Guild Wars 2 vs. The Traditional MMO

After two days of downloading over the university’s internet connection, I finally exit the launcher for Star Wars: The Old Republic and start packing up my laptop. One of my friends had given me one of the seven-day free trials they were passing out to subscribers so we could play together, and with a strange curiosity I accepted. There was a lot of confusion on how well SWTOR was going and whether people liked it or not. As I was still waiting for any info from ArenaNet, I wanted to see what it was like for myself, and what Guild Wars 2 was going to compete with. Trying to have an open mind, I set everything up and jumped onto Skype, joining the server my friends were on.

It's the golem that made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.

This isn't going to be biased at all, is it wallpaper?

My friends had a few mid-level characters on the Jedi Republic side, so they decided it was best that we all started on the same side at level 1, going for the Sith Empire. A few adjustments in the face maker and I was now Corrupt, the Twi’lek Sith Inquisitor, my other friends being a Bounty Hunter and a Warrior. A few looks around the starting room and I was initially confused as to where my Hunter friend was; he was actually on another world’s tutorial. Well, it’s probably a short tutorial, I thought, so I decided to follow my friend out into the desert. The very start of the game is of course the perfect time for friends to go suddenly go AFK and get food, so I decided to muck around and whack stuff with my yellow training sword while I waited, gaining a level off killing sand creatures in a bonus quest. When she returned, she saw the level difference and was not happy. In annoyance she told me not to do anything while she did the killing quests and got up to level 2, saying that we both needed to be even with levels as much as possible.

Already, I was starting to see why Guild Wars 2 was breaking conventions with its levelling system. My friends had to start at level 1 to play with me properly, and were very rigid on that we had to level together. The ability to go join with a newly made character after the tutorial and do the events without having to be on the same side or level was something that we could have used if I really wanted to go Jedi. The statistics of levels being based on the zone makes sense as well, as they could join my quests and story which they probably haven’t seen before.

Even the supposed “endgame

  • JJGlyph

    No offense, but it just kinda sounds like you were less than good at the hotkeying part. SWTOR combat isn’t as good as GW2 but it isn’t as bad as you make it sound.

    And… you are writing articles for an MMO site but had to be told to use the Tab key to target? I won’t touch that one >.<

    • Jesse Wan

      I was the main FP Consular healer in my guild, and it was so boring, I could get away with mouse-clicking my skills. There’s so many abilities, across 3-4 bars, that hotkeying is not the end-all, be-all it might be with a more polished game. And there’s been quite a few times that Tab-targeting has glitched, and the extra aggro made us wipe.

      The great thing about GW2 is that the light death penalty allows players to learn how to play better, without going broke after two wipes. Which has happened multiple times in TOR, and one of the reasons why I quit.

    • Mitchel

      Of course, experiences can change depending on the player! I’m not the best player in the world, I’ll give you that. My main experiences in gaming is mostly FPS, action and offline RPG with some crazy stuff thrown in, so I technically don’t come from a “hardcore” MMO background, if that changes anything. This is meant to be a look from a newcomer to the genre, not a look from a veteran. 

      Thanks, Dropbear.

  • Latinkuro

    Swtor is fun till you get bored of the cut scenes and realize that there’s nothing new under the hood. I have 3 lv 50 chars and already burned out after 2 months of gameplay. The dev’s don’t really know how to do an mmorpg or pvp for that matter, they should’ve stuck with single player rpg games, had they at least done more action oriented combat the game would be so much better, in contrast Gw2 is a whole new breed of mmorpg in on itself.

  • Bob

    While I agree that guild wars 2 is definitely offering a different style of play and that swtor is just a wow with lightsabres, I do not think that you correctly portrayed the game properly.  Firstly, the second ‘healing’ tab has nothing to do with healing, but your advanced class.  This system has been used in a number of games with Aion coming directly to mind.  There is also an option to have your abilities target the nearest target in swtor, you simply need to look through the game options. 

    As far as no trinity is concerned, it has already been pointed out that there is still a soft trinity, where classes definitely perform better than others in given roles.  They have simply renamed tanking to control, and made it more preferrable to avoid attacks rather than cop them.  You can still do stuff in swtor with 4 of the same professions, and everyone can also respec at their respective fleet.

    There are other examples in the article however, I’m not going into all of them.  While I agree that GW2 offers something new and possibly more dynamic, I think you’re definitely taining the picture to suit your own wants/ biases.
    I personally have stopped playing swtor for many reason, the major being that it offers nothing different, but you are kidding yourself if you think that guild wars 2 is completely revolutionary and nothing on the market offers anything similar.

    • Mitchel

      Hey! Thanks for the comment.

      Yes, I’ve realised that it was an actual “advanced” tab, but I still stand by my point as there was almost no interface difference to show this as far as I could see, not even a single arrow pointing “Hey, here’s where your advanced skills are!”. Yeah, it sounds hand-holdy, but if you really want to get NEW players, this kind of stuff is really needed. 
      As for that abilities target nearest, it was near useless half the time as it kept targeting dead people as far as I could tell. Might edit the whole trinity bit to clarify, but my point still stands that you still need a “healer” and a “tank” and they need to be dedicated. Nobody else on my team had heals at that stage. Having everyone have their own heal and look after themselves makes it much less annoying.

      And also see the first image’s caption XD. This is what I honestly think, and of course personal experience can sometimes be biased. I’m writing this on a GW2 website as well! 

      I’m not saying GW2 changes EVERYTHING. There are some parts that you can’t change. What I AM saying is that it modifies and tries to work around so much of this to make it fun. 

      Thanks, Dropbear

    • Draxynnic

       Bob: I think you are exaggerating the ‘soft trinity’ somewhat. Yes, there are still three basic roles, and there are certainly some professions that are better at some roles than another. However, holy trinity, regardless of whether the matching of classes to roles is fixed or can be altered on the fly, is based on the idea that you need the tank(s) to hold aggro, the healers to heal the tank(s), and the DPS to, well, DPS in order to succeed. In Guild Wars 2, you can survive without control if you’re good at avoiding damage in other ways (apart from some boss fights, but they seem to usually have control environmental weapons provided) and support from the rest of the party might help, but it’s still up to you, not a hypothetical dedicated supporter, to stop you from dying.

      Considering that DPS in traditional MMOs often had a little control and sometimes self-healing mixed in as well, it’s entirely possible that in Guild Wars 2 you could take in a party of characters that in a traditional MMO would all be regarded as pure DPS and succeed.

  • Nak

    I believe that you’re misrepresenting the game a bit, and it seems you have a lack of understanding regarding some fundamental gameplay with SWTOR since it seems you’ve read too much into it via hearsay. I want to clarify a few things on your flashpoint (dungeon) experience:

    While the game is designed around the Holy Trinity system, the very first flashpoint in SWTOR for both Empire (Black Talon) and Republic (The Esseles) is designed to be done with a party of 2 and WITHOUT any dedicated healer or tank. The developers have stated this, as well as their design goals behind healing and tanking (and style of DPS) in SWTOR being that you slowly grow into your role over many levels, you don’t necessarily become an instantly effective main tank or healer. Each boss in the very first flashpoint has a particular mechanic. For example, the last Jedi boss will suck you in and you need to move out of her AoE that is being cast (also seen by an obvious castbar under her nameplate). If you get hit by it once it does enough damage that should make it clear that you want to avoid this. The rest of her attacks do barely any damage. As for the other boss, I’m guessing it was a big droid with small explosive probes that spawned? You basically just avoid the probes because they will explode on you. You get the droid boss if your party kills the captain, and you will get a set of 4 “Republic” bosses if your party does not kill the captain, so there is a variation as to which boss you get for that flashpoint.

    I will agree that the skill tab at the trainer could have been designed
    better, but you will also have the same out of range issues with GW2, the difference being that
    you’ll still fire off your abilities only to have them miss vs. getting an
    error and no ability activated. Using a longer cooldown ability and
    having it miss in GW2 due to being out of range will hurt you more than
    if it did not fire at all, but it rewards skilled play.

    Your point about having to stay within range of levels of
    your friends if you want to play is a big one and common for MMOs, which is annoying to me as it limits play based on when you can group if you want to level with others. I end up never leveling with friends based on mixed schedules, though we try to get a character within X level range to do Y dungeon together before running off to do more stuff.

    Also, one more comment about game play styles, is that GW2 will likely be a much harder game for many players. You will have to pay attention so that you are aiming at the target, within range of the target, actively dodging and looking at what abilities the boss is doing, watching your own health, watching your own aggro, and generally trying not to contribute to chaos. Tanks end up controlling bosses and mobs for the most part and party members can often halfway sleep through the entire fight (excluding the occasional don’t-stand-in-fire times). Keyboard turners and disabled persons are going to have a much tougher time in GW2 because the fights require you to be more agile in game.

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  • Krzysztof Kotarba

    I played WoW for 5 years… I tryed swtor and it was very boring, all “red walls”, not much open world and annoying targeting after mob death, boring questing… For me swtor really sucks.

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  • Guest

    You sound like a complete MMO noob.  You don’t know how to tab target?  Seriously?  I agree GW2 will be a better game overrall but not for the reasons you are describing.  There isn’t a problem with SWTOR gameplay – it’s a problem with the person playing it.  The problem with SWTOR is lack of content and it’s way too easy – the gameplay is fine and exactly what it is designed to be.  Having only 10 skills available in GW2 is pretty lame IMO. You complain you are only using 3-4 skills in SWTOR then you’re doing it wrong.  I love having as many abilities as possible at my disposal.  GW2 arbitrarily limits what I can do in combat by saying “no you can’t use this ability unless you have it equipped” and I think that is complete BS.  I want to be able to use the abilities I have at any point in time whenever I want.  I don’t like planning ahead – I like getting into the thick of the action and popping what I need when I need it.  This is my biggest gripe with GW1. 

    “The interface has been made easier to understand…”
    WTF?  The SWTOR is pretty easy and straightforward.  Easier compared to what?  Most interfaces are pretty easy to understand.  How is SWTOR interface complicated?  Have you never played an MMO before?  I could understand if you were talking about EVE Online because that has a ridiculous learning curve but SWTOR is about as casual friendly as you can get.  In fact – I daresay because GW2 is changing things up and doing things so differently it is far more confusing than the SWTOR interface simply because people don’t have experience with an interface like that compared to what most traditional MMO’s use.  GW2 will probably be better and more innovative once people get used to it but my point still stands.

    Holy trinity is gone…
    This is probably the most interesting aspect that I see GW2 bringing to the table (aside from WvW).  Everyone seems intoxicated by the idea of this and I’m intrigued as well but the simple fact is this – it might not work.  The grass is always greener and this could be overhyped.  It could make things pretty dull when everyone pretty much has the exact same role which is basically to DPS.  We’ll have wait and see if this is a good or bad thing. 

    No level restrictions?
    Then why have levels at all?  Personally I love this change GW2 is making but I’d rather them take it one step further and eliminate levels altogether.  I understand completing things and getting new skills points and what have you for actual accomplishments but I’ve always thought leveling in general is arbitrarily tedious and pointless.  Many props to ANet for starting to take us down this road – I hope it works out.  As for SWTOR you don’t need to be the exact same level to play together.  Your friends bitching about you being 1 level ahead of them is stupid – because it doesn’t matter.  You have a few levels of leeway to group together.

    • Narcoleptic Moose

       You have to realize that the majority of the professions in GW 2 have the ability to switch weapons in the “think of the battle” allowing them access to 5 completely different abilities. Your secondary abilities will work for any build you choose to run with because of their workability. Guild Wars 1 had a cluster**** of abilities… which ended poorly because of the power of strong set builds. In this game, the builds are pre-made with the best skills possible, thus reducing the amount of confusion, and lack of skill, which can come from having 500+ skills to choose from.  I think that simplifying the skill system forces people to actually think like a tactician rather than as a common button mashing brute (although you could choose to have a mix of the two if that’s the way you wanted to play!).

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