Choices, Choices, Choices
The great thing about MMOs is that there are so many to choose from. There’s the AAA Acronym titles we all know and love. There’s free to plays, like a lot, where do you even start? And then there’s even more free to plays from really small developers that you can find on Steam if you look hard enough. Games where the entire server population is 30 people and the graphics are pixelated 2d stick figures. I’m not really sure why, but I find some of these really charming sometimes.
This past week I’ve been exploring the MMOs I already own, which admittedly adds up to grand total of 2. I patched Guild Wars 2 for the first time since the expansion released and I reinstalled the Secret World after picking up the Complete Edition on sale last weekend.
I have been reluctant to play both of these titles because of the low performance on my laptop. I’ve been “saving” them for when I finally get a PC good enough to run them well. It’s not that they are unplayable, the graphic setting just has to be on low. Well life happens, the PC keeps getting pushed further and further into the future. So I figured, life is short let’s play through them right now.
Taking It Slow
The last time I put any serious time into Guild Wars 2 was maybe two years ago. I was home for winter break and a couple of college buddies mentioned they wanted to start playing again once the semester started back up. I didn’t get a chance to play with them when the game released so I was excited to finally do some group play with friends. I spent the whole 4 week break trying to get my character to 80. This wasn’t exactly the most fun way to play, it turned into kind of a chore. I was clearing zones as fast as I could to get the xp and not so much to take in the game. By the time I was at level cap I didn’t really know what was going on in the story, I barely knew what all my abilities were, and I had blown through the game without really seeing it. By the time school was back in session, I was burned out and my buddies never actually started playing again .This time around I’m slowing it down. I’m setting out to see the whole game instead of just the endgame.
As for the Secret World,I bought the Secret World at the wrong time. I saw it’s urban fantasy setting and unique weapons and classes and bought it on an impulse. I wanted to play a lot of combat and I didn’t much care for story. It turned out the Secret World wasn’t great on combat and had a lot of story, so I put it down and didn’t come back. Over the years, I’ve heard about how good the writing is and how unique of a game it is so I decided to try again with a more patient attitude.
My Thoughts So Far
Splitting time between two games hasn’t lead to much progress in either of them. I did get enough time in to settle on a class and do some of the starting zones.
Usually when I play any game that lets me pick a class I tend to gravitate towards the ranged DPS. There’s just something about running around with a bow that appeals to me. Also I always hate spending money on health potions and prefer to take out my enemies before they reach me. When I started my new character in Guild Wars 2 I almost picked the Ranger. I decided I wanted to try a class I don’t play very often and get up close and personal with a melee playstyle. I have enjoyed running around the Plains of Ashford with my Char Warrior. I managed to get him to level 10 and start the personal story.
I really need to sit down and with The Secret World and sink some time into it. So far I’ve picked my faction, the Illuminate, I’ve got some weapons, and I’ve been running around Kingsmouth. I have really liked the voice acted quests and the stories so far, I just haven’t had as much time as I would have liked with it. Hopefully I can change that in the coming weeks.
Those are two great but very different MMOs. GW2 is one of the best of all MMOs for just wandering around doing your own thing. It really repays a rambling, whim-based, unfocused approach. The more you take your time and just do whatever takes your fancy the more fun it should be.
The Secret World, on the other hand, requires a lot more focus. There’s a lot of combat but whereas in GW2 I often fight things just for the fun of watching my character’s animations and enjoying the explosions, in TSW fighting is generally more like work. Contrarily, the story in TSW is second to absolutely none in the genre so you do feel motivated to follow the questlines wherever they lead.
TSW has the excellent-looking Museum feature coming very soon, which I think is going to bring me back for a while. GW2 should surely be getting close to the next round of Living Story this summer as well. It’s a good time to be coming back to both of them.
Give me TSW’s story and GW2’s combat in a single MMO and I’d be set for life.
Those two happen to be the only two games remaining in my personal MMO pantheon that I can still be bothered to play. They’re both mature works of art in their own particular way and offer superior experiences: TSW’s story is good enough that I’m willing to grind up spreadsheets full of numbers and plod through its decidedly average combat. GW2’s combat, polish, and mechanics are good enough that I’m now able to greet the inanity of the story with a sigh of bemused resignation and embrace it with a mother’s love. (The lore is great, though.)
Personally I’d say savor both of them as you would dark chocolate. If you’re looking for a quick sugar rush, the usual suspects will always be out there waiting for you.