Let’s compare the “Cosmetic Look” features of Guild Wars 2 and World of Warcraft, as well as the banking, battle and party loot features and see what that can tell us about game philosophy.
Starting with Wow, let’s look at Transmogrification.
World of Warcraft Transmogrification
First of all, looks for armor and weapons are “Account Wide”. If you collect on any realm on any faction, then the item look appears in the Transmog Library for you to wear. To collect a look for a piece of armor, you have to Soulbind it and you must be able to equip it if you want. Which means that you must have been able to wear it, even if you didn’t. This is complicated. But it seems to be about some “Moral or Fairness” issue that you can’t collect looks just because they appeared in your inventory at some time. This issue most often arises in dungeons and raids, where you will receive loot that it soulbound, but you cannot wear since it’s the wrong armor type, for example, or too high a level. It doesn’t go in your Library and you’ll have to loot again on the correct character. “It just wouldn’t be right to get a look unless you actually were entitled to wear it.” He says indignantly. Rubbish. What’s the big deal? I came I saw and conquered that raid. Why did you give me that thing if you didn’t want me to do anything but sell it to an NPC [soulbound remember] or Disenchant it for some dust?
But if you have the piece and could or did wear it, it’s in your library.
Now you have to visit the Transmogrifier station. And unfortunately that’s a long hike. Unlike Guild Wars 2, where travel costs a little, but is instant to everywhere you’ve been, In Wow, you have to slep it, by horse, dragon, gryphon, zepplin, or boat to get there. Thankfully, if you set your hearthstone, getting back is simple, every 30 minutes at least. There are Transmog stations in the two major capitals, and, I hear, in one of the new Legion cities. Alas, none in Dalaran, which is the faction common hub in Northrend. No clue why Transmog stations are so rare, they are just an NPC after all. And if you want to hide that new helm or cloak, just because you never like to show those, then it’s a long hike to fix it.
It costs game currency to transmog and it’s expensive enough that you won’t want to do it all the time. The only free transmogs are for hiding Helm, Shoulder and Cloak. Remember this, it will come up later.
So just dressing up for a night on the town will cost maybe 7-10 Gold and take a while – maybe 15 minutes – to travel to a transmog station. These costs appear to be constant rather than being cheaper based on level of the gear or level of the character. So low level characters that want to Role Play take a big hit to change clothes. Unless you keep some Holiday costumes and just wear there. Don’t go near any bad guys tho. These don’t cover your gear, but replace it.
There are no Outfits in Wow – Outfits are purely cosmetic, go over your gear and don’t affect it’s stats and cost nothing to apply. Both Tera and Guild Wars 2 have outfits that you either buy in the store or collect with game currency and then apply for free anytime you want.
Guild Wars 2 Wardrobe
In Guild Wars 2, the wardrobe is part of your character or Hero panel and is always with you. You can change your look anytime you want – you should stop where you won’t be attacked of course. The “currency” is transmute charges that are collected by completing maps in the game. Each toon you have that completes all the areas of a map, including the major towns. To “Complete” a map means visiting all the Vistas, doing all the Hearts [which are like quests you don’t have to turn in because they come to you.], Skill Points – minor challenges that give you points and visit all points of interest. When any toon completes a map you get rewards and for the older maps, you get a Transmute charge. There are a lot of maps, so you’ll probably end up with more charges than you need. The shop has them for sale if you run out.
And collecting wardrobe items is easy. Anything you get on any toon has it’s look captured, unless it is “Bind on Equip” and you decide to Sell it before capturing it. If the item is green or lower, you get the look anyway. If the Look is Blue or better, you get a message in the tooltip that says you have not collected the look and you can “Account Bind” the item to collect the item and the look. That way you CAN share it with your siblings to wear and they all get the look regardless.
So in GW2, this means that after the first toon or two leveling is pretty much “Instant” to the level 80 Cap. Which means that you have the armor you want pretty soon – or at least the Exotic armor that let’s you play anywhere in the game – and so you won’t need a lot of transmute charges. I have 99 collected over my 15 toons that I don’t really need. My toons are all dressed the way I want them.
And hiding helms and shoulders in GW2 is just a checkbox. Available at all times and sticky. You can do it anytime anywhere. Just like it used to be in Wow before someone got the bright and stupid idea to make you visit a transmog station to hide these.
As mentioned there are Outfits in GW2 that are purchased from the store and cover your armor. So you can dress for a wedding or a night out for free at any time once you have the outfit for real cash from the store.
These differences show some deeper differences between these two games and show how game philosophy can matter throughout a game.
Wow Transmog is hard and expensive. GW2 wardrobe is easy and cheap.
Did I mention that you can dye armor in GW2 and once you get a dye it’s free to use for ever? And there are hundreds of dyes? Another example of easy and cheap. And another source of revenue since some dye collections are for sale or collected from chests where the keys are purchased on the store.
The GW2 outfits are there for you to wear for free anytime account wide. As are Glider Skins, which is the closest that GW2 has to mounts. Those are purchased in the store. I’m not aware of skins that are earned In-World. Which is very unlike Wow, where many mounts are earned or purchased In-World.
Toon leveling in Wow is hard. There are no shortcuts. Do all the quests and dungeons to get the XP to level. in GW2, it’s easy at least after the first toon or two.
In GW2, after you play for a while, you get stuff that levels up your next toon very rapidly. Every toon gets a scroll to level to 20 – 30 – 40 on their birthday, plus events and achievements like completing higher level maps give XP scrolls that give a whole level. Daily events give XP scrolls that give 5% of a level. And these can be combined to give a whole level. So after a while, when you make a new toon, you level them up right away.
Crafting gets you lots of levels too. So if you get to about 60, and then sit down with the mats and level a couple of professions to the cap, you are level 80. Takes about 1/2 a day, but you are standing in one spot, or running between crafting station, auction house, and bank. Twenty levels from just crafting.
No slogging through the maps and quests to level and wear that great Exotic armor look you like. If you have those scrolls saved from previous toons, one shot and you are there. You see folks frequently standing in front of the bank with the repeated flashing animation and wooshing sound of leveling up over and over and they build a new toon up to 80 to dress up and go out adventuring. In GW2, life starts and 80.
In Wow, it’s a long multi-week climb to 90 or 100 – 110 with Legion. And that assumes you concentrate on one toon and don ‘t write blog posts or do youtube videos.
Since you are down-leveled in GW2 when you go back to previous maps, the old content is always challenging and the drops – for events and world bosses – are adjusted for your level rather than the level of the map. It’s always useful to play lower level maps. Gathering, events and world bosses are always useful for your toon.
Here’s another comparison. In Wow, the first hit on a mob [mobile object – a foe] captures the loot from that mob to the person who hit it first. Not in dungeons of course, but in the open world. Even for Open World Elites – BAM [Big A** Monsters] – World Bosses this is true. So when you’re in Howling Fjord and a Storm Giant wanders by, you and your friend need to be in a party to share the XP and loot. You can help kill it, but you get no credit.
In GW2, hunting Open World Bosses is a favorite past time. Then tend to be more powerful and drop much better loot. And sometimes you can find dozens of folks ganging up on the boss. Everybody gets loot and XP that helps. And healing others counts as helping. There are no priests in GW2, but rezzing or healing downed players in the vicinity of an “Event” gets you credit for helping with the event even if you never fire a shot.
In Wow, there are Dice Rolls for the loot from bosses. You may or may not get stuff that is of interest to you. In GW2, the loot is brought to use – if you enable Auto Loot – and it’s either Trash that you are expected to Salvage for mats or it’s gear that is for your class and level or it’s flexible boxes that you can share among your account toons. All of your account toons, not just some arbitrary collection called “Your Faction” or “Your Realm”.
And Speaking of Realms
Why has Wow not eliminated sharing across realms? You can express the thought of mailing across Realms but you can’t send items. Why not. Silly. I get this great dungeon loot, but it’s not for my class or I already have it. But I can’t share it with my other toon on another realm. Ok, so Factions are Factions. I can live with that. But it’s not going to upset the balance of the universe to make “Soulbound” mean “Account Bound” and let me mail it across realms. Along with the Funds to help that toon level on another Realm. Get over Realms already. You can’t play anywhere without seeing (*) after everybody else’s name, which means that they all come from some other Realm. And you can party with them and friend them etc etc. But you can’t mail them something. There are no artificial distinctions in GW2. Everybody can help everybody, party or not.
Break Up the Big Banks
Yes, that too, but let’s look at banks regarding Game Philosophy.
Wow has “Per Toon” banking. Which is fine. So you have five bags you carry around, which grow over time as you level up. Or your friendly Tailor makes you big bags to start with and you are flush with space.
And your bank has a little storage and you add bags to that. And some of the bags in both places can be specific to the type of stuff they hold. That’s the old way.
But wait. With Legion, we got the Reagent Bank. We all get it, you don’t have to have the legion expansion.
So for a mere 100G you too can have a large storage bank for your crafting mats and get rid of all or most anyway, of those specialized bags you were using. But if you’re a jewelcrafter then you may fill up your reagent bag and still need those specialized bags.
But with each toon having a separate bank, there’s lots of storage. Each toon is only holding mats for two professions and they are likely synergistic, like mining and jewelcrafting or skinning and leatherworking. So it’s cool. Again with the problem of transfer of stuff among toons, but ok. The best scheme may be to have Homogeneous Faction Realms – all the toons in a realm on your account are in the same faction – and have a set of useful professions spread across those toons to share skills and resources. For example, the tailor toon makes big bags and nice cloth armor for everyone else. Every toon gathers / produces something for the little group of a dozen toons.
With Guild Wars 2, it’s a completely different story. Well the bank part anyway. The local inventory space story is about the same. A few bags that get larger over time and are crafted – by not just tailors but also leatherworkers and armorsmiths. Share the bags among the toons.
But there is only one bank, shared across the whole account. And so you can’t – don’t need to – mail between toons on the account.
Local bags are on the left and the bank tabs are on the left. You buy more bank tabs at the store for real money. You can also buy the Material Storage, which has a different slot for every mat in the game. And you can upgrade the stacking the Mat Store from default of 250 to 2000 – I think – with real money. And there is a wardrobe view in the bank too. It’s a rolled up searchable list across all your toons rather than just of your armor type.
This works too. So if you compare convenience of banking between Wow and GW2, it’s a wash. Different, but with the Wow Reagent Bank, it’s a wash. Except for the issues of Realms, which makes it a pain in Wow. Twelve toons per realm with 50 total across all realms. GW2, you buy new toons after the first 2 [free] or 4 [paid] with a cap of 69 or 70 if you buy Heart of Thorns and you already had 69. Tons of toons to use that one bank I think.
With Realms, each time they add a class they need to add a slot to Realms. They so far have kept the cap of 50 the same. But that may have to change too someday. As you may notice above, I have Five realms with toons. But only two are really active. One Horde and One Alliance. They are separate worlds, as I’ve mentioned.
So I’m back to Wow, collecting exotic pets and taking in the sights. Did I mention that since Warlords, the character models have been upgraded, so while the older environments look a bit dates, or Nostalgic shall we say, the toons leave nothing to long for. While the armor is not as slutty as Tera, Wow is very attractive and classy.