My friends who have played Guild Wars 2 tell me that its combat is much more fun than World of Warcraft’s combat. Of course, most of them haven’t played World of Warcraft since the end of Burning Crusade, and I haven’t played Guild Wars 2.
Today, I was on my shaman with my guild’s leader. We queued for a random Pandaria dungeon and got a group relatively quickly because I’m a healer. The dungeon was Mogu’shan Palace, one of the two mid-level dungeons in the newest expansion pack.
The tank clearly wasn’t playing the same game I was. Just as we entered the dungeon, the tank ran into the middle of the enemy-filled room and every single one of them ran after him. Here’s where the story deviates from the norm: The tank didn’t die.
The tank — sorry, I don’t remember his name, only that he was a warrior and that he was awesome — continued to run around the room, dodging every attack the enemies threw at him. That’s the Guild Wars 2 meaning of dodge, not the World of Warcraft definition, which is closer to “dice roll”.
The tank was able to hold “aggro” on all the enemies while avoiding the damage. The job of tanks is usually to make sure nobody else is being attacked by the enemies. This tank went one step further – he wasn’t being attacked by the enemies either!
The facilities are available in World of Warcraft to do Guild Wars 2-style dodging, and I’m sure there are many other parallels between MMORPGs that are simply not bragged about enough to be known as part of their gameplay.
RuneScape announced a redesign of their combat system in May. Their strategy seems to be making the game more like World of Warcraft — progress bars for crafting, action bars for combat, and special abilities on more than just a tiny fraction of the items in the game.
Jagex claimed that the complexity of RuneScape combat was always there, but if it did exist previously, I certainly didn’t find it in the years I played.
I applaud Jagex for finally jumping on the bandwagon of interactive combat, but they’re starting now, not eight years ago like they should have. Interactive combat has been around seemingly forever (in terms of MMORPGs). Non-dice-based combat is just beginning to show its face.
Another feature my friends always complain that World of Warcraft doesn’t have is Rift’s Instant Adventures. In World of Warcraft, questing is a much more solitary activity than other things, like dungeons, battlegrounds, scenarios, and raids. Although the framework for finding a group of adventurers at a similar point in the storyline isn’t available, it’s not uncommon to see groups of players form out of nothing, especially with daily quest hubs like Golden Lotus.
There seems to be a mindset in the game development community that as soon as a feature exists, it stops being important and nobody talks about it anymore. Here’s a newsflash for anyone developing a game: People usually make use of features after they’re released.
Another problem in MMORPGs is that as a game progresses, content is usually added to the end, not the beginning or the middle. Most of a game’s base audience has already played the game for a while and is in high-level content, not just starting.
This causes a problem because the newest players generally see the oldest content, which scares them off. Game authors generally redesign the very beginning of their games in an attempt to entice new players to stay. This shifts the boring section from the start to the middle, causing a similar (but not completely identical) problem.
For every Scholomance, there’s a Molten Core. Frequently visited content is updated, then visited more frequently, then updated again. Infrequently visited content — or content that only the oldest players remember — is never updated and falls out of the view of the game.