It's a sad state really.
Right now I'm at a kind of awkward point in MMO's and gaming in general. I'm, for all intents and purposes, addicted to the MMO genre because of persistant advancements, rewards and penalties and social interactions... however, right now the MMO genre is one of the most constrictive gaming genre's available; with only a few select offerings to choose from which all generally share a common theme (fantasy).
While there are a couple of up and coming titles (Aion & Star Wars: The Old Republic) to look forward to, I'm tryring to be more realistic about future titles due to the lessons learned from Warhammer. Hype does not equal a great game, in fact, it probably hurts the title more than it helps. So... while I am looking forward to Aion (Asian MMO that's be available in Asian markets for a year, so the U.S. will be getting a 'polished' game), I need something to play right now.
Warhammer: I've never been so wishy-washy about a game; ever. Really, I think Warhammer has fallen flat on it's face, but I think that it's that I *want to believe* that mythic can turn things around and make the game into the hype that everyone believed in. BUT; Warhammer has a completely broken end game. We were sold on a PvP/RvR-centric game, but we were given a PvE centric game, with pisspoor PvE, mediocre RvR and poor PvP. The end-game of Warhammer is broken; Tier 4 in no way conveys the RvR aspect that the game is built around, and it's in fact the FIRST question on WAR's exit survey, so even Mythic partially acknowledges their failure. PvE is utterly broken and boring; being one of the worst PvE implementations to date... $140 million development budget,3.5 years and you copy and pasted environments? I've been thru T1 / T2 almost the same number of times as there are classes now... T3 starts to show the signs of a broken game, and I quit my T4 DoK after being in Tier 4 for just a week. Also, from an MMO perspective, the game play is extremely linear and constrictive... the 'tier' system almost forces you into specific areas and a very specific PvE progression (and RvR)... then when you get to T4 RvR, you find out its just a bunch of Circle-Jerk keep taking that both sides mutually agree to in order to farm Renown. If you happen to get in a City siege, the CULMINATION of the T4 evens, you forced to PvE (yeah...) in order to capture your opposing realms city. PvE is the climax of the RvR/PvP progression...
Age of Conan: I'm kind of stuck at this game. Age of Conan is probably the best looking MMO out there, the graphics are simply amazing. Having said that, I'm not really sure that there's a whole lot more to this game, other than being the first DX10 (even though it didn't / doesnt really work) MMO. The combat system is innovative, at first... but after a while, it gets to be slightly annoying, and casting is a joke. I speed leveled a Demonologist to 12 during the 7 day trial (and a ranger to 9); the PvE was mildly interesting, there was no PvP at that level, but there wasn't anything aside from the graphics that was hugely interesting. Hell, there arent even trainers in the game; when you level, you're automatically given the abilities appropriate for that level. Feat Trees are similar to the way that WoW's talent trees work. Subs currently - about 100,000.
Lord of the Rings Online: Love - Hate relationship with this game. I think, that with a bunch of friends, LotRO has some merit; but by yourself and knowing no one, the game kind of sucks. The best qualities of Lotro is that it's combat system 'feels' like Dark Age's combat system; there's positionals, reactionals and a non-stupid taunt & aggro system, different stances and class focuses. The PvE in the game is very epic, it's got nice (but very niche) graphics and a very snappy engine. However, the PvP (if you can call it that) isn't that great. In fact, what happens is that the player assumes the role of the bad guys (monsters) and fights the Freeps (free peoples; other players) in a designated area, over keeps and area control. While, yes, it is PvP.. it just doesn't feel the same. I'm playing the 10 day free trial; and it's fun, feels like DAoC, but without the epic RvR. I've done some PvMP (Player vs. Monster Player)... and it's not terrible, they've made improvements since I tried LotRO over 2 years ago, but i still dunno. Lotro's sub numbers are currently sitting about 650,000... according to a couple different sources.
World of Warcraft: Another love-hate relationship, and it's the 800lb gorilla in the room. For PvE, honestly love or hate it, no one has done it any better. Warcraft was developed on a purely PvP centric point of view; so that was their primary focus for the games sunrise development lifecycle. With PvP gaining popularity, WoW is trying to shift to a more PvP focused server-set.. but its hard to teach an old dog new tricks. I love WoW's PvE; which is odd.. each dungeon and instance is unique, loot drops are garunteed, and bosses offer unique PvE experiences that are more than spank-and-tanks; even raiding 'can' be fun (when done correctly). PvP wise... WoW battlegrounds, to me, aren't all that bad; but it's the twinks and premades that can make them suck, but thats only because i've never been in a full group premade, nor been a twink. WoW has more world PvP, on PvP servers, than WAR has seen outside of RvR lakes. BUT: WoW PvP is laregly pointless... it's purely 'carrot' driven in terms of gear. PvP grants you no extra abilities and no realm-wide reward. Also, WoW is very daunting... PvEing to level 80, despite the leveling changes, is still quite a task.. and gearing post lvl-80 isn't an easy feat as well. Also, WoW and LotRO both put the 'Multiplayer' in MMORPG; they *require* larger groups of people, require you to be socially interactive, and require you to make friends in order to further your character... which is a potential turnoff.
EVE: Not interested. While this is the most inovative of the options, I just can't get 'attached' to a spaceship. The offline training irks me aswell... whats the point of logging in, if you can do most of your character progression while training offline; then buy your ISK from a Chinese farmer and go buy a ship? The social interactions are one of EVE's 'lures', but I've got one job already, thank you... I don't need to, literally _work for_ and online organization in an MMO as a spy, and report on forum interworkings, getting promoted in my target organization and then working to leak intel to my 'employeers'. I've got enough on my plate as it is.
There's others that I probably should mention: Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage II, Guild Wars... but; these currently have more Cons to me than pros, so it's not worth detailing them out.
While I was writing this post; I think I mentally hit the nail on the head. I'm trying to play MMORPG's (Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games - FYI) with a very narrow mindset of 'what works for 1/2/3/4 people'... but truth be told; thats not what an MMO *is*; and its counter productive to think so. Looking at DAoC; the 'golden years' were spent with the SK's, a guild of 15 or so stable members that romped in Pve and PvP together constantly, talked in forums, and ran small man etc. DAoC may have been slightly more 'small man' friendly; but really the best times I can remember are: Barrows Bridge groups, Keltoi ant room groups, Trees group... thats where I met most of the people I still remember from DAoC. So maybe I need to start getting a little more social in the games I'm playing, start forming groups, joining guilds (some of the most fun in WAR was with Ruin) and actually \contributing/ to them.
So maybe.. its that I'm doing it wrong, and need to L2Play.
EDIT: Well its not LotRO - trial is going to be up soon, and I just don't *want* to log into it.