And so it happened that after years of playing Rift (why i decided to play something else is a topic for another post here) i reached a point i needed a new MMO to play.
The thing is, I’m picky. There are things that I’m looking for in games, and there are things that put me off. For example – Asian MMOs may be fun, but for me they’ve always been too flashy and too… console-like. Not to mention the squeaky anime-like voices of female characters. As I said, it might be fun, it’s just not what I prefer. I want to get consumed by the game for the time of playing, forget where I really am. Squeaky voices don’t help in it, neither do rainbow vivid colours on everything and visible attack lines while fighting.
That’s why now when I was looking for something fun to play I considered 3 options: Elder Scrolls Online (ESO), Guild Wars 2 (GW2) and Black Desert Online (BDO). ESO and BDO are in „buy to play” plan (B2P), which something i like, because
a) it makes the developer milk the player less,
b) you don’t have to pay every month to play, a one time payment is good when you have limited resources.
And so both games I own (truth to be told I bought BDO on Steam sale and ESO account was given to me by someone who’s not using it anymore). GW2 is free to play with B2P expansions, which is also fine, because you get to play most of the game for free and if you really like an MMO you’ll pay anyway at some point, at least in GW2 you can have a really big try out of the game before deciding to spend any money at it.
After reading the title of the post you could have already guessed that my final decision was ESO after all and you are not wrong. Why ESO though? Why not the other games?
I did some research, all the three of those games are usually mentioned in the „best of current MMOs” listings. BDO usually scores lower in reviews but still is one of the best ones, so if it matches your likes and MMO needs it’s perfectly fine, so the slightly lower scores it was getting didn’t really put me off. They were rather something to consider if I REALLY couldn’t decide, but I do have the game so I can try it out whenever I wish anyway. ESO and GW2 usually take two top places in the reviews, just depending on the personal tastes of the reviewer they switch the order of second and first place.
Graphics-wise it’s really hard for me to choose which one I’d like the most because I did try them all and actually I liked ESO the least. BDO is beautiful, truly stunning but sometimes a bit too saturated. Still, amazing graphics, many details, nature, the world looks really good and you can really feel you are there.
GW has amazing views too and even quests encouraging players to look around and enjoy the environment but the general colours are, I’d risk saying „cartoonish”. Which is not bad and woudn’t stop me from playing because it’s still a beautiful game. ESO on the other hand is much less saturated. I’ve always felt Skyrim is way to gray for me. Yes, it was supposed to be more realistic than the „colourful” games, but world is not that gray either. ESO reminded me of that Skyrim grayness at first but this impression passed when I explored the first zone more and now I also think it’s beautiful. Of course, the graphic here is not as good looking as in BDO but it’s still beautiful and enjoyable. And not as gray as I initially thought. I’d say with its colours it’s somewhere between Skyrim and BDO.
Music in all those games is beautiful but I think I liked the GW2 one the most. It’s… amazing, truly. BDO and ESO both have awesome music too, unfortunately I tried playing BDO so many times by now, creating all new characters and never going far, that the starting zones music got annoying to me. But it’s still really good and if you listen to OSTs to the games, you can tell they didn’t get greedy on the music funds.
Character creation between those three games is definitely THE best in BDO. It’s one of the best character creator in MMO ever, I think. I know ArchAge has a really good one too, but I never played ArchAge so I don’t have a comparison. But yes, you can create an angel or a beast with BDO character creator.
Or half angel half beast, because why not. I like when my characters look exactly how I’d imagine them so I enjoyed the creator a lot. The two other games have much simpler character creators. In BDO you have many face (and body) presets which you can slightly adjust and in ESO you can just adjust the face (and body!), kind of similar to what you can do in Rift (if you know character customizing options from this MMO) just with much less colour choices. And, maybe because it’s what I’m used to, between GW2 and ESO I prefer ESO character customization.
Questing and plot – here I needed reviews' help because I only tried the games, mostly BDO and GW2, when I was choosing. And among the Black Desert Online’s good sides its plot is never listed, actually, I heard the BDO plot is pretty dull. The situation looks completely different in GW2 reviews – the plot is (almost) always complimented there among other things. And in ESO it’s usually one of the first listed things on why this game is good. And I like good plot.
As I mentioned earlier, I never got far in GW2 not BDO but yes, I did get to some plot in GW2 and even though it allows you to make choices and pretty much roleplay which is a really awesome featue – I didn’t like it. I mean it was good, but… Nothing you don’t really have in other MMOs. Except the choices of course. Maybe it gets better later in game but I don’t want to suffer for hours of playing before I get to the good part. I want to have fun since the start.
Questing is different in GW2 than the other MMOs I’ve tried too (and I really tried out many) – and it could be a big advantage, since running from NPC to NPC is boring and annoying, right? In GW2 you have areas to do stuff instead of traditional questing. You finish the quest by filling the hearts and you can do it in various ways – killing mobs, collecting things and so on, and you can start doing it as soon as you get into a heart area, without talking to any NPC – The heart will appear on your screen and as you do various things in this area – you’ll see it becoming fuller. For me though the thing is I do like traditional questing. I probably have complained about it in the past too, but it was until I tried playing GW2. That’s when I realised getting quests from NPC lets you delve more into the game world and story. Be it typical kill stuff/bring me stuff/talk to another NPC – they usually give you their reason why they are asking you to do it, sometimes you can see some animations of what they are doing and so on. It’s just more immersive and so – more to my liking than running into area and doing something because I just want to level faster. Where is fun in that? And since questing is always a big part of any RPG game it’s a real minus from me to GW2. A really big one. BDO and ESO on the other hand both have traditional questing, with a plus for ESO because all the NPCs are voiced as well as quest informations they give you – yet more immersion, something I really like.
Other activities – I’d say here BDO is a winner, but it’s based on the reviews I’ve watched and read. And you can see it in game too, there is so much to do in BDO besides questing. There is fishing, crafting, playing the market, apparently there are minigames with loot too, even just uploading your character into a Beauty Album so others could create a character looking like your beautiful/handsome character. There are really pretty mounts and pets that collect loot for you, too. And you can breed both! Also really amazing housing and it’s not really expensive, or, at least just buying houses, I’m not sure if the furnishing is pricey or not. You can also transform your houses/apartments into crafting places or storages. This is really helpful, because you run out of bag space quickly (or it’s just me). I’m really a fan of BDO here and the two other games, GW2 and ESO, look pretty dull and boring compared to BDO. But there is crafting in them too. I can’t say much about crafting in GW2 but the ESO one is decent and I enjoy it a lot, except the fact that I actually have to spend my skill points on the crafting professions but that’s another topic. I’m not sure about GW2 housing either but you can have houses in ESO and like in BDO – they are actual places on the maps – either just rooms in inns or huge houses/manors which you can see from outside while running in the zones they’re at. But I have to admit – I don’t think any housing can beat Rift’s dimensions, sorry, but this is also a topic for another blog post.
Additional, but also important things in MMOs are grind and „pay to win” (P2W) factors. Wherever you check, you’ll find informations that BDO is a grind fest. But I don’t mind grinding really. You should work for something to be rewarded. And it happens in all the MMOs. What I do mind when the grind is taken to a crazy level and this is, from what I’ve heard, happening in BDO. Unfortunately, I have a full time job, I have my painting and I like to play other games too. I can dedicate myself to an MMO but it can be up to one character and definitely not the whole day of playing – but I do wish I had time for it! So grind is fine, but not a crazy ultra-grind. Also you can often hear BDO is P2W, which, as a (potentially unwanted) feature is really annoying and not fair. Makes the community of the game not healthy too. Because instead of mature players (or just well behaved kids) who know what they are doing you can have a lot of rich kids (or immature players) that go places just because they have money.
ESO though – everyone says it’s completely not pay to win as in crown store there are only cosmetic items. And from what I’ve seen so far – it’s true. ESO is getting their money from subs and/or B2P base game and expansions (yes, the expansions are paid, unfortunately, but hey, they are not P2W!) I believe. And sub in ESO looks really attractive and I’m considering getting it. It gives you crowns each month, unlocks all the DLCs (so you don’t have to buy it) and expands your inventory and bank and that’s one of my biggest problem in any game really (and irl, but don’t tell that anyone) – my bags are always full.
I’ve never heard much about grinding or P2W factor in GW2. Maybe they just don’t exist there and it wouldn’t surprise me since a really good game. And it’s popular so they don’t have to worry about putting some paywalls. But maybe everyone is just too busy talking about how beautiful this game is, how good is the plot and how awesome and interesting is PVP there. And PVP is another important thing to me, but I know talking about it is usually a trigger to anyone, so I’ll just skip this topic for now.
The general feel of the games was pretty different in each case, as you can imagine. BDO felt new, fresh, big, exciting and busy. And plot-wise – boring. Which is pretty sad really because it’s a massive, pretty game with interesting skills. But there also is gender/race class lock, that’s not ok in my opinion. Combat in BDO is ok really, just very fast paced, but it could be also me who’s slow, you never know. I love exploring the areas there, it’s really rewarding even just for the sake of the views.
GW2 is very colourful and pretty and the awesome views combined with amazing music make a really nice experience of exploring…. Except, comparing to BDO, it feels small for some reason. Additionaly you can’t cross the zones freely, there are portals and loading screens between them, that’s another BIG minus from me – where is the immersion, I’m asking! But also, comparing to BDO, it may not feel so busy but since when it’s a bad thing? You can just run around, fill the hearts and enjoy the game.
My first impressions of ESO weren’t actually good. You start in a gray introductory area but I won’t spoil more here. The thing is, even after that first area, the first actual zone felt gray and empty. Even though there was actually a lot of people questing and doing the same things I was doing (that was a change for me after Rift) – I still had BDO somewhere in my mind and comparing to it ESO felt dull. But then there is the plot which even managed to make me cry (don’t even get me started on racism in Dominion!). Emotional factor is one of the most important things in plot for me. And yes I had to rescue my long gone sister in GW2 and yes it was all nice and fun but it didn’t cause any strong emotions in me. It could be a bad day or the time in life too, but we have to be lucky to get a good loot and MMOs (as well as other games) sometimes have to be lucky to win us, players, too.
So between BDO, GW2 and ESO – it’s ESO for me. Because of plot, music, graphics (it’s an aquired taste for me here), western style of armours (no chainmail bikini!), enjoyable crafting and a nice, big and healthy community.
I’m waiting for Bless and Ashes of Creation too. The first one will be in Early Access on Steam in May and even though I don’t expect awesome plot, I’m still pretty excited to try the game out. It will be B2P too, so I guess my favourite model, but we’ll see if I can afford it.
That’s it from me today. In the next post I think I’ll say more about ESO since I’m about to finish the first actual zone, so I’ll have a betteridea of how things work there and I’ll have a more decided opinion on things. So – until then!