The MMO-that-must-not-be-named

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.

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4 thoughts on “The MMO-that-must-not-be-named

  1. Nice short and sweet review. I just wanted to mention one thing. The first three items you list under “And where should it really have learned from WoW” did not exist in WoW when first launched and in fact some didn’t come until years later. I’m not trying to make an excuse or anything, in fact I expect all of that stuff to come at a later date. I think one thing that I don’t like with the game, I didn’t get a chance to play the beta, is I hear even servers have “shards” so you could have one planet with like 100 shards to split all the people up on that planet. But chat is shared between all shards. So there is the potential to group with people from different shards for a dungeon. The issue becomes everyone needs to be on the same shard when you enter the dungeon for it to work. I just think thats a horrible system I hope they fix soon.

    1. Its true that these are things Blizzard implemented over time. That actually makes it odder to me that Bioware didn’t learn from the first two. I know not everyone likes LFD, but it does allow players to get into dungeons quickly. I could accept they had decided not to go for that if they solved the location issue.

      On shards: you can easily group with people in different shards and move between them so you can play with fellow players. Its designed to keep the number of players going after the same quest mob down. It doesn’t affect dungeons, so you have plenty of fellow players our there. However, you have to find a group and then physically get to the location of the dungeon with the whole group.

      This is probably, IMO, the biggest problem with SWTOR. How much time it takes to get between planets. Sometimes you have to run through the excessively large spaceport, take a lift to the hanger floor, run to the lift to your class hanger, take a lift to your ship, run to your controls, use them to choose a planet, then run all the way back down through the spaceport at the other end! Thats made more irritating by the fact that dungeons aren’t necessarily located on level appropriate plants. Hammer Station is located on Drumond Kaas but the general feeling was you needed to be about level 18 to do it, by which time you had left Drumond Kaas.

      Its the combination of lengthy travel times between planets and the lack of LFD/summoning/non-location specific dungeon access thats so irritating. But it is just a minor irritation that I am sure they will fix.

      (I got into the second beta and got my ship and then got sent from Drumond Kaas to Korriban and then back to Drumond Kaas and on to the next planet – thats 3 quests and it took aaaages to do).

      1. Yeah I remember what it was like in WoW to try to do dungeons with people, their system was a little better since you were normally questing in the area when you were ready for the dungeon. I’m surprised they don’t have the summons thing for the launch, and I still hate the shards. LFD though I’ll excuse them for now, I’m sure thats not a simple system to implement and we have to consider that they are probably going to be added a lot of servers over the next few months as the games released. Not sure if that could cause additional issues on trying to get a LFD system working.

        BTW, you can start pre-loading the game now for release and it looks like they extended Early Access, supposed to start on the 13th now!

        Any plans for a Fall of Deathwing Crib sheet? Really like your other one. 🙂

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