This year Blizzard celebrates the ten year anniversary of "World of Warcraft." I've played
the game for much of that time and with much the same computer. Believe me, this says more about Blizzard's engineers than my computer skills.
Over time, I've made upgrades, but this year is a bit different for Blizzard and me. Two games launch this Spring/Summer which are sure to give Blizzard competition. Zenimax's
"Elder Scrolls Online" launched this April, and Carbine's "Wildstar" launches in June.
What's unique about these games, compared to past MMORPG launches, is both are headed in a direction distinct from WoW in terms of combat. ESO and "Wildstar" are action MMORPGs.
They prioritize player dexterity more than traditional tab targeting games like WoW. While I've made the upgrades to run these games, one hardware choice revolutionized how I play them. My Logitech G13 Keyboard has paid dividends in my gaming, and I expect it to be integral to my success in action MMORPGs.
The Logitech G13 is a USB peripheral that supplements a keyboard and mouse. While the G13 isn't necessary for most gamers, I can't imagine gaming without one. Typically, gamers use
the WASD keys for movement, the mouse to control camera position, and any other keys within reach for non-movement actions. Unfortunately, the more demanding a game is in terms of movement and ability usage, the less optimal a traditional keyboard/mouse becomes.
In MMORPGs, combat is intertwined with movement, whether a gamer dodges pools of fire from a raid boss or barrages lobbed by another player. To complicate matters, games like "World of Warcraft" have dozens of keybinds. When an arms warrior chases my balance druid, I have to complete a series of metacarpal gymnastics that will end with my druid dead and my wrist sprained. This is where the G13 enters. The G13, roughly the shape and size of my hand, confines movement to a thumbstick while providing 22 buttons under the fingers.
Instead of contorting and stretching my hand across a keyboard, I have every key below my relaxed fingers. Now the challenge of movement and combat in a game is based on the encounter and not my flexibility; however, proficiency with the G13 came at a cost.
I won't lie; I sucked my first day with the G13. After about twenty minutes, I unplugged it, packed it up, and was ready to take the dang thing back. I didn't spend all of that money to play worse. I wasn't prepared to unlearn years of muscle memory. Fortunately, guildmates talked me into giving it another day. After that, I not only adapted to the G13, I couldn't imagine using the traditional keyboard//mouse again. As I've moved into action MMORPGs, like "Guildwars 2" and "Elder Scrolls Online," I feel like the G13 is an even better choice for me.
The action MMORPG differentiates itself from traditional tab targeting MMOS, like "World of Warcraft," in that its offensive and defensive abilities are targeted manually by the player. In a tab targeting game, the player "locks" their target with the tab button, and all abilities hit or miss based on behind-the-scenes calculations. In this style of game, player skill comes down not to hits and misses but how efficiently abilities are executed, with powerful abilities receiving higher priority than less powerful abilities.
The action MMORPG includes this priority system, albeit in a limited form, while requiring some physical dexterity in the player who must manually target and avoid abilities. For some, this style offers a more rewarding experience. Most games suffer from repetition. Tab targeting games are notorious for players using the same ability rotations for years. The action MMORPG de-emphasizes repetition by making targeting and movement novel to each encounter, and it does so with fewer abilities.
Most action MMORPGs allow the player access to no more than a dozen abilities at a time. If the player only needs a dozen keybinds, then why is the Logitech G13 Keyboard necessary? The answer is in how the G13 compartmentalizes functions for different parts of the hand. By restricting movement to just the thumb, the G13 keeps the rest of my hand free for its one job: executing abilities. With a traditional keyboard/mouse, not only is the entire hand having to fulfill multiple roles, but each finger might in one instance be responsible for movement and then, in the next, be responsible for executing multiple abilities.
This also explains why some players have an initial complication adapting to the G13: there are a ton of neurons to untangle. Furthermore,movement and targeting, in an action MMORPG, are just as important as executing abilities. While the G13 makes ability execution effortless in tab targeting MMORPGs, it gives players the precision necessary for the movement and targeting demands of an action MMORPG.