The discussion around the two oncoming behemoths that are set to change the industry has been rather divisive… no, it’s been war. Two sides competing for the top prize; for fans, for appeal and for more money and players than the other. As per usual on the internet it isn’t just ok for one game to do better, the other must fail and its lifeless corpse ground into the dust.
We all do it, claiming our game is somehow better than another based on persona opinion yet even now I think it’s funny just how heated the current debate has become surrounding these games. Of course, there is a handful in the middle that like and will probably play both but instead of being the mediator here which I like to do, I thought why not fuel the fire a little more.
So here’s why I think both these mmo’s will fail. why they will be another flash in a pan 3-monther success that’s promptly forgotten for the next shiny.
Elder Scrolls Online
The one thing I noticed about Elder Scrolls Online, and well Elder Scrolls in general is that it is so very, very mind numbingly boring. Everything about it is just so very plain from the setting, to the characters and everything in between and ESO seeks to continue on with this outstanding Legacy.
The environments while detailed and with an amazing scope are just so standard fantasy 101. Nothing in these environments has any sort of interesting appeal. You have the typical environmental themes placed throughout as well as large expansiveness of nothingness but basic set pieces and textures. Even the buildings and castles have the same medieval influences that are typical of the genre but lack nuance with colour and style… large stone monoliths that denote the employ of some sort of historian or accountant in the design process. Even the large magical structures still manage to just look so very plain, they are always grounded in some sort of reality, or internal logic that fails to grasp the wonders inherent in the mythical and magical. It’s all quite realistic but so very boooooring.
It’s the lore as well and the characters that present it. The lore is extremely expansive, going on for years, decades and centuries but it always seems to be the same trouble. These people don’t like them, some rampaging horde or some stupid god that wants to rule the world. It’s all very predictable but even the parts outside of that, that might be interesting are seemingly strangled by the wealth of utter BS around it. The characters themselves seem mere charactertures of the standard tropes as well. There seems to be an adherence to some sort of dichotomy, good vs evil as usual. The perpetually righteous against the intentionally corrupt with little character development for most regarding regular human foibles.
While I’m interested in this area of the game I know it is an extremely contested point because you know, large-scale wars are unheard of within ES lore and all. No one has any major conflict… ever. It’s just a land of merry hugs and of butchering daedra and dragons.
They’ve marketed this area quite strongly. Everyone knows that the game will have AvA and it will be a prominent point for end game but talk of other areas of the game have mostly been forgotten in comparison. We know barely anything about the other parts of end game. Dungeons have only received a slight info dump and even less about the mechanics, combat and what is needed for them, The questing mechanics after 50 have received little attention and adventure zones still seem like more of a myth. For the greater playerbase, those interested in MMO’s and Elder Scrolls such a PvP focus is extremely off-putting.
Adding onto that is that it seems ESO have the intent on “forcing” people into a PvP area. While guilds will be able to trade between members, the guild stores will only be available within Cyrodil. This will mean that guilds wanting to have their own store and that want to engage in the economy will need to engage in PvP and have enough players in order to capture and control a keep. Then there is that a lot of the world and a fair bit of PvE content will be in this area meaning people with have to put up with those dastardly gankers in order to see and experience it.
The other part I have concerns about is their insistence on keeping balancing together for both the PvE and PvP side of the game. Both of these areas have different focuses in regards to building characters and the direction of combat, nothing is equal in this regards and having balancing for one side be affected by the other is a sure way to make a lot of forum rage.
The scope of the game is quite large so far. The map areas are huge and there are many different facets to these that will obviously take time to fix and polish appropriately. Detailing this much land space is a huge ask, which is probably why a lot of it is so boring. Because of the size a lot of it also isn’t very populated in regards to interesting sights, quests, mobs and anything else of interest to the player. Just the same bland environments, visuals and characters.
This has to be one of the buggiest parts of the game right now too. The world is filled with parts that haven’t been finished yet and of potholes and terrain bugs that have you falling to your doom. On top of this I believe the size is also to do with the predominance of instanced quest areas and the heavy use of phasing as it is a way of lessening any extra strain placed on the system.
It’s also the extent to which they’ve taken the story here. A wealth of cutscenes throughout the experience that are extremely detailed and expansive. All the characters are voiced with many hours of dialogue with some even being voiced by rather famous actors and this kind of work is a large undertaking. It takes time and resources, and keeping up this level of polish for upcoming updates and content patches will be a large undertaking.
I feel with all this that it might just end up like the tortanic; a wealth of mediocre quests, dialogue and story that repulse more than engage with but a few actually interesting stories you have to slog through to see. Based on the amount to get to those points it really wasn’t worth it.
There’s no denying it, and while the developers have never really stated their intentions it’s pretty clear this is another wow clone trying to get in on some of the success. It’s space WoW, or maybe due to the modern influences WoW 2.0.
Everything about it screams iterative design. It has a lot of the standard game types and mechanics of the themepark style WoW popularised. The usual Quest hub based leveling where you will be on a fairly linear path from one paint to the next, following the prescribed breadcrumb trail of quest indicators. Another MMO that makes the entirety of the march to endgame a prolonged tutorial of rinse and repeat kill, collect, protect.
Then once you’re there, hop on board the gear treadmill of dungeons and large-scale raids that WoW began with but has already begun moving away from. Raiding as an endgame, the fall-back point for all lazy mmo developers that neither have the time or inspiration to create anything different so just copy the prescribed method set a decade or more ago now. It’s the way of prolonging time within the game based on providing mechanics that require time and grind to get past. Such a large-scale raid are an absolutely epic affair but only when it’s working properly in regards to the mechanics and people around you, otherwise it’s just a rage inducing mechanic that has a habit of sucking away time you could have spent elsewhere.
Then there is the usual pointless crafting, instanced arena PvP and a focus on the achiever lifestyle. Collect this all, do that, complete your checklist of things for your stipend of points to be used as a meaningless bragging point. There are a few other interesting points here; the combat system is upgraded and the levelling process has had some new elements incorporated into it which is why we call it WoW 2.0… but it’s still the same thing that no MMO has or probably will get a reasonably level of success with.
Crack Addict Gameplay
Everything about Wildstar seems designs so that it is constantly clawing for your attention, never giving a free moment to stop, think and contemplate the meaning of MMO. It’s a constant cacophony of mental noise in every aspect that continually assaults each part of your senses, enough that I could never feel relaxed playing. Engaged maybe, but never ever relaxed and sometimes you do need that down time.
The combat is a chaotic and frantic mix of button mashing and movement, every inch of decision-making comes from the ui so your never taking the time to judge the situation or devise a meaningful strategy. Just trying to keep up with the ever present and increased timing of each and every visual cue; constantly active, fingers pulsing across the keyboard in some kind of geriatric spasm. One you can neither stop or ever be released from less you should be bored… the ultimate gaming sin it seems.
The visuals themselves denote a fondness for colour coordination that I would expect from the toddlers I create art activities for. A wild abandon for reason; for subtlety or nuance in the environmental tones. It creates an extremely rich and unique environment, one that appeals in an instant and is recognisable towards the game. It’s something that makes even the most boring affairs and overused visual tropes appear exciting for a time. It’s a carnival of fun that keeps you engaged and transfixed upon the constant visual eye candy but after a while, just like the carnival, such things start making you nauseous and are best left in smaller doses.
The humour involved also lacks any sort of nuance but is constantly shoved into your face as some sort of clever exchange in order to keep your attention on the dialogue. It’s the style of humour best left within the dorm rooms of frat houses and cheesy lampoon movies. It’s the kind that tries to steal humour in situations, people and places from the already popular. It has immediate “bro” appeal in its use of stereotypical analogies but it’s more just a pointing out of stupidity or to charm with references to popular culture rather than having any sort of inherent comical aspect of its own.
Kitchen Sink Development
Wildstar seems to be the game that has no idea what it wants to be or the focus of content it wants to have. It wants to somehow have everything for everyone and a general appeal that gets the most people in. It focuses on a variety of playstyles including the bartle types and has so many game types that, at first glance it seems near every player would be covered. but such a thing would be impossible.
There is a lot here: a variety of different questing mechanics for each class, arenas, and even guild battles. Dungeons and raids of different types that are ever-changing for some weekly leaderboard. Housing, pets, mounts and other collectibles. Events and bosses in the open world. Some sort of integrated crafting and a lot more there to discover. It is the MMO smorgasbord of content but in such things, when talking about a buffet of food there is usually going to be some sort of drawback in quality for providing so much, and such differing styles. It’s a wide variety but one that will probably result in a more shallow experience.
First, there is no way they are going to be able to balance skills accordingly for each and every part of the game. Most titles have problem balancing for 1 or two areas, some never achieve this but here I would say completely impossible so get ready for a wealth of fall of the month classes and builds that go inchecked for moths in certain parts of the content.
For the updates themselves I also believe they are going to have to focus on smaller areas at a time when updating, improving or adding content as trying to produce something for each part would create a development cycle of several months. Even then if you’re spreading your development amongst the areas evenly you would get mere bit sized morsels of content that would hardly satiate the ravenous hordes. In the opposite scenario, where you are producing bigger patches for selected areas then you are going to get a part of the population that feels left out and forgotten, and that will piss and moan on the forums incessantly because of it.
It is, I believe the dilemma Guild Wars 2 have had in their ongoing development yet Wildstar is arguable trying to be even more ambitious with their greater variety to choose from. This might give them more time before the initial burn-out period before the content has been exhausted but then it will take far longer to expand on.
I think it’s safe to say right now that while there are many elements in each mmo that we love and mechanics we think will improve the genre but beside that, there are always parts in each that we hate. Hate with a burning passion. I’ve been a little defensive regarding this hate lately but really, no product should ever be immune from criticism regardless of its current state of development or marketing appeal. It’s this criticism that can improve games, and I’m hoping both products are taking these and all other points regarding their games into account.
So what’s the part you hate the most about these and that you hope will change?
#Wildstar #ESO #Rant