Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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Questing in Steps
comment 3 Written by on January 18, 2012 – 8:25 am

I share a lot of the same reservations as A New Dope about the linear questing styles of WoW and Star Wars.

Linear questing is not my favorite. While I’m not going to say I love being trekked around the world every five minutes, I like it when there’s a feeling of connectedness between zones (though that’s more a criticism of WoW, where the zones are actually next to each other, than it is of Star Wars, where the zones are actually PLANETS, and as such don’t really have a lot in common).

And while the linear style of questing does add a lot to the “big hero” style of play, it’s rough on replay value and rough on RP. Not everyone can be a big damn hero, and not everyone wants to be. If I have to suspend my immersion to be part of a great heroic quest chain, that’s time I’m not feeling lost in the atmosphere of the game and the mind of my character.

And frankly? That gets boring, fast. I don’t think you have to be a big hero to be connected to a zone or a world, or to feel immersed in a game.

I generally think Blizzard did a good job with Northrend’s zones. There were several hubs within each zone, and you could progress through them one at a time if you wanted. You didn’t need to go to Borean Tundra to finish quests in Howling Fjord. You could also skip areas you hated (the undead part of Zul’Drak comes to mind) or entire zones altogether. I’m pretty sure you can level without setting foot in Zul’Drak or even Sholazar Basin… or Icecrown, for that matter. There’s enough duplicate leveling content that you can pick and choose what makes sense for each character.

While the Cataclysm zones are somewhat like that, in that there’s enough content to be able to skip certain zones, the zones themselves are entirely linear. You can’t skip ahead and do only the Harrison Jones quests in Uldum or just the second half of Hyjal. The zones are linear, and they’re setting you up to be the big hero every time.

The new leveling zones have this same model, so it’s hard to skip areas or pick and choose. They’re also geared towards fewer levels per zone, meaning you get to see more zones as you level, but there are fewer to choose from (unless you’re leveling in heirlooms and with guild XP bonuses, where you’ll outlevel almost all the content very quickly). Combine that with the chronology issues that WoW currently struggles with in their leveling progression, and it makes even a die-hard altoholic like myself struggle with leveling new characters.

Star Wars is very similar to this model so far, and I’m told it doesn’t change much. While each character has their own class quests, which is nice, Coruscant goes from Merchant’s Gang to Black Sun to Justicar, no matter what class you are. I can’t speak to upper level areas that overlap, but I’m pretty sure the progression from planet to planet is pretty well secured.

And the Big Damn Hero complex is there too. It’s a little disconcerting, to be THE BEST at everything, instead of just part of a group. My Jedi Knight is THE MOST SKILLED Padawan, not just a skilled one. She’s also the second character I’ve pathed through Tython, and I can’t say it felt all that new and exciting, beyond the class quests.

So the jury is still out, for me, on the replay value of Star Wars. I like immersive rather than linear style questing – and I’ve always seen two as mutually exclusive. The use of class quests will hopefully help with replay value, but there are 4 sets of class quests and 8 classes, so perhaps I’ll have to explore the Empire side of things.

(I didn’t intend to be playing Empire side, but I do somewhat have an idea for a Sith Sorceror rattling around in my head.)

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3 Responses to “Questing in Steps”

  1. I definitely agree on the replayability value of SW:TOR currently. I’ve found myself wondering how they will address this as the game matures. I played one beta weekend and got an operative to level 11, when I started playing the live game I chose a bounty hunter instead but still had to play through the starter planet again with the only difference being the class quests. And I have to say Hutta was a drag. I enjoyed Korriban on my Sith Sorcerer much more. The one difference I see is getting to choose different options for your characters in the same quests. I have been levelling my Sorcerer with my husband and we worked out that we don’t get exactly the same response choices – so that adds a little variety.

    I’m also quite enjoying taking a different path for my two toons. My Bounty Hunter is a cut-throat violent type who chooses profit over most everything else so is definitely going dark side all the way. My Sorcerer on the other hand is quite sarcastic and uppity but generally makes more altruistic choices. So this helps introduce some variety. Although I’ve totally made back to front choices for my characters based on their companions! Of course I can just buy their affection with gifts anyway 😉

    I hope you come try out the dark side – it is much fun! And I know that I will visit the Republic side at some stage just to experience the content there 🙂

    By Jezrael on Jan 18, 2012 | Reply
  2. TOR’s replayability is in the eye of the beholder; WoW offers you the exact same experience, every single time. There is no variation at all. You go from point A to point B, collect loot, and go to the next area. There is no hook, no emotion, nothing to pull you in. TOR does much of the same, but with ~40% or so of your quests being class quests, there is a story arc that your character is following all by him- or herself. There is a hook there that pertains only to you; it is integral to your character development.

    As for being ‘the best’, I’d much rather be regarded in-game as a person of note rather than a faceless automaton. In WoW, I slayed dragons, killed Old Gods, defeating every villain thrown at me, and saved Azeroth more than a couple times … yet, when I get to a new area, I have to dig through poop. Or chase a dog for prayer beads. Or kidnap babies. How is this heroic? How can this type of task *NOT* be immersion breaking? I’m wearing the greatest armor on the planet, wielding a weapon that can slay deities, and now I get to dig through poop? And I’m just another faceless nobody in a crowd?

    Yeah I’ll take class quests and ‘big damn hero’ syndrome any day of the week over wearing god-killer armor and picking up dog crap.

  3. @Targeter – I think there’s some personal preference involved with the Big Damn Hero thing. I avoid playing characters as Big Damn Heroes, so when they get treated like one, THAT’s the part that’s immersion breaking. I choose that style of play because it works better in roleplaying groups (if everyone is the big damn hero, it gets boring, and you have arguments over which of you individually saved Coruscant, for example). I’d much rather my game offer options as just a “normal adventurer” who can travel around doing various things (like in previous versions of WoW, where the game was not set up like an RPG with a linear storyline for each zone). It’s a playstyle preference.

    (Though I agree about poop quests. Those can go. In fact, those just get skipped. I don’t enjoy potty humor that much anyway.)

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