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A couple of years ago or so, I kind of made a promise to myself that I would investigate more sandbox MMORPGs in an effort to appreciate just what the hell it was made them perceptibly better than themepark MMORPGs. After some time achieving a bit of this by way of the Choose My Adventure column, I can kind of say that there are sandbox games that I genuinely enjoy even if I pretty much grew up in this genre with themeparks (I don’t think EQOA or FFXI count as “true” sandboxes here).

So with that idea in mind, it has me thinking… maybe there are other MMO and multiplayer sub-genres that I can dig in to? So that’s today’s topic: What other kinds of game types could I try to dive in to and find enjoyment in?

One of the first ones that springs to mind is the PvP-centered MMORPG. I’m not necessarily sure I want to dive into an open world, full-loot PvP murderbox, but I do think that some more structured PvP with rules and controls involved in its design would be my cup of tea.

There is precedence to be had here. I really enjoyed the hell out of WildStar’s battlegrounds — as a healer class no less — and also found that the battlegrounds that were in Warhammer Online’s Return of Reckoning rogue server were good fun, again primarily because of the class I chose (which happened to be another healer, maybe that’s a pattern?). I was so emboldened by WAR ROR’s flavor of PvP, in fact, that I entered an RvR battlefield to intentionally find a fight, which is not expected behavior out of me whatsoever. Sadly, the lower-level RvR lands were pretty much barren in my time in that game so I never got to experience it.

So what games could feed this need? Crowfall immediately springs to mind. I could also maybe do more PvPing in FFXIV, though that game definitely feels like PvP is a tertiary activity at best. Maybe even Guild Wars 2 has the kind of PvP I like. I do have a Guardian that dishes out big area heals…

Another sub-genre I really want to like is the survival sandbox. I mostly stand by my initial assessment of this sub-genre as being one that, at least perceptually, is far too simplistically designed with almost no foresight or forethought whatsoever. That said, there have been a couple of games that have made me reassess this position a little bit.

One of the first that comes up is Citadel: Forged with Fire, a survival sandbox that genuinely hits a lot of beats for me in terms of making things engaging and not frustrating. The first, of course, is that there are PvE servers in the game, which lends itself to cooperation instead of looking to kick over other people’s toys. The second is its whole general deal of being a wizard in a wild land, which sort of lends itself to having a sense of power over the world. Even if the spell effects are very often extremely stupid and bad.

Another one that fits this bill for me is No Man’s Sky. Particularly, the freeform mode that effectively removes all of the material needs of doing anything in the game and lets you build and play how you want as deeply as you want, though I will admit that the game’s “base” experience is quite good, too. Once more, cooperation is the thing that makes this work. Also its whole sci-fi deal, which feels very pulp and interesting.

With those examples in mind, I kind of consider games that are all about cooperation or are unique enough in style that they’ll make me ignore the contrivances of survival gameplay. Valheim is one that I need to dive into further again (even solo, which might be suicidal); Life Beyond seems to be a game that desperately wants people to work together; and Voidtrain is a recent one that might not be quite so cooperative but also has such a distinctive vibe that I might jive to it.

Finally, there’s the tactical multiplayer game. Admittedly, this hurdle is likely going to be the toughest to surmount for me here, mostly because I have the tactical acumen of a drunken squirrel. Seriously, every strategy game I’ve ever tried, from WarCraft to Civilization VI has ended in spectacular, blistering, frustrating failure.

Once again, there is at least one precedent game that hit the mark for me, and that was Atlas Reactor. I’ve touched on this game before and how it kind of changed my mind about PvP, so I’m not going to repeat myself too much here, but I do have to also point out how that game did tactical gaming right in terms of approachability. It felt like I was making good decisions at times and also felt like it was communicating why a bad decision was bad, rewiring my dumb smooth brain to actually plot a little more than I would with this genre.

Are there games like that out there? Not really — and certainly not Atlas Rogues — but perhaps I’m wrong here. I’d love to have someone point me to something that is good for utter morons. Basically, that whole “easy to learn, difficult to master” kind of thing. Though this sub-genre, out of all of them, will likely be the one I stay furthest away from. Sometimes you just have to accept you’re diametrically opposed to certain games and game types.