Wildstar, ESO and story-rich MMORPGs

There are a lot of blog posts analysing Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) at the moment, comparing the two upcoming MMOs and giving very divergent views on each. I said back in January that I suspected for me, personally, this year would be more about reconnecting or getting deeper into existing games than trying new ones – I still feel that’s the case.

For instance this post by Azuriel really highlights on the biggest concern I have with Wildstar, that of the “twitter quest text” –

It is one thing to reduce all quests down to kill X mobs or click on Y things, but it’s another thing entirely to not even bother papering over the activities with clever writing.

Story presentation is everything to me in MMORPG games. I’m a rarity, I guess, in that I care more about new stories than I do about new challenges or new shiny purple gear. It has certainly caused me to give up on playing a title earlier than perhaps I might have, Tera being one obvious example – Tera’s quest text was just too boring or laborious to read for me to keep playing.

Wildstar with its “tweet length” quest descriptions hasn’t grabbed my interest enough to even bother with the beta. The game may well be heavily focused on action and movement but I still want some story to justify why I’m slaughtering endless virtual monsters/animals/enemies.

ESO I have tried in beta and the storytelling and voice-overs were average, not terrible but certainly not as immersive as SWTOR’s offering. I would also subjectively argue that the writing in ESO isn’t as good as that in Neverwinter (the MMO one). I’m sure some would be object strongly to that statement, if it’s a starter zone issue then I do not accept that as an excuse – a game is sold or rejected on it’s early content! Story isn’t just presented in quest text in either game both have plenty of lore objects to click on as you explore.  I find ESO’s overall story presentation rather bland – some parts are of the linear ‘main quest’ sort, but the remaining quests seem like little islands of unrelated story not even really tying into a zone-wide consistent whole. It gives the zones a fragmented feeling I think, whereas I have found the deliberate links between overarching story and zone-specific stories in Neverwinter to be more engaging (e.g. the Spellplague as a magical catastrophe is featured in zone quests, class quests, story dungeons and certain NPC-specific plots that link at least three different zones).

There are other reasons for which I could like these two games; Wildstar looks like it’ll have a good housing system, whereas the class building mechanism in ESO could be fun to experiment with. But both games seem to have concentrated a bit too much on game play and game systems design and not enough on using them to tell an engaging story set in a consistent virtual world.

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4 Responses to Wildstar, ESO and story-rich MMORPGs

  1. zaphod6502 says:

    Strangely enough based on beta testers who have played both games TESO is looking to be the stronger of the two. The recent TESO beta really changed a lot of players opinions of the game.

  2. bhagpuss says:

    I played Everquest most of yesterday. Did a lot of “questing”. The quest text appears in a very small font in the chat window and generally there’s a lot of it. The key words are highlighted now so there’s actually no practical requirement to read it – you can just click through to get a “to do ” list added to your quest journal and off you go.

    So, it’s hard to read and you don’t need to read it – I read every word. I’m not going to claim it’s great literature but all the dialog and descriptive text I read was engaging, amusing and professionally-written, often with an attractively dry, ironic tone. It’s not so much that I needed a story to justify my actions, more that it was a a pleasure to have one.

    I don’t think it’s impossible to tell a story clearly and effectively in 140 character bursts but I do think it would require better writers to do so than the average MMO gets. Writing well using fewer words is harder, not easier. From the examples I’ve seen it doesn’t look as though Carbine have set themselves the limit as a challenge but as a convenience. Can’t really be sure of that without playing the game, though, and that’s something I’ve yet to do.

  3. Dovahkiin says:

    Apparently, ESO is downgraded for RPG quality. As I play elder scroll and the freedom to choose your character’s path (okay, they have a good story line), I found the online version is somewhat “players love PVP and we should focus on that rather than how to get player to involved with the character building”.

    I don’t what were they thinking but a good MMORPG lets player feel the character more than anything. Take a look for WOW for example =)

    Cheers mate, good analysis!

  4. I have to agree with your thoughts on both Wildstar and ESO. I wish there was something there to grab me and pull me in. But neither of the games clicked for me, mostly due to atmosphere and story. One was a bit too over the top while the other just felt too drab and dull.

    I’m okay sticking it out with what I’m playing right now, though. I still have tons of content in games like Secret World and FFXIV to experience. Nothing wrong with that!

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