One thing almost every MMORPG is missing today is good storytelling. It’s funny how single player RPGs like Final Fantasy and Chrono Trigger have such in depth plots, but when these games go “online” and “massively multiplayer” they become mindless grindfests. You’d imagine the first Final Fantasy MMORPG – Final Fantasy 11 would have at least a decent story, but it doesn’t. Most Chinese MMORPGs don’t even TRY to develop a plot. Games like 9Dragons, Kingdom Heroes and Hero Online for example basically say “Ready.. set… GO GRIND! And that’s it. No story what so ever. At least some Korean MMORPGs like Grand Chase and Trickster Online from Ntreev try to tell a tale, but can’t because of their terrible English translations.
I know there are a few high quality game publishers like Perfect World Entertainment and NCSoft that make good attempts at developing a story, but the problem is no one actually reads the quest dialogue. They just click passed it. Which leads me to believe questing and storylines in MMORPGs tend to suck. But only because gamers fail at presenting them. In Single player RPGs, players are actually interested in Storytelling. In MMORPGs, people only care about experience. It’s not ALL The genres fault though. I know World of Warcraft had a LOT of MMORPG Lore. The game’s world was RICH in lore and history, so players who actually cared about story could get a lot of fun out of the game. Unfortunately most people who played the game, myself included, simply skipped past ALL of the games quest descriptions and dialogue. I can respect WoW because it did have a good plot. No one chose to listen to it. I guess pay to play games are a bit better with story telling. I know Champions Online and Guild Wars both had decent storylines.
Free to play games on the other hand don’t seem to care at all about story. As I mentioned earlier both Chinese and Korean MMORPGs are terrible at story telling. You could blame the genre, but as a huge fan of single player RPGs, I want to play an MMO with a good story. Dungeons and Dragons Online from Turbine was a bit interesting, but it got old fast. I know Lord of the Rings Online will go free to play soon, so I’ll pay attention to that as well. Chinese games like Magic World Online from EnjoyMMO and Zu Online from IGG made me lose hope in storytelling in MMOs though. Hopefully Final Fantasy 14 will be interesting, as I look forward to it.