Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WAR Tier 2 v. WOW 16-30

Way back when I did a comparison of WAR Tier 1 v. WOW 1-15. I thought I'd continue the comparison now that the bloom has worn off the rose a bit. I think I stick by most of what I wrote about that stage of the games, but lets see how they stack up in tier 2. For the sake of continuity I'll use the same categories as I used before.

Zone Design -- how interesting and fun are the zones.
WAR: By Tier two you've got a pretty good grip on the aesthetics of the pairings, but tier 2 does offer some nice variation in each pairing: shadowlands, marshes of madness, and troll country all differ a bit from what you've seen in Tier one of these pairings. With the division of the zones by faction, some of these feel quite small, particularly Ostland, or circuitous (Barak Varr). Still very moody and well-designed.
WOW: Some of the best WoW zones here, and just a lot of places to visit over these 15 levels: ghostlands, silverpine forest, westfall, redridge, duskwood, the barrens, hillsbrad, the wetlands, loch modan, darkshore, bloodmyst, stonetalon, ashenvale and thousand needles. Some have great flow (westfall) some great aesthetic design (ashenvale, thousand needles), while others are awkward or unrewarding (stonetalon, I'm looking at you.)
Winner: WoW. So many zones to choose from, so many different looks and styles. WAR has a more uniform level of zone interest and better aesthetic design, but can't compete with the volume of variety that WoW offers here.

Engagement -- drawing you into the world (probably this should be called immersion).
WAR: Throws a lot of things at you to try to get you interested: epic quests, regular quests, tome of knowledge entries for a gazillion things. Frankly the world itself does the best job of drawing you in: the zones tell a story that is hard to miss (if you venture out of the RvR lakes) and they do it well. The rest of the stuff, not so much. I don't think that I'm alone in saying that even with the epic quests, I was often just looking for red blobs on my map to go to and kill stuff, and often I'd have to doublecheck what the quest even wanted.
WOW: This is where WoW really gets its claws into you. The zones all have interesting stories, large or small, told through quests primarily, that you will be interested in following to their end. The defias cycle leading up to Deadmines and The Embalmer string in duskwood are two of my favorites.
Winner: WoW. This is really WAR's weakness, and it only gets worse from this point in, I'm afraid. The choice seems to have been modularity and convenience over immersion.

Itemization -- gear options and appeal
WAR: Cloaks make their way into your gear set and helms and shoulders are plentiful. A few choices per class of design, with some odd color choices combined with the expense of premium dyes possibly driving you into somewhat bland color schemes. Still, your toon probably looks pretty cool at this point. Quite a few sets: the first quest set, the obliterator set, the sacellum set (which you'll never see) and the havok set, as well as quite a few good options from RvR renown rewards and random PQ drops.

WOW: A few dungeon sets, but only for leather wearers basically, PvP gear options, a plenty of good crafted gear. Much of this stuff is dorky looking however, and you're probably not going to see helmets until the very end of this level range. shoulders will also be at a premium. Possibly by this point to get some decent looking gear, but its not easy.
Winner: WAR complain about the lack of options if you like, but with the range of choices in sets, the aesthetic appeal of the gear, and the option to dye, WAR is for me well up.

Crafting -- interest and utility of professions
WAR: Um, well they're useful. Talismans losing their timers in 1.3 will help here a bit, but really, crafting in WAR is just not that exciting. If you are grinding it aggressively, you can get yourself a little boost, and the pots and talismans are really very useful, but it does get a bit rote.
WOW: Crafting by this point, if you are leveling it aggressively, is getting really strong. You can quest for recipes, win them as drops, and make yourself quite good items. It takes more work to keep up with your level, but the rewards are there for the taking. Engineering is particularly fun at this level.
Winner: WoW by a country mile. As I said before, some of this is intentional, but that doesn't change the score.

Group PVE -- dungeons and group-specific areas
WAR: More PQs some good, some great, some brutal, as well as some opposed PQs were both factions (Theoretically) compete in stage 1. Additionally you have the three sacellum dungeons. I've only done the first of these (east) and it was fine. More like a dungeon wing than a full dungeon. Nothing very tricky or particularly interesting in there, but a good change of pace and a nice warm up for the pacing of dungeons in WAR.
WOW: Again some of the best of WoW here. Deadmines, Black Fathom Deeps, and Wailing Caverns are all very cool and Gnomeregan is also quite interesting. They've stripped out a lot of the open area group content from WoW, which is just as well as for the most part it was just a brutal chore, but some of it remains, to give you a bit more meaningful content to do in a group. Some of the dungeons in this are less fascinating or less enjoyable (shadowfang, Razorfen kraul, stockades) but there so much variety and the quest rewards alone make them all quite worthwhile.

Winner: WoW Yeah, I love me a PQ but this is like the golden age of WoW dungeon-crawling.

PVP -- all player-vs-player-specific content
WAR: Keeps, baby! Outdoor RvR is in full-effect in tier 2 and is quite manageable at this point. It may descend into stealth keep zergs, but it still makes for an interesting experience. the BO game is less thrilling, but when they're defended that can be a good time as well. Three new and interesting scenarios are available and their quite good. Your mileage in these may vary by class (i hated mourkain as a tank, but love it as a healer and caster) but they are certainly very different from the T1 scenarios.
WOW: Battlegrounds are in full effect with both the meaty-end of the 10-19 bracket and all of 20-29 in play. Both of these are fun and reasonably rewarding in short bursts. Also, if you are interested in playing a power character, you can twink at both 19 or 29 very easily and crush other lesser foes. Not a big draw for me, but if that's your cup of tea, then it could be a big draw. World PvP is basically non-existent on non-pvp servers. on pvp servers expect to get routinely ganked as soon as you leave the safe zones. Yay?
Winner: WAR So much better. If I was into having a twink pvper, maybe i'd be miffed about my inability to stop a character at a given level. But I'm not, at all. Much richer and more lively experience. Also much more playable at non-peak-bracket levels (ie not 19,29 as in WoW).

So there you have it. I think this tier really shows how the games' design-emphasis impacts its experience. Wow is all about PvE: dungeons, crafting, questing. WAR is about aesthetics and PVP.

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