This isn’t a post about the MMO-that-must-not-be-named. Its all a lie. Just like the cake. I know some people HATE WoW bloggers talking about it. Just like they did for Rift. The difference is that I am not one of those bloggers who is abandonning WoW, and neither am I one of those bloggers who is hailing the new MMO as THE WOW KILLER ALL HAIL ITS GREATNESS. Theres room in my life for two MMOs (in fact, I’ll be blogging about priorities and WoW soon).
So I have been playing in a certain beta this weekend. I wanted to talk about the whole WoW/MMO-that-must-not-be-named comparison and what each company really should learn from the other.
MMO-that-must-not-be-named: the review
Just to get this out of the way: I like it and I will be playing it at launch. End of review.
Its not better than WoW; its not worse than WoW though, and thats an achievement. Each new MMO hangs itself off of one thing thats ‘better’ than in WoW. It might be a new class system (so complex its impossible to balance), an alternative questing system (thats just not quite working), cross-server PvP (nice idea, but shame about the rest of it) or, it might be really good storytelling. Bioware went for storytelling.
Many things are very similar and WoW players will be able to get going pretty fast without it being too complex. The tutorial leads you fairly well and I only had to ask a couple of questions. A couple of things that aren’t immediately obvious:
- Advance Class specializations are PERMANENT and cannot be changed, so there are 8 classes, not 4 (i.e. if I want and Imperial Agent Sniper and an Imperial Agent Operative, which I do, that means levelling two characters);
- I say 8 because, despite the different names, each class has a mirror on the opposing side – it might look different because the trees and talents have different names, and the abilities have different graphics, but its not (I am told – I haven’t personally tested this beyond a couple of levels).
So what did the MMO-that-must-not-be-named get right?
- Excellent storytelling, and combination of storytelling and questing – its far more immersive than WoW during the leveling phase and even the dungeons are worked elegantly into the storyline;
- It makes use of that ‘conversation with options’ approach that I have never been a fan of and actually makes me a fan of it including as a key part of Flashpoints (dungeons);
- I like the crafting system – its less grindy and more flexible;
- I like the crew system – my little sidekick means that a 4 person Flashpoint can be done with just me, my husband and our crew as they are good enough to be a person (not sure about in Operations (raids)).
And where should it really have learned from WoW
- No LFD – despite all the complaints about it the most common missing feature people talked about was this (mitigated a bit by the crew system);
- Worse, you have to go physically to your dungeon AND theres no summons;
- Old-fashioned talent trees (someone in Bioware must have started banging their head against a wall when Blizz abandoned the talent tree system since this is direct copy);
- I’m not sure about the number of group quests – I know some people miss them from WoW, but on the other hand Blizzard was responding to a lot of people who wanted them gone, so I think those players will find the higher number of group quests in this difficult;
- No addons (which I don’t object to) combined with an average interface – the interface IMO is not sophisticated enough to make me not want addons.
As a final point I want to say this: none of the differences, good or bad, are game changers. This is not a WoW killer, though WoW might lose some people to it just because, after 7 years, they want something fresh for a while. Its not revolutionary enough to be a WoW killer (drawing heavily in Knights of the Old Republic is not revolutionary). But I expect it to be the biggest success of any new MMO in a long time because Bioware tell amazing stories.