For the most part, when players log into their favorite mmo games, they’re looking for an escape from reality. Online games offer the promise of grand adventure, where a person can be a mighty warrior, a crafty rogue, or a powerful wizard. This ability to shed the mundane world and engage in a flight of fancy is a powerful lure. Personally, I’m not particularly agile or have six-pack abs in real life, but my online avatar can be. Yet there is an area of online gaming where realism is not only important, but that it is vital. That area is the world of military mmos. There has been some debate over how realistic a military mmo should be, but I think the answer is pretty obvious. Allow me to explain the need for realism in military mmos.
I come from a background of realism in strategy and military games. My father and I used to play board games released by Avalon Hill back in the 1980s. For those that do not know, Avalon Hill was the premier maker of games that catered to players that craved the most realism possible. We once played a game of melee combat that had a rule book of over eighty pages. That’s quite a bit for determining how two guys swinging swords at each other will pan out. Their military games were meticulously researched, and players would argue in magazines over whether the statistics of a particular tank were done correctly. Fast forward to the mmofps games we have today that focus on battlefield conflict. You’ll see the same arguments being made by players over the tanks, planes, and weapons found in the various military mmos.
My belief that military mmo realism is vital is shared by many others that play such games. One reason why this is so is that these games are not designed to just be an arcade game, but rather they’re designed to accurately simulate the conditions of the battlefields and the various forces that fight upon them. When you’re recreating World War II tank battles, you don’t have the Stuart light tank to be able to take out King Tiger tanks with ease. The Stuart tank was an extremely light tank that was outclassed and was eventually replaced while the King Tiger tank was a beast on the battlefield and was greatly feared. The front armor of the King Tiger was almost invulnerable, which necessitated flanking maneuvers and superior tactics to take them on. This realism needs to be imported into the online games so players can accurately use weapon systems within the game as they worked in the real world. Just look at the sheer number of vehicles in World of Tanks and their differing attributes. Some tanks were able to mount more powerful cannons whilst others were far more agile and quick. (The argument that World of Tanks favors Russian vehicles does not have a bearing on the general discussion of military mmo realism.) The same is true for other weapons, such as planes. The Japanese Zero was a good plane when WWII started, but it was soon outclassed by planes that were newly developed. Some planes were able to climb much higher than others without stalling or turn in a sharper radius, thus giving them an important advantage in aerial combat.
Realism in military mmos is incredibly important as warfare is measured in innovations between offense and defense. This is easily seen in tanks, but it is also applicable to other battlefield facets like planes and ships. Weapons would be developed to better destroy enemy tanks, and the opposing side would then work to create better armor and perhaps improve engines or maneuverability to overcome the newly developed weapons. This, of course, would lead to the other side then working to create even better weapons, and the cycle would continue until the end of the conflict.
This back and forth is vital in military mmo realism. Players seek to continually upgrade their weapons, armor, and support systems to become more effective. Armored Warfare just put out a developer diary just a few weeks ago where they discussed the use of different types of ammo in the game and their impact. This realism can also be seen in the vast number of upgrades that a player may have available for their vehicles or units. As wars progressed, innovations were made in every facet of weaponry, including engines, optics, communications, and more.
Lastly, realism in military mmos is necessary as most games try to recreate the battles and campaigns of previous wars. The most recent example is War Thunder that introduced their WW2 Chronicles that allows players to take part in the most iconic engagements of the war over a course of special events. Military gamers love to try their hand at historical conflicts to see if they could do better when calling the shots. Whether the player is taking on the role of a tank commander, leading Roman legions, or facing down Napoleon, having realistic conditions and units is paramount when recreating history and experimenting to see if it could be altered.
Can there be too much realism in military mmos? The answer to that question is yes. The thing to consider that whatever military game that you’re playing (mmo fps, strategy, or standard mmo), the game still has to be playable. It is possible for a game to become mired in too much realism that bogs down the game. A balance has to be struck between realism and playability, and there are a number of games that do so quite well. If you want to play a game set in WWII, ancient Greece, or the American Civil War, then ensuring the presence of military mmo realism in paramount to having a great game.