I played the first series of .hack// games back in the day, I used to watch the anime in bits and pieces, I read some of the manga. I never really got into the G.U. series but it was recently discounted on steam and I have a lot of free time recently so I figured I'd give it a shot. It wasn't exactly like the first series and I found myself a little disappointed by the first game in terms of area design, that got better with each game before I knew it I was completely immersed in the story, it Haseo's online life, in The World. As I tied up all the loose ends on game 3 and prepared myself for the fourth volume that was added to Rebirth, I had this feeling like I was really playing an MMO filled with real people who have a passion for the games they were playing. It took me way back to when I was a teen discovering my very first MMO, it took me back to what I consider the golden age of MMO gaming. Free to play titles were a pleny, You had your MMO giant World of Warcraft, each game had a dedicated playerbase that seemed really into the game they were playing, not just the game itself but the game's lore and mild roleplay like they were really a part of it. I remembered people chatting while mining, woodcutting, and grinding combat stats in Runescape. I remember people hanging out and talking to each other in hub towns in games like Maplestory, Mabinogi, Vindictus. I remember Goldshire being a major social hub for newbies on WoW. I could list so many games with so many amazing atmospheres back in the day really.
I started Volume four of .hack//G.U. I could feel that it was going to be a short one. It felt like cutscene after cutscene and before I knew it the experience was over. My time in The World was over, my time reminiscing about how MMOs used to be was over and it left me feeling really sad because lately every MMO I used to play feels like a really antisocial experience, every MMO I try getting into is either full of people who don't really interact, or social hubs are total ghost towns. The most social MMO I've found is FFXIV and even that suffers from a few anti-social aspects to it and all anybody cares about is grinding through endgame content. Nobody's stopping to smell the flowes, FC houses are empty, hub towns are empty. I'm filled with this desire to play a game that makes me feel the same way .hack// made me feel. It was almost like a perfect snapshot of what MMO gaming once was. I miss what MMOs used to be and I lament what they've become.
I guess right now all anybody cares about is battle royale games so I don't think I can expect a game with the same spirit that The .hack// universe encapsulated to come out any time soon. Does anybody else feel this way? Does anybody know of any games out there that actually feel a whole world of their own, populated by people who care about that world, full of social people looking to hang out with each other and help each other out? I'd like to read some thoughts.
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