This is the final post in my series about choosing between MMOs. I’ve tried to identify key criteria (and sub-elements) that I would use to rank or score MMOs based on my current view of the genre. In each case I’ve wanted this to be as general and comparative as possible, avoiding picking a long list of specific features or implementations that I prefer.
So for of the MMOs I play currently I’ll be rating them according to the five scorecards and then averaging all that to get a final score for each. In each case I’ll provide a bit of commentary to explain any doubts over scores I might have or reflections on the sub-elements I chose.
1. Immersive world and story
Several of the games I play have a strong story component. For all its faults I did really enjoy the class story concept in SWTOR. I could have marked Tera a 3, but I do enjoy the main story instances. I also marked Rift down mainly because the Storm Legion quests just haven’t kept me interested in playing. I think LOTRO is easily the best of the games for enabling players to play the role of a character in the game world and to feel immersed by so doing.
Action combat does have something to bring to this discussion. All the games have things in combat to react to, though often unless you’re in the ‘end-game’ you can ignore this most of the time. Actually WoW has taken some strides forward in forcing players to be a bit aware of ‘telegraphed’ monster abilities while questing in the newer Pandarian zones. As I’ve posted before I find the lack of active avoidance abilities really annoying in all the non-active combat games now. I ended up penalising all the games without some form of triggered party combos here, I think it’s a great feature to include in any MMO. I have marked EQ2 as tentative scores (*) for both reactives and team work; as to be honest I haven’t seen end-game content so can’t be sure the heroic opportunity system still is used or relevant.
3. Varied PVE activities
World of Warcraft has the widest variety of quest styles of any MMO in the genre. LOTRO has some variations like the ‘session play’ quests, EQ2 has a ton of questing variations as well. Guild Wars 2 easily wins the “hidden stuff to discover” stakes, though Rift does very well here also. EQ2 and LOTRO have the most robust and well-integrated crafting systems. In particular there is non-combat related things to craft for the housing systems, plus combat gear that is useful to the end-game. Tera scores well also since crafted gear is important for this same reason. I marked WoW down because there are now so many factions with vendors and so much emphasis on dailies and gear tokens that you can effectively gear without much input from crafting.
4. Character customisation
EQ2 has great customisation and very varied races even if the character models are a bit dated. Guild Wars 2 has the best character models in looks, plus they have Charr. Tera has great races although the customisation could be slightly better (all popori are fat etc). I penalise LOTRO on looks because the models do look so dated now. Tera on the other hand gets the ‘wooden spoon’ with the poorest class choice, not because there aren’t enough classes but because those classes have no flexibility in role (all priests are healers). I gave WoW a 3 and LOTRO a 4 for class choice simply because LOTROs classes have greater variety of playstyle (e.g. the warden is pretty unique), sadly WoWs classes are slowly being homogenised in the name of balance. I gave top marks for progression to EQ2 because the Alternate Advancement system, plus very importantly the slider to shift emphasis on leveling and AA gain offers players wonderful flexibility in the pace of progression.
5. Group play
All games are equal for group tools, so I probably need to rework the sub-elements to differentiate better between the quality of the tools as well as number. Rift and GW2 are probably the best games for actually providing and promoting group content with the level scaling technology. EQ2 has chronomancy, which fits nicely in lore but in reality is a pain to use as you have to pay for it each time using city reputation points. I think the two games with housing easily win the guild support stakes since it gives a safe space for guilds to host in-game guild meetings.
Summarising the scores I get the following totals and score averages for each game.
The totals and mean scores tell the same story, my system of scoring indicates I rate games with breadth of gameplay, customisable characters and a strong set of group play mechanics. LOTRO does also have a strong showing in the rankings in third place. I’ll have to reevaluate my stricter rotation for what games I’m playing this year I think. I will continue in Tera at least until I reach the cap, it may take longer than I’d anticipated though as I’ve heard leveling 50-60 takes quite a while. After that I think it should either spend some time leveling up in EQ2 or trying to push on in LOTRO to get nearer Rohan.