It's easy to get nearsighted when it comes to MMO's...It's often the kind of game you have to devote your gaming life to.
Since it's easy to get caught up in just one, it's nice to step back and try a few of the others now and then. Since I quit WoW after Christmas, I decided to try some new ones. I played Final Fantasy XI for 2 hours the other day, and I just downloaded Atlantica Online to give that a shot. I must say, Final Fantasy is pretty rough on beginners. I had a little graphical problem in Atlantica I'm trying to figure out, but other than that, the graphics are my favorite MMO graphics since WoW.
So thus far, these are MMO's I've tried out and my impressions of them:
World of Warcraft
Phenomenal game, beautiful to look at, addictive, and the solid fanbase assures that you'll have plenty of friends to spend the time with. Its popularity also ensures us that the game will continue to just get better and better, since the Lich King content shows that the game is only more fun than ever before.
Lord of the Rings Online
Plays like a WoW clone, with a few nifty additions. It does lack the diversity of races that WoW has, since main characters are limited to a single faction of Men, Elves, Dwarves, and Hobbits. The game looks amazing on a computer that's better than mine, but on anything not up to modern specs, it doesn't really match up to WoW.
Secret of the Solstice
Final Fantasy XI
I bunch these together because I think these three games have as much in common for starting players as WoW and Lord of the Rings had in common...All three of these games start you in a big city where it's easy to get lost, and each of them required me to run around for 30 minutes to 2 hours before discovering any real adventure. They all fall short of the other MMO's I've played in the graphics department. Secret of the Solstice had beautiful 2D art, which was interesting, though. The other thing I saw similar between these three was the first newbie fighting areas all seemed to be a big field with a bunch of the same 2 monsters bunched really close together. Grinding seemed to be a major focus. However, hard for me to be too harsh...I didn't give any of these much time, and they all seem to offer more to the players who devote themselves more, especially FFXI.
I'm just going to be getting into this, but I'll keep you posted. The battle system appears to be tactical based, which is a major difference. It also advertises itself to be a simulation game, where different towns actually pass hands to different guilds. Artwork is fantastic, and play is Free, you just buy Gold with 1$ to each 100Gold. That means as long as I don't mind being a flunky, I can play for free! Sweeeet.