*this post got deleted somehow – reinstating it*
… to me at least 🙂 It’s not my primary motivation for playing a game and there doesn’t have to be a housing system in order for me to enjoy or play a game. I like playing RPGs (whether they are single person or MMOs) for the challenge, the sense of progression, the story and to explore. However a game that has a good housing system makes me feel as though my character belongs to the world, a house literally makes a home. It’s a place to return to while you take stock (literally with your inventory, metaphorically with your in-game goals and progression), a place to hang out with friends (especially if there are interactive items) or a place to noodle around while you’re waiting for your group to get together. A good housing system will keep me returning to the game years after I’ve stopped playing (I haven’t played EQ2 as an MMO since early 2010, however I still pop back regularly to look around my houses and to do some decorating, occasionally get drawn into adventuring and I’ve kept up to date with the expansion packs… :O. I can’t admit the amount of hours I’ve sunk into Skyrim and how many houses I’ve tried out)
The most important functions of a housing system for me are:
- display of in-game achievements (e.g. weapons, armour sets, trophies)
- being able to customise and decorate your surroundings
- a library with in-game books
EQ2 has the best housing system in an MMO that I’ve seen. As well as being highly customisable (with a lot of housing item support) it is also functionable. There are six housing vaults (you can place storage boxes in and last time I looked you could have 6 x 40 slot boxes). There is a housing item which holds a generous amount of crafting materials, when combined with an in house crafting table you can craft very easily within your own home. EQ2 has mannequins where you can display weapon and armour sets. Heritage and Signature quest rewards (these are challenging, lengthy quest chains) can usually be turned into a housing item, there are various paintings and items which will port you to specific places within Norrath (e.g. carpet to Poet’s Palace, painting to Thurgadin Harbour), named mob trophies (heroic and raid) and that’s really the tip of the iceberg. Oh yes, and books… in-game readable books… books can found by clicking in game or as a quest reward, some are very rare…. they are written by devs and there are books written by players… they can be displayed and read… *drool* I’ve said this before, but seeing as I can’t have my dream personal library in real life… I have to make do with virtual ones 🙂
Skyrim also has a very good housing system, both game provided and modded by the community. You can upgrade your surroundings to include crafting areas, bookshelves, upgraded decor, etc etc. Customising your house beyond that is generally by downloading mods written by other players. The DLC Hearthfire allows you to build your own house(s), add various wings (e.g. kitchen, library), hire NPCs (a bard, a transport carriage, a housecarl) and have your husband (or wife) live there with you and cook you meals. I dislike that the physics system applies in the houses as it is very easy to knock stuff off shelves and then be forever kicking it around on the floor… (although that was my storage solution in Oblivion) However, the placement of books on a bookshelf is very well done (you open a panel, choose the books to place and the game places them on the shelf for you). There is plenty of storage available, you are able to display weapons and armour sets and some in-game achievements. There are also plenty of books to collect 🙂
Lotro’s housing system is OK. The idea of instanced neighbourhoods was nice but hasn’t really worked (if there was a system by which your house could always be in a populated neighbourhood or attached to your kin’s neighbourhood it would have a better chance but as it stands, I think communities in MMOs are too fluid even at the best of times for this to really work). The houses and neighbourhoods are very nice to look at and are customisable to a certain extent. You have some limited options to change the texture and appearance of walls and flooring with plenty of colour options for those. There is also a decent amount of housing items within the game however, the amount of items and the placement of items is severely limited (the item hook system has a lot to answer for) – in fact it’s so severely limited that it makes decorating and all those lovely housing items largely irrelevant. There is a decent amount of storage available and you can display raid trophies. However there are no in-game books (1 or 2 ‘display books’ but they are not readable).
I suppose I ought to mention Rift as I have heard many people talk about how amazing their housing system is. I have checked it out and tried to find out further information about their system but given that I’ve only dipped into Rift I can’t talk about it with any authority. From what I’ve seen and read, Rift’s housing is very beautiful and very customisable however I couldn’t find out if it had any functions (e.g. armour display, books, storage, crafting etc). The impression I got is that it is an artistic space, somewhere to create. If anyone reading can correct me or provide information (or where to look) about Rift’s housing – I’d be really grateful:)
So, for me, EQ2 has the absolute best system and Skyrim comes in a close second. Lotro’s system does trail behind somewhat. What I would like to see in Lotro is free placement of items and an increase in number of items able to be placed. Mannequins to display cosmetic or armour sets and a wardrobe connected to the virtual wardrobe cosmetic would also be great. Readable and placeable books would also be very cool. If Lotro updated the housing system to include those items, that would bump it up to joint second. There is a housing update coming at some point for Lotro, so it will be interesting to see what they do.
I’ve read that The Elder Scrolls Online won’t be launching with player housing which is fairly disappointing, especially given that player housing has always been a feature throughout The Elder Scrolls series (except Morrowind where you couldn’t actually purchase a house, I seem to remember). Hopefully, like the Thieves’ Guild, it’ll be coming in a later update.