I’ve decided to write a comparison piece to highlight the similarities and differences between Guild Wars 2 and The Secret World‘s content — specifically the leveling/questing content. Why? I’ve played both games and realized that they share core similarities on the macro level, but when you look closer the two are entirely different.
Both TSW and GW2 are also very different from the all-too-common WoW-clone content model. These two games have done a great job creating something unique. If you’re interested in finding out more about the content in these two games, specifically my take on them, read on.
Both GW2 and TSW are linear themeparks. The goal is to move from this zone, to that zone, then eventually the zone over there. A clear start and end point are visible. Yet within that linear design, both games take a very open approach to how the questing and content within each zone are structured. Players are free to roam from around the zone and explore. “Quests” are sprinkled around with the hope that players will come across them and think, “Oh wow a quest in an area I just explored! How unexpected and fortuitous!”
GW2 quests are located at the hearts on the map where a NPC is likely there waiting to give you a reward for doing something “natural” in the area. Why they chose hearts, I do not know. TSW’s proper quests are found from NPC’s located in areas you would expect to find people hiding out: A general store, a haunted school, a kindergarten…you get the idea. While both games let you go to whatever area you want, there is still a natural and intended path of progression from an easier side of the zone to an area with monsters you’re going to struggle against.
TSW feels like you’re discovering a bigger story or idea of what is happening in the zone. As you progress through the quests, in whatever order you please, everything seems to tie together. From the little exploration quests you find when you stumble across a rock in a forest, to the main storyline in the zone, everything is leading you to a conclusion.
GW2 content is loosely associated, if at all. You’ll go to a farm and help plant crops, or help slay a massive dragon just because it happens to be threatening some villagers. But GW2, unlike TSW, has this sense of ‘stuff going on’. Zones won’t literally change like ArenaNet wants you to believe, but you will have a big event going on that draws people from all over zone to that location to participate. Whereas in TSW everyone is off doing their own thing. TSW quests also send you all over the zone, whereas in GW2 the quests are contained within a general area.
TSW quests are for thinkers. You have to think outside the box, watch a cutscene, listen to a clue carefully, use the internet to decipher code or cleverly created websites, and generally engage beyond the level of any other game I have played. GW2 quests are prescribed, easy to understand, and less about thinking but more about doing.
Ups and Downs for Both
TSW’s story-driven content, with such enormous emphasis on figuring things out, immerses the heck out of the player. But it forbids replayability. There is no way I will ever, *EVER*, make another character because I know every solution. Questing can also be a very draining experience. I find myself tired after two hours of questing, like I need a breather from the tension and calculated gameplay. There’s also a lack of diversity among factions/societies. Despite being from a different part of the world, everyone comes together to do the -exact- same content.
GW2′s quests are a very public affair. Much of the time it feels like what I’m doing in GW2 is ad hoc, impromptu, unplanned, and I find myself socializing with others and engaging with the community a lot more. Unfortunately, at times the quests are a bit shallow and I question why a hero of my status is helping to collect eggs. There is a much higher degree of replayability in GW2.