ESO vs GW2

HBA, my GGG and blogging mate, has just written a post detailing his views on various aspects of these two games, and I  thought it would be fun to do the same.  It serves no purpose and will just add to the general noise and mostly just prove that old saying about opinions are like arseholes… or something 😉

I’ll use HBA’s categories but I should make clear that I’m not rebutting or disagreeing with his views, I just think it will be interesting to see how two people view the same games 🙂  I should also point out that this is based on solo, co-op group play and formal group instances (but not raids) in both games.

graphics
I love ESO’s more realistic style, I tend to prefer games with a more realistic graphical style (eq2, vanguard, lotro, dragon age, elder scrolls as examples) and tend not to play more cartoony games, GW2 veers towards the cartoony style but fortunately not too much.  Both games have a variety of landscapes ranging from colourful and pretty to bleak and desolate (though GW2 is more weighted to the former – ESO is more balanced).  I really enjoyed ESO’s pre-release CGI films and I adore GW2’s cut scenes, especially the complex shadowplay sequences.  A tie for me.

characters
I very much like and prefer the character models in ESO but I have come from years of potato faces in the Elder Scrolls games so they were a very nice surprise and a massive improvement for me 😉  I think HBA is right when he says that the Charr and Asura have better models than the Khajiit and Argonians and I also completely love the Sylvari.  The Norns and Humans in GW2 do feel like production line Barbies though and I’m not a big fan.  Yet another tie 🙂

races and classes
Aside from the Sylvari, I far prefer ESO’s races.  This is probably down to a long history with Elder Scrolls, rather than anything meaningful though.  Classes though…  well it’s an unfair comparison really – GW2 has set classes with limited variation but a few interesting mechanics, ESO has 4 classes which can pretty much do what they want…  I prefer the freedom so its a win on both counts for ESO here for me.

animations
ESO has far more animations than GW2 including npc activities, npc combat, scripted quest encounters and in emotes.  I find the female characters’ run/walk animation to be fine, but jumping is appalling.  GW2, the idle animations for Sylvari are adorable and jumping is very well done, the rest is OK or in terms of emotes, lacking.  A win for ESO here, though I do wish they would re-look at jumping…

ui
ESO’s UI is very basic, very minimal on-screen but the ui windows contain a lot of information.  It is also very similar in style to Skyrim’s UI (which also needed to be modded :P)  Addons can vastly improve the useability (whilst mostly keeping the minimalism) and I love that ESO allows the traditional modding community associated with Elder Scrolls to continue to mod, albeit just on the UI.  GW2’s UI is a generic MMO UI and it works just fine.  Although it leans towards the more old-school UIs, its certainly less cluttered than Lotro or EQ2 anyhow.  So I like ESO’s minimalism and the addons and GW2’s is a generic fine.   A slight preference for ESO here.

gameplay
So ESO has a more traditional style questing system, following on from the single player games.  However, these are all fully voiced, contextualised, quite often animated with scripted in game scenes and the quest delivery system varies from stationary npcs with arrows over their head, to finding a journal or item which grants a quest, being chased by a npc yelling help, bumping into an npc in a tucked away area of the map and so on.  There are dynamic events (dolmens, mini dolmens mostly) and I suppose you could include the world bosses in this too.  There are also delves (non instanced dungeons) which are soloable but more often completed co-op style and public dungeons (group non instanced dungeons) which can be done in a group or with co-op play.  There is a main storyline with instanced content running from level 1-50, main storylines with instanced content for each of the guilds and a main storyline running through each zone with plenty of storied side quests.

Gw2 has hearts instead of quests and plenty of very fun events.  The hearts do give some context to what you are doing but they are quite old-school in that its often just a page of text.  I like the ease of this system but it always felt fairly meaningless to me.  It is quick and easy though.  GW2 also has the Living Story which I enjoy, it has some very nice cut scenes and instanced content.  I like that this is an ongoing story too.  Where GW2 really shines is the dynamic event system though.  This is fantastic, I love the stories that these events tell and I really enjoy the co-op play that it encourages.  I do think that they perhaps over-choreographed the events in HoT maps but even so, I very much enjoy the ease of just jumping in with a crowd of players.

Both games have storied and varied dungeons though GW2 has stopped developing these in favour of fractals.  That’s a shame in my opinion although I can understand the appeal of the (now) speedy fractals over a dungeon crawl.

This ends up a tie as I think ESO could do with more dynamic eventing and GW2 could do with a more involved quest system.

combat
ESO is very action oriented with dodging and blocking.  You have 6 skills at your disposal (changeable out of combat) which suits the style of combat.  I am biased in this category though, because I have been looking for Elder Scrolls style combat in an MMO since I first started playing EQ2 back in 2006…  I’m not a huge fan of the GW2 style combat and I’m finding it hard to say why.  I think it may be that it is very old-school in style (though far more active) but doesn’t have the complexity or the challenge of the more old-school MMOs and also doesn’t quite fit the action style, its somewhere between…  something along those lines perhaps 🙂  So a very biased win for ESO 😉

controls
Once I rebound my keys, I found the controls to be remarkably similar – with just more binds to find for GW2.

mechanics
HBA talks about immersion and I agree, ESO is far more immersive than GW2.  Mostly a good thing 🙂  The two games deal with the ebb and flow of goods on a megaserver very differently.  ESO has player formed trading guilds with their own stores accessed via the bank – you buy and sell within this trading guild, these guilds can also bid for an in world trader which will allow anyone passing to buy from you and your guild.  GW2 has employed an economist and restricts the flow of goods to manage the pricing but has a very easy to use global trading post.   I feel that it is this economic control that leads to the massive amount of grind in GW2 (ESO does have its own grinds but they are far more optional).  So neither are ideal solutions but on balance I prefer the ESO solution, as faffy as it is, because I mostly don’t need to buy an lot of stuff – I can get it myself.  I should note that the faff does get easier as you level because there are trading hubs in Rawlkha, Elden Root, Craglorn and Orsinium which allow you to more easily shop around.

I’m going to add in here the world interaction mechanics.  In ESO you can interact with an awful lot of stuff – books, all sorts of containers, chests, items such as armour, standing stones (give a buff) for example.  Stolen items have some very funny names and lots of flavour text – it adds a layer to the world and a layer to the immersion that is missing somewhat in GW2.

crafting
GW2 – just ugh.  nasty.  contrived gold and mat sink.  Though to be fair, the products are useful at max level, unlike a lot of games.  ESO – semi realistic process, useful at max level, has time gated research and difficulty varies between crafts to level – some of the most useful (cooking, alchemy) are the easiest to level.  Yes, ESO wins here without a shadow of a doubt.

lore
Well, ESO has 20 years worth of in-depth lore to draw on and ranges from dry and historical, to funny, to lewd, to fiction and so on.  GW2’s lore is drawn from the original Guild Wars and is fun in its own right.  I feel that ESO’s has more depth and weight but that GW2’s is deep and interesting enough.  A tie.

fun
well ESO is more serious and grown up though it does have flashes of humour.  I also include the thrill of stealing here – and you cannot beat being a thief in Elder Scrolls – it is FUN 🙂  GW2 is far more bright and fluffy with a side dose of cuteness – quaggan coo! (though it does have its own horrors and dark side too).  I like both and find both fun, although I feel like ESO is my proper MMO and GW2 is my retirement MMO.  The GGGs are now in both, happily 🙂

So yes, I’m not sure how I’m going to balance two MMOs.  At least there isn’t a single player game competing for attention!  I do find it difficult to play two – I can only really give proper attention to one game at a time.  Fortunately my character in GW2 has pretty much done everything she *needs* to do (she still has stuff she *can* do of course) so I should find it easy to pick up playing her and she shouldn’t need much maintenance with any luck.  I think I’ll mostly be in ESO for the next while with some days off in GW2.

 

 

 

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16 Comments

  1. Great post like HBAs post and nice to see another view of same areas. I defiantly try my hand at doing similar post next time. For now I just created my 1st blog post in 10yr+. Bit of an intro to the blog and me 🙂

    1. Hi Xan – you and Elda both see combat in GW2 and ESO as different and I’m interested how. To me they both appear the same, more or less, in that it’s essentially hotkey skills with dodge rolls. Let me know how you guys see it.

      1. It’s… Hard to explain… Although gw2’s combat is quick, has the optional action cam, has less skills (as in not cluttered) and has limited dodging it still feels somehow rooted in traditional RPG / mmo combat, like lotro or eq2. I feel like it sits between say lotro and eso. Whereas ESO feels like the single player ES games, it somehow feels faster, more involved, more immersive, more reactive…. I’m not sure I’m explaining this very well and I’m not really criticising gw2 combat – that’s fun too 🙂

      1. No, not bad at all. I quite like the ESO combat as it feels like GW2’s combat but just one I’m not up to speed with yet – it feels like starting a new class in GW2 in that I know how it works just not how to best use it. yet. 🙂

    2. I randomly came across this and I had to chime in about the combat.

      Guild Wars 2 is quite adept at hiding a traditional MMO combat system. When you pick away at the illusion, though, there’s still tab target-y homing missiles, along with a distinct lack of verticality and body blocking. The latter is the most damning, for me. As an archer, if I attack someone from above, it’ll continually say ‘Out of Range,’ which was a massive disappointment as the original Guild Wars allowed for more in the way of tactics.

      Let’s talk about where it differs from Guild Wars 1. You couldn’t jump in GW1, this is true, but the combat was far more vertical. If you were up on a cliff, you’d be able to attack your quarry below, it would then be up to the AI as to how they’d approach you. This allowed for interesting manoeuvres where the AI might even attempt to flank you, ESO builds on this by giving enemies interesting lockdown abilities which key into body blocking. The flippy tricks that some do to stab you in the back are particularly remarkable for an MMO.

      Now let’s talk about body blocking. In Guild Wars, if you had a narrow passage or a doorway, you could hold it and nothing could pass you. This allowed for some really interesting grou play, especially considering that there were abilities that allowed one to do a similar thing to body blocking by placing obstacles in the way. This is seen in ESO’s combat as well, where a troll can swipe a mudcrab up off the ground and throw it at you (no, really). Now you’ve this angry ball of pincers in front of you. It makes it feel more real.

      And this brings us to the topic of homing missiles. ESO doesn’t have them, GW2 does. I was always amused in GW2 when I’d shoot a rocket at a target and it would fly around like crazy to home in on them to hit. It’s the MMO equivalent of hitscan weapons, but worse. I’m not a fan. ESO’s approach can result in lag, but also much more satisfying play in that, no, there aren’t homing missiles. Not unless the ability actually is a homing missile. You can sidestep most attacks, so dodge-rolling and blocking actually counts for something! Furthermore, as an archer, I can perch on a high cliff and rain arrows down upon people from below. Arrows even follow an arc, it’s lovely.

      Oh, and you can block. The shields, they do something! Sometimes a dodge-roll just isn’t a good solution, you don’t have the resources for it or the area of attack is a little too big. GW2 didn’t deal with this at all, it just ignored it, which lead to some encounters that just felt unfair and badly designed. ESO smoothes over these potential hitches with a shield, that you can press a button to hold up, which will mitigate some damage whilst reducing your ability to move and attack.

      GW2 really is a nice illusion, but it’s an illusion sitting on top of something that, to me, had more in common with Warhammer Online than it did with The Elder Scrolls Online. Sadly, I could see through all of its many cracks. The illusion only works if you don’t care about body blocking tactics, verticality tactics, and the vast majority of ranged attacks impossibly homing in (I really hate that, dodging isn’t even enough as you can’t even run away with a fireball homing in on you). I’d imagine that for those who’re just that used to the classical MMO, these factors go unnoticed. For those who’d perhaps enjoy more immersion though and more tactical approaches to gameplay?

      Movement in ESO is a little slower, and the jumping is more based around physics and inertia rather than having jump-jets attached to one’s frame that allow one to wiggle around in the air whilst enjoying some impressive hang time. To me, GW2 feels slippy, slidy, and floaty. Likw I’m on a low gravity skating rink all the time. I find that the solidness of ESO’s combat just feels more right, and that it’s closer to a single player game’s by far. As a charr, I reviled sliding around on a sheet of smooth glass, especially in jumping puzzles. What I wouldn’t have given for tighter movement and jumping mechanics. Whilst ESO isn’t perfect, it just feels more responsive. It does what I expect it to.

      And that’s the really bizarre thing about ESO. Whilst it has hotkeys, it’s basically just Skyrim but better. It’s not an illusion.

      1. thanks very much for this amazing reply 🙂 This was what I couldn’t put my finger on – it felt so rooted in traditional MMOs but I just couldn’t quite explain why, so thank you 🙂

        and I totally agree about Skyrim, I think when I’m playing the enhanced version (soon!), I’m going to feel the lack of the hotbarred skills…

  2. Guild wars 2 is in my honest opinion the BEST MMORPG I have played, Elder Scrolls Online SUCKS!! I disagree with every point you listed. I prefer the animations, combat, and characters in Guild wars 2 and its way easier to level and do PvP.

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