This year my willingness to try Korean developed MMOs has greatly increased. Other Asian titles have caught my attention in the past and I even tried ArcheAge for an hour or two but the distinct design decisions found in many of these titles were unfamiliar enough that ultimately I kept my distance. However in the past three months I’ve played Blade and Soul, Black Desert, and Tree of Savior for quite a few hours and I’ve enjoyed all of them. So why all of a sudden have these MMOs started to appeal to me?
First of all, I think I’ve simply exhausted the more familiar “WoW clones” that both defined and met my expectations for what an MMO should be. After WoW it was natural to try titles like Rift or Star Wars:The Old Republic but after a while the familiar framework became tired and predictable so my interest in other options grew. Having now exhausted that outer circle of western titles and with no major releases coming from the west, it makes sense that I would reconsider the Asian imports. Sure, many of the systems like gear advancement are unlike anything else I’ve played, but it’s a welcome change.
Secondly, what I’m experiencing in these games feels like innovative, new ideas being brought to the genre, even though in reality many of the concepts and systems these games are based on have been repeated for years in the Asian market. I would love to see more western studios adopt some of these differences too; it may not be true innovation, but it would bring some much needed change to their games nd perhaps a western take on an eastern concept would produce a unique gameplay experience.
There are certainly things I haven’t liked about the Korean titles I’ve been playing but overall the experience feels novel and playing these games has reinvigorated my thinking about what I like and what I don’t in an MMO; what core gameplay actually drives my interest. The gear progression, class customization, and economic systems in these titles have offered me a different perspective on the comparable systems I’m use to in Western MMOs. My hope is that developers on both sides of the Pacific are looking and learning from one another because there’s a lot of opportunity to progress the genre through the cross pollination of ideas from culturally diverse parts of the world.