Scrusi wrote about his first impressions of Star Wars: The Old Republic during the weekend beta. As I was reading I came across this passage:
I’m not quite sure yet how things will pan out once I start playing alts, but for now quests actually feel like quests as opposed to random markers on the map that lead to (usually insignificant) rewards. The quests themselves aren’t all that different from the standard MMO fare, but the voice acting and “cutscenes” make me feel actually involved.
You see the main difference between World of Warcraft quests and The Old Republic quests are the cutscenes with voice acting. Other than those cutscenes, the possible quest types (the actual gameplay) are the same. Yet TOR feels a lot more fun than WoW.
MMORPG.com wrote an article about the limited quest types in traditional MMORPGs. It is interesting that every traditional MMORPG (such as WoW and TOR) has these same limited quest types. This got me thinking about single player RPG quests, and I realized they are pretty much the same as WoW quests.
Let’s just compare with Dragon Age: Origins. DA:O quests:
- are made up of the same basic tasks
- are generally longer with more parts
- have cutscenes with voice acting
- have various puzzles to solve (riddles, combining items, mini-games, etc.)
That is all I could think of right now, but you do the same tasks in DA:O as you do in WoW. The only difference is DA:O has much better presentation. The quests are longer so they feel way more epic. The voice acting and cutscenes bring the characters to life. The puzzles make the tasks seem a little more believable instead of simply right-clicking to grab the quest items or unlock the door.
Single player RPGs have you doing the same tasks, the same tried and true tasks as MMORPGs. This is why I do not understand when people criticize MMORPG quests for being repetitive. All RPG quests are repetitive. The only thing RPGs do better is that presentation. They excel at getting you to feel like you are doing more than you really are. This is what games in general are about really.
MMORPGs need to move in this direction, and I think TOR is the first step. In addition to the cutscenes and voice acting, MMORPG designers need to make each quest epic and add puzzles (alternative gameplay) to those quests. This will make MMORPGs feel just as fun and engaging as single player RPGs.
RPG fans should not have to choose between subpar gameplay with good community or great gameplay with no community. The choice should be purely whether the player wants to play with others or not (single player vs multiplayer). That will be when MMORPGs truly shine.