Rebuttal: The Elder Scrolls Online is not Guild Wars 2

I’ve had a few people respond to my earlier post saying that having a scaled world works for Guild Wars 2 so it’ll be fine in The Elder Scrolls Online. I’m not so sure, for two main reasons.

First, not everyone likes Guild Wars 2. To me, the scaled world in GW2 makes the game pretty awful. I never felt a satisfying sense of progression in GW2 since I never had that experience of going back to a lower level zone and swatting down enemies that used to own me. I want to feel mighty when I play an MMO, at least some of the time, and I felt about the same at level 80 in GW2 as I did at level 20. Now clearly this is extremely subjective and if you enjoyed GW2 then maybe you’ll like One Tamriel better than you do ‘vanilla’ TESO.

Second has to do with world population. Since GW2 was built from the ground up to be a scaled world, there are systems in place to support that. For example (and forgive me if I get this wrong, I’m going from memory) if you’re on a ‘shard’ with low population in GW2, you’ll be asked if you want to move to a more populated shard. This means there’s almost always other players running around in GW2 so it is rare that you find yourself trying to complete an event solo. When I have had to do GW2 events solo they’ve been tough, but usually my experience was that there was a huge zerg that steam-rolled over content before I even knew what was happening. Bleh.

TESO doesn’t have a similar system. I just finished running through Bangkorai (a 37-43 zone) in TESO and I did probably 80% of the delves (basically mini-dungeons) and 90% of the world bosses solo. I was able to do them because I’d out-leveled the zone, and I had to do them solo because there were no other players around. At the end of my time I headed to the public dungeon and was fortunate to run into one other player and between the two of us we were able to handle things. If it had scaled and we’d needed 4 players I might still be there waiting.

Now of course ZOS could build a system similar to GW2’s that’ll push the existing player base into fewer shards so the world is more densely populated, but then they’d have to tweak mob density as well. And even if they got that all right, it would fundamentally change the nature of the game. One of the reasons I love TESO when I’ve pretty much given up on other MMOs is that ZOS promised that TESO would be a solo-friendly game, and up until now they’ve delivered on that promise. My character is 48 now and has never Grouped, at least insofar as I can recall. And I like that. I like that sometimes I’ll see other players and we can organically work together to take down baddies, but I also love that some days I’ll be in an area where I never see another player and I feel like a true lone wolf out there being a Big Damned Hero to the people.

TESO to me is like a hike through a state park. Lots of time alone, and then when you do encounter other people it’s a delight. GW2 is like walking in a city park. You’re constantly surrounded by people and noise and you’re never alone with your thoughts. I like TESO much more and I hope that One Tamriel doesn’t change the feel of the game too much. But I guess ZOS needs to risk alienating current fans in order to try to bring in new blood. We’ll see how it works out.

So yeah, you might be right that One Tamriel will “work” because GW2 works. But in order to make it work I fear they’re going to have to make some fundamental changes to the game. Damn, comparing TESO to GW2 scares me. “This game you love will be fine when it changes to work like this other game you hate.” That gives me no comfort!!!

2 thoughts on “Rebuttal: The Elder Scrolls Online is not Guild Wars 2

  1. I think your experience of GW2 events solo is atypical. By and large they scale extremely well and most are soloable. Moreover, most are enjoyably soloable, or at least I found them so. Many of the events are actually better with one to three people doing them because you can see the detail in the writing and the storytelling so much better that way.

    It’s true that GW2 now does have a system whereby underpopulated maps are closed and rolled into busier ones, but that wasn’t always the case. The game ran for 12-18 months (can’t recall without checking – might have been longer even) without that “Megaserver” feature and when it changed a lot of people, myself included, missed the old “solo” days. Of course, since the maps let you stay on them for up to two hours after the “unpopulated” warning, now you get the best of both worlds.

    Contrarily, when I played ESO I pretty much hit the wall of my ability as a player around the high teens. One of the main reasons I stopped playing was that I could no longer complete even simple quests at level with any confidence and I was failing or dying more often than I found entertaining. Not that the upcoming change would help with that, of course.

    For what it’s worth, I’m with you in principle in that I prefer a straight leveling world where zones stay at the level you first encountered them and your character doesn’t. I think in the end, though, it has a lot more to do with how much you like the game and it’s mechanics. I love GW2’s combat, which feels the most natural of any MMO I’ve eve played, while I found ESO’s combat almost unbearable. I suspect that, since you are probably at the opposite extreme of that curve, the changes won’t entirely wreck your enjoyment any more than the coming of the Megaserver wrecked mine.

  2. A third post on this topic seems to be over-kill, so I’ll just add a comment. In GW2, your character scales down to the zone level, correct? So if I’m level 10 I can’t go do end-game content, which means earning levels still gets me access to new places to explore.

    In One Tamriel, as they’ve explained it so far, all zones will by max level and you’ll scale up to that level (that’s how the new expansions work now). That means at level 10 I can go do the zones that are level 50+. So not only does getting levels not make you feel any more powerful, it doesn’t get you access to new places either.

    I guess I don’t understand what the point of having levels is under this system.

    @bhagpuss – It’s true that TESO’s flexibility lets you put together a build that will really struggle solo but I think the scaling system will just make that issue worse. You could have, it you’d really wanted to, wandered around slaying mobs and gaining a few levels to take on the content that was giving you trouble. That will no longer be the case.

    I don’t really remember much of GW2’s commbat; mostly I remember not being able to see what i was hitting for all the spell effects (since I played a melee class) but that was when I was in a zerg. Trying to solo events, I just remember not being able to kill waves on incoming enemies fast enough, but it’s entirely possible I just sucked. But in TESO, the world bosses are pretty difficult to solo (I mean, they’re designed to require a group after all) at level until you’re established enough in the game world to gear yourself well and can pull off crazy damage numbers.

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