Describing Aion as “WoW with wings” caused one commenter to conduct a whole review and ranking system comparing, in his opinion, which MMO was most similar to Aion. As was to be expected, it was differentiated from World of Warcraft at every possible instance. Comparing an new MMO to World of Warcraft is a pretty common occurrence throughout the MMO blogosphere and game forums. It is damn near the MMO locus. Yet, there is much to differentiate even Runes of Magic ffrom World of Warcraft. So what does WoW-like mean?
Well, I don’t know, but I know what it means to me when someone says an MMO is like World of Warcraft. It’s all about the PvE mechanics.
Most MMO players know how World of Warcraft PvE works. In solo play at “even”-level challenges, a player watches the roaming mobs trying to pull, or agro, only one (maybe two) at a time. Then the player tries to fight the one pulled mob without drawing adds (more mobs) by auto-attacking and using a variety of skills. When that is over, the player recovers, and after some amount of down time repeats the process. Group play is not much different for trash mobs. Things are pulled, adds are avoided, and the party recovers when not in-combat.
A lot of MMOs follow this “slow” feeling of PvE, and World of Warcraft was not the first. It’s just everybody, at least reading MMO blogs, knows about World of Warcraft. Everquest PvE felt like this to me. Lord of the Rings Online PvE felt like this to me. Warhammer Online’s PvE felt like this to me. And, Aion PvE definitely feels like this to me. There are plenty that don’t.
This is not necessarily a bad thing, but when most MMOs are so focused on PvE, it’s kind of hard to not call a kettle black when it follows the same road as the pot. So when Aion’s PvE focuses largely on this pull one mob carefully, use skills, refresh, and repeat, it’s easy to say it feels like World of Warcraft. Then when the comparison includes class-based system, levels, kill ten rats and fed ex quests, etc. it’s even harder to not call it as being spawn of the MMO locus.
If developers feared that their game would be WoW-like, they should have gotten away from the boring comfort that the aforesaid systems provide. Now fans (read: zealots) will want to focus on the sheer mass of differences that make their new, favorite game “not WoW,” but for those that want a 2-minute review, starting out by saying it’s “like WoW” gives us a pretty good idea of so many of the core systems, especially PvE combat, that make up the MMO.
which ones are the malefactors?