Every man of ambition has to fight his century with its own weapons.

With the instigation of a stress test for Guild Wars 2 this past Monday, I was able to log-in and refresh my memory with regard to some of the game’s systems. As such it gave me a nice opportunity to compare and contrast some of the ideas realised within that game with those found in TERA, which I’m currently playing.

My first impression is that in the classroom of MMOs, TERA is that kid who was brilliant at one subject; in all else that kid was at best average, but in one subject they grew whiskers and a shock of white hair and positively shone, in the eyes of their peers becoming a cross between a Super Saiyan and Albert Einstein. TERA is really rather good at action combat. Guild Wars 2, however, seems like the kid who was never brilliant, but was pretty good at absolutely everything, irritatingly popular, and likely to become head pupil of the school upon reaching the sixth form.

Do feel free to carry the analogy wildly off on your own tangents. For example, I picture EVE to be the gruff kid who sits at the back of the class jeering at everyone else and occasionally flicking the ears of World of Warcraft, who used to be the popular rich kid until everyone finally tired of him always turning up with more complicated and expensive versions of other kids’ toys, which he’d invariably break by the end of the first day.

One difference between TERA and GW2 which I find Quite Interesting, but others may find somewhat more prosaic, is the role of weapons within the game. For TERA, each class has a single weapon set available to it. The Warrior dual wields swords, but the representation of these swords is one icon; the Lancer’s shield and lance are also represented by a single entity. Therefore there are no cross-class loot issues when it comes to weapons in TERA – every class has its own weapon set, and every set is self-contained, even if it is comprised of more than one functional item. I really like the system; it’s a simple and elegant way to eliminate the issue of dual wielding classes having to keep multiple weapons/shields/handbags upgraded in order to remain viable, compared to their single-weapon counterparts.

Speaking of maintaining multiple weapons brings up one of my minor concerns for Guild Wars 2: good grief if there aren’t a lot of weapons to maintain in that game, at least for certain classes. Take the Warrior in GW2, for example, who can wield a prodigious variety of weapons. The fact that certain skills –and thus certain styles of play– are intrinsically linked to a weapon type means that, in theory, the Warrior will need to keep two swords, two axes, two maces, a warhorn, a shield, a greatsword, a hammer, a longbow and a rifle all upgraded in order to be able to fulfill each and every play style. Now, perhaps this is not the intention, and a player will be encouraged to focus on one or two themes, but it certainly seems a little overwhelming to think that a Warrior might want (but hopefully not need) to maintain an up-to-date version of all these various items.

Until my knowledge of the game has matured, it’s hard to know how this will resolve itself – weapon level could be irrelevant when compared to the power of the skills which the weapon enables, for example. Suffice it to say that I remain as yet unconvinced where this linkage between skill system and weapon requirement is concerned, but I keep an open mind as always. However, I think that thematically it’s a fabulous idea, where each weapon offers its own distinct flavour of combat, rather than just a mechanical flip of a damage type stat.

And in our contemplation of damage-type-weapon-swapping shenanigans, let us bow our heads and take a moment to reflect upon the current king of weapon stockpiling: Dungeons & Dragons Online. For no DDO session can be complete without the party emptying out their backpacks into the middle of the dungeon floor, rummaging through the subsequent pile of weapons as though they were Lego, and trying to find the exact right piece to fit their current build requirements.

“Dang. If anyone finds a dark blue four-er, can they let me have it?”

“Is that a two-by-two four-er, or a four-by-one? And do you need it in piercing, bludgeoning, slashing, adamantine, byeshk, cold iron, crystal, mithral or alchemical silver?”


6 thoughts on “Every man of ambition has to fight his century with its own weapons.

  1. darkeye

    Warrior is the worst for having to carry around multiple weapons, was playing an engineer and quickly settled on pistol/shield as a favourite weapon choice, but would probably carry another pistol for a bit of variety, didn’t like the rifle so much, and that’s all the weapon choice engineers get. I’d say for PvE it’ll probably be enough to carry around the weapons you like and would use most, in PvP all weapons and sigils are available for free and there is special PvP storage.

  2. João Carlos

    My guess that we will see some specialization, because there are skills that give more damage or abilities to some weapons. For example, I know that guardian have a skill that give to greatsword healing.

    Problably we will see players having two sets of weapons for swaping and a third or fourth set at bag for have some flexibility.

    Finally, too need take in mind that there is crafting and crafted items are same quality or better than drops and quest given gear. A warrior can take armorsmith and weapons mith skills and craft armor and weapons it needs.

  3. Maladorn

    I’ll play around with different weapon sets in GW2 until I settle in a couple that fit my playstyle. I expect to keep a melee and a ranged set “on hand”; that way if I find myself low on health I can dodge out, swap, and continue to add damage. I’m sure most folks will want to unlock all of the skills on all of the weapons, but I highly doubt that players will need to keep more than 2 sets up to date. The philosophy of GW1, which seems to carry over to GW2 pretty well, was that your weapon wasn’t as important as your skills and stat build. It might help out a bit, on the margins, but equipment doesn’t define your effectiveness as much as other MMOs.

  4. bhagpuss

    I loathe action combat. I play MMOs in large part because they don’t have it. If the genre decides en masse to take it up then I may have to find another hobby. I doubt there’s much chance of that, though.

    I’d be more than happy to do away with the weapon skill aspect of GW2. So far I’ve just ignored it, which seems to be working as well at level 20 as it did at level 2. If I can get away with just using one weapon type I will, even if it’s deemed inefficient.

    Indeed, the longer I play MMOs the more I realize that I don’t really care what combat mechanics they use so long as they don’t ask me to do anything that involves fast reactions, running and jumping like a sugared-up five-year old or countering scripts. GW2 passes all three tests thus far.

  5. Melmoth Post author

    @darkeye: With the ability to effortlessly swap between two weapon sets (and indeed Warriors can trait for bonuses when swapping weapons, I believe), I could see ‘two sets’ becoming the standard for most characters. I guess it will partly depend on just how much a character’s role is defined by their weapons.

    @João Carlos: I think you’re probably right. With the way players can trait into specific builds, it will probably limit their weapon choices somewhat; the Guardian’s self-heal from Greatsword strikes is a fine example of focussing a character build.

    I take your point about the crafting, but it’s not so much about obtaining the weapons –I don’t think that will be too difficult– but in having to do it to fulfil the character’s potential.

    I think it’s a personal thing, but I’d prefer something with a theme along the lines of Lord of the Rings Online’s Legendary system (not the system itself, because it’s a hideous pointless grind), where a player invests in one weapon, and that weapon becomes a character in its own right, one that can be levelled and customised and developed. I think the idea of LotRO’s Legendary Item system is absolutely fantastic, but the execution of it was absolutely terrible.

    @Maladorn: It may be that because I concentrated on the warrior class, my view of weapon combinations became a bit skewed. I certainly thought along your lines, of a main weapon and ranged weapon, but then I found that the shield was quite useful, and the warhorn gave good buffs, and it escalated from there. Perhaps I’m too much of a Jack of All Trades player, and I need to learn to specialise a bit more.

    @bhagpuss: I try to keep an open mind, and I found the action combat of TERA to be quite refreshing. In fact, if you like just standing around and pressing 1-4, then the Lancer isn’t bad for this – once you’re in position their play style is still a lot like the traditional MMO tank, except the blocking is based on your ability to observe and, y’know, actually block, rather than being primarily based on how much you grinded outside the dungeon instance to get your block rating maximised via Best In Slot equipment. To me, that’s not a bad thing: it’s playing a game, as opposed to playing with a spreadsheet.

  6. João Carlos

    There are these posts that explain how to make a good build:

    as the text explains, “First focus on the weapons. They are the most vital piece to your gameplay, and how you play will change dramatically based on this first choice.”

    So, IMHO, players will choose the weapons that fit better the strategy of play they want use.

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