Do We Really Need More Oriental Martial Arts MMO Games?
Perfect World Entertainment recently revealed the latest title to join their impressive arsenal of free MMORPG games with Swordsman Online, but do we really need yet another MMO based on an era in Chinese dynasty history? I've been following the MMO scene for close to 20 years now and although I still get excited when a new MMO title is announced, it's becoming more common that I find myself head in hand struggling to understand the decision to release yet another free-to-play MMO focusing on a saturated background story.
Don't get me wrong. I welcome a change from the regular magic and sorcery fantasy approach seen so often in today's online gaming environment, but what's wrong with trying something new? Occasionally we'll be treated to a steampunk themed MMO, a science-fiction epic, or one backed by a large franchise, but for the most part regular free-to-play releases fall into two categories. The traditional Western fantasy MMORPG and the typical Eastern oriental MMORPG.
There have been literally hundreds of games released in those two categories, and almost as many with announcements of closure. It's done, it's over, do something different. The reputation of the free-to-play model has been downtrodden into muck thanks to the regular spew and lack of quality in most of the releases and titles with more innovative payment models, such as Guild Wars 2, have proven that players are willing to pay for quality.
So what makes developers and publishers continue to target almost identical elements to games released almost a decade ago? Once you've played enough free-to-play MMO games, you've pretty much played them all. There's a few with a bit of quality that sneak through the cracks but for the most part, you can pick up and play 50 different free titles and find very little difference in any of them.
Detailed animations are replaced with flashing lights and jazzy colors, background story is hidden among poor translation and needlessly pointless grinding quests and character progression is mainly restricted to unlocking new abilities with aforementioned poor effects and minor difference in potential damage. Its all been done before!
Swordsman Online has only just been revealed and I've not had any hands-on experience with the game. It could quite easily be the greatest martial arts inspired MMORPG to ever hit the internet but there's a far greater chance that it will be another poor attempt to cash in on the free-to-play market. You want me to get excited about an Eastern based MMO? Release Jade Empire Online.