The PC is probably the first platform that comes to mind whenever people talk about MMORPGs, and with good reason. But what about MMORPGs on consoles? Everybody knows that the mouse is an excellent tool for targeting and scrolling, while the keyboard allows for both action commands and fast typing without having to switch/add controller peripherals. Its ability to use different voice softwares and other third party add-ons also serve as a big factor, considering the diverse preferences of MMO players today. Another factor, and perhaps the most famous one, would be its upgradeable nature, which allows gamers to completely beef up the visuals to ‘buttery’ superior levels. No one wants to experience terribad frame rate issues when running 25-mans after all.
These are perhaps the key reasons why some MMO gamers are skeptical about the genre’s transition to the console world, but are MMORPGs built solely for the so-called “Master Race”?
Absolutely not! This is the form of elitism I’m willing to address and hopefully erase upon finishing this article. As we all know, the console market is on a constant boom, catering new games and integrating different playstyles that we as kids once thought impossible on a home console. These key features are perhaps what made us purchase our powerhouse rigs in the first place, due to our never ending quest to make our gaming experiences better.
Indeed, with the presence of 8th generation consoles such as the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U, features that were once deemed incompatible may find its place within the confines of these living room behemoths. The line between the supposed master race and consoles is slowly getting thinner by the minute—and that’s a good thing... for MMO Gaming.
The Controller Has Become A Solid Gaming Preference
While not the best peripheral for some genres, you have to admit that the controller has evolved far from the typical sidescrolling tool. Now, the pad is used for simulation games, first-person-shooters, and even MMO in a rather effective manner. Before the 7th gen consoles game to light, most of us may have never deemed the controller worthy of competitive shooters, let alone MMORPGs. There’s just too many buttons and macros available on the typical keyboard to pass off for an 8-button (options and directional buttons not included) pad.
This is perhaps one of the reasons why I was so surprised at how well MMOs like DC Universe Online, Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, and most especially Phantasy Star Online (the old one) played on their respective consoles. Surprisingly, the developers managed to integrate an almost pitch-perfect synergy with the typical gamepad, making it seem like you actually have more buttons at your disposal. Was it hard? Yes, but mostly because I got too comfy with the traditional WASD scheme. It took a little while, but I found myself raiding properly after getting used to it
Although Dragon Quest X has yet to arrive in North-American shores, I for one can already imagine the Wii U gamepad’s ability to address the MMO control scheme. People are effectively playing MMORPGs on tablets and smartphones afterall, so how different could a tablet controller be?
Just A Wee-bit Weaker
The biggest basis on the master race theory comes from the PC’s unparalleled performance at running games. There’s just something so enthralling about being able to play a game at 60 fps without experiencing hiccups, given that your system is able.
Note that today’s consoles are more powerful than their lastgen counterparts, and despite them not being as upgradeable and ultimately powerful as high-end PCs, these systems can easily outrun mid-ranged to mid-high spec computers when playing games. Just seeing the PS4 run Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn properly with little to no difficulty is proof that these systems can roll with the punches. Probably not as buttery smooth as a $2000 rig, but that’s the best mileage you’re ever gonna get for $399 .
The Variety of MMO Gaming
Along with the console controller’s continuous evolution are the different sub-genres of today’s MMO Games. While I do agree that some MMOs like World of Warcraft will not really play well on a controller, some of today’s games feature control-schemes that are easily optimized for both mouse and keyboard, and controllers.
There’s the Elder Scrolls Online, a game that plays a lot like Oblivion and Skyrim, which was a peach to play using pads (I for one played it on the PC with a controller, and had no problems whatsoever). Bungie’s new MMO, Destiny can also be considered as a prime example of a controller-based MMO, given the fact that console Halo, CoD, and Battlefield players don’t seem to experience any difficulty aiming with controllers and being good at it.
Just to be fair, not all MMOs came from PC roots; in fact, some of today’s online games originated from console gaming.
Kingdom Under Fire 2, for example, was partly reminiscent of the Dynasty Warriors or Sengoku Basara series, with its large scale battles and over-the-top hack n’ slash gameplay. There’s also the Monster Hunter: Frontier G, which shares the same gameplay as its handheld counterparts, obviously to be translated for mouse and keyboard use from the standard gamepad control-scheme.
More and more MMO categories may see the light of day on these consoles during its lifespan. The line between console and PC gaming may be thinner than we think.
Keyboard and Mouse Support
Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn on the Playstation 4 allowed users to use third-party mice and keyboards to pilot their characters. While not a lot of console MMOs have this feature at the moment, the compatibility of PC peripherals on a console game may very well be a taste of the future.
Just My Two Cents on MMORPGs on Consoles
The developers have included cross PC-console gameplay for a few MMO titles. I’m sure this wouldn’t be an optimal choice if the devs originally thought that PC gamers would yield a certain advantage over console users. In hindsight, is it really such a bad thing for console gamers to enjoy MMORPGs on their living room systems? I guess the key point here is that more and more people will be playing the games we love, so we as MMO players should embrace it. Surely there will be some gripes on system exclusives, and thoughts of what runs better on what will always be present, but heck, we PC gamers already experience that on a regular basis. Not all PCs run titles the same, so what’s the problem with another extra system joining in? As MMO Gamers, I believe that we should be happy that future MMO games will potentially have a bigger player-base. We play these games because we love it, not because it runs better on our respective systems.