So I just freshly downloaded the DAoC client with the Shrouded Isles and Catacombs expansion.
The last time I played was when Catacombs was released. I really wanted to test the metal of the private instanced dungeon and Im always a sucker for new character classes.
You know its old and it shows its age in some of the UI conventions even before we get into the effects of a post WoW world.
Yet, after 5 hours or so, Im liking it more than my first trip into Catacombs. There are a lot of things Im learning about why people play MMO's and the reason WoW has smashed the subscriber record books.
I am coming to the conclusion that combat pacing, so long as it falls within a relative window of rapidity, isnt going to make or break the fun factor of an MMO as much as I first thought. I am begining to believe that the animations of weapon swings and casting is more important than how fast you can kill your opponent and how long it takes to recoup the damage you suffered. To put it bluntly, Catacombs almost reduced the fun of combat ever further when they increased the polycount of the characters but left the same uneventful and uninspiring weapon swings. In a lot of cases, as is the case with my Savage that can occasionaly triple attack and my Bonedancer's insta cast life taps, there are no animations, just numbers rolling and messages in the combat window.
Art direction also rears its ugly head with character appearance. The new models look nice but they are boring. Now WoW largely did the same thing as DAoC were the majority of the character's appearance changes are just new colors or patterns on the same model. However, at least the shoulder pads, helmets and to some minor extent boots and gloves, have changing models in WoW. In DAoC its all the same model throughout your character's life with texture swaps and lackluster helmets.
People always lament the item grind but its a subtle, easy and addictive way to show character growth. I know that most of the stuff you get in WoW is stuff you cant use or vendor junk. But you know what? You would be surprised at how much more satisfactory it is to get an unuseable magic sword along with your 7 rotted rat toes and 4 spider leg tips.
Aside from the age and flaws of DAoC I have found a groove with some of the pet classes' simple and effective playstyles in combination with adventuring in the private instances.
It would be interesting what would happen to the game's subscriptions should they really look at the art direction and overhaul the character and monster animations.