How important are graphics to the MMO genre? Make your game look too amazing and you’ll limit the number of players who own a rig that can run it. Set the bar too low, and your game will look like a throwaway Flash title.
It’s been about six years since World of Warcraft released in 2004 and we’ve been wondering how the aging king of MMOs stacks up against some of its free-to-play competitors. So we set our video settings on high and took some screenshots to find out. Check out some of our favorite grindy games with graphics that look as good (or better) than World of Warcraft - minus the monthly fees. None of these free-to-play games look amazing, but after seeing how they stand up against one of the most profitable and popular MMOs in the world, they certainly look more than acceptable.
Above: DDO (left). World of Warcraft (right). Not all ranged DPS classes are created equal
Above: Free Realms (left). World of Warcraft (right). Look at how muddy the ground textures look in WoW when compared to a similar area in Free Realms
Above: Free Realms (left). World of Warcraft (right)
Above: Shin Megami Tensei: Imagine Online (left). World of Warcraft (right)
While we’re on the topic of Aeria Games, we’d just like to take a moment to point out that they have one of the friendliest communities we’ve encountered. Part of it has to do with the company’s GMs. They regularly coordinate special in-game events and interact with players. It’s not uncommon to see GMs cruising through low level zones to help newcomers. But the usual MMO elitism amongst players doesn’t seem as common in MegaTen. From our experience, it was always easy to find friendly (and helpful) players for groups at hubs.
Above: Aeria Games is always doing fun stuff with their players. Sometimes we wish Blizzard would loosen up and let their GMs play with their customers the way Aeria Games does