Yes, You Can Play MMORPGs Offline

World of warcraft logo with a sign with written "offline" on top of it.

The ‘00s were the golden age of MMORPGs, and since I was a kid back in the late ‘90s, I had the opportunity and the pleasure to try and play lots of MMORPGs that came out at that time.  
While I obviously did not play them all, I heavily dipped my toes into: 

  • Legend of Mir 2 & 3 
  • World of Warcraft since its beta 
  • Lineage 2 since its beta 
  • Guild Wars (shoutout to the GW community, which is still alive and kickin’!)
  • Dark Age of Camelot  
  • Old school Runescape back when it was not old school 
  • Maple Story 
  • Ragnarök 
  • Metin 2 (…dammit) 
  • Istaria (back then it was called Horizon, I believe) 
  • Guild Wars 2 
  • Sword of the New World (AKA Granado Espada) 
  • Final Fantasy XI 
  • ArcheAge 
  • Aion 
  • …and other obscure MMORPGS that I can’t find anymore and are forgotten forever. 

Out of all these bad boys, two of them stuck with me because I felt somewhat emotionally attached to them for different reasons: World of Warcraft (duh) and Lineage 2 (before it became a hot bowl of mess). 

Back then I had a lot of free time to play these games to my heart’s content. I liked to interact with people and live in these vibrant virtual worlds after being done with school. Not anymore, though.  
So, I decided to run a little experiment and give you my personal opinion on the outcome. 

Why trying MMORPGs Offline 

After years passed dealing with people in my adulthood, the rise of competitive gaming and Free to Play models that killed any sense of online community, I grew tired of people.  

Yet, I missed these worlds, so I said to myself that if there are private servers of MMORPGs, there must be a way to run the game locally. And after a very short Google search, the answer is a resounding yes. 
The process, while not exactly complicated, can be long and painfully precise in order for everything to work. Having some Computer Science or Programming background ( …or being on the internet long enough ) surely helps, considering that for both games, either VSCode or Eclipse are used. It is still not necessary. 

instructions are several pages long. And yet, they are very well explained.

After an afternoon to set up things, I found myself with the offline versions of: 

  • World of Warcraft 3.3.5. with several custom modules including bots, which was necessary in order to experience the game as close as the original. 
  • Lineage 2 Interlude, custom rates.  

Now let’s answer the following question: can I remove the human factor from MMORPGs? The answer, as for everything in life, is: “It depends”. 

MMORPGs Offline #1: World of Warcraft

In case you did not notice before in the article I wrote about Frostmourne, I used to be a huge World of Warcract fan.
I did not know that WoW emulation was so advanced. I found out that you can swap people for algorithms in almost everything. You have a program that simulates the Auction, both for buying and selling. Another one lets you create your own team and raids, customizing each character equipment, talent tree and behavior.  

Hell, sometimes it’s even better than playing with a human team. The hunter does not pull the whole dungeon, for example. You can even emulate Battlegrounds, for God’s sake. 

You miss people wandering around, getting themselves killed in Elwynn Forest? No problem. You can emulate them too. I managed to emulate thousands of bots running around doing stuff.   

Dungeons, even raids, are completely fine. Let’s be honest with each other, I had the same kind of interaction running Scarlet Monastery with a team of Agent Smiths instead of silent Dungeon Finder dudes. If you are a fellow Healer, you will be amazed at how close it is to be supporting in a dungeon.  

And, if you want to experiment and really have a true solo experience, there is a module to balance instances depending on the number of people in it. It’s crazy. 

Can I remove the human factor: personally, yes. By the moment somebody figures out how to make a couple of night elves dance naked in Stormwind asking for money and emulate a multi-boxer destroying the fun out of Wintergrasp, it would be a real Blitz-like experience.   

MMORPGs Offline #2: Lineage 2

Lineage 2 is a completely different game, and a different emulation community. Considering that I used to play that game completely solo without multi-boxing (which, it’s still unbelievable that was accepted on retail and later normalized), I expected to feel completely at ease with a simple offline version of the game.  

I was completely wrong. 

After a couple of hours trying the game, I finally understood the obvious: the charm (if we want to call it like that) of Lineage 2 is the people in it. The game itself is as boring as it can get. You kill mobs, you get Adena, you buy equipment from some rich dwarf in Gludio, you get scammed for SS and BSS because hopping from a private server to another has destroyed any sense of economy you had, rinse and repeat with bigger mobs. 

What happens in the meantime, though? That moment of tension when that Elf archer comes into your farming zone and throws an arrow at you and EVERYTHING F*****G STOPS. Can you kill him? Would you dare to get your purple name and fight back? But what if you die and might lose a piece of equipment and experience?   

What about that random heal you get by that Human Prophet coming literally at the right time while you pulled too many mobs? And that sense of adrenaline when somebody buys your overpriced materials? Ohh Papa is buying that Sword of Revolution tonight! 

Even though I did not find any modules to emulate sellers or wandering people (I am pretty sure they do exist), I can’t emulate that feeling that only real (and often, idiot) people give me. 

Can I remove the human factor: Nah. Well, yes, but the game becomes even more boring than retail. 

Final Thoughts 

I get it. The comparison is unbalanced: World of Warcraft offers a more tailored experience thanks to all the mods you can get, but still, I stand my ground.  

The only reason I could remove completely the human factor from World of Warcraft is because that game is incredible. The narrative, the atmosphere and the gameplay are a testament to the game’s celebrity. I remember lots and lots of moments in which I interacted with other people that may be similar to the ones I said while talking about Lineage 2 (the guerilla warfare in Stranglethorn Vale, for example), but for me they got outshined by how fantastic the world itself is.  

Lineage 2 instead is emptier and bleak as it can get. Removing the human factor showed me that the game was created with the idea that players must do heavy lifting to make the game truly enjoyable. Mechanics like clan owning cities, clan battles and a focus on PVP are a clear hint. 
At least, it used to be like that, now it is mostly a weird idle game where you don’t even have to keep the game running to farm.  

It was an incredible fun experiment to do! I’ll see you lot on the next article… and maybe it will be related to that long list of MMORPGs at the beginning of the post! 

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