I just don’t understand, how so many hundreds of thousands of people can flock to a new title like Soul of Guardian – a title that clearly lacks innovation, art direction and technical design in every way – and continue to discover, amidst the ruins of the free to play gaming industry, a genuinely enjoyable playing experience.
And they do. Believe me, I was skeptical of this ‘success’ too in the beginning, yet after logging in day-after-day to discover that more and more servers had been added, with more and more players running around on auto-pilot conquering more and more monsters with a 0.5 second spawn rate – it breaks every rule of game design I’ve ever learned, and yet, it succeeds where so many others have failed.
WHAT’S THE SECRET?
At first, I thought it had something to do with geographic location. Unlike more prominent MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, Soul of Guardian doesn’t offer server selection based on location. It made sense then to assume that many of these players were coming from territories that don’t offer the hardware support required to run modern-generation titles – countries that still operate Internet Cafes on Pentium 3 hardware, for example – though this was not the case.
A little research led to the discovery that a large portion of these players are in the USA – a country whose hardware development surpasses most others – so it had to be something else.
Next, I looked to the browser elements. The trend in today’s world is to grab your MMORPG fix via a browser game, as not only can it be played without the need of an install or download (making it much easier to play at work and school), but too, the nature of the game design within this style is predominantly automatic – that is to say, most of the gameplay can be experienced without actually having to ‘play’, making it easy to enjoy while completing other tasks.
But then I looked at the other browser games on offer within the fantasy MMORPG realm, games like A Mystical Land or Pirate Storm – or even those that are difficult to tell apart, like the infamous Conquer Online – and again, I found that all of these titles offer a significantly better gaming experience, in terms of visuals and mechanics; and yet Soul of Guardian remains filled by thousands of eager players.
IMITATE AND IMITATE
Having looked into the possibility that Soul of Guardian had achieved its rampant success via geographical positioning and browser-based gameplay, and come out empty handed, I was running out of options. My last chance was in gameplay, so I jumped back into the fray, one final time, to track down the secret.
First, I looked at the classes: Warrior, Rogue, Hammer and Spear. Nothing new here. Then, the quest and level progression. In under 10 minutes it’s possible to reach level 15 in Soul of Guardian, without ever needing to participate in the gameplay outside accepting and completing quests. Even combat is automated, lacking depth, intrigue and challenge in every way.
A mount is offered somewhere around level 10, as are pets and gifts and every other type of pleasure-button you could conceive, alongside PvP and typical quest progression. Again, even when considering all of the game elements as a whole, I came out empty handed.
To the best of my ability, I have been unable to ascertain why so many people are taken with Soul of Guardian – it’s an obtusely rehashed, typical fantasy MMORPG clone, and not much else – yet, again, it’s widely popular and regularly played by thousands from across the globe.
Perhaps it takes a specific type of person to enjoy this specific type of game, or perhaps these players are simply taken by the ‘new’ element, or the community, or the low level of difficulty and the ease of play. It remains a mystery, to be sure, but if it sounds like something you’d be interested in trying for yourself, you need only click PLAY NOW.
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