If there is one question I have been asked more than anything else this year, it has been: “What is better, EQ2 or WoW?”
That is no easy questions, but now that I have spent some quality time in both games, I am going to write my first impression on this matter. However, I hold reservation to change my mind in light of testing progress, patches, expansions and future content and game changes that may enhance and improve the games.
I will start by simply stating what both games offer.
Both games offer a beautiful atmosphere to enjoy online 24/7. They both have interesting storylines and a multitude of fantasy character types and classes to choose from.
They both offer unique lands that are different as you adventure further and further out from your starting location. Both have land varieties: Deserts, Oceans, Swamps, Plains, Fields, Cities, Forests, and more.
Both have several Metropolises; areas to come and trade, meet others, talk about adventures, set out on new ones, and access quests at.
These games, on the basis of what they offer gamers, are on par with each other, but we are not here for that, so lets talk about how they are different.
World of Warcraft is a virtual game that puts you in a very fantasy world. Even the art style is fantasy and cartoonish. I was at first taken back by this style, but found myself quickly immersed by it and even spending times just to get up on that hill and see what I could on the other side.
It definitely is beautiful in its own way and no other game looks like it that I’ve seen. If I could compare it to anything, I would have to say Saga of Ryzom, but that wouldn’t be a close enough to really give you the idea. Lets just say those two games go for a fantasy cartoon look similarly, rather than trying to look like a real virtual world.
World of Warcraft summed up is a plethora of questing. You could literally quest the whole game and never group with anyone. If the quest is too hard, simply level up some more. However, it does encourage grouping enough to make it viable and worth the time invested in gathering a team.
Its quests are fun and short, more of a 1000 short stories leading you further and further across lands and up against tougher challenges.
However, if you level up, you can usually solo all of them. There are some instances where you simply need a team though, which are nice and allow you to socialize.
World of Warcraft offers some new features:
Death System – Very unique and exciting! You actually tend to not feel so angry when you die, like most games. However, it does tend to make dying sometimes a viable alternative. In other words, if you know you could die running out of a cave, you won’t really hesitate, as the death will not slow you down too much if your respawn graveyard is nearby and getting back to your place of death is easy.
Sleep System – Definitely a nice addition to bridge the gap between casual and hardcore gamers. You don’t really feel the pain if you level hours and hours a day, as the quest system, combined with the ease of soloing and leveling, makes the grind less of an effort, but also makes leveling up fast possible, which is never a good thing for hardcore players. It is really a great feature for everyone else though.
Crafting System – Much like Horizons with going out, finding resources, and then going to a building to craft. However, resources are much rarer. In the same breath; however, the amount you have to make is also much less to level than Horizons. In short, it is fun, but, in some cases, not very useful. I see this changing as more and more patches continue to tweak and improve the crafting system’s usefulness.
Travel System – In short, it is amazing. There is nothing like flying on a Gryphon with the beautiful land below you passing by, watching the populated lands below you go on with their hustle and bustle. Truly I believe one of the coolest parts of the game. I could enjoy just flying around all day.
WoW is a game perfect for those who play 2 or so hours a day, but has plenty to do for those who play 20 hours a day for quite some time. It is a superb game in every aspect and on par with EQ2. There is one difference that, depending on what kind of player you are, will be what helps you decide which is better. But we will get to that.
EQ2 is the cutting edge of all MMORPG’s out right now. No other game gives you better graphics, voice-over NPCs, and realism in a fantasy setting. This game is the same as its predecessor. It sets the bar and, so far, only WoW has been able to get within range of competing with this Goliath in the MMORPG arena.
EQ2 is very similar in play-style to the original game. You need to group to survive and experience is best in a well-balanced team. Classes are very unique and each has their perks. You will know what you want in your team to make it a perfect group. The game’s draw will continue to be power and items. You will want to level to get ‘phat lewt’ and go on raids to kill the big dragons/uber mobs.
The difference, or definition, of this game (for those new to EQ) is that it is not catering only to the 100+ guild with the top-level players on the server.
You are able to take on encounters with groups of lesser numbers, even single teams in some cases. The set goal of encounter number is said to be around 24 players, making it much easier and less cumbersome of a game to organize in and play, but still making it the ‘social king’. I believe the draw of EQ2 will is the fact that people buy these games to play with others. In EQ2 you can’t survive without it. Sure, you can solo a bit, and it is even more possible than before in EQ, but really it is a grouper’s game.
Crafting in EQ2 is brand new. There is nothing like it anywhere. You find little workshops in the various suburbs of the two main cities which have multiple workstations for each area of crafting. In the beginning it is a simple grind to advance game, with only a few items really worth marketing. However, I have found that marketing is very easy and you will empty your full inventory with the few items that do sell as fast as you can make them.
Unlike EQ, EQ2 does have craftable wares that are better than looted items or are only available from crafters. You can even become a crafter only, which is unique to EQ2, whereas in EQ, it was an after thought. However, most crafters seem to enjoy putting down the tools and getting in a nice group fighting and advancing their adventure level.
You can pretty much craft solo, making a nice viable option when that group is not easily found.
However, there are advantages to working in the mentor system, where someone a few levels below makes you sub-components for your higher level items. Both players get good experience and both can save/earn money in the endeavor.
Traveling in EQ2 is difficult. You cannot hop around the world in minutes, like in WoW, at least not yet. There is much in the game still being finished.
WoW seems much easier to travel in, regardless of what EQ2 does, but EQ2 is much more of a challenge, which is part of what makes traveling difficult.
This is also where the division between casual and hardcore gamers will divide. If you have more time to play overall, then traveling time is less of an issue than if you need to log in and get as much accomplished in an hour as you can.
EQ2 starts out very much a mesh of common class types and teaches you slowly about yourself as you level and learn new skills that eventually separate you as an individual. In WoW you pretty much walk out of creation who you are, forever and always. In short, the grind sets in earlier as you do the same type of thing from start to finish with WoW. In EQ2 it seems like something new as you go from base class (Fighter, Mage, Priest, Scout) into your next level of class choices, and then into your final class choice.
However, WoW advancement is quicker, so it doesn’t pause long enough to make you feel like the grind is overwhelming.
There again, we see a division that decides which is best for you. Do you want to play for a long period of time before maxing out the character you play, or are you more interested in working hard for your maxed character, to feel like that much more was accomplished?
In the end, this is the true division of the two games.
World of Warcraft will please the casual to mid-level gamer (as far as those who have less time to play than the hardcore gamers). EQ2 will please the day to day gamer, the guy who logs in each day or several days a week and has hours to enjoy playing. It really boils down to this one question, because the two games offer just about everything else as the same.
Now, one other thing that sets the two games apart is socialization. Both have guilds and both have groups, but in EQ2 you thrive in your guild, groups, and large group raids. In WoW you don’t really ever have to do any of that if you choose not to. This could be grouped into the whole time thing, because establishing a great guild with many active players is definitely something that thrives when players have lots of time to play together. But really casual games have many great guilds too that are just not so dependant on how many are online and ready to raid.
So here is my final definition on the large debate of EQ2 vs. WoW:
If you play a lot and love to socialize, EQ2 will give you a game where players are looking to group and a game that gives you plenty to do for a very, very long time as progress. It is slow enough to keep you doing new things to improve yourself, but fast enough to keep you excited your playing.
If you play when you can and have limited time to be in-game or enjoy being able to log in and just go, without worrying if you get a group or not, then World of Warcraft is a great game for you. You still have friends and guilds, but you are not dependant on them to get the ‘big stuff’ done. Well, at least not all of it.
One huge advantage that World of Warcraft has over EQ2 is the ability to use WoW boosting services. With WoW boosting, you can pay to have your character leveled up and geared out while you are away from the game. This allows players with limited time to skip the boring grind of leveling and go right into experiencing end-game content. EQ2 has no comparable service, so you have to put in all the time yourself to level up. For busy players who want to experience raiding and high-level content but don’t have hours to grind, WoW’s boosting services give it a big leg up over EQ2. The availability of WoW boosting allows players to efficiently use their limited gaming time and not get bogged down in tedium. This is a major advantage that WoW has over its rival.
In short, both games will be huge successes. Both companies have really outdone themselves and, for the first time in years, both games will release without to many issues. Both are definitely fun to be in and be a part of. You just have to ask yourself a couple questions in deciding which one is for you.