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Content: GW2 vs. TSW

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.

Similarities

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.

Differences

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.

  • swarmofseals says:

    Keen — how much of the content of GW2 have you seen? I’m wondering if the menial nature of some of the quests is more of a product of low level questing. For example, in LOTRO the quests in most of the low level zones seem a bit trifling, with a few exceptions. Of course once you get to the higher level zones they are much more impactful. Maybe GW2 is the same way? Of course, if you’ve seen high level areas as well then that’s a different story.

    Also, is it possible that some of the more involved dynamic events aren’t running yet? I’ve read that there are quests that might take days or even weeks to unfold fully, and such events might just not be doable in beta. I’m a bit skeptical of this myself, but I guess it’s possible.

  • Keen says:

    @Swarmofseals: I feel that I’ve represented both games fairly and accurately.

    Despite the lore of the quests changing, even in Lotro you had kill quests, gather quests, etc. It doesn’t matter if you pick crops in the first zone, or pick poisonous ghost relics in the last, it’s still a “pick stuff up and bring it to me” quest.

    From start to finish, TSW is a story-driven “thinker” game. From start to finish, GW2 is a more ad hoc, slay the beasties with random passersby game. I see positives and negatives for both, which I have outlined.

  • Tzak says:

    Am still more for GW2 cause it has still given my more DAOC feeling than any other game that has ever came out since then. I love the Keep/Tower/Relic struggle feeling. Thats why i had such high hopes for WAR. I played on the same server in DAOC as you Keen and i think possible with you during Relic and Keep Raids. There still has been nothing to give that old feeling back, and GW2 has been the closest for me and probably where i will end up for a very long time specially since it is Free. TOR has become a mega-grind for gear fest, almost worse than WoW. And i couldn’t get into TSW.

    Now that an old DAOC co-founder and Dev is developing the ElderScrolls MMO, lets hope he brings it. But for now GW2 is it.

  • Zyler says:

    I liked reading the differences, but the part you mentioned about TSW that there is no need to roll a different character.. I dunno.
    I like alts myself. Especially games where they give very different areas depending on what side you start at.

    I do not play TSW, but I am wondering.
    How far in are you in TSW? How fast is lvling?

    On a side note.. I still can not decide which character will be my main character in GW2. That is a good sign…

    p.s. I heard people that get into beta get 3 beta invite keys themselves?? Maybe it would be a nice idea to ask the people that won to post those extra keys on your blog?

  • Zyler says:

    Oh and the last part I of course meant the SMITE beta giveaway.. seems I did not check my post well before clicking the submit button

  • swarmofseals says:

    Ohh sure, I don’t mean to suggest you are misrepresenting the game. I’m just wondering if what you’ve seen of the game is indicative of how the whole game will play out or if it was specific to the areas that you visited. I don’t know how much of the game you’ve tested, so it’s hard to put your comments in context. I was more speaking to the whole “why is my hero picking up eggs” thing than your overall impressions. To use my LOTRO analogy, you might easily ask why your hero is gathering farming tools (bree) or running pies around (shire)… and that might easily turn you off the game, not realizing that later on the flavor of the quests are more appropriate for a “hero” even if the game mechanics are the same.

    In GW2, I won’t mind picking up eggs and tending to crops at low levels, but if that’s a large bulk of what I’m doing in the mid to high level areas it’s going to be pretty off-putting!

  • Steeldragoon says:

    Zones won’t literally change like ArenaNet wants you to believe

    The whole zone? No. Partial zone areas? Yes. Although, I wonder if perhaps more of the zones change the higher level zone you are in. At level 25+, the zone was starting to do some serious changes depending on the state of the dynamic event. Also, the event chains seemed to be getting longer so the number of states that the area could be in seemed to increase.

  • Joe says:

    @Zyler there is no reason at all to lvl other chars in TSW, none you can do anything you want with your char.

    for me only reason i like lvling other chars is new spells and another play style. i have never been able to stick to one char in any game this game i can and will.

    lvls are something else they tell us there are no lvls in the game, and its kinda true. you lvl up what weapon you want to use this sucked for me to started of could not make my mind up what to do i had points all over, but in the end it does not matter. no points are wasted sooner or later you are going to want and get them all.

    armor is the same you have 3 slots and you put points in each to cover all your armor slots. they go from ql 1 to ql 10. this is prob the best thing you can work on you might changed you weapons but always going to want the best armor you can use.

  • Keen says:

    @Steeldragoon: It’s the same idea that Trion had with Rift. The rifts make it ‘look’ different during the event. It’s a temporary effect that is cleared once the triggers have been met.

    While it may sound like I am diminishing the presentation by being critical, I don’t intend to belittle it. The content is enjoyable, and quite unique. But it also isn’t as dynamic and world-changing as they want you to believe.

    @swarmofseals: The egg reference was less specific (though now I ironically remember picking up eggs in the Nord starting area…) and more intended to represent the fetching quest type.

    @Tzak: Perhaps I will write a post on the PvP differences in the game sometime, but you’re right. GW2’s PvP content is superb.

    @Zyler: Your first character in TSW can have every skill, do every quest, learn every ability, and complete everything the game has to offer. As for how far Graev adn I are in the game, we’re headed to Egypt. I think that’s like 50%? I don’t know.

  • bartillo says:

    I do like in GW2 though ever race has their own leveling zones from atleat 1-25 before they come together. In TSW everyone is together from the start.

  • Rayvn says:

    Ever since I read the article about the GW2 WvWvW stuff I have been looking forward to it. That said, I have really been enjoying TSW. Maybe because it sorta came out of nowhere for me.

    I wanted to point out something though, in the state of the game post they made yesterday, Funcom says (and we’ll see) that they will be adding new quests to all zones monthly. That could add replay value to lower level zones for those considering starting new characters.

  • wufiavelli says:

    Would you mind if ask you to throw one more comparison to old EQ and DAOC PvE systems?

    Also off topic question but would you put EQ, AC, and UO PvE in the same catagory? I wouldnt but my experience with EQ was minimal. My computer couldnt run it back in the day.

  • Keen says:

    @Wufiavelli: EQ and DAOC are tough comparisons because they evolved so much over time. I can only give you my opinion from the era I played. They were very, very similar at launch. The idea was to essentially find a camp of mobs and stay there, killing them til you either got bored or moved on.

    Your second question, no they are not in the same category.

  • coppertopper says:

    Just comparing quests – thats really short sighted. If I wanted to quest to max level, WoW would suffice, or LOTRO. Its what is offered outside the mainstream that makes a game worth buying.

  • wufiavelli says:

    Were the mobs scatter in a way that would suggest a natural progression or were they random? So some mobs would be ok for low levels while others would be more challenging?

  • The Merovingian says:

    GW2 is definitely way less linear than TSW. I can’t even understand how you can compare both. Not to mention GW2’s world is at least 3x bigger than TSW.

  • Fraaak says:

    Probably because both are mmos, both are new, both are trying something a little different than usual mmos in terms of content and gameplay, both are detailed with lots of lore and a strong pvp game. And so on.

  • Keen says:

    @Coppertopper: There is absolutely nothing short-sighted about analyzing the main form of leveling content in a game.

    @Wufiavelli: In EQ/DAOC? It wasn’t set up to progress naturally. That’s actually what made EQ feel like a pseudo-sandbox. Mobs were placed where they would be expected. Bears roamed the forest, bandits had camps, etc. You had to go out and figure out where they were at, even if it meant traveling across the world.

    @The Mervingian: Don’t be so defensive — hell, I never even talked about size. I completely acknowledged GW2’s impromptu and open style and clearly detailed how GW2 has far more replayability. That said, they are both entirely linear experiences. To say anything else would be a complete lie.

    And there’s nothing wrong with a game being linear — most themeparks are linear. It’s not like GW2 is a sandbox and I’m misrepresenting it by saying it’s linear. Linear =/= an insult. It’s a description, quite accurate in fact, and a way of informing people who do not have any base knowledge of the game.

    I’m sensing a lot of GW2 fanboy defense posturing starting to crop up. Don’t do it; It’s unjustified. You have to have an open mind and realize I’m stating my opinion about the content by comparing them both. once your mind is open, reread my initial statement about both games doing a great job of creating something unique. These are both newer, topical, games that have branched out from the WoW-clone model. I’m going to discuss them. It’s what I do.

  • Chewie says:

    Hmmm… the starting area is the same for all factions in TSW..?
    That`s quite disappointing.

  • wufiavelli says:

    kind of funny all the hoops we jump threw today to try and get a living world when it could be done by something so easy as proper mob placement.

    I am also always interest in the concept of true dynamic pve. Where the world responds to what players do. For example if you kill all the orcs they move away and stop spawning in the areas ect. ect. Its been talked about in theory a lot but has never really been implemented. UO tried implementing something like that and came to conclusion it was impossible to calibrate. Players would kill mobs too fast, or too slow. They couldnt get it to work any manner where it was actually fun and meaningful.

    Gw2 Dynamic events keep the possible outcomes very tightly controlled in small narratives with a few possible outcomes in states for each.

    Also the other type of Dynamic PvE which has been done with success but mostly abandoned recently is the UO or SWG type where every class and monster work together (or against each other) in an economy or system.

  • bcu says:

    Keen

    how do you rate TSW for ppl who love alt-ing / alt-o-holic ?

    is the skill system and limited character slot a detriment to alt-o-holic ? just like EVE online ?

  • Anon says:

    To be fair Keen, unless you’ve gained some super secret access to content that the rest of the Beta crew haven’t seen, I don’t really think you can compare GW2 with TSW yet.

    GW2 simply hasn’t launched, so none of us have really been to the high level zones to see what the content looks like.

    I recall hearing about giant meta events that only occur when a chain of smaller events have taken place.

    Those events, to the best of my knowledge do leave a lasting impact on the zone, until players come along to switch it back.

    I could be mistaken, but I think it’s worth holding off until the full launch, when the content can speak for itself.

  • McJigg says:

    Current progession by zone in TSW is 3 areas of Kingsmouth, 3 ares of Egypt and 3 areas of Transylvania.

    If you just heading to Egypt, I’d say your 33% done, not 50%.

    But as I still have 4 or 5 missions before heading out to Egypt myself, I could be wrong.

  • McJigg says:

    One more thought, any chance of getting a TSW board on the forum?

  • cthreepo says:

    Seems like there’s alot of GW2 fanboys around here 😛 I was not really impressed with GW2 questing. It wasnt bad, but it was nothing special either. The events are pretty cool, but doesnt add much story wise (at least not those I tried)

    But both games might be MMO’s, but they have very different target groups. GW2 is for the pvp’ers and TSW is for Story ppl.

    I know thats a bit simple put, but to some degree its true.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Keen:
    Well, I defend what needs to be defended. And calling people names (fanboi/hater) when they happen to disagree isn’t very nice either, don’t you think? I’m sure we can communicate without that kind of stuff.

    How can GW2 be linear, when the more you progress, the more the whole world becomes your playground? When you can go back to lower level areas (areas you didn’t explore yet) and still be rewarded with XP and loot adapted to your real level?
    For instance, I can finish the Norn areas, at at level 15-20 completely change, go do the human noob (level 1) area and be rewarded according to my level 15-20. How is that linear? WoW is linear (you can go to areas our of your level range, but you won’t be rewarded for it accordingly). Rift is linear, despite it’s supposed “dynamic events” (what a joke!). One of GW2’s greatest achievement is that it managed to break that linearity theme park MMOs were plagued.

    So on that sentence: “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.” – I respectfully disagree. You don’t have to go to “that zone” in GW2 if you don’t want to. Even within a same zone, you don’t have a predefined path to follow where quests send you. The only linear element in GW2 is the personal story.

  • Dril says:

    @The Merovingian

    Right, but you can do that in TSW. Swap out some high QL gear for some zone-appropriate stuff and, bam, all the quests are normal for you and you can do them again if you want. Sure, you won’t get level-appropriate rewards, but, then I don’t see why you should. Simply consuming something is not an act that grants you access to a shiny.

    TSW is entirely non-linear apart from the main story. You can do the quests in basically any order you want, apart from the very rare occurrence whereby you need to do one main mission to unlock another to maintain the story.

    But they’re both linear. Whatever you do, you will be following a corridor; sure, the corridor might have different turns, but it’s still a corridor that’s only ever going to lead to one place.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Dril
    I didn’t critic TSW – I was just correcting a misconception about GW2.
    Tried TSW (I was in the closed beta for a long time) and didn’t buy it because in my opinion, it will be just like SW:TOR, a decent game with very limited replayability – a “3 monther” like Keen used to say – but it’s still a decent game and I definitely don’t come here to bash it.

    “But they’re both linear. Whatever you do, you will be following a corridor; sure, the corridor might have different turns, but it’s still a corridor that’s only ever going to lead to one place.”
    You don’t have to do that at all. The only corridor you remotely follow in GW2 is the personal story line, but that’s a minor part of the game. The rest of the time, you’re free to go anywhere of your level or lower. Hell, if you want, you can get to 80 without ever leaving your starter area (if you have the patience, yeah it’s silly, but you can do it). During the last short stress test, I grouped with a guildie who was level 17, and I was level 25 – he got level 17 loot/xp, I got level 25 loot/xp – and it’s the same if you are alone. Wherever you go, you get rewarded, level ranges are only indicative.
    Of course, some people will play GW2 like they played all EQ/WOW clones, possibly because they never experienced games like UO or AC1 and are a bit confused. But try it next beta week end, and you’ll see… there’s no corridor except your personal story line you can “teleport” to when you are at the right level for the next step.

  • OneShard says:

    Just thought I’d point out the single server technology in TSW. This with the ability to have every skill in the game on one character could change the way you plan to play a game. To be a little more like Eve Online, instead of being many characters you are one, with a world wide reputation for that one character.

  • Dril says:

    @The Merovingian

    “you can get to 80”

    Precisely my point.

    It’s linear, that’s where the corridor ends.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Dril
    Hum, your logic escapes me… all MMORPG, even the skill based ones (like UO or even TSW), have a “max level / max progression limit”. How does that make the game linear? A game being linear or not is about how the content is designed. The more ways from 1 to “max level / max progression” you have, the less linear the game is.

  • Fraaak says:

    @The Merovingia
    Just FYI, you can do exactly what you mentioned about GW2 in TSW, ie go back to newbie zones and still get ‘exp’ (AP and SP). Though I don’t believe the loot scales. But you can break down the loot you do get to get components to craft your own stuff. Though if I went back to a newbie zone, it’d likely be to play with a friend, and I wouldn’t want to use maxed out items anyway since that will kill any sort of challenge for my buddy.

    @McJigg
    There’s actually only 2 Egypt zones, but they are both pretty large. The second one seemed small to me at first but there is a ton of stuff going on, and lots of layers and hidden areas that made it last a long time.

  • Intruder313 says:

    I liked the article as I like reading about the games themselves, but I don’t really see the point in comparing them since they have little in common other than being new/coming soon MMOs.

    I’m not going to bother with TSW but I’ll probably play GW2. But it’s not a choice between them by any means.

  • Gankatron says:

    Maybe there are different definitions of “linear”? By example Dril’s definition would make all MMO’s with any level cap “linear”; this is a very different definition of linear than I utilize.

    Perhaps it is a lumper versus splitter disagreement?

    Maybe the question should be to what degree is a game linear as opposed to labeling it with a big red “LINEAR” stamp if it has certain linear elements, or ask perhaps the most pertinent question, “Did your personal game play experience feel significantly linear?”

    I mostly agree with Mero’s argument. Although there will be a natural progression to higher level zones in GW2, scaling down of level with appropriate exp and loot does remove the mandatory one way signs.

    Perhaps a practical test of linear game mechanics is to consider whether a high level player would find going back to the starter zones enjoyable (other than for griefing); WoW would fail this test and would appropriately be defined as linear.

    Also the terms “fanboi”/”hater” probably are a bit like the Potter’s definition of pornography:

    “I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [“hard-core pornography”]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.”

    —Justice Potter Stewart

    I don’t see any great degree of fanboi-ism so far, just differing POV’s. In this case it is somewhat demeaning to label dissenting opinions as “fanbois”.

  • Friartuckk says:

    @The Merovingian
    By the loosest of definitions everything we perceive in “real life” is a linear progression, your born, you get old and die. Seeing how the underlying goal of MMO’s is to closely approximate our real world then I fail to see how you could not have some form of linear progression in them and achieve the goal of having a real world-like experience. Linear is not the dirty word as it’s been made out to be.

    Arguing the fact that because GW2 allows you to not advance zone to zone and claiming that it is non-linear is ignoring the fact that you still are progressing to some end. The act of leveling is a form of linear progression. I would say that by arguing that you do not have to leave the starter zone to be able to progress all the way to level 80 is actually a bad thing. Though I take it your example is an extreme to illustrate your point. They want players to progress through their zones. Exploration is their goal and one of the key elements to making the game more fun and immersive.

    GW2 has done a great job of breaking up the typical quest hub and scattered adventures through out the world, giving the player a reason to explore and see new things. Yes like you said you can level all the way up in the starter zone, but who wants to as the developers have opened up the questing system in their game to promote exploration, which is a key to giving a more immersive experience and giving illusion that you are in a living breathing world.

    I’ll be playing both games as I think they both have great things to offer. What I feel the strength of TSW is it’s engaging quest and the ability to really engage the player beyond go and kill X or go and collect Y. Even though those quest do exist, there is much more than just those there, particularly with the investigation quest. Other developers should take note, including GW2 because the inclusion of quest that engage you in such a way are what I think a lot of people are looking for.

  • silvertemplar says:

    @Chewie

    “Hmmm… the starting area is the same for all factions in TSW..?”

    No, every faction have their own starting area and “home city” . The difference is, the starting areas are accessable by ALL factions. So much so that you get quests sending you into the different starting areas.

    Keep in mind “starting area” in TSW is effectively the equivalent of a city like Shattrath in Wow (cross faction, all the banks,shops etc are there).

    Even though each faction have their “city”, Funcom did seem to pick one specific one to have “more” stuff . I suppose to encourage players to mingle in a single place as opposed to 3.

  • Fraaak says:

    @Silvertemplar – In their “State of the Game” they mention they are bringing similar features that London has to other cities. NY and Seoul will both be getting shops (that sound like they have unique items). Though I’m not sure if they have decided that each town will get a Albion type club. It’s probably best to only have one of those, while I see the benefit of having unique shops in each town.

  • Keen says:

    @Bcu: Altaholics should skip TSW. It will not be fun.

    @Anon: If GW2 launches and the post-35 content suddenly departs drastically from what is already revealed, I will write another piece. I do not expect that to be the case. It has never before been the case in any MMORPG.

    @The Merovingian: We disagree on what linear means. Consider the Nord questing area. You are meant to progress through that first zone in a general order. The hearts, if you hover over them, have a recommended level. 2 -> 3 -> 4 -> 5 -> 6, etc. When you do them all, you go north to the next area that has 7 -> 8 -> 9 -> 10. Then you keep going north and you find more hearts that are higher level. The game continues like this. Those quests are not repeatable. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    Just because you can go backwards doesn’t make it less linear. Take a straight line. You can move forward and back along that line in TSW and GW2. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s linear. Like I said, pretty much all themeparks are linear.

    @Intruder313: One point I made is how much they have in common, which is why I wrote the article to begin with. They both take a questing model approach but within that approach give players the opportunity to roam and explore. They do it so well that despite using a very similar style, they create something unique. Both are different from WoW, which alone is reason to spread the word.

    @Chewie: As others have said, each city has their own capital/headquarters. But when the real content starts, everyone does the same content together.

    I’m complimenting both games. I’m giving my opinion about both games and how they relate and differ. I made an effort to represent both accurately, fairly, and even-handed. These are the facts as I see them. I don’t apologize for comparing games that create, to me, a fascinating side-by-side comparison.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Keen:
    I see where the misunderstanding lies. You play the game following the hearts, like if it was another quest hub based MMORPG with no other content than those quest hubs. Well, it isn’t. I think many people will be confused about GW2 that way, but you are wrong here, progression is definitely not locked to that heart recommended level list you have posted. I found dynamic events, hidden caves, and other stuff in places not even remotely close to a heart.
    Actually, hearts got added to help people who are used to the typical theme park linear progression – they weren’t in the game in early beta.

  • Cthreepo says:

    @The Merovingian “all MMORPG, even the skill based ones (like UO or even TSW), have a “max level / max progression limit” sorry not true. I’ve played alot of Eve, and there might be a limit in theory, but in reality no1 can cap all skills.

  • Keen says:

    @The Merovingian: You’re putting words in my mouth. I never said that’s how I play. That’s how the game is designed. If you choose to play differently, that’s your perogative. The game is designed to give players a level by level path of quests. They’re even labeled on the map for all to see.

    I didn’t say progression was locked to those hearts (Although you must progress the main story in order). In fact, I said players are free to explore and do them in any order they please — perhaps I need imply they can skip them if they so choose? Just like in TSW.

    FYI, I explored and found all sorts of hidden areas and goodies. Oh, and I did all the hearts as well.

    Something you may also want to look into is the number of people stating how they finish an area but can’t move on to the next because it’s too hard. If you missed that, perhaps pay attention to chat during the next beta event. The common problem? They skipped some of those hearts.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Cthreepo
    AC1 is similar, you never have a real skill cap, but after a while, skills become so expensive it would take a lifetime to get one more point. For me, that is a cap, even if it’s a “soft cap”.

  • Fraaak says:

    @The Merovingian – In that way I would say TSW and GW2 are very similar indeed. Instead of hearts, TSW has circle icons with the silhouette of a head on it to indicate an important character (who gives you the main/story/dungeon quests). You can go to those in any order you choice. And there is no recommended ‘level’ (though of course TSW has no traditional levels) even marked, only it being in the zone you are in lets you know at a glance if it is a quest you can handle. When you go to accept a quest, it will be marked as ‘easy, normal, hard, devastating’ however, which is based off of the gear you have. But that doesn’t stop you from attempting to do them, and my friends and I have had a great time finishing up some ‘devastating’ quests.

    Unmarked quests can be found all over the place. In hidden caves, in homes, hip deep in the ocean, under bridges, etc, quite like how GW2 has theirs not near the hearts.

    I think it’s a great system for both games. It allows for people like me who love to explore while giving some guide to people who aren’t into that sort of thing. I’m so glad we are seeing both of these excellent games trying something new and refreshing in so much of their design.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Keen
    But the simple fact that you can play it differently is what makes it less linear 🙂
    As I said, the hearts got added because many “WoW clone” players were confused, they weren’t in the game in early beta. So ANet added more comprehensible content for those people, but the bulk of the content is outside of those hearts.

    If you say the game is linear because the hearts, then sorry, but we definitely don’t have the same definition of linear. A game where the whole world opens up as I progress and where I end having the choice between dozens of different areas to go to whenever I want to progress is not your standard linear theme park WoW clone.

  • Gankatron says:

    @Friartuckk:

    “Arguing the fact that because GW2 allows you to not advance zone to zone and claiming that it is non-linear is ignoring the fact that you still are progressing to some end. The act of leveling is a form of linear progression.”

    Using this definition is there a MMO that isn’t linear? I wouldn’t think that there would be a point to writing an article describing the linearity of specific MMO’s if by definition they are all “linear”.

    As Keen clarifies he is using the term “linear” to connote progression through zones, as opposed to character level, although the rise in the latter is most often intrinsically linked to the former.

    I do disagree with Keen’s assertion that “Just because you can go backwards doesn’t make it less linear.” I see linearity as sets of one-way street signs that strongly encourage one to keep progressing in a set direction.

    Being able to go backwards and still have an enjoyable experience breaks the feeling of linearity for me. On the other hand if going backwards there is nothing of interest or even punitive effects (“bwaaak, bwaaak!”) then I feel I have been channeled into a linear path of progression.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOK1uL0JVZ0

  • The Merovingian says:

    “I see linearity as sets of one-way street signs that strongly encourage one to keep progressing in a set direction.”
    “Being able to go backwards and still have an enjoyable experience breaks the feeling of linearity for me”

    Exactly. And being able to go back and experience low level content you didn’t do yet, so there’s not even repetition involved.

    In WoW, if I started as human, kept on leveling in human areas until let’s say level 40, and I go back to Ashenval, I will get crap loot and zero XP. In GW2, if I keep on leveling in Norn areas, but suddenly decide to take a break and experience the low level Human zones, I can go there and get appropriate challenge and rewards. The first is linear (aka forces you down a linear progression path), the second isn’t. And it’s even worse if I use games like Rift or SW:TOR instead of WoW.

  • Keen says:

    @The Merovingian: You can play different within the confines of the range. Consider anyone who does their own thing to only be able to do so within a standard deviation.

    I also never said the game is linear because of the hearts. I said the game is linear because it is designed for players to complete one area then progress to the next to see new content.

    Perhaps linear is too strict of a definition for you. I can see how you’re resisting even the notion. What about going back to statistics and looking at one of those correlation graphs to see a relationship. Don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t want to sound condescending, but I want to show you something.

    What’s the correlation of the image below?

    There really isn’t one. This is how I see a sandbox game. There is no prescibed path of progression, no general sense of this zone comes before that.

    How about this image? What’s the correlation?

    Quite a strong correlation, right? This is how I see TSW and GW2. See that spot about midway through a little ways off the group? That might be you, exploring doing your own thing. But you’re still moving along with the herd because *you have to* in order to progress. That’s what I mean by linear.

    And again with this whole being able to go back thing (which both TSW and GW2 feature), you’re still moving within the linear line — ESPECIALLY in GW2. They even DE-LEVEL you to be able to do so. If that’s not linear, by saying “you’re in this area you should be level 15” then I don’t know what is.

  • The Merovingian says:

    “And again with this whole being able to go back thing (which both TSW and GW2 feature), you’re still moving within the linear line — ESPECIALLY in GW2.”

    I disagree again. “going back” is NOT going to some stuff you’ve already done. You can go “back” (sort of) to content you missed and have never done.

    Let me explain.

    In Rift, SW:TOR or WoW, if you want to progress, you have not much choice, you MUST go to one of the next higher level area.

    In GW2 you don’t. You can either go to one of the higher level areas, OR go back to the many lower level areas you didn’t do yet. Choices. Not forced down a single path. Less linear.

    PS: your little schematic about a sandbox game is highly theoretical. Even in sandbox games, you need preparation and progression to tackle more difficult content. Even in Minecraft (survival mode), you can not just go directly to “The End” and kill the Ender Dragon with your wooden sword and no armor, or to take a more simply example, even just stay outside at night and hope not to run into some trouble. In UO, could couldn’t take your newbie directly to a dungeon and kill a dragon, the dragon would burn you to a crisp and eat some barbecued newbie that day.

  • Keen says:

    @The Merovingian: I guess we’ll agree to disagree.

    You see the ability to go backwards as a complete break from linear play.

    I see going backwards and take note that they de-level you and give you no additional content options beyond what was already available at that point in time, at that level, in that area, to someone who was originally there completing the content.

    Note: I think being able to go back and do stuff is *awesome* and truly fantastic. Wonderful feature. No less linear in nature, though.

  • Richard Brown says:

    First of all, great article, thanks for the effort. As I have played both games and as a gamer who began MMO-gaming 11 years ago, I will give my personal opinion here on these two game, a short and simple opinion by the way.

    TSW and GW2 are two fully different games that appeal to different kind of players. Both are MMORPGs maybe but the main concept of these two titles is different. TSW is more focused on story, as you have already mentioned,great story-line, interesting questing system, if we ignore the ton ” kil x from z ” quests and, of course, a really great game-atmosphare. You feel the game, you hear its story and you play however the ” MMORPG gaming ” is a missing thing here. Well, missed for the most of the time, if I want to be honest. The game is much mroe focused on single-player exploring of the story than anything else and what make the whole thing kinda bad, that the combat and animations are actally, a bit minus of TSW. Many people may not care, but as a reviewer, rating the game should be by rating its different aspects. What a person think about a game, is nothing more than a personal opinion, what matters here is rating the different aspects actually. Lastly, I can say that TSW is really great, special and unique, but many of the mechanics are traditional and the story-telling thingy may end up, just like TOR.

    If we take GW2 on the hand, we have here a fully different consept. This game is more ” MMORPG ” than the most games. What I mean is, that GW2 really focuses on being an mmorpg. The open world, the great exploration and of course the art. The art is something that is kinda better here, when it comes to both combat, animations and the gaming engine in general. When it comes to story, you don´t explore a written one as u do in TSW. You, simply, write your own story which makes the game, much more MMO-RPG indepth there u create ur own story by doing different things in Tyria. What Anet tried to do here is simply creating a visual world that everyone will be able to explore as they want. The world is open for u and there is nu rules. U have the right to save the village that is burning or just leave it behind and go to the main road where there are some bandits killing the people of tyria. U have the choice to help these ppl and take this road to see what´s up there in the high mountins, or u can just ignore the whole thing, because of fear, and run away instead to help a woman taking a picnik from a hungry bear. You can always help that man, yeah that one, who is starving, by fixing some food, or just let him die, being forced to handle his poor children who are making chaos because of thier anger and hunger. It is ur choice, the world is open for u and it is u who will decide what will happen. It is not questing and not a traditinal mechanics, it is an open, livign world that you explore in ur own.

    When it comes to PVP, GW2 wins hands down.

    I don´t want to be a kinda of a fanboy and I am not. I am just comparing, using facts and a personal opinion after what I have seen. Two great games, that I really like, with different aspects and a special atmosphare. All in all GW2 will kinda win in the reviews that we will see soon and the numbers of sales and active players. However, TSW reamins, one of the most interesting MMOs, I have ever played 🙂

    Thank you again for ur hard work, doing this article.
    nd Good luck, keeping the good work 🙂

  • Idunaz says:

    Non linear would be UO where there are no zones or areas with level specific mobs. It’s just a big open world where you can go anywhere at pretty much any point in characters life and progress whatever it is you choose to progress. Gw2 is clearly linear. If it wasn’t, then I could take my character straight to any point in the world at any time and progress. I can’t take my level 1 toon to the level 80 zone and expect to do anything. I have it take a fairly linear zone path I order to expect to enjoy a high level zone.

  • Richard Brown says:

    PC. Sorry for the language and gramma mistakes. I just wrote the whole thing fastly 🙂

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Keen
    So being able to choose between a level 40 area at level 40 but also any lower level area you did not do before, is just as linear as being forced into a level 40 area at 40?

    Linearity is when you are forced down a single path. A good example would be SW:TOR (or Rift). GW2 is definitely totally different from that linear model.

    I guess we are going to agree to disagree indeed, but I think there’s a misunderstanding somewhere.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Idunaz
    Try taking a dragon in UO with a freshly created character – and enjoy your trip to the graveyard 😉
    I’m a big UO fan, but don’t idealize either. Just like in any other MMORPG, and newbie can’t just enter the world and go directly to the hardest enemies with any hope of surviving.

  • Gankatron says:

    What are the labels of the axes in your graph analogy?

    I think that this is largely a lumper/splitter perception problem.

    It is true that one of the two data sets will have a greater r value defined by simple regression analysis. Nonetheless it is also true that each MMO is its own unique data set having a lesser or greater r value in comparison to others.

    One loses much information by transforming a quantitative data set into a categorical one. Saying this game is linear or not linear (a threshold r value) as opposed to one game has a lesser or greater degree of linearity than another (relative r values) and comparing the degree of difference.

    Yes, GW2 has linear elements, no doubt about it, but whether it plays as a linear experience is harder to define especially between players with differing expectations and play styles.

    In my lumper opinion is feels much less linear than most MMO’s that I have played.

  • Dril says:

    @The Merovingian

    To paraphrase what you’re saying: GW2 is not linear because you can go both backward and forward along the intended world progression line whilst still progressing your character in absolute terms, right?

    Linear is a bad term because it’s polluted by its vernacular usage (much like dynamic) but for the purposes of using it, go google linear graph. Not a correlation one like Keen linked, one with an actual line etc. It is straight. It goes in both directions. You can go to any point on that line. You can go along that line, you can go back the way you came. But you cannot LEAVE the line. It doesn’t matter how many values make up that line, the point is that they are *all tied to the line*. They all force you to follow it, one way or another.

    Because all themeparks rely on you gaining power, and moving through content, they are linear. EVE, on the other hand, does not have a defined path that you MUST move through. Eventually, even if you stay in the GW2 starting zones, you will move through the curve whether you like it or not, because of the way the game works.

  • Keen says:

    @Dril: I used the correlation graph because he was fighting the purity of a line. The graphs I used did not have the line drawn through them (line of least regression) because I didn’t want to bring that linear line in.

    We’re saying the exact same thing, though.

    @Gankatron: Since we’re speaking about progression, I’d say the X axis is content from zero to hero and Y is level. As you level, you unlock the ability to complete new content.

    See Dril’s comment (or one of mine) for clarification on the ability to go up and down that line whenever, but still being tied to that line.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Dril
    Really? Can you go at level 1 with a crap ship go destroy the hardest content of the game in EvE? See my dragon example above in UO too.
    Oh, guess what? You will have to level those skills be doing easier content before, you will have to get currency to upgrade your ship… so you will have to follow a linear path towards the power required to beat that content.
    Ooops…

  • Jim says:

    Really good piece and discussion. I think it would’ve been interesting to leave the names and specifics off the games…it would have been purely about game design choices and mechanics without the fanboi/hater digression.

    TSW, Rift xp, GW 2, MoP, Rohan…not to mention TOR and Tera. 2012 is shaping up to be perhaps the best single year for the mmorpg. Let’s enjoy it all. Now that that the growth curve has leveled off, I sincerely doubt we will see another year like it.

  • Dril says:

    @Keen: I wasn’t criticising, I was just saying that it might help to make the point hit home if he actually goes and sees one with a line.

    @The Merovingian: Talk about playing it like a WoW clone, eh?

    Within combat there is not just one, linear path. There are multiples ones, entirely independent of eachother, that branch out and out.

    And then there’s everything other than combat in EVE. Which offers a different graph entirely.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @Dril
    That exactly how you guys talk about playing GW2 😉

  • Steeldragoon says:

    @Keen – You need to check out the video link in the forums. (need to skip 4 minutes in and there is some echo for about 20 seconds)

    The main portion I think you need to pay attention to is at the end of the video. They mention “event webs.” It sounds possibly very dynamic.

  • Steeldragoon says:

    @Keen – On being linear, it sounds like your definitions are:

    Themepark = Linear
    Sandbox = Non-Linear

    I argue that you should be thinking in degrees or amounts of linearity rather than black and white.

    I found myself during the BWE’s and Stress tests going back to previous zones and other lower level zones to experience/re-experience dynamic events. I really enjoyed some of them so much so that I felt I could do them over and over again. Also of note is that because it is wide open in those zones without mountains or other obstacles to really close you off, there is a ton of exploring, jump puzzles, etc.

    Beyond that, the PvE content in both WvW and structured PvP adds more content that isn’t really so much of a progression.

    Also, while many thing that TSW is definitely for those who enjoy a story. GW2 has a story. It’s very scattered, but it’s also very large and detailed. Perhaps the massive amount of lore left from GW1 has made GW2 this way. The bit of linearity via the higher zones seems to give the stories some progression. But the player need not enjoy the game in a linear fashion.

    I would have to say that GW2 does not fall on the black or white lines of linearity, but rather perhaps dead center of that gray area.

    All MMO’s seem to have some degree of linearity. Some have much more than others. It is my experiences that seem to say GW2 has found a nice sweet spot between non-linear and linear.

  • Keen says:

    @Steeldragoon: Not all themeparks are linear. Most of them definitely are, though. I already addressed the ability to go backwards not having any affect on linearity.

    I’m curious why so many people are taking issue with, an even offense to, my calling a game linear. Is it an insult in your eyes? Some of the best games ever made are linear.

    GW2 falls closer to linear than it does free-roam. Zones have levels, you can’t go to them and do the content til you do the previous ones to level up. The story is experienced by going from Point A to Point B. Those are just facts. GW2 is experienced linearly.

  • Roulex says:

    @The Merovingian “Really? Can you go at level 1 with a crap ship go destroy the hardest content of the game in EvE?

    Actually… you can. 😛 Hence why EvE is a sandbox. See any eve killboard for examples of noobships (that you get for free when you start) and T1 Frigates (that you unlock within ~15 minutes of gameplay) destroying “hardest content in game” I.E. battleships, strategic crusiers, etc. Heck, me and some friends got together a small noobship fleet and killed a Loki (one of the most powerful pvp ships in the game).

  • wufiavelli says:

    Coming from a recovering gw2 fanboy and someone felt the urge to defend the game here. keen is right.

    Since we have not seen many non Linear games especially in the fantasy setting i think peoples perception of linear might be different.

  • Steeldragoon says:

    @Keen – I wouldn’t say I’m taking offense to your assessment so much as baffled by it. In my eyes, GW2 is clearly not as linear as other MMO’s yet you clearly think it is. Even more perplexing is that with all the examples I listed as to why I believe GW2 is less of a linear game than others (although I’m not saying it isn’t linear to a degree … just less so) you continue to insist that GW2 is a completely linear game.

    Now, I’d be happy to throw some embedded graphs and links to illustrate my point easier, but for some reason your WordPress blog continues to filter those posts out (whether I just post the link plainly or use HTML). Perhaps if I donated I could get an account on your blog that allows me to do so more easily? 😉

  • Steeldragoon says:

    @Keen – I figured I better continue a bit more to explain on my view of linear and GW2. I don’t feel that linear is a bad word. It is simply being used to describe the game. I just feel your use of it is not completely correct. The game doesn’t feel like a “straight” line to me. Yes it has some direction to it and again, I don’t feel like it is being used to heard players through the game in one direction. I feel it is more of a tool to assist players in finding new content and direction for the storyline. This direction does not need to be followed. In fact, I believe the developers of GW2 have said several times that they even encouraged people to not have to follow said path. I’m thinking of at least a couple of shapes on a graph that might illustrate my point more clearly as to why I feel GW2 is less linear, but again, I appear to be filtered on posting such content.

    I think it also needs to be stated that while zones have suggested levels, I think it is more to suggest experience on the players part rather than so much of the level of the character. I grouped with a couple of people in the 25+ zone and even though they were of level, they were still dieing a lot. I was too to a point. The level 25+ zone requires a player to really start picking up on moving, dodging, knowing their skills and a proper build for their character. I can only assume that the later levels pick it up even more.

    I guess what I am saying is, I have played GW2 enough to realize that even though I progressed some degree of linear progress, I found times where I just wanted to go back to the lower levels and experience/re-experience events.

    Another issue I have with the word linear is that when I think of linear in my head, I think of those mmo’s that had narrow non-explorable paths. You moved from zone to zone, except in this case if you attempted to explore that zone you were met with obstacles that prevented you from doing so. You had a path that seemed to suggest you needed to do these quests in that order and no other order. There was never a time in that mmo I found myself wanting to go back to the lower zones and re-experience that very limited path. I felt like I was following a story line and there was no way I could make that story my own. Talk about linear!

    Other mmo’s might have put up less obstructing barriers so that you can explore more and even go around some quest hubs/areas, but the quests are really set up in a straight/winding path with nothing to the outside to make that exploring interesting except the art work to make the zone. I feel this isn’t completely linear like the fixed path above, but it’s still pretty darn linear.

    Perhaps I can explain my idea of GW2’s degree of linear by saying it’s at least less linear than the 2 examples given above. There are things to do in almost every corner/spot of the zone in GW2 and I definitely don’t find myself doing the events/hearts in any sort of line. I seem to have hoped all over before I head on and sometimes I may not complete it and come back to it later. There are some barriers, but the path you can take seems infinitely more varied than the previous to examples. You don’t have to enter the next zone in an exact spot because even those with portals give you another method: Waypoints. The design of the game really just lends the player to be able to jump around more. There isn’t a fixed path you have to follow. There is stuff all over the zone maps for you to do. And the limitations seem much further apart.

    I’m not sure if I can completely describe the graph I would portray for GW2 on being partially linear. But if you look up partially linear on google images, you’ll see some lines that clearly have a low end and a high end, but are anything but straight. This is how I feel GW2 should be described. Not linear. I fail to feel that straight line (or even plots on a graph that clearly distinguish a linear line) when I play GW2. It doesn’t have that completely linear feeling to me. The examples I gave above do, but I don’t feel the same way about GW2.

  • Steeldragoon says:

    This line from the guildwars2 twitch tv page might sum up my feelings on GW2 and linear better?

    The whole game is the end game. Whatever activities you choose to level with are still the focus when you hit the level cap.

  • coppertopper says:

    Linear just has a bad connotation – makes you think of a corridor shooter. But I am thinking Keens view of an open leveling experience is more like what Skyrim does. You can go 360deg once you are on your own and not have to look at a map to show you what areas of the map you cant yet enter due to mob levels > your level. So yea, with that viewpoint, all mmo’s are linear(or boxes inside boxes or circles inside circles) – but you can’t go into the next area until your experience level matches what the devs designed it for.

  • SynCaine says:

    Merovingian is the kind of ‘fan’ that makes GW2 supporters so easy to mock. First stating that ‘all MMORPGS’ have a level/skill cap, and then saying that EVE is just as linear as GW2.

    As Keen said, GW2 being linear, (or a hotbar mash, or featuring an updated WAR PQ system) does not make it a bad game, it’s just not the cancer cure ‘fans’ seem to have convinced themselves it will be. Enjoy it for what it is, a themepark that actually took a few steps forward in the genre, and cut the ‘holy grail’ PR crap.

  • Tux says:

    While I haven’t played TSW I will say I enjoyed GW2. I for one don’t need my game to be better than anyone else’s I just have to have fun. I didn’t start games because it was better than another one it was because it was fun.

    That being said I hope GW2 succeeds so that I can continue to have fun

  • Keen says:

    Hopefully people will read what I wrote and not immediately think I’m pitting the two games against each other. I hoped to make that clear in the beginning of the post.

    Both games have taken the same general approach — a different approach to the questing model — and made it their own. I’m comparing and contrasting those two unique approaches to this general approach. I like both. I play both.

  • Gankatron says:

    Two camps here, relativists (“GW2 is not as linear as other MMO’s I have played”) and absolutists (“GW2 is linear”).

    Probably everyone agrees that there are linear elements in GW2, but some express that their game play experience didn’t feel particularly directed down a single path.

    The term “linear” understandably can carry a negative connotation when it is perceived as limiting options. An example of an extreme linear path is SWTOR space battles. While some players may have enjoyed the mini-game, I doubt many would prefer their “on the rails” approach over an open space game mechanic.

    I would say that the advantage of sand-box games is the perception of a wider range of potential game play options; on the other hand, story-driven games benefit from linear mechanics as an unlimited number of scripted dialogue options is not possible if one wants to maintain a coherent plot. Player-driven plot lines that may occur in a game such as EVE likely benefit from minimal dev interference.

    Ideally I imagine that players would love to have a sand-box game where a dedicated team of story writers individualized the plot line for you in real time as your character developed along your uniquely chosen path; this isn’t meant as sarcasm or an impossibility as a well run paper and pen D&D game should feel like this. Unfortunately in a MMO setting it likely is an impossibility except for unique mass player scripted events, which might just happen in GW2 if the BWE dev overseen finale’s are an indicator of things to come; as such the term “linear” does tend to carry a negative connotation as it is a necessary limitation, as opposed to a benefit, of story-driven MMO’s.

    The graph examples do not give an accurate impression of actual game play experience if the derivation of individual data points is not well-defined (i.e. a single game event versus an average of numerous events, with the variability expressed as a standard deviation); one’s impression of forced linear progression due to limited options will likely inversely vary with the number of individual events.

    To illustrate, probably one of the most linear aspects found in MMORPG’s is the personal class quest story lines. One cannot choose to start a specific event out of order as each scripted event unlocks the next defined dialogue event usually at a pre-defined location. Such a graph might look like this, with each data point corresponding to a single event linked in a one-way fashion to the next (http://www.pharmatutor.org/images/pharmatutor-art-1148-4.png). Certainly predetermined uni-directional linkage of a sequential series of events will give the impression of linearity.

    On the other hand the overall impression of linearity might be greatly diminished if the former data set was nestled (functionally hidden) into an event data set that looked like this, comprised of numerous unlinked events regardless if technically arranged into level defined content “zones” (http://cdn2.sbnation.com/imported_assets/801569/boom.png).

    To summarize while graphing content versus character progression can uncover a linear relationship, the number and corresponding variability of unlinked data points (options) in a portion of the curve is likely a better predictor of the perception of forced linearity of the game.

    Does it matter if there is an underlying global linearity to game progression if one has such a large number of options at any given level that they feel like they are playing locally along a path of their own choosing? Certainly being able to de-level and participate in lower level content helps to ameliorate the perception of forced linear progression.

    In this way the linearity of the path (graphed data points) is far less important as a potential negative factor due to limitation of options, as opposed to the width of the path (standard deviation or variability of content at a given character level).

    Every video game is an illusion with the devs behind the wizard’s curtain operating a console of wheels and levers, speaking into a microphone. Keystrokes are entered into formulae and data returned. A reductionistic approach (splitter) may statistically illustrate that there is a linear relationship of underlying game mechanics, but this is by no means defines the overall holistic player perception of forced linearity of game play.

    One shouldn’t have to break out a graph and run linear regression analysis to determine if they had fun in a game (note that I understand that was not your intention Keen), and I think it is not unreasonable to equate a greater range of play options as adding fun value. Perhaps this is where opposition lies to the use of term “linear”, at least in an absolute sense?

    If one feels that they had great flexibility of game play options then they are likely to disagree that they felt herded along a path to a common endpoint even if mathematically it can be shown that they indeed were. In medical research this point is illustrated by the fact that while two potential therapeutic options might be shown to have a statistically significant difference, this does not necessarily translate into a clinically significant difference due to patient perception.

  • The Merovingian says:

    @SynCaine
    And you are the kind of “contributor” that ruins the ambiance of gaming communities – someone has a different opinion? Let’s just insult him. But I’m out of this topic – enjoy being “right” in your own little limited world, Mister SynCaine. Hopefully (for your own sake), if you are young enough, you may still learn that the world isn’t just black (“linear”) or white (“non-linear”), not even in video games.

  • Gankatron says:

    @SynCaine:

    “First stating that ‘all MMORPGS’ have a level/skill cap, and then saying that EVE is just as linear as GW2.”

    Did Mero actually say or even imply that “EVE is just as linear as GW2”? I went back and scanned Mero’s posts and perhaps I missed it.

    We can let Mero clarify for him/herself, but I will guess that he/she would admit that EVE is less linear than GW2. Again it is this absolute definition of the term linear that seems to force people into artificial camps.

    I think the contention that EVE is just as linear as GW2 is as unsustainable as is a statement proposing that EVE is devoid of linear aspects.

    I would guess the potential validity of the contention that a noob ship can destroy “battleships, strategic crusiers” would be less a function of lack of linear progression as an indicator of the benefits of superior numbers and tactics; one-on-one with players of equal experience, I would guess that the tears of a noob ship captain would be delicious noobsauce against a strategic cruiser, but someone with more experience than myself in EVE can point out the error in my assumption.

    In a scale of perception of forced linearity (perhaps with infinite sandbox MMO at 0 and infinite story-driven MMO at 10) maybe EVE is a 1 and SWTOR a 9, which begs the question, where does GW2 fall?

    If your answer is “LINEAR!” then I apologize for failing to effectively articulate my point.

  • Gankatron says:

    Mero slipped in their post before mine! 🙂

  • Gankatron says:

    Another good discussion Keen, pointing out differences in perception and terminology.

  • konzacelt says:

    linear: adj. Of, relating to, or resembling a line; straight.

    Even the definition is ambiguous, “resembling” is highly relative lol. For me, simply having a starting point and an end point doesn’t make a thing linear, it just makes it existential. 😉 I mean, I can get in my car and drive around the block making a complete circle…no one would call that linear progression. It would probably be more accurate to say a game has “sequencial leveling” progression, and “eventual skill advancement termination” lol…crazyness.

    Gankatron describes it well. If your definition of linear is anything even remotely moving in the same general direction for even a second, then ya GW2 is linear…along with all of existence probably. If your definition of linear is rigid adherence to a path unable to deviate a single degree, then no GW2 is not linear. Isn’t relativity fun! XD.

    It’s fascinating how a humble game review sparked off a detailed analysis of the contextual meaning of a simple word. Us nerds are so entertaining 🙂

    KC

  • konzacelt says:

    “Chronological Progression”!!! That’s the word I was looking for! 😛

  • SynCaine says:

    Let’s play: spot the opinion.

    “Linearity is when you are forced down a single path. A good example would be SW:TOR (or Rift). GW2 is definitely totally different from that linear model.”

    You can go back to earlier areas in Rift to get planerite (progression), achievements (progression), zone puzzles (progression), chronicles (progression), etc. So the ‘opinion’ that GW2 is “definitely totally different” is… an opinion still?

    “Just like in any other MMORPG, and newbie can’t just enter the world and go directly to the hardest enemies with any hope of surviving.”

    You can easily do this in EVE. And since we are talking about MMORPGs, the “but you can’t solo it” aspect is irrelevant. You can’t roll a fresh character in GW2 and jump into ‘end-game’, because you first have to linearly level yourself up. But I guess Mero’s ‘opinion’ that you can’t do this “just like in any other MMORPG” is… an opinion?

    “Really? Can you go at level 1 with a crap ship go destroy the hardest content of the game in EvE? See my dragon example above in UO too. Oh, guess what? You will have to level those skills be doing easier content before, you will have to get currency to upgrade your ship… so you will have to follow a linear path towards the power required to beat that content.
    Ooops…”

    Yes, “Ooops” indeed. It’s not like anyone has ever brought a rookie ship into a lvl 4 mission, given a 3m SP pilot a faction ship, or joined an Alliance a day into the game and flown out to Null. Naw, you “will have to level those skills” first in EVE. Or at least, that’s Mero’s “opinion”, right?

    Good thing I’m in “my own limited world”, and I have informed people like you to help educate me about the MMORPG genre that you have shown such mastery about. Thank you.

    @Gank: Keen was talking about TSW and GW2 and stated both are linear. In that context, I think most people not called Mero would agree. In the MMO genre, those two games are on the linear side compared to titles most would consider open-ended. That Mero continued to argue GW2 was not linear when EVE was brought up is the basis for the quote.

    Or put another way; if someone with full and accurate knowledge of the MMORPG genre asked you if GW2 was linear or not compared to the rest of the genre, how would you answer (assuming you had to answer just yes or no)?
    I’d answer yes, but that’s just my opinion.

  • Gankatron says:

    I would answer that it appears more linear than EVE, but I’ll hold off where on the 0-10 forced linearity spectrum it lies until after launch. 😉

  • Gankatron says:

    …all and all my opinions do lie closer to Mero’s though! 🙂

  • Steeldragoon says:

    You did a great job explaining my point of view Gankatron and obviously this also means that my own opinions are closer to those of Mero’s as well.

  • Fergor says:

    “You can’t roll a fresh character in GW2 and jump into ‘end-game’, because you first have to linearly level yourself up.”

    Depends on what “end game” is for you. If my end game is WvWvW or the sPvP I can definitely jump in at level one. That’s not opinion.

    Levels in GW2 open up content and options. Are you saying all the content in Eve is open up to you from the first second of the game? I get access to the best ships? Full skill up? I don’t have to spend any time opening up that content? If not then working toward those objectives is a gating of content. Just like levels are in GW2. The farther you progress the more the game opens up to you.

    Every game is linear to an extent even sand box games. GW2 has enough options of end game and leveling to fall on the mid to low end of the spectrum. Eve is even lower still but there are linear elements in the game. TSW on the other hand is very linear. There is a definite zone a ->Zone B-> etc progression path. Old areas you are over geared for are trivialized.

    I guess that’s why there is some push back on the label. GW2 is definitely not a Zone A -> Zone B type of game unless I choose to play it that way. I could decide to just get to 80 by staying in low level zones (and the content will stay challenging and I’ll be rewarded). I could go straight to WvWvW. I could craft. Etc. I can change my goals for progress every day. I have options and the game rewards those decisions.

    GW2 has issues but a high level of linearity and the fatigue that usually ends up bringing isn’t one of them.

  • Evalissa says:

    wow, such an argumentative bunch at the moment lol.
    Yea you can jump to endgame in GW2 (PvP, and Sidekick) and EvE online (chuck a scrambler on that frig and your usefull in a battle)

    As for things changing the world more than happens in gw2 currently, its not possible to do in an MMO without Phasing(like WoW) or ruining the content for new players (I personally hate it if I am forced to miss out on story or content just because someone got their first)

    The only MMO game that did a ‘Living world’ well was the late unknown ‘Saga of Ryzom’ (which had so many great mechanics, is a shame it never did well), where animals had a food chain and you could make a specific type go ‘extinct’ in one area by over farming, that’s about as much as I could see being added to an MMO

  • Bored at work says:

    What is it about some games that draws so many “fanboi’s” out? GW2 is certainly not doing anything that has not been done before. However, I have heard good things about it, but it is certainly not coming up with any new ideas. I think what will help GW2 the most will be the no monthly fee concept. This idea alone will make it a HUGE seller. That, coupled with the DAOC style PvP system, will make it a hit. Not the quests, races, starting areas, raids, spells, combat or anything else. Lets face it, a LOT of people will be doing the same old whack a mole combat style and grinding levels to get to the max level to do the RvRvR stuff. For me, the trip to max level (i.e. story) is the most fun.

  • Why are people getting angry? says:

    I really dont understand why people are getting so defensive over him criticizing parts of GW2. He isnt condescending in any way shape or form and his ideas and opinions make sense and are stated in a fair, unbiased manner. Just because he isnt praising your game as the second coming of christ in the MMO world people are actually writing this guy off as an idiot. Seriously the fandom of GW2 is among the worst ive ever seen

  • Keen says:

    This was never meant as a piece to criticize or pit one game against another.

    For the TLDR crowd, I’ve stated all along that both games have a similar way of introducing a more open form of the linear questing model. One does it through story, and the other through events.

    Both deserve to be played. I enjoy both. I have purchased both. I will continue to play both.

    People expect me to take sides, defend one camp, and attack the other. Sorry, I won’t do it. I’ll state my opinion — state what I see as the facts — and explain what I see as positives and negatives for both titles. That’s what you’ll get here at Keen and Graev.

  • Ano says:

    @Bored at work:
    GW2’s PvP is certainly a draw but it isn’t the only reason people are enthused about the game.

    Even if GW2 had some sort of monthly fee I would still be playing it. GW2 breaks a number of MMO conventions that really shine a spotlight on why it is so much better than other pre-existing MMO’s. For example – no enforced grouping, instance travel, semi-dynamic events, strong world bulding, vibrant cities, doing away with the need to form “raiding” guilds, cross server grouping, and a strong achievement system. We can also look forward to player and guild housing which is a very important factor for social guilds.

    @Keen:
    I don’t see the point in comparing TSW and GW2. Why can’t they exist independently of each other? Yes both could be considered linear themeparks but apart from that they are both very different styles of MMO. I’ve purchased both MMO’s and fully intend to play both. Yes granted GW2 will probably take up a lot of my gaming time at release but it will also be nice to jump back to TSW to play the monthly updates.

    I think I have said elsewhere on this blog that we are very lucky to have two excellent MMO’s to play this year. Both TSW and GW2 stand head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. Both offer genre changing concepts that will force other MMO companies to lift their game beyond the typical WoW clonitis that has infected the MMO industry.

  • Butterscotch says:

    @Ano:
    Because they’re of the same genre, so comparisons will be made no matter what. Not to mention they’re of the MMO genre, which can be huge time-sinks. It’s always a terrible feeling when all the time you invested (whether or not you had fun during said time is highly opinionated and I’d rather not argue about it. People have differing views of fun and MMOs do offer a variety of things and I’ve seen people force themselves to grind just for the sake of being able to do something else) when it could have been better spent on something more preferable.

    I don’t know why people feel the need to criticize other peoples’ opinions. Personally I wanna hear everybody’s thoughts on a game, be it good or bad. It helps paint a picture of the kind of person that would enjoy the game.

  • Steeldragoon says:

    @Keen – I hope you didn’t take my posts as asking you to pick sides as to which MMO is better. I simply wanted to point out that your definition of linear appeared to be over simplified. As you’ve pointed out before whether the game is linear or less linear does not necessarily make it a bad/worse/etc game, but rather is an aspect of it.

    Again, I simply disagreed with that portion of your description of GW2.

    @Bored at work – I don’t know of anyone saying GW2 is a revolution (adding totally new aspects that have never been done before), but I would say GW2 is definitely an evolution (made aspects better than before). Also, I don’t know what your experiences are with the game, but if players play “the same old whack a mole combat style” they will die. They have to move around and dodge while fighting at the later levels otherwise they’ll find the PvE and even the PvP has out matched them.

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