Fear not, I haven’t forgotten my Three Features Every MMO Should Have series! I still have a few more games on my list. Here’s my current go-to, Guild Wars 2.
Weapons determine skills
So I’m supposed to believe that a warrior who has fought with a giant two handed sword his whole career will be able to pick up two hand axes and fight just as effectively with them? With the exact same techniques? Of course not. Every weapon your character picks up should make them fight differently. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this when I first played Guild Wars 2, but I’ve really come to like it. It doesn’t necessarily completely transform my character every time I switch weapons, but it lets me tailor my playstyle a little. For instance, I can decide if I want my necromancer to be more DoT focused or more AoE focused for a given situation by choosing Scepter/Dagger or Staff, respectively.
Lately a lot of MMOs have been taking the easy way out by allowing each class to use only one type of weapon, but that seems a little restrictive, especially since it means you can’t choose, for instance, between sword-and-board and a high DPS weapon.
Accessible quick travel
It has been said that the easiest way to tell if a game was designed around a subscription or a free-to-play/buy-to-play model is its travel. Sub games want to waste your time as much as possible to keep you subscribing as long as possible, whereas free to play games prefer that you connect for as short as possible to keep you coming back. Yes, subscription proponents will tell you it’s so you get a feel for the size of the world or something, but, sorry, I really don’t buy that. Quick travel has become increasingly common in our post-subscription genre, but not all quick travel systems are created equal. Guild Wars 2 has really nailed it with waypoints. There’s no cooldown (seriously, SWTOR? What’s the point of a 6 minute cooldown on quick travel? That’s an annoyance, not a design choice) and the cost to travel is quite reasonable, scaling with your level, and only about 2-3 silver to travel across most of the map at 80. Better yet, waypoints are free within cities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in WildStar’s hub city Thayd and opened the map and tried to waypoint to another part of the city, only to realize I’m in the wrong game. Not only are waypoints incredibly convenient, but they’ve kept unlocking them from seeming like a chore by making them part of the leveling/mapping process.
Trading post anywhere
Guild Wars 2 is the only MMO I’ve played where I never run out of inventory space, and I’ve never even bothered to upgrade to the bags with the largest number of slots, or bought the cash shop extra bag unlock. Between deposit all materials and the ability to list stuff on the trading post from anywhere, I’ve never even been tempted to. The bank is another story, but they’ve got to make money somehow I guess. I’ve really been spoiled by this; in other MMOs I often end up just deconstructing or selling gear that I probably could have auctioned because I’m too lazy to haul it all the way back to the hub to sell it. Also nice is that sales never expire in Guild Wars 2, so you don’t have to relist items every forty eight hours like in a lot of games. This has the unfortunate side effect of burying your sale indefinitely if a bunch of people start selling the item cheaper than you, but it’s a lot more convenient to relist items when you think of it at a black lion trader instead of every time your auction timer expires.