Sandbox MMOs: Why Are They Better

World of Warcraft is the most famous example of the classic MMORPG. It has held onto its dominance for over a decade. Many have tried and failed to snatch...

World of Warcraft is the most famous example of the classic MMORPG. It has held onto its dominance for over a decade. Many have tried and failed to snatch the crown off of Blizzard, all have failed. The numbers populating Azeroth have dwindled, but it still remains the pioneer of the traditional MMO. The genre falls short on many aspects that can turn subscribers away, what if there was a better way to draw in the crowds. Maybe sandbox MMOs?

What Is A Sandbox Game

The sandbox RPG genre blurs the aspects of gameplay. Sandbox games allow personal, refined experiences within multiple playing styles in a single game. One of these games is Black Desert Online. Playing the game as an adventurer is always the focal point of an RPG, Black Desert is no different. The world is there to see as the individual player sees fit. Travelling merchants can move stock over large distances, finding the greatest profit in the land.  Fisherman can catch fish and sell them at the market.  There are guilds for every kind o player. Some even choose to declare war over the kingdom. Choosing to play in the classic design of the MMO is also available.  Completing quests and fighting to overcome the dark spirit that stole the protagonist’s memories until it is restored to full strength. Sandboxes allow multiple playing styles within a single world. Multiple games within a single release describe the persistent world where the stories are made. Being part of a world where finding a path that may differ from common ground is exciting. Making profit where others fear to tread could be easily exploited.

Sandboxes allow multiple playing styles within a single world. Multiple games within a single release describe the persistent world where the stories are made. Being part of a world where finding a path that may differ from common ground is exciting. Making profit where others fear to tread could be easily exploited.

Black Desert Online is newly released on Steam

Stories

Sandbox games create stories. Eve Online is a community that appears once in a while on my newsfeed. Some even make the mainstream news, wars fought within Eves universe sometimes make the mainstream media from the damage costs of single ships. One such war had a cost of $300,000 worth of fallout. Whole communities of people fighting under different agendas just is not possible within the traditional MMO. The quest lines aren’t linear or concrete.

 

Focusing on one goal limits the experience, opening up the game allows for more interesting stories than ones that are imprinted on everyone that plays the game. If a player is able to create a name for themselves, they may even have a shot at becoming closer to the developers. Eve Online does this to respected players by inviting them to the studio once a year to discuss future updates and goals. Taking this concept further seals an icon, sealed in history with old gods and new members alike.

Credit: Motivateplay.com

In Defence of Tradition

Traditional MMOs allow for a shared experience. Ones that communities can talk about years in the future, and though clique, could say “I was there”. Watching the death of The Eversleeper will forever remain a part of the Everquest community. In a sandbox game, the experience varies, so no story will be the same. Some prefer a common goal with a goal set in stone, not wanting to stray too far from the beaten track. It’s fun to share stories where we are the heroes.

Diversifying too much can fault a game, failing enjoyment from including too many mechanics to support the world. Black Desert Online is terrible with market notifications that display items of value, which is a lot. The design of quests is bland with similar progression within the combat quest lines. There are graphical issues in regards to pixel distortion when riding and beyond. Games developed with a stronger structure flow much better

Conclusion

Experiences that allow for personality and choice are the best ones. Mandatory objectives destroy individual discovery.  Finding a path in the real-world is a part of life, games shouldn’t hinder that objective. Having options can only enhance gameplay is a brilliant, having one that works is even more important. A world filled with options is one that MMO developers should strive towards. Seeing roles normally filled with the games AI is a special experience. The option of a non-combat playing style makes for a fulfilling change within a video game. Sometimes taking time off from the usual slaughter can enhance the experience. If it also allows for greater success within the same video game, it’s a big plus.

That isn’t to say MMOs focused on combat don’t have their place. Grinding endlessly for a single drop has a greater level of excitement when it finally happens. Being able to coordinate as a team with strategic focus makes for good game design. Finding common ground

Both genres have their pitfalls. Sandbox games often have trouble with becoming too ambitious and having faults at every turn. Traditional games have the ability to fatigue all but the most dedicated within the community. Creating a sandbox game that

I am a student studying video games and business at the University of Portsmouth. Current platforms are Xbox One and PC.
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