Hello all, first time on this forum.
I've been becoming more and more exasperated with MMOs these days. I'm a veteran gamer and, in MMOs I enjoy, I usually reach a high skill level. I can clear high-end raids, I optimize my gameplay (not obsessively, but actively), and I usually try to approach things in the most efficient way possible. However, I also like to do content because I like it and want to challenge myself, rather than because it is what I am expected to do. This means I am eternally at odds with every MMO community I have ever been a part of. MMO players tend to be very focused on being "the best" in a material sense (have the best gear, get all the mounts, make the most money, etc). Of course, it's not really unusual to want to play your best. That's pretty universal, and even casual gamers adhere to it to some extent. However, there's doing your best, then there's min/maxing, and then finally there's an abandonment of playing the game for the sake of the gameplay itself, putting material reward before everything and abandoning all pretense of challenge.
So while the vast majority of players (including all of the high-skill raiding community) stays glued to running, rerunning, and speedrunning the same handful of end-game raids over and over again until the next patch (at which point they abandon those very same raids), I see all content as equally valuable and interesting. I don't care about gear progression outside of required gear to unlock and realistically clear raids. I always prefer to take on a fight at its intended difficulty, rather than outgearing it and speedfarming it for loot. And I want to take on this content with a party that isn't just there as a tourist – the people who join parties to see what a fight was like back in the day, but who lack the interest and skill level required to clear it. There is often no physical reward for clearing the fight. But I don't care. To me, the reward is the process itself. And when I do finally clear the fight, I don't just start farming it. I'll turn around, find a way to make it harder, and do it again.
This brings me to my other conflict with MMO communities: a preference for the unusual.
Just as I don't see end-game raids as any better or worse than old "outdated" raids, I also don't see standard strategies as any better or worse than unusual ones. Since, when I clear a fight, I immediately turn around and look for ways to make it harder, it stands to reason that I eventually start having to look outside the box. As an example, if I clear a raid in a holy trinity Tank-Healer-DPS game, I might start looking at doing it with half the tanks. Or half the healers. Or no tank. Or no healer. Or only DPS from time to time. Taking this approach also means I can find challenge even in "easy" content like dungeons intended for leveling up, or newbie dungeons. If you self-impose enough limitations, just about anything can become a challenge.
But of course, you might be thinking – why bother doing that? Isn't there no reason? And that is exactly the problem I have. In every MMO I have ever played, players care more about loot and the rate at which they get that loot than enjoying the fight itself. And unfortunately, this is particularly the case with high-caliber end-game raiders. I do usually find a small group of friends who I am able to tackle some of the smaller-scale (3-4 players) challenges with, but they are only available so often, and are of varying skill levels. I have never met anyone with the same insatiable drive for this sort of gameplay who is also a high-caliber raider.
I think the closest I ever came to finding this sort of game was RuneScape, due to its original low focus on combat and huge amount of content. However, over 18 years, then game has changed a lot, and it now more closely resembles a standard MMO; both in terms of its players' habits, and in terms of its content balance.
Other games I've played include:
League of Legends (taking alternate builds seriously)
Final Fantasy 14 (MinIL content and breaking the holy trinity conventions are no less rewarding than the latest raid tier)
Vindictus (going back and running old raids in period-relevant gear)
Guild Wars 2 (never really got into it that much, but seemed to have the same issues)
Dragon Nest (see Vindictus)
…and many others, but it has been far too long since I played them to remember.
Does anyone know a game that has a playerbase that does not abandon content for the sake of material reward? Or am I doomed to fight an unwinnable battle against the predominant element of human nature?
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