Some time ago I pre-purchased two games. The Secret World and Guild Wars 2. I played them both a little bit in beta weekends and from launch. However, only one has me firmly in its clutches. Why?
The Secret World has failed. Or, at best, is clinging onto a much smaller existence than was originally hoped for. I was following this since I first caught wind of it. Two things stood out for me: three faction PvP and the broad skills rather than deep levels and multiple classes approach to character progression.
As it turned out I didn’t even step foot into PvP. By all accounts it devolved into follow the zerg objective swapping. Whilst not a fan of PvP I usually at least give it a go in any game I play. However, TSW got this wrong from the outset by placing the three factions together in the world with no obvious friction between them. For me, this made PvP pointless. It made it a meta-game. Why head into the instanced PvP to fight against people who earlier I was grouped with for a PvE instance? For me, PvP has to mean something. I had this with DAoC and its realm system. WoW has never had it. I have hopes that GW2 will be more like DAoC in this respect.
GW2 gets the PvP right. Their WvW set-up owes an awful lot to DAoC. However, they neatly sidestep the faction/class balance issues that DAoC had by pitting servers against each other rather than factions. Warhammer dealt with the issue by having mirror classes on each faction. Lets be charitable and assume that was successful. Where Warhammer went wrong (which is pretty unforgivable given it came from the same firm that gave us DAoC) was in only having two factions. WoW showed us that this simply doesn’t work. There will always be a more favourite faction, and throw server transfers into the mix people will head towards the more heavily populated servers which are winning. Three factions on the other hand have some level of self balancing. When one server gets ahead then the other two will often ignore each other and concentrate on the shared threat. Hence why I was pleased with the following exchange in guild chat:
Me: Are we pwning in WvW then?
Them: We were, but now its 2 vs 1!
It’s not all roses though. The GW2 WvW zones have population caps on them, to stop the servers melting no doubt. This means that there are queues. And the queues are very long. The existence of any queue for WvW makes the traditional call to arms an impossibility. This will either make keep defence unachievable, or lead to a split between PvE and WvW whereby WvW guilds simply spend the whole time in WvW. Keep defence is important, otherwise WvW will devolve into win trading which makes the whole thing a bit pointless once again. Given the way the GW2 server populations are managed, with the overflow system for PvE, I worry that this is creating a big problem for WvW which by its persistent nature doesn’t fit the overflow mechanic. So only a fraction of the server’s population can actually get into WvW. As well as spoiling the call to arms possibilities this could also drive people away as not being able to play such a big, and fun, part of the game is frustrating.
Of course there is always the structured PvP. I played some of this on one of the beta weekends and found it pretty fun. However, for me I think it is largely meta-game and therefore of little interest. This was always the problem I had with WoW. PvP there has no in game meaning. The fact that you’ve won or lost just means you’ve got more, or less, of a resource that is entirely personal. What’s worse is that you still get resource even when you do lose, albeit in reduced quantities. Meaning that time spent is the only real differing factor. And we all know how much time a lot MMO gamers, myself included, can devote to their gaming!
I’m going to try and take something Tobold said recently to heart and treat this blog more like a diary of my gaming thoughts, rather than trying to write glowing reviews and pages of useful information.
So here goes.
The Older Gamers: Following up on a recommendation from a good friend possibly over a year ago now I’ve joined The Older Gamers community. I’ve yet to actually meet up with anyone from there in game, and unfortunately discovered that the Tera division (which is why I got round to signing up in the first place) is based on a US server. Still, it’s a big, active community and should hopefully provide chat and discussion for any games my RL friends aren’t playing. Without having to resort to ‘official’ forums and fight it out with trolls and other forms of online dicks.
WoW: Committed to annual pass until November. However, the game is boring me now. I’m enjoying not being committed to two nights a week to be part of a raid team. And besides, I have no interest in heroic mode raiding. Give me more content, not hard modes any day.
Tera: I’ve joined a big active guild and getting into this more as I play it. I am really enjoying the active style of combat and have done some group stuff in the first instance now. There’s still the problem of being the only one of my RL friends playing this and the Korean grind nature of some of the game, but it is very pretty and much fun. Which is kind of what you want from a game!
I was slightly surprised to discover that as well as the grind applying to crafting and gearing up it also refers to the lack of quests in the Korean version of the game (at least post level 20). That never seemed an issue when playing DAoC. The quest system of WoW changed that and had become the de-facto model for western MMO. I say had though as having experience the renown hearts version in GW2 I think that works a lot better.
The Secret World: Having pre-purchased a lifetime account on a whim I played a day in the beta last weekend. I must admit I liked the ability wheel setup. I tinkered with by build of 7 active and 7 passive abilities quite a bit and easily had enough points over the day to mix and match between 3 weapons (pistols, hammer, blood magic). I did get a bit frustrated with some of the puzzles on the missions but wasn’t completely blocked ever.
Diablo III: Managed to beat the first boss (Error 37) about 24h after release. So far I’ve barely scratched the surface. The Witch Hunter felt a bit dull with the plink plink of arrows. Plus she came across as a hard nosed dullard. So I tried a Barbarian instead. After much smashing and body parts flying in all directions I think this was the right choice!
GW2: I’ve been really excited and following all the hype for this. I had a good time on the beta weekend clearing the first human zone with a Guardian character. However, having played more Tera and some The Secret World, my gut feeling currently is that the combat system in GW2 is very basic. That said, all I’ve really done so far is solo stuff or events with so many people around it is just button mashing FTW. I’ll need to give small group instanced stuff a try to see how things pan out with no tank/healer roles. Tera has the same style (and better I think) of active combat, but also retains tank/healer roles. Fortunately there’s so much more than just the combat system to GW2 and the hope that the WvW combat lives up to the hype.
So I gave Rift a try recently. Mostly due to being under the weather and finding myself with some spare time on my hands. I doubt I have much more to add that bigger and better bloggers than myself haven’t already covered. But I’ll try anyway.
Yes, it is like WoW. The thing is, that statement is entirely unhelpful. There are oodles of games out there like WoW:
- Fantasy 3rd person MMORPG.
- Subscription payment model.
- Levelling based progression.
- Two faction consensual PvP.
If anything I would say Rift is more like Aion. Graphically it is closer to Aion than it is to WoW. The back story also shares similarities: two factions split from one origin, fighting each other and a common foe. The user interface is closer to Aion than it is to WoW. Though it is more flexible, having a layout mode (like WAR only well implemented). The crafting model is almost identical, only without the annoyance of Aether collection.
One of the strong comparisons being made with WoW is how slick it is. How polished it is. Frankly, this says more about the sort of shoddy workmanship gamers will put up with if this is somehow a selling point!
So in what way is Rift unique?