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Over the Thanksgiving weekend, Pie and I had the opportunity to play Super Mario 3D World with a friend and we were having a blast! I actually started to feel bad that we were going through the game too quickly, because it was the only title our friend had picked up with the system. Great multi-player games that can be enjoyed in a living room together always seem to come out too infrequently, so we always savor the ones we can get our hands on. The great thing is, once 3D World has been wrung out we still have Rayman Legends to look forward to!
Lately, it feels like Pie and I, along with a number of our friends, have been searching for a good MMO to get rooted in. Actually, I suppose we're always looking for that. We all feel like we are missing that exhilarating experience of being deeply invested in an online experience together. Certain games, like WoW and Dragon Nest help, but there seems to be a systemic problem that we see killing our interest time and time again - so many games that are otherwise interesting are just too easy to be really compelling.
I understand the need to have a genre as big as an MMO accessible to a wide audience and I believe that it is important. However, I have not really seen a good balance where they can remain challenging (and thus fun, engaging and rewarding) in the critical early stages. If I start to play a game and it is comically easy, it is a huge turnoff in my longtime interest. MMOs need to account for players that are quite skilled and be attractive to them from the beginning while not shutting out less skilled players.
Ideally, they would allow you to choose your difficulty and it would matter in smart ways. For instance, a normal monster could dynamically change from a Plainstrider into a Gentle Plainstrider (easy) or Vicious Plainstrider (hard). This change would unlock certain skills in the monster to increase its challenge and give the player a higher chance to get items from the Plainstriders loot table. Perhaps they could even call on other enemies if they are being attacked by more than one player.
Guild Wars 2 attempted varying difficulty in enemies where they would scale based on the number of players fighting it; it's a great direction that should be explored more. I hope MMO developers put more focus into this challenge and bring about creative solutions. Accessibility is great, but overcoming content should be rewarding throughout the entire game, not simply reserved for the nonsensical idea that is "endgame".