way of class-differentiation… at least early on.

RuneScape is a fantasy massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) released in January 2001 by Andrew and Paul Gower, and developed and published by Jagex Games Studio. It is a graphical browser game implemented on the client-side in Java, and incorporates 3D rendering. The game has approximately 10 million active accounts per month, approximately 200 million registered accounts,and is recognized by the Guinness World Records as the world’s most popular free MMORPG. RuneScape takes place in the world of Gielinor, a medieval fantasy realm divided into different kingdoms, regions, and cities.

Players are represented in the game with customizable avatars. RuneScape does not follow a linear storyline; rather, players set their own goals and objectives. Players can travel throughout Gielinor via a number of methods including on foot, magical spells, or charter ships. Each region offers different types of monsters, resources, and quests to challenge players. Players can choose to fight non-player character (NPC) monsters, complete quests, or increase their experience in the available skills. Players interact with each other through trading, chatting, or by participating in mini-games and activities, some of which are competitive or combative in nature, while others require cooperative or collaborative play.Now, don’t get me wrong.  GW2’s events are still about killing and collecting, but like WoW did in 2004, it’s a refinement of the mechanic that disguises the “quest grind” in a way that makes it feel new, different, and altogether fun. I also love how GW2 puts a player in the world of Tyria and says “Go find stuff to do.” The explorer in me loves that.  And while I love the beautiful world of TERA’s Arborea, there’s a lot less focus on exploration.  It’s huge and pretty, but the content directs you through the zones via quest hub, and as an MMO veteran, GW2’s approach is just more novel and interesting.  TERA’s strength comes from the fact that the dungeons are a blast, the BAM’s are a truly great representation of world bosses, and there are open world dungeons a la EQ1.  I forgot how much I missed them.

TERA really doesn’t offer much in the way of class-differentiation… at least early on.  The true difference between classes in TERA comes in the form of how each class plays completely different in combat.  You get crystals to slot out weapons and armor with bonus stats (which becomes hugely important later one), and you get glyphs to tweak skills from level 20+ (also hugely important).  But by and large the Lancer’s core skills and way of playing stays the same between players, with crystals and glyphs being the customized part of your play experience.  So if you’re the type of player who really wants to change the way your character plays, TERA won’t necessarily work for you.  If however, you’re all about min-maxxing? Well then, En Masse’s game is up your alley.

GW2 on the other hand? With the different weapons, the several dozen skills on each class, and the ability to trait your character into a completely different play-style? Well, I think we see who has the edge here. Personally, I’d take GW2’s class progression any day.  But I wonder how big of a balance burden it will be in PVP, and for that TERA has the upper hand in at least the competitive category.  Still, I think I’d have at least liked the ability to tweak my character’s skills and abilities a bit more in TERA.  It’s definitely a missing aspect of MMORPG design.  And given GW2’s general idea of completely ditching the holy trinity, if you’re the type of player who prefers distinct roles in your MMO, then TERA might be more up your alley.  I can speak from experience that sometimes playing a true tank is missed in GW2, and I welcome it in TERA. 

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