Before I begin you need a little background:
I have played almost every MMORPG in existence. Everquest I & II, Asheron’s Call, WoW, Shadowbane, Anarchy Online, EVE Online, Runescape, etc. The list goes on but I can’t think of any more now. I am by no means a new MMOer. The three games I have spent the most time on are Anarchy Online, WoW, and ShadowBane.
ShadowBane is the greatest MMORPG ever created. Ever. Posting nethack scores doesn’t count. MUDs are good, but the old SB RolePlay servers were at least as good. So, here is what makes ShadowBane the best MMORPG ever, and why it didn’t pwn WoW.
- Deep, deep lore. Lore is everywhere. Almost all the items have lore. The few NPCs that there are have lore. Every freakin’ thing in the game has lore. I have never been so drawn into a computer game (not counting Morrowind).
- Free PvP. After noobland (a small island off the coast of the main continents), there are only 2 no-PvP zones. To some people, this was a turn off. As a PvP lover, this was heaven.
- Thieves could actually steal. Yes, that’s right. If you played a thief, you got the Peek and Pick Pocket powers. So even though thieves routinely get their butts whooped in PvP (until you get dual Vorgrim Daggers), they were still fun to play.
- Sneak turned you invisible. And there was no friggin’ way for other players to see you! None! Zip! Nada! The only Sneak-breaker is an AoE! Scouts, and the Bounty Hunter runes (which I spent 3 weeks camping before finally scoring a ninja loot) let you see them, but until they are HIT they remain invisible to everyone else.
- The classes were well balanced and made sense. Yes, as i mentioned in #4, Scouts can see sneaking people. Priests could raise dead, Necromancers could raise skeletons. Druids had nature magic and were the primary AoEers. Assassins were high-dps. You get the picture.
- The races were exagerated. It cost skill points to play certain races, such as the Vampires and Aracoix. But with good reason. Vampires have no MP, but instead use HP for everything. That sounds bad, but they also get the Vampire’s Kiss ability, which lets them drain HP from pretty much anything. And Aracoix could fly. I’ll give you time to read that a few times. THEY COULD FLY!!!!!!!!!!!! What other MMO lets you do that from the start of the game (FlyFF doesn’t count!).
- The land was big, but not too big. Just big enough that you could run across it (because there was no transport system other than Runemasters, who could insta-port you from city to city), but wouldn’t want to. Flying could take you across oceans and get to places no one else could.
And now why WoW killed it:
- At launch, a couple of crackers teleported the one safehold (aka No-PvP city) into the middle of the ocean. Oh, and the lag was bad.
- The graphics were sub-par and the game is a memory hog.
- Free PvP. That’s not for everyone, but for those who love it, WoW has it too, it just looks prettier there.
- The advertising was targetting at hardcore players, not everday people. The few TV spots made parents want to shield children’s eyes with the beutifully rendered battles and dark magics.
Anyway, I’ll be playing Shadowbane till they shut it down. The rest of you can go back to your WoW (or Runescape) now.