As I've attempted to explain in previous posts, the cheerful, child-friendly cartoon visuals belie the steep leveling curve and unforgiving difficulty setting of this decidely un-casual MMO. It wasn't until I read this post on Artix Entertainment's website today, however, that I realized just exactly what kind of a truly elitist, hardcore game AQ3D is setting out to be.
In getting on for two decades of playing MMOs I can't recall ever seeing any developer talk down to all but their hardcore players in such an un-nuanced way. I thought Yoshi P from Square Enix was a tough customer but he's a pussycat compared to this.
Indeed, the last time I can recall anything even approaching this level of passive-aggressive disdain directed at the customer would be when Abashi (or was it Absor?) repeatedly referred to players who pushed back against the EQ grind as "bottom-feeders".
The linked post has to be read in full to appreciate just how dismissive the underlying ethos appears to be towards the more casual or, perhaps, just less obsessive player but here are a few choice quotes:
They are jumping in and trying to coast on the coat tails of their stronger team members
They are taking up a valuable seat on the team that could be filled by someone level and gear appropriate
You might think it's not fair to only allow top level players access to the hard to earn gear. You're wrong.
The higher level players have worked hard, gotten to or near the level cap and played through much of the game's content that is still waiting for you lower level playersThis, bear in mind, is in the context of players of a game in Open Beta, who are trying to see and enjoy a limited-duration Halloween event. Granted it's only one part of that event, a dungeon wing "balanced for five level +13 plus members to tackle with some difficulty" but even so the solution is harshly exclusive rather than warmly inclusive.
Where most modern MMOs would use scaling, mentoring, smart loot or one of the many non-divisive methods developed over the past two decades to allow friends to play with friends regardless of the level of their characters or time in the game, Artix Entertainment has found a much simpler method of dealing with those pesky coat-tail grabbers. Level-lock them out.
As I think I said before, if you're one of those bitter vets, yearning for the days when it was uphill to the dungeon both ways in the snow, when low-levels knew their place was watching you strut around the bank in your high-level gear, well, there's no need to wait for Brad McQuaid to bring back the good old days - AQ3D is ready for you right now.
None of which suggests AQ3D is going to be a bad game or even a bad MMO. It just isn't going to be the MMO I thought it might be. And probably not one for me.
Maybe it's time to write this one off. Leave it for the hardcore. The players who have "worked hard" at playing a video game. Perhaps I should just get out of their way and go somewhere I might feel more welcome. I might take another look at Villagers and Heroes for that elusive cross-platform MMO fix.
Passive aggressive? Me? Well, who started it?