When I looked back at 2014 in my MMO gaming, I had some concerns that I might be reaching a nadir in my enthusiasm for the genre. While it’s true that the number of games I played around in didn’t budge, the amount of time I spent in them did tend to vary. And in all the cases, it came down to “new stuff”.
So: eleven years. That’s a pretty lengthy amount of time to have put into MMOs. What did 2015 hold for me and my games?
Star Wars: The Old Republic probably has a slight edge in the amount of time spent this last year. I’d completed all eight of the class stories in the year before, but I still had an ambition to also complete the stories on all the advanced classes. Since there are two advanced classes for each class, it would effectively mean doing the entire story again, all the planets again, all of it another eight times. Even with that, I was willing to slap some time into it. But Bioware/EA helped out a lot on that when they put in the 12X xp for subscribers on class stories, which cut down a lot of the time spent, and made it possible to achieve that goal: which I did, thankfully. Finances in-game have been better than ever, as well, as I’ve managed to purchase the opening area for the Yavin stronghold after making the “mistake” of looking at one in-game and deciding “I want one”. My Coruscant stronghold was shoved into the locker (and after unlocking all of its rooms, too. Good thing I didn’t spend cartel coins on that one).
The biggest news for the game, of course, was the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, which is still a work in progress: we’ve gotten nine chapters of the story, and more is slated to come in the coming months. With that came the addition of the release of Shadow of Revan for subscribers as well, and I finally got to play through that content. A lot of flashpoints and heroic missions also became doable solo, which meant some of these I was able to do for the first time. It wasn’t all fun and games, of course; companions have been buffed then nerfed, xp has been buffed considerably (too much? Hard to say), and the refocus on story has come at the price of operations and PvP. As I never did any of the ops and tend to avoid PvP, I’m obviously not too sorry, but I do recognize that raid-like stuff and PvP are pretty much an accepted part of any MMORPG these days, and there should be some content aimed in that direction. I’ve been looking to push through my “eight mains”, one of each class, and so far I’ve gotten five through to the end of the available content, one of whom even unlocked all his Star Fortress companions and rank 10 with the assorted supply contacts. It’s not unreasonable to think that by the time the next chapter is released in February, I’ll have gotten all eight in the same boat as far as story progression.
Not much to say about the guild(s) in game, as they’ve been mostly been quiet, although some folks appear here and there occasionally. The expansion may have helped a bit with that recently. Admittedly, I also haven’t really been looking to join any of the active guilds around, either-in part because I tend to muck with different games, which means my focus is constantly divided. That’s a theme going forward here. I did take advantage of a Cartel Market sale, though, to properly rename the Republic side guild to “Hyperspace Outlaws”. I’d been meaning to get around to that for a long time.
The next on the list is Star Trek Online, which has had a roaring comeback after last year’s Delta Rising debacle. The entire year just about was a grand finale of all the story content that had been released up to that point, culminating in the Iconian War, and while there were minor missteps, for the most part it delivered on wrapping up most of the loose ends hanging around as a result of Iconian meddling. (That said, there’s one prominent Iconinian still out there with one hell of a grudge…) There have been the usual number of queues released, but for a number of months, we could expect one feature episode per month for the duration of the War, and that was a relief-because unlike a good chunk of the Delta Rising missions, none of those missions were basic filler. Speaking of Delta Rising, it seems that there has been some adjusting of level requirements as well, which means it’s not as painful to actually get that content done now. The year closed out with the Admiralty system with the coming of a “New Dawn”, which so far has involved what could be a reopening of a temporal cold war-or perhaps its origins. (This is why time travel makes my head ache.)
Despite this flourishing of content, I found that I didn’t spend all that much time in the game. I seem to be mostly one for short periods, especially once KotFE for TOR was released. Earlier in the year, though, the Corps of Discovery performed a hard push between its few active players to get our starbase up to tier-3 status, and after blowing through a large amount of energy credits and dilithium, we succeeded. My own credit reserves are still recovering from that push. We also managed to get the dilithium mine up to tier-1, and we’re eyeballing the research facility as the next tier-1 target. There had been some thought that we’d benefit from being in one of the new fleet armadas (basically a tiered coalition of fleets), but that never really panned out. Activity levels matter, and that includes mine. I suspect time will balance again once I’ve managed to get through the KotFE content with my “eight mains”-which isn’t as far away as it sounds.
Champions Online, sadly, was the victim of all this content. I didn’t really work on any of my heroes there much at all, and haven’t had the craving to do so over the last year. Despite this, CO actually managed two bits of content worth noting. The first was a new tutorial, which I honestly still shake my head over. It wasn’t actually so much a “new” tutorial as a shell around the tutorial. The bigger deal was the Onslaught content, which basically allows you to transform into one of the big villains of the franchise and wreak havoc (and potentially have your havoc wreaked) on both the law and other heroes. It’s a PvP sort of thing, because heroes can attack you, and you can attack them if they attack you first-but in my brief bit doing it, it was sort of fun. Of course, since it is PvP, I didn’t spend much time with it-and ultimately, other games were calling, so that was that.
For most of the years I’ve been playing MMOs, I’ve always managed to find time to write my own bit of fan fiction based on my characters in assorted games. Last year was a milestone in that I didn’t write anything. I’d flirted with a concept I’d been nursing for a while for my spy character from SWG, and I keep wanting to find a reason to get back to my STO characters, but for the first time in ages, none of the characters in my head have been demanding my attention. We’ll see if the next year brings out any creativity to shake loose. The year got punctuated with the passing of the long-running guild host, GuildPortal, which closed up its doors at the end of the year-I sincerely hope people managed to save the content they wanted to save from any guild sites there.
My fears of burning out last year seem to have been unfounded, and while I’ve yet to join up with any active guilds in any of these games, I’ve at least found enough going on that I haven’t felt the need to wrap things up in the genre. So the odds are high that I’ll be here again next year writing up something for “Twelve Years In”.