MMORPGs what are they?

MMORPG. Muhmorpuhger. A random combination of letters that seemingly mean nothing. Lots of games genres have this issue with them being acronyms. In this case the acronym is short for Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game. These are games with persistent worlds that stay active with things happening in them when you turn your computer/console off as they are stored on servers which you connect with whenever you log in.

A selection of characters of all classes in Final Fantasy 14

Like all role-playing games you start by picking a character and deciding what ‘class’ you’d like them to be. This decides what abilities they will get and what things you can do in the game. They start off quite weak and slowly level them up, completing increasingly difficult quests until you are dealing with world ending events. But in an MMO these things happen repeatedly. They are games which don’t have a defined end. There is always more to do, new things being added, new weapons and armour to collect.

There are always new items waiting for your Character when playing MMOs, like this armour piece in destiny 2

You also can’t complete them alone. There are often content in the game that takes place in ‘instanced dungeons’. These will require a group of players called a ‘party’ with people taking on different roles in it, sometimes referred to as the holy trinity:

  • Healers – as the name suggests they will be keeping the team alive.
  • Tanks – the character who will make sure any enemies are focussed solely on themselves, keeping them away from the teammates
  • DPS – short for damage per second, these characters often die to one or two hits, but can deal massive damage to enemies if the tank is doing their job properly.

In the ‘end-game’ which is all the activities you do once your character has reached the maximum level there are some dungeons that require multiple parties to complete – often called raids. To facilitate this many games have a ‘guild’ system which allows players to see each other online and easily organise raiding.

Tequatl the Sunless, a world boss from Guild Wars 2

There are also other activities to do including daily quests called ‘dailies’, weekly quests called, you guessed it, ‘weeklies’, world bosses which require multiple groups of people to beat that wander around the map, PVP which stands for player versus player so instead of preprogrammed enemies you are fighting other characters controlled by humans, and many other things such as collecting pets, making fashionable sets of armour, role playing in character, minigames, building guild bases or homes etc.

Parents Beware!

MMOs have an inherent sense of community, in order to do everything in the game you need to be in a guild and talking with people. This is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it allows you to socialise but a curse because as you are quite anonymous you don’t have to be yourself so it can lead to a lot of escapism and confused identity in yourself. You also don’t know who you are talking to, when I played World of Warcraft I remember talking to Andersnordik who ended up being the guy in Norway who killed all those teenagers. Not everyone will be like this though, it’s just important to be aware you don’t know who people are behind their avatars.

Screenshot of Elder Scrolls Online’s Crown Store

MMOs come in 2 types, premium and freemium. Premium games requireyou buy the game then pay a subscription to play, usually around £8 a month but cheaper if you pay in bulk. Freemium just need you to buy the game – or in some cases just download it for free – then pay for other content. This could be to get keys to unlock treasure chests you receive in game, different outfits or mounts (mounts are creatures or vehicles that make you travel faster) or items that make the game easier and they will advertise these regularly and push them at you.

Image courtesy of Freepik

Questions to explore character

1) What does it feel like to level up your character to maximum level?

2) Can you think of anything in real life which you wish you could level up in? What could you do to make that a reality?

3) What skills do you feel you’ve developed by playing (insert name of MMO)? Are there any that you think could help in real life?

4) What class do you like the most? Why?

image courtesy of PublicDomainPictures

Faith links

Depending on the game there can be many links to Faith made whilst playing through the storylines if you pay close attention to what’s going on. However, for me the clearest link would be the fact that character roles are all part of what’s called ‘The Holy Trinity’. In this case they are referring to Healers, Tanks and DPS, but it can be used as a starting point to talk about the actual Holy Trinity, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Like a party consists of all 3 of their trinity, God consists of all 3 of the Holy Trinity. 3 persons in one being.

To extract it out a bit further and put my own twist on it which you can choose to agree with or disagree with Jesus is the healer – cleansing our souls, God is the tank – his hand of protection covers us, which leaves the Holy Spirit as the DPS – helping all of us defeat the enemy, Satan, by pointing us towards Jesus and God.

Suggested Games

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World of Warcraft – this is the big one and what most people think of when they think of MMORPGs it has been running for 14 years now with loads of expansions released. It is a very fun game which at one point had over 10 million active players at once. You require a subscription to play it, though you can earn in game currency to pay for it if you play enough.

Final Fantasy 14 is one of my favourite MMOs. The story is detailed for your

character, you have to play through the full story before accessing the end game and you can change your class at any point just by swapping weapon type. It is another game that requires a subscription though the game is updated very regularly for free because of that. It is also available on the PS4.

Elder Scrolls Online is a MMO set in the world of Elder Scrolls, same as Skyrim, and is good fun. You create your character and then do quests following new stories in areas from the other games. If you enjoy PVP there is the chance to become Emporer if you are the best player in the game so it gives something to strive for. It is available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One and doesn’t require a subscription.

Guild Wars 2 is an MMO with a brilliant personalised story and a living world

where the actions of players and enemies directly change how the map looks. It is different from other games in it doesn’t have designated healer, tank or DPS roles. All classes can fit all roles. I enjoyed it a lot when I played it, but life made me have to quit for a while and I haven’t had chance to pick it up again since.

Destiny 2 is a twist on MMOs, it isn’t an adventure one, instead it is a first person shooter. However like an MMO you choose a class and your character levels up as you play. There are dungeons (called strikes) that need 3 players, and raids which require 6 players and equipment changes your statistics for the better. It is set in the distant future and you are trying to protect humanity from alien enemies who are looking to destroy them and ‘the traveller’ – an entity that has protected humanity but has been dormant for generations.

Tom Clancy’s The Division is similar to Destiny but it is a third person shooter,

your character levels up and there are dungeons to play through as well which need multiple people. There are skills you unlock as you play and characters have defined roles. It is set in New York following an outbreak of a virulent smallpox virus. You are part of the team trying to bring law and order back to the city whilst trying to find a cure.

There are also hundreds of free to play MMOs out there, many are terrible and some are good, there’s probably at least one or two out there that would interest you and I recommend giving them a try, but be careful not to fall into addiction like I did.

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