

A lot of older mmo gamers lament the passage of time, believing that the online games of today lack challenge, sophistication, and individuality. Developers love to tout the latest technological innovations when it comes time to promote their games, but have games really progressed and evolved over the last two decades? While I hate a number of old school mmo features, such as corpse runs, there were some incredible systems within those games that have been sadly left behind by modern titles. It's time to go retro as we examine our top five old school mmo features we want back.

The first of our top five old school mmo features we want in today's games is the ability to play an absolute non-combat class. Over the years, the holy trinity of online games has been molded into DPS, tank, and healer. Yet true healers are getting scarce as games look to balance classes to an insane degree. Every class is now capable of dishing out damage, and it's quite likely that they also have some healing ability. Gone are the days where a gamer could play as a pure crafter, a merchant, an entertainer, or even a dancer. Star Wars Galaxies was amazing in that there were a good number of non-combat classes available, which meant that you didn't have to kill everything in sight in order to level up. Players would hang out in cantinas with their entertainer characters and interact with other players, doing their best to solicit tips and such. Why can't a character just be a scholar, selling vital information to adventurers? What about being an innkeeper who keeps travelers well-fed and full of home-brewed ale? A fantasy world is much more than just warriors and wizards.

Another of our top five old school mmo features we want back is the ability to sell items to an NPC and then have those items available to other players. This particular old school mmo feature harkens back to the single-player rpgs of the 1980s and 1990s, which allowed a player to equip a group of adventurers with the items looted by their older, and higher level, group. EverQuest has this feature, and it adds a layer of realism to the game's world in that each shopkeeper could have different inventories. Now it seems that any items sold just get pitched into a black hole or something as they just immediately disappear. Low level characters could greatly benefit by being able to purchase the castoffs of higher level characters.

Third on our list of the top five old school mmo features we miss terribly is that of a true world setting. In the mmo games of today, the world isn't truly alive. You can kill a thousand boars, and nothing ever changes in the world's ecology. Ultima Online first launched with a realistic and detailed world that functioned as a real world. Animals would graze on grass, and predators would hunt and kill their prey. An entire ecosystem was fully simulated, but it was not to last. Players began killing everything they could swing a sword at, and the developers were forced to scrap the system. While this type of old school mmo feature was short-lived, it would be great to bring back to create a more realistic setting instead of constant spawning.

City of Heroes group

The next item on our top five old school mmo features list is being rewarded for grouping. A great example of this is City of Heroes. First, there wasn't the usual need for a set number of people in a party or a specific composition in order to complete a mission. While that was great in of itself, low level characters got a massive xp boost from grouping with higher level characters. Characters that were level one could quickly fly up to level twenty in just a short time. Now games punish players who have such lopsided party members by reducing xp to keep the level grind alive. Back when I played City of Heroes, it was great fun to be part of a large group that was destroying everything in sight as the loot and xp rolled into my low level alts.

The last of our top five old school mmo features we want back is diplomacy. As stated above, most mmorpg games focus only on combat to resolve situations. If a gamer is lucky enough, they might be playing a game that may have a puzzle solution, but that's about all of the options that are currently on the table. Vanguard, while very flawed in a lot of ways, had an utterly unique diplomacy system that rewarded players for essentially talking things out. Diplomacy actually was a card-based mini-game within the mmo, and players could earn gear, money, and faction through diplomacy. However, their greatest reward was Civic Benefits, which were normally city-wide buffs that impacted those who were adventuring, harvesting, or crafting. It would be tremendous to have such an old school mmo feature come back, allowing for another avenue of meaningful interaction with the game's world.

While technology has definitely advanced, giving us better graphics and voice acting, we have stepped backwards a bit when it comes to in-game features. Most online games today are simple variations of one another, which is understandable when you look at the economic side of the situation. Still, the top five old school mmo features listed above would really serve to spice up the same old, boring gameplay we're all used to. What old school mmo features would you love to see make a comeback? Let us know in the comments below.


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