A horse is a horse

A dog may be a man’s best friend, but unless you are playing a pet class in a fantasy MMO, you’ll be spending a lot more time in the company of your trusty mount than just about any PC or NPC in the game.

I am always surprised at how little gameplay goes into the mounts aside from a range of customisation (via skins and animations). I get that they’re pretty and that their main purpose is to let a player move more quickly through the world under their own steam, but there are few enough games that even allow you to name your horse/flaming rhino/ flying manta ray, never mind level it up or buy new saddlebags.

To me, this is a far more integral part of the game than player housing. I’d like to be able to customise my mount/ vehicle and maybe decide if I want to trade off a hardier, stealthier, bouncier (ie, better at jumping) or more sure-footed (ie. better at climbing steep hillsides) mount against one with pure speed. This probably would require more attention from the game to the terrain and how to navigate it, but it’s something I find quite lacking in MMOs at the moment.

One of my hopes for Rohan is not the rumoured mounted combat (because  how useful is that for a burglar really? mounted combat and daggers don’t mix ) but simply that Turbine will do for mounts what they did for legendary weapons in the Moria expansion. That is to put some oomph into the lore behind them and allow players to customise them, level them up and then dismantle them for spare parts (I’m still working on that last part.)

I referred to their last dev blog in my last post, which talked about the T (Tolkien) factor. What could be more T than winning the right from the Rohirrim to pick your own mount from their herds and then train it yourself?

NB. Sadly it’s fairly obvious that the reason the Rohirrim in Isengard don’t offer you the use of a horse when you max out your rep with them is because that particular horse was on sale with the pre-order.

11 thoughts on “A horse is a horse

  1. My favourite use of horses of all time was Fallen Earth’s decision to use them (and other vehicles) as the primary means of increasing your inventory size.

  2. After reading this I was reminded of the dog from Fable II. I feel It’s a great example of the strong attachments that can be added to mount or pet in-game. Anyways great post. I also wonder why developers haven’t added more content around mounts. Do you think it’s a risk vs reward issue?

  3. Have to say this is one feature I miss from not playing MMOs. Mounted travel is not used to its fullest in either single player games or MMOs. RDR is a fine example but even then I think Rockstar missed a trick – one man and his horse out in the wild west should have been more personable.

  4. MMOs are unfortunately stuck in combat and designers and players alike are unable to overcome ages old roots. No other combat system than the trinity for ages and you want more than combat?! In MMO worlds where crafting and gathering are sophisticated activities… oh wait. They aren’t. GW2 unfortunately will not change that either, it is all about combat. And yeah, they also tacked a story on top of it but that doesn’t change the fact that MMO worlds are heavily focused on their combat mechanics and killing stuff. The only alternative to killing is collecting/gathering stuff or achievements. Hrmmpf! :>

    Oh well. Mounted Combat in LOTRO: Check the Half-Orcs at Isengard. They use spears/pikes and can thrust you in the air with a special attack. I wonder if this is the first glimpse of an Infantry vs Cavalry combat system.

    Let’s see if further Rohirrim horses will be added later or become pure shop additions. The options to get Scrolls of now “greater” Delving or Empowerment are so lousy that this really smells of even more shopification.

  5. One thing that always irked me is that mounts don’t require any care and feeding, which makes sense in a video game, but not in an RPG. If there’s one thing an MMO could do to mix things up, it’s to require the owner of a mount to spend time taking care of said mount. (Or, in the case of a drake mount from WoW, spending time boosting it’s ego up so it would condescend to take you places.)

  6. If Syp (and other bloggers that played Falllen Earth) are to be trusted, their mount system was really well designed, where you really had to care for your mount as a physical entity in the game, or it would perish.

  7. Vanguard had some mount options like horseshoes to increase speed and saddle bags and barding (I think?). It was an afterthought to my character though it might have taken on more value to me if there was more to it.

    In WoW I don’t even care about the mount anymore, I’ve got so many I just use GoGoMount to randomly select an applicable one.

  8. Shadow of the Colossus treated its main character’s horse as a crucial component of the gameplay. I’d love to see that in an MMO.

  9. I played Fallen Earth for several months and I can’t remember ever having to feed my horse. The main difference from how mounts work in most MMOs is that the Fallen Earth mount, be it a horse, bike or car, exists in the world.

    You can’t magically summon it out of your bag. You have to go back to where you left it to ride it somewhere else and if you didn’t leave it in a stable it could well have been eaten. Crabs of some kind seemed to have a particular fondness for my horse and I often came back to find half a dozen of them nibbling away at him.

    There was no real risk, though, because if your horse died you could res him. At least that’s how I remember it. I’ll find out how accurate my memory is later this week when FE goes F2P and I return to the wastelands.

    On the substantive point, I totally agree. MMOs are missing a huge trick by not allowing far more interaction with both mounts and pets. I want dog hats!

  10. I’d love a game mechanic that would let me level up my horse by exploring or racing or feeding it better food or something. Maybe several possible methods, so you didn’t see all the power gamers riding the same boring, optimized exploration circuit over and over.

    Or horse titles! “Arod, Bearer of Dwarves”, for instance.

    …too geeky?

  11. You do have to feed your horse in Fallen Earth or it will run out of Stamina – meaning that you’ll basically be at walking speed, just sitting on a horse. It can die, but to Bhagpuss’ point you can rez it. You can also name your horse – or any of your mounts for that matter (motorcycles, ATVs, etc.)

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