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Smaller zones, please

As I play more MMOs, I feel like I’m widening my horizons and discovering more about myself as a player. One of the things that I’ve found out is that I really prefer smaller and quicker to finish zones. I like to feel like I’m moving forward with my character, not only in gear, but also on that eternal trek toward whatever ultimate evil I’m battling against. It seems like in almost every game, however, there’s some zone that just wants to trap you.

Take LotRO for example. The North Downs and Lone Lands are two examples of zones that just last way too long. They try to break the zones into parts that are of a different setting, so it looks a little different, but you’re still in the same place for level after level after level.

Aion takes a similar approach to their zone design. On the Asmodian side, you level 1-25 in Ishalgen, Altgard, Morheim, and Brusthonin. From 25-50, you level through most of those zones again, just on the other side you couldn’t get to before. The difference between the sides is a lot more striking, however, than the east and west sides of the North Downs in LotRO. You’re adventuring in the same zone but they look almost totally different.

So what’s the problem? It’s a psychological block. I much prefer WoW’s philosophy of “ever moving forward” rather than “stop here, stay here” or “stop here and come back later.” As long as my zones are moving forward, there’s movement. I’m going somewhere and you can look around to prove it.

Ironically, games that are one, big zone don’t suffer from this issue. The difference, I believe, is that games like Fallen Earth and Darkfall are open worlds rather than stitched together zones. There’s no expectation of it being any more. Everything is there, accessible from the start, with no artificial barriers to stop you.

I like that I’m finding out more about myself. I feel like I’m gaining perspective, as I go forward. Things like this probably won’t stop me from trying a new game but I think I can step in with more wisdom than I had a year ago. And that’s a good thing.

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