Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hyboria lacks that world feeling

So my Herald of Xotl left Tortage and started questing all around Hyboria. But somehow "all around" is not really the good description. All the zones are instanced, and are accessed by talking to some NPC who teleports you there. It is simply not possible to walk into the next zone, you walk to the zone border where somebody teleports you into the next zone. Only that some teleports are all across the map, connecting the cities. You can reach a zone on the far end of the map as fast as the zone shown next to where you are on the world map. This has a horrible demotivating effect on me: I'm an explorer, and I'm missing a world to explore.

There being no sense of place is not only a matter of transport, but also of quest organization. Whatever city you are in, the quests you get can lead you to adventuring zones which are nominally attached to other regions. I left Tortage at level 19 and went to Stygia, but ended up leveling to 22 mostly in Aquilonia. Pretty quickly you start thinking of zones not in terms as being north, west, south, or east, but in terms of being X jumps away from where you are.

Now every region has their own zone for leveling up from 20 to 30. The advantage of being able to jump so quickly to any zone is that you end up with tons of quests for every level, more than you would need to level up. Don't like a quest? Just skip it, there are so many others around. The disadvantage is that you easily outlevel a zone before you have seen everything, and that by jumping around between zones you also jump around between the various strings of lore. You get less involved in a zone and its lore.

The game hasn't even started yet in Europe, and barely got out of the gate in the US, and already people report being bored. I'm not far enough to verify it myself, but apparently the content gets even weaker after level 30. Which is pretty much the state Lord of the Rings Online was in at release, so it wouldn't be all that surprising. As I said, I'm not there yet, but already I feel an urge to rather level up another class to 20 in Tortage with its fun destiny quest lines and voice overs, instead of doing random quests, randomly distributed all over Hyboria. Tortage has a lot of character, the wider world of Hyboria is lacking the world feeling for me.

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