What are some of the most popular Asian MMORPG characteristics in 2020 you ask? Well, it wouldn’t surprise you to know that the formula still hasn’t change since the early 2000’s and the rise in popularity of games from the East. Here are some of the key characteristics and tropes you want to keep in mind if you’re looking for an Asian MMORPG to play. These aren’t necessarily good or bad, as everyone has their preference and you have the right to spend your time and money as you choose to.
Race and Gender Locks
Popular games like BDO and TERA gender lock their classes, and one wonders why this exists in the first place. If MMORPGs have a fun class and make it female only, the chances of cash shop costume sales could be pretty high. And the age old argument is probably valid, being that if the core gameplay is fun, who cares about gender locks? But there are folks out there that prefer playing what they want, over what they’re forced to. If someone wants to roll a Male Dark Knight on BDO or anything other than a female Elin on TERA, they can’t and that’s one Asian MMORPG Trope that annoys a lot of people.
Overusing Unreal Engine 3 & 4
For some reason, majority of Asian MMORPGs love using UE3 and 4. Why? It’s cheap, it’s readily available and one might suspect, developers in the East are more familiar with it. Think of your favorite or well known Korean MMOs over the last decade. They probably run on these two game engines. Even the more recent Elyon and Blade & Soul will be upgraded to the latest Unreal engines. In most cases, Unreal Engine 3 and 4 gives the game a distinct look. Lightweight, floaty and unfortunately cheap. If not optimized properly, it can also be a massive headache for players, like during Bless Online’s global Early Access in 2018, where performance was one of the reasons many avoided it.
Heavy Emphasis On Graphics Over Everything Else
Asian MMORPGs are pretty. They look good. The graphics are usually over the top, next gen and definitely awesome for screenshots. And honestly, this is one recurring theme I actually don’t mind, if the rest of the game can match the style with substance. Too often I see an MMO with awesome graphics and character models, only to be let down by the actual content the game has to offer. What’s the point of a large beautiful world when most of it is empty, or having excellently rendered cutscenes and voice overs when the game’s story is horrible and takes a back seat to PvP? That my friends is style over substance, and a quick browse on the free to play MMORPG section on Steam will show you a lot of games that fit that description. Big Triple A titles that came out in recent years understands this concept, and the rest need to follow suit if they want a larger mainstream audience.
Grinding Is Mandatory
Now what defines the term grinding is relative to each player, so in layman terms, the grinding I mean is the game play repetition to level up and get to the end game, and this involves the killing of thousands of in-game monsters for better XP gains over the conventional quest hub story crawl you often see in western theme parks. Grinding here also means spending a lot of time farming the gear and stats you need in PvE for PvP, as traditionally, games out of these regions tend to be PvP focused at end game, thus the prior grind is all about the mentality too, whereby anything worth having should take a long time and loads of effort to achieve so PKing or Guild Territory wars would mean something.
Cash Shops With P2W Elements
Today, majority if not all the Asian MMORPGs have cash shops in them just like their western brethren. The more Asian games got exposed to the west and the world, more people became exposed to the grind. This then opens up new opportunities for developers to monetize some form of bypass for these players, keeping in mind that in Asia, a lot of these MMORPGs are actually free to play. And now we have all manner of cash shop items in today’s games – sexy outfits included – that mitigates and negates the heavy grind somewhat, all for the low low price of how much can you afford, and if you can’t then grind. This is sort of the grey area when it comes to today’s popular Korean or Chinese MMOs, on whether or not the things in their shops are pay to win or pay to progress faster – that debate will go on forever – but the root cause I feel, was and is, to allow players who didn’t want to grind a way to get around that problem.
Asian MMORPGs have always tended to go over the top with sexualizing their characters in-game. Be it through highly realistic character models, skimpy outfits, cute little girly chirps, half naked men, and of course breast physics, these things are so common these days that we almost get surprised when we don’t see them in games. And the truth that we already know is, sex sells. And this isn’t just limited to Asian MMOs, as Western theme parks do this a lot as well.
There have been numerous studies conducted that proves the psychological attachment to sexy virtual characters is a real thing.