Every year when a new update for World Of Warcraft gets announced, or Final Fantasy XIV reveals some mad collaboration with NieR: Automata, I can't help but be sucked in again. Almost. I hover my mouse over purchase, but I can never bring myself to click.
Deep down, I know I don't like MMORPGs anymore. But for some reason I still believe that maybe, just maybe, I actually do. That this particular expansion where orcs fight in a shadow realm, or I can strut about in a new cross-promotional costume, will be like coming home after many years lost in the wilderness.
I played a whole lot of World Of Warcraft a few years back. I'd spend those ridiculously long school holidays curled up at my desk levelling up my dwarf paladin. And my orc warlock. Let's not forget my troll warrior. I have a habit of creating an endless cycle of characters if a game gives me multiple classes to choose from. I can't help myself.
I used to really enjoy soaking up the expansive worlds. I could spend hours standing in a bank in Runescape, even, endlessly typing out "selling lobbies 10k!" - but ensuring it had wiggly rainbow font to stand out in a sea of other sellers. I loved watching EXP bars inch forwards as I'd complete menial quests like bringing Andy 10 candles from the nearest dungeon, and getting goosebumps upon hearing the level-up ding. Or, if you saw someone else ding, putting "congrats" in the chat.
As time ticked away, I guess I fell out of love with the grind. I couldn't imagine spending my evenings gathering 20,000 demon socks for a rare dragon breastplate any longer. The MMORPG model just didn't click with me - and yet I still longed for it.
Spurred on by nostalgia, I dove into WoW's Warlords Of Draenor expansion when it first launched. I thought that enough time had passed, that maybe this would help me rekindle the magic. Maybe I'd enjoy the fetch quests and the yellow numbers that rise out of enemies when you stand next to one and smash the hotbar. Very briefly, it was a good time, but it wasn't long before I burned out.
And here I am again, debating whether I should give FFXIV a go now that they've announced the new expansion that I can't remember the name of. Lots of people tell me it's good and I've seen some say that it's quite different to WoW. I don't know, though, pal. Looks mighty similar to me.
I'm just worried I'll complete a few clipboard tasks and burn out again. I wonder if my tendency to drop MMORPGs stems from my more recent experience with other games, like the Witcher 3, for example. Maybe I've been spoiled by its side quests which put others to shame. Or even games like Nioh 2, where boss battles raise your heart rate to dangerous levels.
MMORPGs feel, perhaps, a bit trapped in time to me. No matter what, you have to slog through 40 hours of content to get to the good stuff. Come on, mate, it's only 40 hours! And sure, that good stuff is largely more of the same, but you'll be a higher level!
Even still, I refuse to believe I actually dislike the MMORPG template. I think there's a part of me which wants to come full circle. To ditch all these other games, and focus my efforts on menial tasks for elves. To fish, watch bars rise, and relax in a universe that doesn't ask too much of me. So with this in mind... I'll likely give FFXIV a go.