Update (23/03/16): Elde has posted her thoughts on this topic here: https://starshadow.me/2016/03/23/eso-vs-gw2/
In my last post I talked why I’ve drifted away from Guild Wars 2 and into Elder Scrolls Online and now in this post I want to talk about the new shiny responsible for turning my eye, the world of Tamriel, and how I currently feel about both GW2 and ESO.
First off I should say that I’m a creature of habit and as such when I bond with something I can find it hard to open up and move to something else. It was the same moving from Second Life to LOTRO and then LOTRO to GW2 and now GW2 to ESO. Each move is strangely emotional time full of conflicting feelings of loss, regret, and bitterness but also excitement, fun, wonder. I have found this move both the hardest and the easiest of them all.
It’s been hard because in the past I’ve generally left games at the end of my tether so I’m looking for something new, but in this case I was (indeed, am) not looking to leave GW2 as it is still a game I love and enjoy.
Conversely it’s been easy because of my mate Elda. She is an experienced ESO player and loves the world of Elder Scrolls as much as I love the world of Guild Wars. She has eased the transition from Tyria to Tamriel greatly and is proving to have no end (well, no visible end) to her patience with my questions and running off and jumping on things like a sugared up 9 year old.
The two biggest problems I have faced in moving from GW2 to ESO have been around the aesthetics and the lore. Putting it simply the look of the game is not entirely to my tastes and knowing nothing about the world made it hard to care about it.
With regards to the lore, I have found an easy and satisfying fix on YouTube by watching the lore videos of ShoddyCast who has done a brilliant job of making me fall in love with the world & lore of Elder Scrolls.
The other issue of the games look is a little harder to get over and in truth only time will help me with that, but at least it’s not a deal breaker (although it very nearly was in Coldharbour, the fugly starting area, as that was very nearly a ‘no sir, I don’t like it!’ quitting moment. Gods! Who sets their opening segment of the game in the ugliest part of the whole world?).
So, seeing as comparisons are inevitable, I guess I should look at which do I prefer? Well in truth both have aspects I find more attractive than the other. Let me explain by way of a list, the contents of which are entirely personal and subjective and presented in no particular order…
Graphics: Both worlds are lovely (the shithole of ESO’s Coldharbour aside) with ESO having better weather and atmospheric effects and GW2 having a more delicate feel. This is hard to quantify but ESO’s world looks and feels bigger and blockier than GW2, with Tyria feeling more attractive. This is even truer of the character models.
Characters: I can not say this enough – there is nothing ‘wrong’ with ESO’s models (and in fact I prefer a lot of their outfits as they have a nicer ‘real’ feel than GW2’s god-awful spike obsession) but I have yet to see an attractive ESO character. The faces are… well… just not attractive. GW2 is guilty of going the other ways in that you can’t make an ugly or old or scarred character, but it’s more than that and ESO characters all look far better with their faces covered up! Both GW2 & ESO have non-human characters but ESOs are basically a human torso with a cat or lizard head popped on top and it looks wrong, whereas GW2 got it right with the Char and the Kodan races. And give me a walking plant made up of overlapping leaves and flowers and bark, over a spoon-faced dark elf with piggy eyes and spindly limbs any day.
Races and Classes: Dead simple – I like GW2’s races better than ESO, hands down and no contest, but I like SO’s flexible class system better. Except for the Engineer. GW2 Engi beats all. GW2 Engi is fun and flames in equal measure. Nothing comes close to GW2 Engi.
Animations: ESO has a huge range of beautiful emote animations that far surpasses GW2’s pathetic efforts so it’s a huge shock to witness the bloody awful animations your character has for running and walking. My guy is part cat yet he runs like he has a broom handle up his arse! It’s only a small thing as ESO has tons of other great animations but it’s the one I have to look at the most and it makes sad inside every time.
UI: GW2 wins because it is lovely. ESO is awful until you use ‘add-ons’ and then it becomes OK.
Gameplay: Hmmm, this is a biggie. I love the concept of ESO allowing me to make a character I want to and play in a way I want to but I dislike its old quest system (icon over an NPC’s head, pick up quest from them, do quest for them, turn quest in to them). GW2’s dynamic questing system feels more fun but looking at how even GW2 is moving away from that in favour of larger ‘meta events’ maybe it’s just too hard to implement. Other than they both feel similar in gameplay term – explore, quest, level, complete a story.
Combat: So far I prefer GW2 but I strongly suspect this is because I understand it. ESO combat has been ok so far but I don’t have the first clue what I’m doing. In short, the jury is out.
Controls: I have to say GW2 wins for me but again this is because I am so new to ESO that I don’t really know my way around. I’m finding the ‘action camera’ style a little hard which is why I never used it in GW2. Again, jury is out. Again I suspect this will be a non-issue.
Mechanics: I’d say that GW2 does a damn good job of removing barriers at the cost of immersion whereas ESO adds immersion back in. Case in point is selling stuff. In GW2 I can sell anything in my bags on the trading post wherever I am. In ESO, as far as I can see, you have to be in a trading guild and that guild has to ‘bid’ for a place to plop down an in-world stall and only then can random folks buy from you by walking up to the stall and interacting with the NPC running the stall. That is both amazing and faffy and I have no idea if I’ll like it or not yet.
Crafting: ESO looks more like LOTRO then GW2 and that can only be a good thing. Crafting in GW2 is horrible turned up to 11. And it’s boring. And shit.
Lore: Both are fun. Both are derivative. I’m enjoying both. Draw 😉
Fun: Tricky one. GW2 feels more fun right now whereas ESO has a po-faced feel about that El assures me isn’t true. I think it’s down to it being, as Gkaruk calls it, a ‘grown up’ MMO. It feels like D&D and MERP did to me when I was a kid pen & papering it with my mates. It feels… old. I don’t mean that in a bad way. GW2 feels new and looks all shiny. ESO feels… chunkier and slower and more bedded in. GW2 still feels like it’s trying to find out who it is whereas ESO has the confidence of middle-age.
Anyway, I’ve waffled on enough. What it all boils down to is:
- I like both. I’m going to keep playing both.
- GW2 looks better and feels more easily accessible fun. Also Engi.
- ESO feels like it has more depth to it.
- As long as I have the mates I’ve made through the GGG Guild to play with I’ll be having fun 😀