No game is perfect. To say that a game is perfect is to do a disservice to that game. Flaws are something every game has, from Bethesda games being littered with bugs to Final Fantasy being the same rehashed games with similar stories and a few minor changes in the way the turn based combat plays. Games need flaws, because if a game were perfect, there would be no other type of game and the inherent flaw would be that the market would become flooded with the same game in a different skin. Even these days, we see rehashing of games, rehashing of content, games that have huge flaws that are hard to overlook and flaws that are so minuscule, you forget they were even there. But games need flaws just as much as they need perfection in some areas as flaws make games interesting.
All games have different type of flaws. Naturally, all games have bugs, but some games are so riddled with bugs it has become a characteristic of those games. Bethesda games are just that way. In fact, if you want a bug free Bethesda game, you might as well buy it for the PC so you can mod the hell out of it. In fact, I don’t really pay Bethesda games for their gameplay anymore. Every couple of years, Bethesda releases another version of the sandbox game they invented, yet no matter how many releases they have had, the bugs are a permanent fixture to the point where you expect it. I remember playing Fallout 3 (a game I have spent over 100+ hours playing and accomplished everything in that game) and experiencing some of the most entertaining bugs ever. My favorite one is walking down a hallway and reaching a cross section with a single solitary light hanging from above. At that crossway lay a pile of bones with a single bone standing up and spinning. No matter what I did, that bone kept spinning. Another one is encountering a super mutant behemoth (which is about 2-3 stories tall) and finding an exploit where I could stand in the back and he would just wander, never engaging in combat. Other glitches include getting stuck, missing NPCs, animation glitches, and, my favorite ones, invisible enemies. Nothing is worse than wandering the wasteland and getting 2 shot by a Deathclaw that you cannot see.
MMOs take a very different approach to bugs. Since the game is constantly updating and the code is always being worked on, the game will always have bugs. Some bugs are livable, and some bugs will literally halt raid progression for days. Some developers are really good about finding these bugs/exploits and others are not. RIFT is a game that is constantly underdevelopment, in fact, this most recent patch is the longest they have gone between updates (and probably for the best, but that is another flaw). Some of the bugs never left. While I have never experiences the Greenscale despawn bug there are guilds who rage everyday on the forums because their kill was taken from them because of a bug that has existed since launch. I have experienced combat bugs in every MMO I have ever played. I remember a time in WoW where an quest monster would be untargetable or spawn in the ground out of sight to the point where you could not hit them. RIFT has had some invasions and Rifts that would halt progression after a certain point and would never de-spawn. But that is just how it is. In all my days of playing an MMO, none of these bugs have ever been deal breaking to me. I have seen some things get fixed so fast that I hardly knew it could have been exploited (I am looking at you Hemorrhage buff-insta-nerf of BC) and other bugs that get fixed years later. Currently in League of Legends, there is a bug where my favorite champion can get double killed with 1 death due to his passive ability. Kog’Maw is my favorite champion, his passive ability is that on death, he turns into a time bomb that blows up, you are allowed to move during this state. Other bugs involving this champion are his area of effect abilities being able to damage and kill allies (this was a fun one, best way to get fed). The first bug mentioned comes back every couple of months due to the constant flux of the games state. But that is just how MMOs are, always in a state of flux. Guild Wars 2 will most likely suffer from bugs, especially at launch. The thing we need to remember is to be patient with them.
Sometimes the flaw is something that only really suffers the more sequels there are. There is no doubt that if a game is good, the developers should take what made that game good, but improve upon it. Sometimes, the developers just take the same game and rework the stats and reskin everything. This was one of the major complaints about Modern Warfare 3. As much as I love the Modern Warfare games, the transition between 2 and 3 left the game with much higher expectations, especially after the nuclear explosion scene in that game. The second game added a co-op section and a far more improved gameplay. But 3 did not bring anything really new to the franchise. In fact, a lot of people were complaining about the use of the same graphics engine as the second one. While there have been some fun multiplayer aspects added to the game, overall, it is really just the same game as the second one with a different story tacked on. But, my opinion is quite possibly skewed because I (like many other people) have had very high expectations of series.
MMOs don’t really have sequels. They have expansions and content patches. Some games have a pretty set schedule for content patches, others have rapid release dates that are dizzying to consider. RIFT is a game of the latter. WoW is the game of the prior. In all my years of WoW, never have I thought that the game’s content was coming out too slow. Most of the time, I just was bored because I didn’t really want to play. RIFT has the tendency to release content so fast that its placed a high expectation upon its player base. I started playing after the first major patch, right before the second. Now, the game was awesome already, the second patch was even better. But each major content patch, every 1-2 months only showed me that the developers were becoming strapped for ideas. There was an interview with the lead designer where he stated that some ideas get put down for various reasons. For me, that only proves that the developers choose to not place in new content. Each of the patches features a world event, with some kind of Rift hunting quest where you have to kill x amount, collect items from Rifts and they always feature some special invasion that seems to happen far more frequently. Patch after patch, it’s the same content, reskinned and presented as something new. The difference between something like this and something like repeated exposure is that exposure is always the same thing, whereas rehashed content is the same content disguised as something else entirely.
Sometimes the flaws are easily overlooked, sometimes the flaws are something that no matter how hard you try, you cannot overcome it. RIFT is one of those games where you cannot overcome it. Bethesda games are the kind you can. To drive the point home, Skyrim has sold millions of copies whereas RIFT is on a steady decline. My only hope for Guild Wars 2 is that it falls in line with Bethesda games and not so much along with RIFT. I think at this point, everyone can live with bugs, but rehashed content is something that makes me sad. WoW had a pretty set schedule of 3 major patches in 2 years for each expansion. That is a good schedule. It allows you to push out content that feels just right without sacrificing creativity. It allows you to create bigger patches with far more unique stuff to do than rapid little patches with the same content reskinned. It allows your game to grow into something far better. WoW has been doing it for years and it has worked wonders for them. If there is a lesson anyone can take from both WoW and RIFT is that content patches need to be largely spaced out. Bugs are one of those things you will never get rid of, but sometimes you have to make sure your game is relatively bug free. From a personal standpoint, a bug can sit there for a week or 2 so long as it isn’t game breaking, but once it steps into exploitable, that is where the addressing needs to be as soon as possible and can no longer be ignored.
As with all of my other posts, I have high hopes for the game. I mean, not considering the fact that I run a website dedicated to a profession for a game that isn’t even out yet, Guild Wars 2 is looking to be a very entertaining game, I just hope some of those flaws are not a turn off for the game. Every game has them, so lets embrace the flaws of our games.
Stay tuned for later this week with a huge news update on THE FUTURE!