Immersion in MMOs

I’ve recently been looking at reviews about Vanguard and most people’s severe disappointment in it, and was wondering what the term “immersion” actually means to an MMO. While it means different things to everyone, some of the things I find to be important are exploration, history/lore, and a sense of importance.

Back during my 4 years of Asheron’s Call, I would simply spend hours exploring the continent of Dereth, discovering landmarks that I have never seen before. Dilapidated bridges, old sanctuaries that are no longer being used, shrines, or the hundreds of dungeons that had virtually no use, except that they were fun to explore. I loved seeing just random little landmarks that made the world seem like it had some real history and depth. I have played a half dozen MMO’s now, most for at least two weeks, and I have yet to find one that rivals AC’s sense of immersion. Sure WoW has tons of stuff to keep me busy and lots of eye candy, but I still don’t really get a sense of history or a sense of exploration. I am simply going somewhere to complete a quest or to get to an instance. I like the idea behind Caverns of Time, but it still isn’t really what I’m looking for.

Another aspect of immersion that I think is important it having an impact of the world. Again, CoT is scratching the surface with this, but Chronicles of Spellborn sounds like this is going to be a much heavier element in their game with the ancestral quests. These really give you the since that history is important and that you have made a difference, whether you have or not. They also have the shard exploration aspect to consider. Players will be able to discover new “shards” which are landmasses within the Deadspell Storm. This adds an element of adventure, and also gives players the opportunity to truly discover something that no one else has seen yet.

Another aspect Spellborn wants to implement is control over these shards. There are five “houses” in Spellborn each with different doctrines, which will be able to control certain things in the game, like parts of shards, mines, etc. This is huge in immersion as you and your fellow house/guildmates will actually be able to help keep/gain control of certain things in the world.

Anyways, there are a few things that I find to be important when thinking about immersion in an MMO. It sounds like the Vanguard dev’s promised a lot of these elements, but due to a rushed release or for other reasons, have left most of their players wanting, which has caused many to leave. Perhaps they will be able to turn it around after a few months, and regain these players, but for now, it sounds like a bug-ridden, most unoriginal, MMO. One thing that I am looking forward to is LotRO. While I haven’t seen much, I have seen most of the Shire, which I think is amazing, with the landscapes looking similar to Asheron’s Call 2, only slightly improved. This is one game that I have hope for in terms of a sense of immersion, but I’ll post more when I have seen more of the zones.

~Kanthalos~

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