Two MMO beta weekends
Prior to this weekend I spent some time in The Secret World beta weekend #3 and prior to that I also tried out Guild Wars 2 for the first time in a beta weekend. Both games have some good and bad points and I will be playing both of them, but for different reasons.
I had not thought that much about it prior to playing both games in beta weekends, but it became more clear to me why I may play either of the games. Each game seem to provide some neat features and for me those may complement each other well.
From a technical perspective The Secret World provided the best experience of the two games, since it ran smooth without any issues, besides 1 or 2 short lag spikes during the weekend. For Guild Wars 2 on the other hand I had a number of technical issues during Friday and Saturday of that weekend, including locked up game, being disconnected a couple of times, not able to zone due to unavailable login server, a complete freeze that forced me to reboot the computer and terrible performance occasionally (screen frozen for 1-2 minutes, moved again for a few seconds, then frozen for 1-2 minutes etc). I am glad the release of Guild Wars 2 is still some time away, because they will need to do some tuning I believe.
Both games have art styles and environments that I quite like, although I felt it was a bit easier to like The Secret World actually. For Guild Wars 2 I did end up liking it, but I also kept thinking how one of the superhero/comic book MMOs would look like with their painted art style. I think that could work really great actually.
Combat-wise Guild Wars 2 wins – fights in the game had a similar feel that I have had and enjoyed from both City of Heroes and Champions Online – quite visual and fast paced and a fun feel to it. I cannot say I get the same excitement in the same way from The Secret World – it is not bad, but neither is it extraordinary. Then again, for me the setting in the game should not be so much to beat up darker powers in straight-up fights, but find other ways to approach matter at hand. Creating suitable ability builds to exploit their weaknesses if you have to fight them is part of that view. So I am not that concerned that the combat is perhaps not top notch there.
In a way The Secret World is for me more of a game where you may have to out-think your opponents or handle your obstacles – Guild Wars 2 is a more hands-on world when it comes to problem-solving. The way the environment can change from time to time and a bit different events happen looks like it can work out to keep things resonably fresh and fun in such sessions. I was also impressed with that the scaling of events for one, a few and many players seemed to work quite well.
I think I will play The Secret World more when I feel I will dig more deep into the world and explore, while Guild Wars 2 feels more suitable for quick and short/semi-short sessions with action. I like to have both and it seems both games can complement each other in that regard. The Secret World feels much more to have discovery and exploration, while Guild Wars 2 despite the dynamic events system still provided a feel of guided path with all the markers on the map “Action and event here! Get your achivement points now” and all those counters for various things which you could not really avoid seeing. Thus TSW will likely be the game to play for the exploration itch and GW2 more when one want to pick and so something right now.
Neither game seem to have good enough costume/character creation/modification options though, like in City of Heroes or Champions Online. While Guild Wars 2 technically had more options to choose from of the two games, I had challenges in both to get my characters to look in a way that I liked. The results were ok, but not more than that.
From a story perspective it remains to be seen how it works out. I think The Secret World will be more dependent from a game experience perspective to deliver a good story for the character to follow. This may possibly be more linear that what has been outlined for Guild Wars 2, with its Personal Story. However, for the that part of GW2 felt more like a “personalized story” and not necessarily a personal one. I actually ended up stopping to play some characters quite early because the dialog, voice and actions of my character in the story elements did not fit with my view of what the character should be.
I suspect that for Guild Wars 2 I will have to experiment a bit to find suitable character combinations from a story, gameplay and looks perspective.
In short though, I look forward to play both games – they both complement each other I think and also coves a fair amount of what I have been enjoying and looking for in current MMOs.