Content Balance

J3w3l has a post up, albeit high-brow sarcastic, about the detractors to TESO and Wildstar.

I have a bunch of thoughts on both games.  The gist of it is the value of the items within the current market.  There are only 2 AAA games that require a subscription – WoW for themeparks and EvE for PvP (though this one has alternate payments).  They own their respective fields, with a significant  market share.  Any game that releases has to justify their price point against these two games if they want a subscription.  Then they have to justify the time spent against all the other games on the market, F2P and others.  That’s simple market reality and there isn’t much to debate about.

What there is debate about is the content types and their balance.

TESO has some features to discuss.  First is the class balance and skills.  Given the open framework, there are probably hundreds of possible skill combinations possible, many of which are not viable.  Beta has shown  few of those (blade furry).  Experience from balancing talent trees, not even skills, has shown that.  You want skills to be balanced against each other, so that it becomes hard to gimp yourself.

Next you have crafting/items to balance.  TESO doesn’t hand out items liberally and has a decently complex crafting system.  You can make top end gear, if you have the right parts.  Most themeparks cannot manage this and early indications say TESO has a good hold on this.  Top level activities are veteran dungeons, exploration, open world anchors and PvP. There are no raids.  It makes for an odd end game to be honest, where the long term activities seem to focus near solely on PvP.  GW2 launched with this model and them promptly added more PvE content (to much furor) through gated fractals.  Perhaps if TESO has an analog to the Living Story, every few week have a content patch.  I honestly compare this game as a combination of GW2 content and TSW skills.  That’s a pretty solid mix.

Wildstar  is more or less WoW on steroids.  Skills are pretty static but talent builds (AMPs) provide some variety.  There isn’t as much class variety as TESO but there are more classes.  Crafting is missing details.  I hear that there are 2 crafting systems, one to pump out items, another for customizing said items.  Top level crafting is supplemented from raiding, so while you can craft top level items, it’s a bit of chicken and egg here.  A bit like Vanilla WoW raiding I guess.

What is the same as themeparks is the focus on dungeons, battlegrounds and raids, difficult ones to boot.  You could call this more of the same and I would agree.  What adds a bit of flavor is the rest of the elder game.  Housing, ship missions, war plots and adventure provide some horizontal options.  This provides three goals.  PvP, PvE gear and customization.  Balance on the first two is always hard and I really have not found a game that could address this properly.  You always end up with a PvP stat (e.g. Resolve) that puts a massive sick in the ground that says “PvP only”.  While there is a lot “of the same” from what we’ve seen before, it does appear to be iterative.  It’s almost a kitchen sink approach and time has shown that is really hard to do.  The devs are all experienced MMO folk though…

So while it would be nice to compare both games, they really don’t have a lot in common outside of high level stuff – levels, crafting and group content (PvP and PvE).  They really do seem to be aimed at different market.  That’s great for the genre.  More options is a good thing.  Fingers crossed that both can find success.

3 thoughts on “Content Balance

  1. it is great that they do seem to be focusing on different aspects and different markets, I’m actually looking forward to both because of that.

    I’m still wondering though how the end game will end up in ESO. Will they actually try to develop for and keep a more horizontal progression like GW2 wanted. It would probably be easier for a sub game to do this as they can put all the interesting new armors and weapons in the game but require challenges to get.

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    • I really hope they go horizontal. There’s just much advantage to be had there as FF14 has shown. We need more “different” and challenge against the status quo. Gear treadmills are done.

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      • as do i.. once you start going up you really can’t stop and it tends to ruin everything else in the game. I hope they just add more challenge to the game and keep expanding on current zones and the world

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