Blaugust Day 1: Game Recommendations from the Editor of an MMO Website

There’s something I see on Reddit quite often that I usually feel compelled to answer, people asking for tips on which MMO they should play. I feel that my job as Editor in Chief of puts me in a unique position. I get paid to keep up on the industry, play these games, and give my opinion. With that in mind here are my recommendations for MMOs, MOBAs, and other online games.

Subscription Based MMORPG: Final Fantasy XIV

Jaedia FFXIV

Special thanks to Jaedia from for the FFXIV image.

Though I’ve not touched this game personally I am completely confident in recommending it to anyone looking for a subscription based MMORPG. In both my personal and professional life I see Square Enix doing no wrong with this game. The majority of my MMO playing friends and co-workers play FFXIV and have nothing but fantastic things to say about it. Since A Realm Reborn launched I’ve not heard a single complaint about it. I’m sure there must be something to comment on, a perfect game can’t really exist, can it?

So why don’t I play? There are several reasons actually. First, I’ve never played a Final Fantasy game before. I just didn’t have the exposure which seems to have drawn so many people in. Second, it (re)launched in 2011, when I was still very happily playing City of Heroes. Lastly, it just hasn’t grabbed me. The art style does nothing for me. While I’m very happy to listen to my friends gush about the game nothing they ever say makes me feel like I’m really missing out on something amazing. Which might seem odd considering I’m recommending it to you now.

Buy to Play MMORPG: The Secret World


This was actually the hardest one to pick from them all. Ultimately it game down to player happiness. People who play The Secret World are extremely happy with their game overall. Yes, of course Funcom has made mistakes and it does take quite a while for games to release but there were a lot of things I took into consideration. It might be easier to explain by eliminating the competition.

Elder Scrolls Online I removed from the list because there are a lot of disappointing game design choices and I feel that it hasn’t quite found its footing. This of course may change after the launch of the first DLC, we will just have to wait and see.

Guild Wars 2 was the first I removed. Not only because of my own personal view of the game but also seeing how the community reacts to it. There is a lot of negativity around the game from poor writing to making game changes that impact veterans negatively. Also taking into account NCSoft’s tendency to shut down games that aren’t performing, Guild Wars 2 just isn’t a game I can recommend people get sucked into. That being said, it is a fun game and I will log in every few months when I need some good old fashioned mindless killing.

What makes The Secret World so good? It’s a game for grown ups. I don’t just mean the swearing and the sexual themes scattered throughout. It’s a game for people who like a challenge. People who solving mysteries and doing research. It is the thinking man’s MMO. I often see complaints about combat, but I feel that the game is misunderstood by those people. You can’t just pick your weapons and expect to keep them throughout the game. What works well in one zone against one type of enemy may not work in the next zone against someone totally different. These people also seem to go for the weapon that is recommended for the first zone, a sword and then find it boring. Yes, I will grant you that spamming the sword swinging works against the zombies, but it isn’t any fun. To get the most from The Secret World you need to step away from your normal way of thinking about an MMO. This isn’t an easy request when ALL the others in the genre act the same.

Well, it looks like I’m going to be breaking this subject down over the next couple of days which is perfect really. Is there a genre or interest you’d like to have a recommendation for? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to know your thoughts on the first two recommendations so far also.


This is the first entry for Blaugust 2015. Blaugust is a games blogging/vlogging challenge put on by the awesome Belghast of Tales of the Aggronaut. Find out more about it on

8 thoughts on “Blaugust Day 1: Game Recommendations from the Editor of an MMO Website

  1. I agree with both, though I’m currently playing neither. I futz around on TSW now and then, mostly to spend my lifetime-sub store points, but I recently had to acknowledge that it’s possibly too scary for me. I can *read* horror and suspense, but watching it… I’m visual. I’m easily scared. I jump out of my chair a lot when playing TSW. 😉

    • I’ve not really been playing TSW since the end of my column on MMORPG. It’s a great game but much like you it’s far too scary for me to play when I’m home alone or after dark. It’s also really not a game you can sit down and play a little bit casually every night after work.

      • Really? I found that i can do that perfectly fine. And even better, i for quite a while “played” it offline, when commuting to and from work. What i refer to are the investigation missions, for which i didn’t look up guides (except for the music based ones, they at that time didn’t have the additional color coding yet, and i just couldn’t do the music stuff without a guide) but rather kept the stuff on the back of my mind and pondered it during my trips to and back from work.

        For some of them it “clicked” one of two days after picking them up, the longest one open was for like six weeks before i during one of the trips had the deciding idea. So yes, it required some patience, but hey, it sure felt good to have found the solution by myself and still think that only a few people managed to do that. 🙂

  2. I wish I could see what others see in The Secret World, but every time I start it up, I am immediately turned off by almost everything. I hate its tone, its theme, its looks. It feels completely alien and weird to me in the worst possible ways.

    Then again, its uniqueness probably plays a major role in why it is beloved by those who do love it.

    • I can completely see the uniqueness being a downside. It’s a little too different, which I think is why it struggles to be seen as one of the major players in the genre.

      I feel much the same way about FFXIV. I hear so many great stories about it but I look at screenshots, I see videos and the best I can do is “my friends are going to love this.”

    • Absolutely. To me it’s still the best game for taking screenshots, for instance, because I love the look, feel and tone (with LOTRO a close second) — but you have to be immersed in it. It’s like Marmite – people love it or hate it with very few in-between. I both love it AND hate it – I love to look at it but I hate that it scares me with darkness and monsters trying to chew my face off.

  3. The Secret World is one of those games which.. in theory.. I should adore but something didn’t click with me. Still, I have got it installed for pokeage.

    As for FFXIV, I’ma poop on your first two reasons for not playing! One – I’ve not played a Final Fantasy game before this one either. Two – 1.0 launched back in 2011, but 2.0, aka A Realm Reborn, launched in 2014 as a completely new game. So that just leaves the “it doesn’t appeal” reason, which I accept as valid. 😀

  4. I also haven’t played FF, mostly for i don’t have the time for another MMO and definitely not for one with subscription. Would i have more time available, i’d probably give it a look.

    On the rest, i fully agree on all you wrote. I also play GW2 on a very casual basis, means i log in almost every day to get the daily reward, but only continue playing like once every other week when i am in the mood for it. On this basis all the many flaws (bad story, glitches unattended since launch, medoicre quality all over) don’t bother me so much while the easy going atmosphere (the end of the world is near, let’s party) and flashy-but-undemanding combat make it a relaxing experience.

    For ESO, i first time tested it in beta and found it to have way too powerful anti-play-with-friends mechanics. (My girl and me fought the same boss together. We barely defeated it, but only the one who did the killing blow got credit for it and was moved to the other instance. The other one had to wait for the respawn and now kill the same boss alone… which she couldn’t do. ) These mechanics left us with several missions stuck at different steps and made us never buy the game.

    TSW on the other hand we both enjoy a lot. I know the game has it’s flaws, one of them being the challenge presented to a new player, especially one coming from other MMOs. While all other MMOs take your hand and guide you, TSW expects you to be a grown up, who can read and process information and can make your own decissions. This is reinforced with the huge and overwhelming skill wheel, which indeed for the new player is a painful burden.

    By now you can also go to some websites or the forum and get beginner builds, they did not always exist. Also by now the game has an improved tutorial and a rebalanced early game, but despite that there are also videos on yourtube where people played the game, clealy after the rework (the builders and consumers are now better marked on your toolbar) and people still don’t get even the basic mechanics and struggle, despite the tutorial forcing them to use them to ever get out of the training area.

    As a sidenote, this is also the reason why most people who try those beginner builds experience the game as “1111123” (unlike “111112” like in some other MMOs) and consider it boring. Veterans tend to give people easy to use setups, as we know that there’s plenty of people out there who unfortunately are already on their limits with the most simple setups. You just can’t give a beginner some of the more complex setups which require a more complex rotation if you know that many of them already struggle with the easiest setups.

    So indeed, the game requires some investment. Not only do investigation missions expect you use your brain (or cheat yourself by using online guides… really, the game doesn’t mind if you use them, but you cheat yourself out of a lot of fun and a rewarding experience, if you just use guides), creating good setups and adjusting to different enemies with different mechanics also requires to either think for yourself or use outside information.

    For me the eye-opener on mobs was a non-removeable buff on some, which makes them react on debilitation. I generally stack debilitation on them, to give them -30% damage output, which usually is a good idea. Unless the enemy has a special buff, which gives them +50% damage output when being affected by debilitation. So adjusting selected abilities and perhaps even switching your weapons can make a huge difference.

    The other problem people keep repeating is the dark atmosphere. That indeed is true, the world of TSW and especially the first zone are very grim. At the same time i dare to point out that the general situation is not that unusual for MMOs. I could give you a huge list of MMOs where the end of your world/race/civilisation or whatever is at hand and you are fighting for survival. In either of them there are zombies, demons, plagues and all other accessories of the apocalypse at hand. But in most of them despite all of the “end of the world, desperation, etc.” nobody actually cares, it’s just a backdrop for more hack and slash.

    The actual difference is not that only TSW has such a dark story, the real difference is that unlike any other MMO out there, TSW has such a high quality in storytelling that it can actually affect the player. So yes, in this way TSWs high quality might indeed be a problem…

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