I have been really enjoying my time in EverQuest lately. Does that mean that I will become hopelessly addicted to it? No, but it does point to an interesting characteristic of the genre that people often forget to mention: MMORPGs (or, I am trying to say now, persistent online worlds) are the most bang for your buck in all of gaming.
The reason MMOs can last so long and still be fun (like EverQuest, Merdian 59, Gemtsone IV, or even World of Warcraft which is quite ancient by now) is due to the fact that they are updated frequently by developers and changed constantly by players who change the game world just by being there.
In other words, even an MMO/POW that gets no love can still feel different now than when you first visited it, due to its online status and real human playerbase.
Sure, it’s a bit of a stretch to say that a playerbase changes an online world as much as a series of patches do, but the point remains that online worlds are so much like real life because they need real people to be an online world, and those real people can be a great source of constant content. For example, I have returned to EverQuest a few times per year ever since I first played it in 2000. Each time, I find some new bit of patch or world content that I did not find before, but on top of that I find a new person to chat with or to ask questions of.
This time around I am playing on my lowbie troll character who is currently in the area of Crescent Reach. I love newbie areas because they can be a great way to learn about how things have changed. For example, I never get into crafting in EverQuest because it was goofy (I thought) but I participated in a quest to craft a banner and it felt great. I decided to try more of it, and then I met a froggie character who wanted me to show him all of the mounts I had collected over the years.
I would have never had this fun if I had ignored an area in a game that I had played countless times over the years. The fact that there were dozens of new characters (whether they were actually new players or not, I do not know) roaming around the newbie zone showed that the game still attracts people. Heck, EverQuest is even on Steam now, and all is right with the world.
Older games like Ryzom, EVE Online, and others are still great games and are definitely worth it, but only if you try something you have not tried before. If you were a raider and expect to go back to EverQuest to find the exact level of fun that you had 10 years ago, don’t be surprised if you get bored quickly or find out that you have no time for raiding anymore — that’s why you left in the first place. Keep in mind that these games are incredible because they do not offer only one activity. If you cannot raid, try crafting. If you cannot craft, try roleplaying. If you cannot roleplay, try meeting new people. Honestly… reach out and meet someone new.
Attend a party. Explore a new area. Organize your inventory. Craft a new cloak and give it to a newbie. These are all things that many of forgot to do when we were so busy doing the main activity that we used to do in these old games.
There’s a reason I leave my PC loaded up with old games, sometimes as many as 30 or 40. I simply like loading them up, patching them, and seeing what is new. I often find plenty to do, and I am often surprised that I am having fun all over again.