I like MMOs. They are exceptionally cheap entertainment by the hour, relatively social, and somewhat challenging.
But I really like MMOs with a really good story to them…
World of Warcraft was the last real MMO I got into, and that was because I was very much into the story of the world. The Warcraft franchise has a ton of interesting fantasy lore to it, and it was fun to be a part of that – until Blizzard took off into left field with it all at least.
Since then I have tried a few other MMOs, and they all fall short on the lore… A player is never really quite sure where they are in the world, or why they are there.
It feels random… The typical MMO is an odd mishmash of fantasy tropes with no real historical grounding for why things are that way. The world feels like it was put together about a year or two ago to fit some story arc you might be vaguely interested in.
So in the history of MMOs there have been two that no only have a truckload of lore, a series of player-based games that people are familiar with, and are created by the company who owns the IP: World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online.
Sure, there are other MMOs with access to a treasure-trove of story and lore; Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic would be two examples… The issue is these two examples are not created by the folks who own the IP, and do not have generations of games behind them.
They do not translate well to a game.
So… I am currently playing ESO, and having a blast.
ESO is the same just left of center fantasy world we have come to know – swords, sorcery, various flavors of elves, various flavors of humans, a few anthropomorphic races for spice…
And then things get weird…
The flora and fauna of Tamriel is right out of the alien world of a scifi novel; strange giant insects and oddly mobile plants exist side-by-side with people in full plate on horseback. The religious aspects are a bit odd too – where you are never quite sure if the 'gods' are just very powerful (and slightly bent) people.
All in all, one could easily imagine Tamriel being some alien world where in the far future humanity made an attempt to colonize – but something went wrong and a thousand years later everyone is living in the dark ages. It has that “Oh, hey – this is just like lord of the rings … wait – what the hell is that!?” effect going for it – and that is rather fun.