Comfort Food in Video Game Form

In Search of a Lighthearted MMO

I’ve read that, in times of war, people gravitate towards Classical or Baroque (Bach, Mozart) over Romantic (Beethoven) music, while societies at peace showed the opposite preference. The idea behind this is that the more predictable, major key pieces of the Baroque or Classical period were comforting in times of crisis. I can’t find any sources to back up this possibly apocryphal tale. But the story rings true, and also has some relevance to my gaming experience, so I’m going with it.

In my preferences for MMOs, I find that the more challenging or chaotic my personal life or the political scene becomes, the more I look for simplicity and an upbeat atmosphere in my games. True, in the United States, we’re not ‘at war’ in the sense that Europe was at war in 1916, say. Or even in the sense that we were at war ten years ago. But, nonetheless, the last couple of years have left me seeking a bit of comfort-food in video game form.

Wildstar should fit the bill for overall tone, but has some other issues that keep me from exploring more.

This means either a goofy, lighthearted title, or else a good dose of grind. Grind — don’t knock it — can be very relaxing.

Leaving aside the grind component, there aren’t a lot of MMOs that truly fit the lighthearted requirement, and those that exist tend to be kid or at least family-oriented MMOs. Beyond that, I can think of a couple, Wildstar being the most obvious full-fledged MMO in the ‘mainstream’ tradition. But there are too many side issues with Wildstar for it to draw me in.

There are parts of FFXIV that are lighthearted enough, and then smaller titles like Villagers and Heroes or Adventure Quest 3D that I might take a second look at.

TemTem is an upcoming Pokemon-inspired MMO.

For upcoming titles, I’m paying particular attention to Temtem.

Oh, and what about WoW? It’s pretty goofy, too, at least in parts. I’m thinking about goblins, poop quests…

Wait, though. I’m remembering something now.

Sylvanas from the Warbringers: Sylvanas animated short.

Yeah, that.

I keep thinking about the pre-patch, which is rather peculiar since I haven’t really played WoW for several years now. But I think another thing that may disturb players, in addition to the points I mentioned yesterday, is that this pre-patch, and the expansion itself represent a significant tonal shift for WoW.

Watching all the cinematics in order really puts the shift into perspective. Compare the Mists of Pandaria expansion cinematic, which seems most tonally in-line with WoW as played, or the hopeful tenor of the Legion cinematic, to the latest Battle for Azeroth piece. With this context, the BfA cinematic, though technically exceptional, seems even more out-of-place.

Lately, I’ve been playing a lot of Project: Gorgon, the obscure and backwards-looking indie game from Eric Heimburg and Sandra Powers. It’s graphics are not-so-hot, and it’s more odd than goofy, but between the humor and the relaxing grind, it’s hitting the spot right now. Any other good MMO romps out there? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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