MMORPG’s tend to move forward with technology, but sometimes, for some reason, we get the urge to go back, as we can see with games like NEStalgia, the Project 1999 Everquest Revival, and of course the focus of this article, which is 8BitMMO. Though it seemed to be riding the coattails of NEStalgia, it is a completely different game with entirely different motives. While NEStalgia tends to focus on epic questing and storylines, 8BitMMO provides a more user defined experience. If you are an avid MMO player then you might be wondering what this means. After all, every MMORPG out there offers a ‘user defined’ experience and the opportunity to write your own story. Let’s face it, very few MMORPG’s actually allow you to do that, even if they claim it on their front page. For the most part, games of this nature are scripted and determined by the developers, and very rarely do they actually offer that sort of opportunity. 8bitMMO on the other hand is entirely different. The game starts off in much the way any other MMORPG starts: you, a room, and a quest giver. Well actually there are two quest givers simply because there are two different ways to progress in the game. You can choose, one, both, or neither. It’s all up to you.
Two Roads to Take
The first, and most obvious road in the game is that of a quester, and until level 3, you will simply be finishing fetch quests created by the developers. Oddly enough these quests involve things like going into a basement and killing hippies or congressional slugs. Then, you eventually graduate into killing Lawyercats at a law office that looks more like a hastily made dungeon.
What do you have to fight these Hipsters, Slugs, and Lawyercats with? The game starts you out with a simple white sword, and I will say that the attacks are actually quite efficient for being played out in real time. The closest equivalents in the 8Bit world I’ve seen thus far would be the Legend of Zelda or Sword of Mana for the Gameboy Advance. As with any other RPG (action RPG in particular), the higher your weapon stats, the more damage you will be able to do. Here’s where we get into the nitty gritty of the game, and it lies in the fact that at some point, if you want to advance, you will need to spend real money. Well okay, you don’t NEED to spend real money as most items are obtained through gold which can be earned in-game, and is awarded for questing, but you also receive gold rewards(and exp) for killing monsters within dungeons. This gold is useable in the store and you can use it to upgrade your weapons. In fact, one quest actually requires you to open the store and purchase a blue sword. Don’t worry; you’ll be glad that you did.
Once you hit a certain level the game begins to throw player made quests at you. Some of these are simple, some are just ridiculous. In fact it seems that every player in the game wants you, at some point, to enter their house and navigate a spike pit in their basement. At the end of each dungeon you will be provided with the opportunity to interact with a reward block which signifies the end of the quest. Fortunately, getting back to the quest giver is much easier than actually getting to the objective. All you need to do is access the menu and return to ‘root’ or ‘home’ if you have not changed home to something else. Once you return, you can speak with the quest giver who will initially tell you that hard work is its own reward, and then agrees to reward you with both gold and experience. This will continue as long as you want it to, and of course as long as you are able to complete the player given quests.
The second path you might choose to take is the builder’s path. Fortunately that one is right next to the initial quest giver, and you will be initially tasked with laying down blocks to form your own home. This can be done in your free building area, or in the wilderness where you might choose to start your own city. Oh yes, that’s right, the game is full of player run cities which you may or may not be able to enter before gaining citizenship from the ‘mayor’, assuming the mayor is online. It is a player run city, after all.
Building own city will require either grinding or large gold purchases simply because you are to buy the necessary tiles from the in-game store. You can place them in your building space, and anyone has the option of accessing it so long as you let them. Much like second life, the entirety of the game is determined by players, and built by those who can afford to invest either absurd amounts of time or money.
If you walk through the game you will find cities both inhabited, and those abandoned by their creators long ago. I came across a city built by a player who had left the game some time ago, though a sign left behind paid homage to the once present creator. He had also left behind a very large chair.
Everything in the game is purchased with gold, and this includes character customization. You are free to make your character avatar look like a number of different things including various races. One of the available races was the zombie (the first quest giver actually), but this will actually go away if your character expires (dies). Other options, such as clothing, are more permanent and will help to set your character aside from all the others. Without these customizations, your character is simply a white avatar with a generic face. Aesthetic customizations are great, however they are not the ‘height’ of your customization experience.
Though you start out with a basic sword and eventually graduate to a more powerful ‘blue sword’, there are so many more things to try! As you level up more items will become available to you, including various firearms. That’s right, this game is not limited to melee weapons! You can buy pistols and even laser rifles if you so desire, and it only gets better as you level up. The one downside however, is that you do need to purchase ammunition for your weapons, which is obviously going to become a bit of a pain if you partake in PVP. That’s right, there are several PVP arenas in the game for you to take out your frustration on other players. In addition to that, some player built areas are also PVP, which, in essence means you can be gunned down anywhere if you aren’t paying attention.
There is plenty of social interaction to be had in 8BitMMO, whether you simply use the chat box, make friends, or visit the social club. The social club is accessible through a teleport pad in the root town, and once you arrive there a sign hilariously informs you that the root town is instanced and you will therefore not find other players in that area. For the record, the root town is clearly not instanced and you can see plenty of players there at varying times. Still, the social club is a nice place to hang out when you’re not building or questing.
The Good and the Bad
This is a great game, very well thought out and certainly well designed. There are a few shortcomings that may or may not be worked out once the game leaves early access. My biggest problem was the nearly impossible to detect distinction between building block heights. When you are creating your structures you are able to determine how high each block should be placed relative to the ground. While you might know how tall your structure is, it can be difficult to determine this from an outsider perspective, making some tasks a bit tedious, to say the least. For example I had a quest that involved walking up a set of stairs inside a tower. I never could quite figure it out.
In the end, giving the players creative control over the world is sort of a double edged sword. Yes it makes the game more amusing and unpredictable, but at the same time it can also make it more difficult to navigate. On that note, the game is quite funny, more so than most other MMO’s I’ve played recently. From a zombie who claims to have been in Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video, to a locked room full of hippies referencing a South Park episode. The game is full of chuckles to be had, and if you can learn to navigate it, the humor really will be the gift that keeps on giving.
+Massive World to Explore
-Laggy at Times
-Costly Basic Items