World of Warcraft vs. Guild Wars 2 - Which Is the Best Game?
WoW vs. GW2
The Measuring Stick by Which Other Games Are Judged
As a long-time player of World of Warcraft, having played it since way back in its "vanilla" days, I tend to approach other MMORPGs with World of Warcraft (WoW) as my central point of reference.
Recently, I have started playing Guild Wars 2. Since there probably are quite a few other gamers out there who also have experience playing WoW and wonder how other games stack up against it, I thought that a comparison of these two games might prove helpful.
So, without further ado, here is a side by side analysis of WoW vs. Guild Wars 2 (GW2). This is strictly an analysis of PVE elements of these games since I have not tried PvP in GW2.
Guild Wars 2 Classes
Character creation has become a fairly standard experience from one role playing game to another. Nonetheless, there is some variation between these two games.
Races & Classes
WoW is way ahead in terms of playable races. It has 13 races, 7 of which are available to each faction. GW2, on the other hand, has only 5 races, although more could be added in the future.
The playing field is a bit more even when it comes to classes. WoW has 11 playable classes, although not all classes can be played by all races. GW2 has 8 playable classes which are available to all races.
While not revolutionary, Guild Wars 2's character creation system does offer a lot of ways to customize your character's look, from body size and girth to the angle and length of facial features. Comparitively, Warcraft's options are quite simplistic. For each race, there are a limited number of skin tones, faces, hair styles, hair colors, and one other feature that varies depending upon race (such as markings, piercings, etc.).
Winner: Guild Wars 2
Class Skills Vary Based on Weapon Equipped
Both games utilize key-bound skills.
Although GW2's weapon-specific skills are an interesting twist, they don't necessarily make the system better. Fundamentally, the style of gameplay remains the same.
Talents vs. Traits
Talents or Traits?
WoW uses a class talent system. Talents in Warcraft have evolved a great deal over the years. In their current incarnation, the talent system consists of a choice between three class-specific talents that become available every 15 levels.
In GW2, players acquire traits instead of talents. Characters receive their first trait point at level 11 and then earn 1 additional point each level, for a total of 70 trait points at level 80. Players spend these trait points into trait lines; these points increase the attributes associated with the line, enhance character skills, and unlock the line's minor and major traits.
The traits system of GW2 simply offers more depth. In a stand-off with WoW's current talent system, it wins. However, it is worth mentioning that RIFT (#3 in this MMORPG race) has a deeper, more interesting talent system than either game.
Winner: Guild Wars 2
World of Warcraft Profession Tab
Guild Wars 2 Crafting Guide
Here is a rundown of how professions differ between the two games. Please keep in mind that these are my initial impressions; I have not yet reached maximum level with any GW2 profession.
Gathering & Crafting:
In WoW, gathering is a profession. However, in GW2, it is not; all toons have the ability to chop wood, mine ore, and harvest plants, and salvage materials, which is a nice convenience. All you need is to have the appropriate gathering tools. Unfortunately, these tools are consumable items that come in stacks. Further complicating things, different types of tool are required for different difficulty levels of gathering. This seems unnecessarily complicated. WoW's approach, requiring a single tool (such as a mining pick) in the backpack, is far less of a headache.
Like WoW, in GW2, characters can have 2 professions. There are 8 to choose from: Armorsmith, Artificer (creating staffs and scepters), Chef (unlike in WoW, where Cooking is a skill all characters can use), Huntsman (creating bows, guns, and war horns), Jeweler, Leatherworking, Tailoring, and Weaponsmith. There is a lot of overlap with WoW's 8 crafting professions.
The most notable difference here is in the secondary skills that are made available to all characters. While GW2's gathering skills are essentially secondary skills, Warcraft offers some of more depth. WoW's secondary skills are Cooking, First Aid (admittedly, this one is pretty useless), Archaeology, and Fishing. Archaeology provides background story and unique vanity items, and fishing is essentially its own mini-game.
Experience, Discoveries, and Location Requirements:
WoW does award some experience for gathering (although it didn't always), and GW2 does as well. However, GW2 also rewards experience for items you craft, and depending upon the item, the amount of experience rewarded can be quite substantial. It is possible to gain quite a few levels for your alts simply by using materials you have gathered on your main to craft.
WoW has begun to dabble with the idea of recipe discovery, particularly in alchemy, but it is still a small part of the crafting experience. GW2 allows you to combine ingredients to discover loads of new recipes. This fun little extra element is practically a mini-game in itself.
Since WoW's addition of the thermal anvil, crafting of all but a very few rare recipes can be performed pretty much anywhere. In GW2, you must be at a crafting station in order to perform crafting. However, the ability to teleport from anywhere somewhat mitigates this inconvenience.
GW2 is the winner in the category of professions (despite the glaring absence of fishing).
Winner: Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2 - Shadow Behemoth Meta Event
Traditionally, WoW has had a pretty static game world. Sure, which faction holds a PvP zone may change every few hours, but fundamentally, the game remain the same. The three exceptions to this rule are:
1. Introduction of New Content - When unlocking a new raid (such as the Gates of Ahn'Qiraj) or zone (typically introduced via patch), content changes as realm progress is made. This content frequently takes the form of dailies, which may change with each new stage.
2. World Bosses - In the past, world bosses required full guilds to defeat, so they were essentially just first-come, first-served raids. However, more recently, bosses such as the Sha of Anger have become lootable by anyone of the winning faction who participates in the kill, thus inviting cooperation among players who are unaquainted with one another.
3. Seasonal Events - WoW celebrates a good number of in-game holidays and events, such as Hallow's End and the monthly Darkmoon Faire. Unfortunately, for veteran players, these events can feel stale since they change very little from year to year.
World events are at the heart of the Guild Wars 2 experience. These events fall into one of three different categories:
1. Dynamic Events - Taking the place of standard quests, which can have negative repercussions such as spawn camping and kill stealing, dynamic events are unique to specific areas and occur as a result of player interaction.These events have multiple possible outcomes and can trigger additional events. For example, a successful centaur invasion may then lead to centaurs occupying a nearby fort, triggering a new event in which that fort could then be taken by players. Dynamic events scale based upon the number of active participants and reward all players with experience, karma, and coin, so there is no need to form a party.
2. Group Events - Similar to standard dynamic events but more difficult, group events are tasks designed to be done with groups.
3. Meta Events - Dynamic events that tell the story of a zone, meta events are usually made up of 5 to 20 events that chain together and can branch in different directions.
Using world events in place of traditional questing is an interesting approach for an MMORPG that gives the game world a sense of life and immediacy. Although very different from WoW in this respect, GW2 is not the first to introduce these types of world events. Although utilized on a smaller scale, RIFT has been employing its own world events, rifts that pop up spewing monsters throughout the countryside, for some time now. There are definitely advantages to being a late comer to the market; GW2 has built upon the best of what is already out there. And it works.
Winner: Guild Wars 2
*update: World of Warcraft Patch 5.4 introduces the Timeless Isle zone, which allows for much deeper exploration and more dynamic questing. This zone is only available to max level characters, but it could be considered an answer to GW2 - as well as a hint of things to come in the next expansion.
WoW: Quest Available (!)
Conversely, if you are a fan of the witty text associated with so many of WoW's quests, GW2 may disappoint in this respect. Additionally, if you'd rather take a leisurely approach and quest at your own pace, world events may not be your preference. For standard, old-school questing, World of Warcraft simply can't be beaten.
Winner: World of Warcraft
Black Lion Trading Company
Auction House & Currency
WoW's auction house has been around forever. It receives periodic tweaks, but remains essentially the same.
There doesn't seem to be anything particularly different or revolutionary about GW2's auction house. In fact, I find it slightly more difficult to search than WoW's. It is available as a tab from anywhere, which would be astonishingly convenient, but you still have to go to an AH location in order to obtain purchased goods.
As of August 6, 2013, players will be able to keep all of their currencies in one easy Account Wallet. This Wallet holds dungeon tokens, coins, karma, laurels, Guild Commendations, Fractal Relics, Badges of Honor, gems, and glory and makes them accessible to any character on your account.
I was going to award this category to WoW based on the auction house, but then GW2 announced the Account Wallet. Sharing currency across an entire game account is extremely convenient.
Winner: Guild Wars 2
Guild Wars 2: Level Scaling
Scaling Character Level
Dynamic Level Adjustment is a unique feature of Guild Wars 2. Character level scales to meet the difficulty level of the surrounding environment. I'm really not sure how I feel about this. It's great if you want to play with a friend who is of a different level (although it makes running that same friend through dungeons impossible). But I find myself wondering why even label the map's level if you can gain experience anywhere? And not only does scaling occur to meet lower level challenges, but it also appears to scale up. When I took a level 15 character to a level 80 zone, it scaled that toon up to 80 so that I could effectively battle creatures there. However, this scaling up only seems to work in maximum level areas.
This is a case of giving players greater game accessibility. And, while I do appreciate it, I wonder if it actually makes things a little too easy?
Winner: Jury is Still Out
Mounts Add Depth & Flavor
Modes of transportation vary widely between WoW and GW2.
Traveling from Point A to Point B:
In World of Warcraft, there are established flight paths, generally from city to city, that, for a nominal cost, allow players to transverse large distances. However, some zones have few, if any, available flight paths (depending upon your faction), and flying from point A to point B can be time-consumbing.
In Guild Wars 2, teleports make this travel to specific points much easier. There are large numbers of teleports (10+) in each zone. These teleports are activated when a player first encounters them. From then on, at any time (except in combat) and from anywhere, a player is able to click on the any of these teleports on their map and pay a small amount of coin to be transported there. Travel by this method, no matter how far the distance, only takes as long as a load screen.
It is clearly much easier to travel quickly across distances in GW2. If this were the only way to assess transportation between the games, WoW would be left in the dust. However...
There are more than 300 mounts currently available in World of Warcraft. These include ground, flying, and aquatic mounts. Not only do these mounts, to greater or lesser degrees, make travel easier, but they add an immense amount of flavor to the game. WoW mounts come in a huge variety of models and can add splendor, atmosphere, and even prestige.
In GW2, there are no mounts. Granted, the game is still very young, so perhaps they will be added at some future date. But currently, there are none.
So, who wins here? In terms of getting around, GW2 probably still has the edge. However, its lack of mounts leaves a huge hole. Not only are mounts useful, but they're just so damned cool. A game without them is a game that is simply not as rich. Therefore...
Winner: World of Warcraft
Guild Wars 2 Collection
GW2's banking system differs from WoW's in several ways.
As someone who likes to play with multiple alts, I was delighted to discover that the bank in GW2 is account-wide. This makes passing items between characters so much easier! However, it also means that substantially less can be stored in the bank since it must be shared by all of your toons. I believe the reason for this is to encourage the purchase of additional bank space.
Additional bank space in WoW is purchased with gold. However, in GW2, you must purchase it with gems -- a currency players buy with real money. Since GW2 does not have a monthly fee, you will find that a lot of extras like this cost you real dollars.
Although bank space is severely limited, GW2 does somewhat make up for this with the way it handles crafting items. Crafting components don't take up bank space! They all are stored as part of a separate "collection." This collection can contain large quantities of all crafting items and is shared among all characters on your account. This is extremely convenient. Whatsmore, these crafting items can be stored in your collection at any time. By right clicking on one in your inventory, you receive the "add to collection" option. Doing this frees up bag space immediately and makes the item available to all of your other toons.
GW2 is the clear winner in this category with many new innovations to its banking system. However, I do somewhat resent the idea of having to pay for extra bank slots.
Winner: Guild Wars 2
WoW: Glyphs & Pet Battles
What about all the other little extras?
World of Warcraft has a number of unique extras, including a glyph system which allows additional utility as well as character customization, archaelogy and fishing secondary professions that can function as almost separate mini-games, and Dual Specialization.
Guild Wars 2 includes the addition of toys -- vanity items GW2 players can equip to their set of town clothes. However, although they look cute, they don't actually do anything, and most only seem to be available in exchange for gems (i.e., real money).
Pets & Gear Customization:
Both games contain pets. In GW2, these items are vanity pets called minis. In WoW, there are 580 unique pets and more are being added with every patch. The vast majority of these are battle pets, many of which can be found throughout the game world and tamed. These pets can level up, battle in the wild, and can even engage in pet battle pvp. Battle pets add an entirely new dimension to WoW, and some of its players prefer to engage almost exclusively in this element of the game.
Both games offer ways to customize the appearance of characters' gear. In GW2, single-use armor skins are available from the gem store, and a huge variety of armor dyes exist in the game. Once a character uses a dye color, he or she "learns" it and can use it at any time thereafter. In WoW, players can customize their gear through transmogrification. This process allows players to change the appearance of their gear to that of any other compatible item that they have in their possession.
In the extras category, WoW truly shines.
Winner: World of Warcraft
Opportunities to Spend Money
Both games have an Initial purchase cost. The World of Warcraft Battle Chest is available through the Blizzard Store for $19.99 and contains the original game, its first two expansions, and a month of game time. However, that still leaves two additional expansions: the Cataclysm expansion ($9.99) and Mists of Panderia expansion ($39.99). All told, for the full level 1-90 experience, you will pay $69.97. Guild Wars 2 retails for $49.99.
Additionally, WoW charges a recurrent monthly fee of $14.99 to play.
GW2, on the other hand, does not charge a monthly fee. However, many utility options (such as additional character slots and bank slots), as well as vanity items and other frivolities, cost gems, which are purchased from the in-game store with real money. So, unless you want the bare-bones experience, you will probably eventually spend at least a little money on the game.
Winner: Guild Wars 2 (at least for most players, but this could vary depending upon the user's play-style.)
So who is the overall winner?
If you've never played either game, pick up Guild Wars 2. In terms of innovations, it's clearly the more cutting age game.
However, for me, in spite of all of GW2's wins in individual categories, WoW is still the overall winner.
Why? Nostalgia? Brand loyalty? It is my sentimental favorite, but it's not just that. GW2 wins so many individual categories because it is a newer game. But WoW is the original innovator. It's much easier to build upon someone else's winning formula than to create one from scratch. And WoW is that original winning formula. Although each expansion may get tired after a while, I'll still always want to play the next one. Blizzard has proven itself; I know it retains the ability to surprise me.
Winner: World of Warcraft
Questions & Answers
© 2013 Alisha Adkins