Virtual Reality MMORPG Zenith Is The Start Of Something Huge

I met so many people in the first few hours of Zenith: The Last City, a new VR-exclusive MMORPG. It would almost be impossible not to. Like any MMORPG, Zenith’s combat zones are filled with dozens of players hunting monsters and chasing down quest items. You can’t go anywhere without seeing at least a few other adventures on the grind or, perhaps more commonly, just hanging out and talking about the game.

Zenith developer RamenVR has the questionable decision to enable proximity chat by default. Both the Quest 2 and PSVR’s have built-in microphones, so everyone can and talk, and practically everyone I’ve encountered does. The thing is, I’ve had nothing but good experience with other Zenith players so far. In fact, talking to people and playing together has resulted in a few unforgettable experiences.

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If you’ve played any other MMOs, Zenith will be pretty familiar. After a short tutorial that introduces you to the main city and the mechanics of your chosen class, you’re quickly dumped out into the wilderness and set on a questline that involves simple tasks like killing X number of monsters or finding so-and-so’s lost coin purse. Learning the ropes feels a lot different in Zenith though, largely because you aren’t doing it alone.

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The early hours of Zenith gave me ‘first day of high school’ vibes. No one knows each other, everyone’s a little confused, and we all need some help figuring out where to go and what to do. I found myself walking up to other players and asking them if they knew how to find the Naga cave in the same way you’d ask someone directions to the cafeteria. Zenith is arcane in a lot of ways and fairly rough around the edges, but that has the fortunate side effect of strengthening the in-game community. Right away I had to learn to get comfortable asking other people for help, which made me want to go out of my way to help other players too.


Everyone seems to adopt a certain etiquette in Zenith almost immediately. When someone is struggling with a difficult mob, other plays tend to rush over and help. If someone sees you staring at your inventory for a long time, they’ll typically come over and ask if you have any questions. Even when you’re walking around doing quests on your own, people wave and say hi to each other when they pass by. It’s the kind of experience I always imagined an MMO could be, but I’ve never actually seen it happen before.

When I eventually made my way to the first dungeon activity, I found a high-level player hanging around near the entrance. His name was Pimpachu, and he told me that he stops by here from time to time to help new players get through their first experience with harder content. Without needing to add each other as friends or create a party, we entered the dungeon together and started fighting our way through. We eventually ran into some other players that were struggling to reach the boss, and our adventuring party grew. Pimpachu gave us some pro tips – like changing your flying mode from simple to sensitive, which drastically improves your ability to build momentum when you’re flying around – and when the boss was all split up, off on our own separate adventures. Some hours later, I ran into one of my dungeon companions again and we briefly reminisced on our first adventure before departing again and heading off in opposite directions down the road.


I’ve continued to make friends throughout every zone I’ve journeyed through in Zenith. Sometimes I find myself in a quiet area where there aren’t many other players, so I’ll end up spending a long time with one or two other people as we level through the area – there’s safety in numbers after all. We talk about our opinions on the game and share things we’ve learned as we slay beasts and farm public events for xp. Sometimes we add each other to our friends list, but most of the time we eventually part ways and wish each other well on our journey, because that’s what you would do in a real fantasy world, I suppose.


7 Things We Wish We Knew Before Playing Zenith

I’m not naive enough to think that everyone is destined to have a good experience chatting with strangers on the internet. Though everyone has been kind to me, I can’t comment on the experience of playing as a woman, for example. The women I’ve encountered have been the most fun to play with, but there haven’t been many. You can mute and deafen yourself to opt-out of proximity chat and just play it like any other MMORPG if you want to, but you’d be missing out on a huge part of what Zenith has to offer.

I’ve met a few max-level players and they’ve all told me that the best way to enjoy Zenith is to slow down and enjoy the ride. I think that’s why it’s common to find these high-level folks in the early zones – they all miss the feeling of just starting out and discovering the world with other people. I don’t think there’s much longevity in Zenith. It’s a $30 MMORPG with no subscription fees developed by a team of just 12 people. From what I gather, the endgame grind is fairly unsatisfying and there isn’t much content to do or worthwhile rewards to pursue yet. Instead of languishing in the max-level zones, everyone is coming back to the start and helping out noobs or making new characters. They stick around for the people, which isn’t something you can say about most MMORPGs.


I’ve avoided references to the metaverse up to this point because it’s a term that’s already lost all meaning years before it even had a chance to manifest, but Zenith is the first and best example of what I imagine the future metaverse will be like. It blends the social aspect of VRChat with the gameplay of World of Warcraft in a way no other game has ever done. It’s far from perfect – the gameplay is weak, it looks terrible, and the bugs are endlessly frustrating – but it’s revolutionary nonetheless. If you have a VR headset, you owe it to yourself to come see Ready Player One in its infancy. And if you see me on the road, don’t forget to say hello. I can teach you how to fly faster, and I promise I won’t say anything weird.


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