The other day I found out that Asheron’s Call, an MMORPG I used to play long, long ago finally (after 15 years) went Free to Play (F2P.) Well, almost. If you had had an active subscription at the time the game “closed” they comped your account forever for when they were to bring the server back up. As a bonus, you would also get access to the “beta” (forever version) of Asheron’s Call 2. For those with dormant accounts, you can pay $10 to have your account re-enabled by logging in to the Turbine account management system with your old (post Zone migration) account, and hit the “resume” button. And I think you can buy a new account, too, but that seems to be a bit flaky judging from complaints on the near defunct forums. Then just download the clients, and bam, AC forever.
A few years ago, in 2013, I found out that AC2 would be re-released as a “beta” for those who had an active AC account, so back then I re-activated my by then very dusty AC subscription for a month or so, and went down memory lane. Well, sort of. AC2 was pretty much as I remembered, which was pretty sucky, but I had a better computer by then so it didn’t lag me to death. And it was beautiful. Man that game was beautiful and ahead of its time. But I think that’s part of why it failed so badly (this was a game that shut down something like 2 months after its first expansion pack.) But the gameplay was tedious as hell.
Asheron’s Call, on the other hand, back then was a mixed bag of OMG it’s so awesome to be home! to OMG what the hell have they done to this game??!! And OMG I forgot how ugly this game is. And OMG I can run SO INCREDIBLY FAST I THINK I CAN CRASH THE SERVER. (I read recently, they soft-capped run speed, to avoid that problem.) Apparently, since the game went F2P, they’ve ruined it further by clustering quests together off a central hub location, and by making it super duper easy to level up. Back in original AC, the experience curve was insane. I mean like criminally insane. But apparently now, due to repeatable quests and crazy experience gains, you can level to max 275 in like a week. If you’re lazy. Which is kind of sad, really, because one of the true joys of old Asheron’s Call was exploring the world, happening upon a quest that was HARD and getting a cool reward that meant something because you earned it. Now, you just log in, power level up, get phat lootz drops, and never see the world.
I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to plunk down the $10 to get a forever account on Asheron’s Call. I’m tempted to, but I’m also a bit afraid of what I’ll find. So, for the time being, I’ve returned to Lord of the Rings Online … which has been F2P for awhile now (well not really, but F2P it has a playable F2P model that’s superior than World of Warcraft’s.) Apparently there was a massive server merge while I was gone though, and I found out in order to play my beloved Hobbit, I had to transfer to another server, not knowing who lived there (I couldn’t seem to find a character database to look stuff up, I’m pretty sure there used to be one, but since Warner Brothers bought out Turbine, maybe they took that down.) Anyway, I got lucky and my little Hobbit got to keep her name. My elf Runekeeper had to change hers though, due to it being a bit too popular, but that’s OK because it was too close to another famous elf name and I’d get comments from time to time that made me wish I’d picked something else. So now, I did.
Asheron’s Call and Lord of the Rings online were both developed by the same studio, Turbine Games (who had the clever slogan “Powered by our fans”) but unfortunately, they seem to be struggling, and after having sold off to Warner Brothers a few years ago, and what with the LOTRO license coming up for renewal next year, I’m not sure how much longer any of “their” games will be around. And I’d rather spend my time playing the amazing LOTRO storylines than the nostalgic but now dead storylines of Asheron’s Call for now. I’ll probably be back to AC though, the Call is too strong to resist I think.
(That screenshot at the top was one I found on my computer, from a long ago event that eventually literally changed the world (of Dereth.))