I've recently been feeling nostalgic and going back to play older MMOs/RPGs, and I noticed three things that I really miss from those days! Do you agree, or have any more gameplay elements to add to the list that you miss?
Every MMORPG ever made says that it has infinite choices available, but very few actually do. In older games, the world was often your oyster: you were dropped in with no guides, no direction, and you could venture forth wherever you wanted. You could build your character any which way (although sometimes this could significantly weaken your character), you could go straight to the high level zones, you could PK random people, usually at a significant cost to yourself, and so on. There was often huge build diversity, and experimenting with unique builds was an art form that many people spent months on. Nowadays, I find that most games give you very little choice, particularly in terms of classes/builds. It's typically 1 tank, 1 healer, and several dps classes, and all use basically the same "meta" builds and have similar playstyles. Even if you have 50 skills nowadays, there are usually only 4 or 5 that are truly meaningful. Some games definitely do better than others, but there aren't a ton that have truly unique classes/playstyles/builds anymore. Set bonuses make it much worse in my mind, since they usually pigeonhole you into a particular gear set/playstyle.
Both current and old-school games are challenging, but in majorly different ways. In current games, the entire game is usually a cake-walk until you get into raids and things, which require a coordinated group and involve tons of "mechanics" and dodging red stuff on the floor. I love raiding, but I don't like the fact that open-world monsters are basically just "filler" that poses no real threat to anyone. Older games were usually challenging throughout, even at level 1, and had much less focus on dodging/mechanics and more on developing your character properly for the challenge. There were a few games where I died several times to level 1 rats right after starting out. Usually the challenge was more related to your stats, preparation (having the right spells/potions/skills ready), using your skills optimally, chaining CCs as needed, etc.
Most older games had some element of chance, usually related to rare drops, that I always found exciting. You could actually find rare and useful loot off of regular monsters, and usually find really powerful items off of the harder ones. Since it was all based on chance, there was always a certain thrill when you finally found that item you were looking for. Some games went a little over-the-top with this aspect by turning it into an unrelenting grindfest, but others kept it reasonable, where you could get really good semi-rare rewards from an hour or two of farming. Nowadays, most drops come from time-gated activities like raiding, and just involve accumulating tokens to trade in for gear…it works, but it loses a bit of its luster since everyone follows the exact same gearing path, and ends up using the same stuff in the end.
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