MMORPGs today lack any sense of role playing and story. I remember when I first started playing Everquest, I felt as if I was thrown into an actual world, as NPCs actually interacted with you. I remember when I walked down the streets of Qeynos, a town in EverQuest, one day I heard two guards discussing the politics of the town, and I heard another guard arguing with another NPC. If you walked around town long enough you would learn a lot about what was going on in the town, in terms of story which was actually really interesting.
One particular quest I remember doing was trying to eliminate the corrupt guards in Qeynos. The quest was assigned by one of the guard captains who knew there was corruption amongst the ranks of the guards and would reward you for finding and killing the guards that were corrupt. Players could identify corrupt guards by right clicking a random guard and checking your particular standing with that guard’s faction. Corrupt guards would view you “Dubiously” while regular guards would look at you “indifferently or amiably”. Finding low ranking corrupt guards and killing them was easy, but every time you killed a corrupt guard your standing with their faction would decrease. Upon completing the Quest the guards went from looking at my character “Dubiously” to attacking my character on sight. Walking around town with half of the town’s guards attacking you was no fun at all, but it added another sense of game play to EverQuest, as players had to manage their faction standing with everyone. I still remember the name of the leader of the corrupt Guards, Lieutenant Dagarok. If you had low standing with the corrupt guards he would run up to you and one shot you.
EverQuest definitely had the best faction system. Everything you did in the game impacted your standing with one group or another. Whether you killed a monster or completed a quest, odds are it will benefit your standing with one faction and hurt your standing with another. I’ve played World of Warcraft, and that game’s faction system isn’t even comparable to EverQuest’s. Everquest simply felt like an actual world where what you did in the game affected how other NPCs treated you. I’m not claiming that EverQuest was the best game of all time; the game had its fair share of flaws, but definitely has the best reputation system of any pay to play or free MMORPG.
I always wonder what great looking MMORPG games like Sword of the New World of Perfect World would be like if they had a better story / more player interaction with the game world. Games like Archlord and Luminary: Rise of The Goonzu are definitely taking steps in the right direction with an in game political system, but I’d love to see other MMORPG games create similar systems. In Goonzu players can elect players into local town positions and can even elect a leader on the national level who has a great deal of influence over the entire game. These systems aren’t perfect yet, but they definitely add another layer of game play to MMO games.