The world of the MMORPGs has seen some changes and shakeups over the past few years, some of them now unexpectedly defunct, such as the demise of City of Heroes to make room for Guild Wars 2, as well as that of Star Wars Galaxies making room for Star Wars the Old Republic, both still remembered. Considering the work that has gone into both of the now defunct titles, it makes the average gamer/MMO player wonder if any MMO is truly safe from the axe. After all, both of those games had implemented some rather unique mechanics that kept them refreshing.
City of Heroes, City of Villains, Going Rogue
In the case of Cities of Heroes, it started with the City of Villains expansion, which allowed the player to create a villain. One particular villain class, called the Mastermind, would see the creation of a pet control mechanic unmatched anywhere else. Of all the MMORPGs still going, Star Trek Online comes the closest with the player’s control of 4 “Bridge Officers”. Masterminds, however were able to control up to a total of six pets with the ability to issue separate commands to the group as a whole, or to the 3 individual subgroups, or give each individual pet its own order. City of Villains would set the stage for the expansion Going Rogue, which allowed players to transform themselves, through a series of quests, from Hero to Villain and vice versa, or become neutral, or Vigilante, neither hero nor villain. This allowed the player access to territory denied to either side as hero or villain.
There was always neutral ground that heroes, villains and vigilantes could hang out together without trying to toast one another: Pocket D. Run by DJ Zero, it was a club where all factions could come together and relax. What also made NCSoft’s superhero franchise so popular was its character classes and character generation system. The classes were extremely divergent with extreme customization within the individual class framework. An element to be remembered and possibly revived with the coming of The Elder Scrolls Online.
Star Wars Galaxies, Jump to Lightspeed
The main thing going for Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided was it’s iconic locations. Tattooine. The Wookie homeworld of Kashyyyk. Mustufar, the spawnworld of Darth Vader. Naboo also existed within the game as well as many others. However it had other elements going for it too, such as player-created and player-run cities. With the coming of the expansion Jump to Lightspeed, there were also multiplayer star ships being introduced that could be decorated with items that were both collected and made.
The other main thing about Galaxies was the love/hate relationship with the player base because of SOE’s institution of the NGE (New Game Enhancements), an attempt to relaunch Galaxies with an updated feel. The fundamentally radical change of the game sparked an intense outrage over such elements as new players being given immediate access to the Jedi character class without having to go through the lengthy process of first becoming force sensitive.
Another bone of contention was the utter lack of interesting space content other than PvP (player versus player). The hope of players doing intricate missions as depicted in the single player games of X-Wing Alliance and TIE Fighter dissipated beneath the barrage of “go here, kill that, come back” quests that was all too prevalent. For all that, the ability to create weapons, armor, and yes, entire homes and starships was a major factor in enjoying the game. Currently, a private server is available to play Galaxies in its pre-NGE state, reversed engineered like some defunct MMORPGs to use the code on the game already owned (it has to be installed from the original CDs), thereby sidestepping any legal entanglements.
These two defunct MMORPGs will still be remembered, and will remain a high point of gaming even as new ones arrive, such as the much-anticipated The Elder Scrolls Online.
Editorial by Lee Birdine