For years I’ve misclassified my gaming style as casual because I don’t do much questing, attunement or reputation grinds. Playing Warhammer Online has given me a fresh perspective on how I play, as well as the amount of time I spend in a favored game. I’m here to admit that the amount of time is anything but casual. If you add in the time spent reading related blogs, listening to podcasts and writing for my own blog, it borders on a second fulltime job. With this realization, I’d like to provide clarity for this self-proclaimed leveling style.
- Free-style leveling is more akin to a sandbox style where you make many of your own adventures.
- I don’t like games that are heavily quest-driven.
- The most egregious mechanic in quest-driven games is the Epic quest chain.
- Free-style leveling is where you have varied options for gaining XP.
- In a free-style paradise, quest vs. farm, group vs. solo, PVE vs. PVP are weighted equally for character advancement.
- Asheron’s Call 2 was the first fantasy MMORPG I played that had a large amount of freedom. There were quests and I could do them – or not without penalty.
- World of Warcraft was darn close to free-style right up until you hit the end game.
- Warhammer Online appeals to me because it supports free-style progression.
- Free-style leveling isn’t for everyone and I won’t lose any sleep over your absence, if it’s not for you.
- Hardcore “static group” players are less likely to be fans of WAR. It lacks the structure and routine needed to support that model.
- Free-style lessens the opportunities that the same group of players will need or want to do the same exact thing, at the same exact time, for weeks and months.
- For a free-style player like me that’s been living in the quest-lovers world all these years, I’m glad to be unshackled.
I don’t like games that are heavily quest driven These types of games tend to implement a very controlled and often contrived mechanic, to move you through the content. The pace at which you move through the content is irrelevant. Most of your activity is being directed from beginning to end. And the most egregious mechanic in these games is the Epic quest chain – insert LONG ASS drawn out series of quests. Many of the games that focus on quests for character advancement offer few opportunities for playing solo. It’s group or die. I usually tend to die, as in not buy those games.
Conversely, free-style leveling is where you have different options for gaining the experience points needed to progress. You can quest if that’s what you enjoy or decide to kill certain mobs in particular areas, when that’s what you want to do. You can solo all the time, just when you’re grumpy or do mostly groups. You can smash in, or attempt to smash in, the faces of other players to advance. Ideally, you can do all of these things and they are equally effective at progressing your character. You don’t need to do them in any order – must reach level X doing this stuff over here, before you can do that other type of content, which might be your preferred type of content. In free-style, you don’t have to divide your time amongst options in any preconceived allotment – they are all a means to the same journey and end. MMOs of this type are more like a sandbox, which is an uncommon framework for RPG-type games.
The most free-style/sandbox MMORPG I’ve played to date is Eve Online. There are the basic things everyone spends time doing such as skill training and some PVE, at least in the beginning. However, what happens after that is up for grabs and the route each player takes to achieve their goals will vary greatly. Asheron’s Call 2 was the first fantasy MMORPG I played that had a large amount of freedom. There were quests and I could do them – or not. I did the ones I liked and my life wasn’t any harder for skipping the ones I didn’t enjoy. I hopped zones as it suited my mood. I played solo when I didn’t feel like being bothered. I did the quests chains that netted me something worth having and scoffed at the rest. World of Warcraft was darn close to free-style right up until you hit the end game. WOW has diversified since its original release but it still embodies built-in time-sinks like nobody’s business.
Free-style means I want to reach the end using a method of my own choosing. While I realize that my choices are confined by the content and mechanics, my path through it should be my own, without penalty or delay for the mix I select, because all avenues of progression are weighted equally. I will combine content options in a way that suits my preferences, time allotments, achievement goals, socializing thresholds, attention span, class and chosen spec, etc. I want an MMO that is Burger King, “Have it your way,” styled content. This is the opposite of heavily quest driven games with extremely linear and railed progression.
Warhammer Online appeals to me because it supports free-style progression. With the exception of gaining XP via crafting, all other avenues of completing content provide leveling experience. I can mix and match them as I please – quest or don’t, group or don’t, PVE or don’t, PVP or don’t, and as long as I’m completing the content that I do like, my character will progress. I’ll gain levels. I’ll receive loot rewards. My gear will be upgraded. I will earn gold. That is free-style character progression. That is me at my happiest in an MMORPG.
Free-style leveling isn’t for everyone. Hell, I’m not sure it works for a majority of players given that it’s the opposite of most MMOs that I’ve played. If it’s not a style that suits you, one that you can deal with, work around or tolerate then guess what, WAR isn’t going to be your cup of tea. And I won’t lose any sleep over your absence. The Internet is full of games for more regiment-minded players. You shouldn’t have any problem at all finding something else and letting this one pass you by. *Evil grin*
Hardcore “static group” players are less likely to be fans of WAR. It lacks the structure and routine needed to support that model. Free-style lessens the opportunities that the same group of players will need or want, to do the same exact thing, at the same exact time, across weeks and months of game play. There are too many goals and the roads to those goals are too diverse, to harmoniously carry people who only play in static groups. There is often no “one thing” you should be off doing. There’s no prevailing path to the end of the game. Attacking content will seem more like a scattered gunshot approach. People who need structure will find this unfamiliar, intimidating, unfocused and well, scary. They may even try to attribute their lack confidence and effectiveness within this structure as poor game design. It’s not. It’s just different. It’s a change and most humans do not like change. *Smile*
WAR isn’t perfect by any stretch. No MMORPG comes out the gate perfect anyway. It’s not the only MMORPG on the market so if it doesn’t work for you that’s fine, play something else. For a free-style player like me, that’s been living in the quest-lovers world for the better part of all these years, I’m glad to be unshackled. I’m pleased to have this many options for leveling and character advancement so bite me.