In Which I Compare BDO, ESO, FFXIV, and WoW

Time playing games between my last post and now, with the underlying current of needing to narrow my focus for a return to work this month, has given me further insight and—you guessed it!—I’ve changed my mind about a few things.

Screenshot_20190117_151727

Oops!

I already caved and subbed to Elder Scrolls Online because I can’t stand craft materials NOT going into the bottomless craft bag. I pay Zenimax $15 a month to NOT manage a virtual inventory. Sounds kinda crazy when put that way.

And I am now inclined to sub to WoW for a similar reason. I thought I was smart by giving my starter edition level 20s a bunch of 16 slot bags and gold before my sub expired. Well, guess what? I can’t sell anything because I’m gold capped. I knew about the 10g gold cap but didn’t consider how inventory space would fill up because I couldn’t sell anything.

Subs aside, as compared in my previous post, more factors need to be considered when deciding which game(s) to focus on when I return to a full-time working schedule.

BDO vs. ESO vs. FFXIV vs. WoW

I made this comparison table to visually represent my thoughts about each game and rank them accordingly. My apologies if the formatting comes across weird for you. I’m not seeing an insert table option in the WordPress editor and ended up hand coding it.

Disclaimer: these are 100% my opinions based on my personal experience and filtered through my personal perspective and values. To somewhat qualify my experience, listed below are the years I started playing each game.

  • World of Warcraft (WoW) – 2004
  • Elder Scrolls Online (ESO) – 2014
  • Black Desert Online (BDO) – 2019
  • Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) – 2019

Please note: some features may have unlocks I have forgotten about, especially with ESO and WoW as I’ve been playing them longer than BDO and FFXIV.

Druid

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Can Haz Durid
Warcraft is the only one with an official druid class. You could build one in ESO and I suppose use the werewolf skill line to shapeshift and even play as a Worgen. In BDO you can pretend to be one as a ranger or witch and in FFXIV as a conjurer/white mage and maybe even red or black mage.

Character

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Build Customization ✔✔
Character Creation/Modification ✔✔
Fashion ✖✖
Racial Diversity ✔✔

Black Desert Online

BDO’s character creation is phenomenal, saving it from an because it costs to modify your character’s appearance and what they are wearing. And they can’t wear much, even if you buy all the $30 outfits for your class. Additionally, “armor” for female characters doesn’t cover much in order to show off the jiggle physics. Elves and humans are the only races you can play and classes are gender locked. As for build customization, there is none. Theoretically you can pick and choose skills to learn/use but you could be gimping yourself. What sets you apart from others of the same class is a higher character level with more skill points and better gear.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO’s build system is extremely versatile, e.g., you can choose to completely ignore your class skills and only use skills from the Mages Guild skill line. I’m not sure if this is advisable, but it’s certainly doable. In character creation you can adjust individual facial and body parts. You can make a Bustopher Jones Khajiit!

Modifying your character’s cosmetic appearance can be done via collections. I’m not sure what is available to new players. My best guess is anything in character creation—makeup, tattoos, and jewelry—that was available for your race. You can buy more cosmetic options in the cash shop and can change the appearance of your gear once you have collected a few dyes/motifs.

ESO has cats, elves, a variety of humans, lizards, and orcs. You can change your race using tokens purchased in the cash shop.

Final Fantasy XIV

As far as I know there is no build customization in FFXIV. The fashion system, called glamours, makes up for this—once you unlock it—allowing your character to visually stand out from the crowd. And if you don’t know about it to seek it out, you may not unlock it for awhile. Glamours allow you to create outfits using the “glamour plate” system and you can change colors with dye. Did anyone else play with Fashion Plates as a kid? I’m certain it contributed to my dream of being a fashion designer when I grew up!

The Aesthetician (unlocked with a quest) can change a few cosmetics while Phials of Fantasia (purchased in the cash shop) can change your race, which some people seem to do as frequently as the weather changes. Like ESO, you can play cats, elves, a variety of humans, and a lizard-like race. There’s also the diminutive Lalafell and the Viera bunny girls. In character creation, the body parts you can adjust are height, chest size, tails, and ears. You can’t make a Bustopher Jones Miqo’te.

World of Warcraft

Like FFXIV’s Aesthetician, WoW’s barber shop allows you to change your appearance. Unlike ESO and FFXIV, you can change your character’s skin color with in game currency. WoW gets a whole extra for this. Race changes can be purchased in the cash shop. Once you have collected some gear/weapons in WoW, you can change the appearance of your gear but not the color.

WoW has the most playable races with pretty much everything the other games have plus pandas, goblins, trolls, werewolves, hooved and horned creatures with and without fur, undead, and now foxes. Build flexibility with class specializations is limited. Druids have the most options with four specializations, one for each play type: tank, melee dps, magic/ranged dps, and healer.

FOMO

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Login Rewards ✖✖
Pressure to Play ✖✖ ✔✔

Black Desert Online

BDO is horrible (or really good at it?) when it comes to making you feel like you are missing out. They have daily login rewards, daily loyalty rewards, a daily guild “allowance,” a daily event item collection—get x for being logged in for 1 hour each day, xx for 2 hours, and even more for 3 hours each day!—to the point that managing everything you are collecting becomes a daily chore. There are even incentives for leveling a new class: earn 10 billion silver for leveling the new class to 58!

To be fair, BDO offers many AFK activities—even character leveling—that can help you reach those daily /played goals.

Elder Scrolls Online

I have logged in to ESO each day—and not played—for the sole purpose of earning something that was rewarded after 20-something days of consecutively logging in. I don’t like this feeling and have tempered it by ignoring this feature.

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV has some kind of loyalty system in which you receive rewards for x /played days. They sent a set of cosmetic gear to all my characters and I had no idea why for some time. It was the 60-day loyalty reward! Even with that and a sub, I don’t feel pressure to play FFXIV. Perhaps because I’m a new player?

World of Warcraft

The pressure to play WoW is felt subbed or not, likely because I have a far greater time investment having played off and on (mostly on) for 15 years. There are no login rewards or incentives for daily play. I don’t count daily quests because they are a means to an end requiring you to do something more than logging in.

Gameplay

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Combat ✔✔
Grindiness/Repititiveness
Housing ✔✔ ✔✔
Lore/Story ✔✔
Open World Exploration ✔✔
PvP (forced)

Black Desert Online

BDO’s combat is amazing! There is no tab targeting or reticle that aims your actions. Just glorious mayhem that takes down whatever you are facing and is in your vicinity—lots of AoE. It’s very fun and it has to be to balance out hours of grinding. Even so, I get quickly bored with the repetitiveness.

I really enjoyed the housing system. You get furniture and profession tools as quest rewards and need a home to put them in. Many of the buildings in towns and cities can be rented as your residence and you can have more than one in different places. I had my own little villa with three residences around a courtyard; one served as a living space with a kitchen downstairs, another was my bedroom, and the third was my alchemy lab. You really feel like your characters live in the game.

I think there is lore. There is some story going on, but it’s confusing and disjointed. Perhaps because everything is translated from Korean to English. Some texts and dialog simply don’t make sense.

BDO is the only game of the four with forced open world PvP. My great dislike of becoming the victim of someone’s bad day keeps me from exploring the vast and beautiful world. Which is unfortunate because there is a lot to discover. There are no loading screens and it can take 30 minutes real time to travel from one part of the map to another. There is no fast travel. You can travel by foot, horse, or transport yourself and wait an hour until you can play that character from the new location.

Elder Scrolls Online

ESO gets all for Gameplay. The lore/story is vast, deep, and unique. It’s the only game where you can go anywhere you want as everything scales to your level. There are no game mechanics that require grinding. Any grinding is self-imposed, i.e., if you want to reach max level ASAP. It’s possible I’m wrong and have not yet come across anything that requires a grind.

Housing is great and there’s so many recipes to craft your own furniture and decorations. Players can get very creative decorating their homes! Each starter city has a free apartment available upon completion of an introductory quest. You can fast travel to your homes at no cost, making this a convenient and cheap way to travel across Tamriel.

Final Fantasy XIV

FFXIV is the only one where you can’t go wherever you want. Travel to other regions is unlocked through the main quest. Combat feels clunky and slow which makes fighting enemies feel very repetitive. And while I have yet to fully experience it, FFXIV does have player housing and a good story.

World of Warcraft

WoW is the only one without housing and my best guess as to why is because the game is so old it simply can’t be implemented. ESO went live without player housing but I think it was able to do it because individual objects had already been built as individual assets. I’m making a wild guess here, but it makes the most sense to me. And I’m not certain player housing in WoW does make sense. It seems weird.

WoW’s lore and story is good. It doesn’t get as high marks as ESO primarily because much of it takes place in books outside of the game. For me, it creates a disjointed experience and I’m not a fan of this approach—requiring me to invest time outside of playing the game to research and figure out what the heck happened.

There is an overall grindy/repetitive feel at higher levels, especially if you want something like unlocking an Allied Race. But this should come as no surprise as this element of gameplay has been part of WoW since the beginning. I think the grind feels better now as there are more interesting and entertaining aspects when compared to repeatedly killing the same mobs for hours on end for that one drop… or those five quest items as can be experienced in Warcraft Classic.

The Zandalari Troll rep grind to unlock them as an Allied Race was long and arduous but has me feeling more attached to Zen’Ijira than had the race been accessible to all with a new expansion. So there’s that interesting psychological feature. However, I’m not at all inclined to unlock the Kul Tiran anytime soon. I will eventually, just maybe not this year.

Monetization

BDO ESO FFXIV WoW
Cash Shop ✖✖✖ ✖✖
Loot Boxes ✖✖
While WoW does have the Blizzard Shop, it pales in comparison to the other games’ cash shops so it’s the only one that gets a for the cash shop. In BDO and ESO, the cash shop is available in game (not a positive) and requires you to buy a cash shop currency with real world currency. ESO scores better than BDO here because it provides some of that currency with a subscription. BDO does not have that option.

FFXIV and WoW do not have loot boxes. ESO’s loot boxes are limited to seasonal crown crates. BDO’s loot boxes are everywhere and nearly every facet of the game features their RNG gambling system.

Ok, time to score. Let’s make this simple:

 = +1
= -1

Scoring

BDO
(6 – 18 )
ESO
(14 – 6 )
FFXIV
(10 – 6)
WoW
(13 – 4 )
Druid -1 -1 -1 +1
Character -3 +5 +2 +6
FOMO -4 -2 +3 0
Gameplay +1 +9 0 0
Monetization -5 -3 0 +2
Totals
-12
+8
+4
+9

ffxiv_12102019_204948_406

We Have a Winner!

According to this, I should be playing WoW and ESO. That sounds about right and I was playing them before starting BDO and FFXIV last year. Well, that’s settled! With a very clear picture of which games to spend my time on, I need a clear picture of how to spend my time in these games.

As shared in previous posts about WoW, while I feel more lost with each expansion there is still a lot I can do and enjoy. I truly get excited thinking about playing level locked 20s in zones I haven’t experienced post-Cataclysm, collecting gear along the way. But I’m still toying with the idea of only playing druids. That would mean there’s no need for me to play other armor classes to just collect gear.

In a recent post, Gamescapist—a new addition to my blogroll—talks about setting goals for her characters in a way that they serve a specific purpose and their play time comes to an end. Gnomecore does this and it always seemed strange to me. Why waste your time on a character you have no intention of playing once they reach a certain point?

But I think I should consider their approach. I’ve been playing these games without an end… without an end. I’ve mentioned before how much of my playtime is spent doing things for the sake of it, without specific goals in mind.

It might be time to change that.

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